I think it is interesting to take GNOME and experiment with it. It might result in some really nice new insights. Still, calling such changes ‘upstream’ is completely wrong. That is not what has been done. Just be honest about what you are doing. I don’t think everyone has to work upstream, even if such experiments are not ideal as seen from a upstream/release-team perspective (as in: the more people working on GNOME, the better 🙂 ). I just hope that with this misrepresentation they’re not forgetting the maintenance costs (if you create something new, very likely you’ll have a big share of the maintenance for a long time or in short: no codedumps please). Anyway, let’s see what a different view will bring!

Changing distributions: openSUSE?

Due to everything that has happened at Mandriva, I guess it is time to switch distributions. I have no idea when I made the switch to Mandriva, but I know for certain I’ve used it for the last 5 years. This means I am very used to my distribution. I’m currently investigating what distribution to switch to. At the moment I’m considering Fedora and openSUSE.

I appreciate a distribution which appreciates a non-active person. In all these years I mainly enjoyed the work that others put into Mandriva. Still, I did triage in the Mandriva Bugzilla for a while, contributed the occasional package, submitted some bugreports and occasionally (more like very rarely) joined the development discussion. Whenever I did help, it always resulted in a positive impression.

Things I look for are:

  • Minimal amount of patches applied to GNOME
    So Ubuntu is out
  • Good binary packages for x86_64 (no source distribution)
  • Ideally libraries should be packaged as lib64 / lib. So not part of the main package. Makes it cleaner to compile using jhbuild
  • Ideally a good split between x86_64 and ‘i386’, making it easy to have mix and match.
  • Ideally rpm based
    This as I’ve used rpm for a long time.
  • Ability to run latest unstable GNOME version preferably within hours of the tarball release using packages (so no jhbuild/GARNOME solution)
  • Ideally able to run the development version of the distribution
  • Ideally packages are available quickly after the upstream release
    I like to have the package within hours after the packager uploaded it. Requires a quick mirror, enough packagers and continuous release of new packages (not e.g. synced 1-2 times/week). Distribution/development freezes are fine if limited to 2 times a year.
  • External but nicely supported repository which has the more difficult (patented, etc)software (mp3, x264, etc)
    PLF handles this perfectly for Mandriva.
  • I need the nvidia binary driver
    Mandriva uses DKSM for this. It automatically (re)compiles the driver, sets up something using alternatives, etc. Totally painless, even with kernel upgrades, etc.

I’ve been looking into Fedora and openSUSE as I am pretty used to rpm. Ubuntu is out of the question due to the big changes it has compared to GNOME. I haven’t completed any analysis yet. I currently have the following impression regarding openSUSE

  • Lots of meaningless discussion in the development mailing lists
    Mandriva development mailing lists almost solely talk about actual development (well, until the latest financial troubles). Compared to this, openSUSE has loads of meaningless posts.
  • Difficult to determine if GNOME is just not the focus (which is fine, hopefully results in less differences compared to upstream) or that the distribution is actively hostile towards GNOME desktop
    Seems a bit hostile when reading various discussions within the mailing lists and when judging previous decisions. Especially amazed to read discussion which is intended to change what people like to work on (e.g. have people switch from GNOME to another desktop) / quantify the amount of help a distribution receives overall. Gives a really bad impression (not appreciative). Mandriva was never seen as a GNOME distribution, but it always worked perfectly and it was well supported.
  • Development version is available. It is called Factory
  • Development packages (Factory) are released when approved by the package maintainer(s)
  • For e.g. GNOME it is possible to run a GNOME:Factory branch and get the upstream packages very quickly
  • Packages always need to be approved by maintainers (even in these branches)
    With Mandriva I got the impression that it was more free-for-all (aside from stuff like the kernel and Mozilla). Sort of how works (if you know what you’re doing you’re able to do whatever you want).
  • No idea regarding mp3/x264 driver
  • No idea regarding nvidia driver
  • Vuntz helps out here. So hopefully easier to be able to request changes (Mandriva responses towards bugs was overall a very positive experience)

PS: Above is my impression looking into openSUSE for the first time. And when I talk about Mandriva I usually mean the distribution (paid + volunteer contributors+developers), not just Mandriva the company.