Category Archives: Linux

OpenSUSE Drops Leap 15.3

OpenSuSE logoOpenSUSE has dropped an update to its Linux distro, Leap 15.3, eleven months after the previous release. This new release includes updates to the desktop environments KDE, Gnome, Xfce and Sway; new packages for education, research and health; artificial intelligence packages; improvements to containers and virtualisation.

The team at OpenSUSE has been working hard behind the scenes as well. Leap 15.3 has been brought in line with SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3, providing binary compatibility and build configurations are standardised between the two distributions. As a result, migrations from Leap to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are now easy and straightforward.

The software craftsmanship of this release makes server, workstation, desktop and container use on openSUSE Leap a desirable distribution for IT professionals, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, small businesses and educational practitioners,” said release manager Lubos Kocman.

There’s a big list of feature improvements across a range of areas:

  • Containers: podman, CRI-O, containerd, kubeadm
  • AI: TensorFlow Lite, Pytorch, ONNX, Grafana, Prometheus
  • Health: GNU Health
  • Desktop Environments: Xfce, KDE, Gnome, Sway
  • Linux Kernel, Systemd, Mesa
  • Privacy: Tor and OnionShare
  • Office: LibreOffice, Skrooge, Scribus, Evolution, Thunderbird
  • Media: Amarok, VLC, Blender
  • Programming: Go, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust.

For Linux fans, there’s a 24 hour online release party hosted by OpenSUSE so if you are reading this on the day, you can join the party at the bar. Contributors and developers will be at the party so you can get to know the people behind the software.

I have to admit that I’m unclear as to why it’s branded “RC” on the website as there’s no suggestion in the press release that this is anything other than a production version.

From personal experience, the last upgrade was very smooth so I’m expecting 15.2 to 15.3 to be as straightforward. I’ll kick off the download shortly but if I encounter any issues, I’ll report back here.

Linux Team Approved Neutral Language for Old Terminology

Linus Torvalds, the developer of the Linux kernel, has approved new terms that will replace the master/slave terminology, and the blacklist/whitelist terminology, ZDNet reported. The newly approved terms are neutral language.

The trend to clean-up insensitive language from source code, tools, and tech documentation began after Black Lives Matter protests erupted in the US, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.

The primary goal of these efforts is to make tech products and IT environments more welcoming to people of color.

This change comes after GitHub (which is owned by Microsoft) started working on replacing the term “master” with the term “main”. Gizmodo reported that GitHub was working on letting users choose their own default branch name.

Some of the alternatives proposed by the Linux team include:

  • primary/secondary
  • main/replica or subordinate
  • initiator/target
  • requester/responder
  • controller/device
  • leader/follower

In addition, there are proposed alternatives for blacklist/whitelist. These are outdated and racially insensitive terms that need a replacement. Techspot explained reported that blacklist is used to describe a list containing banned, disallowed, or undesirable elements, such as passwords, spam emails, websites, and applications. A whitelist contains everything that is allowed.

The problem with the color coding of these terms is that it associates “whitelist” with good, safe, desirable things, and “blacklist” with bad, unsafe, or undesirable things. The Linux Team proposed that people replace blacklist/whitelist with denylist/allowlist or blocklist/passlist.

OpenSUSE 15.2 Out Now

For Linux fans, there’s a new version of OpenSUSE Leap out today, bringing the version number to 15.2. OpenSUSE is one of the big Linux distributions so it’ll be a solid release. “Leap” is the distribution’s traditional regular release programme, compared with the rolling release of “Tumbleweed”.

In additional to the 5.3.18 kernel, KDE is bumped to 5.18 and Gnome to 3.34. SUSE has always been a strong proponent of the KDE desktop (my personal favourite) so I’ll be checking that out later. LibreOffice brings word processing and spreadsheets to the party and Gimp is on hand for image editing. As you’d expect in 2020, there are a pile of AI and machine learning tools including Tensorflow, PyTorch and ONNX. A feature list is included here.

Leap 15.2 represents a huge step forward in the Artificial Intelligence space,” said Marco Varlese, a developer and member of the project. “I am super excited that openSUSE end-users can now finally consume Machine Learning and Deep Learning frameworks and applications via our repositories to enjoy a stable and up-to-date ecosystem.”

I run OpenSUSE on my main PC so I’ll be upgrading soon. Based on my experience of previous upgrades, the OpenSUSE team have got the online upgrade process down to a fine art. A few clicks and the upgrade gets under way.

For those who feel more confident with a DVD or USB, a full distro is available for download as well. It’s always good to have a copy to hand in case of hard drive failure too.

The full press release is here.

Linux Installations Coming to the Windows Store

Windows Store LogoRemember that antitrust lawsuit a few years back against Microsoft? The one where Bill Gates said shipping Windows with Netscape preinstalled would be like Pepsi shipping its soda packs with a can of Coca-Cola? That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the news that certain Linux installations will soon be available thru the online Windows Store. Yeah, I know. It’s not really the same thing. But, I think this is the first time it’s ever been possible to download a third-party operating system thru a primary operating system’s main software distribution point.

I’m now flashing on a meme that’d say something like, “We heard you like operating systems so we put more operating systems in your operating system, dawg.”

It’s worth noting that these Linux installations won’t be full Linux distributions, but rather GNU versions of the open-source operating system:

Developers will (be) able to download these Linux distro’s from the Windows Store on Windows 10 from the autumn, and will be able to run multiple distributions at the same time.


…Without the Linux kernel they’re just GNU distros… or Windows distros…

Looks like Microsoft’s intent here is primarily to add Linux capabilities to Windows systems that are used by developers. These versions of Linux won’t have GUIs, but there will likely be workarounds for that.

Red Hat Linux meets Microsoft Azure

MicrosoftIn business it’s a tough decision between Windows and Linux — we’re not talking end-user, Microsoft’s operating system has that mostly nailed. We’re talking back-end — the power behind everything else. And, at an increasing rate, that means Linux and the cloud.

Today Microsoft is introducing Red Hat Linux on its Azure platform. The company’s vice president of cloud and enterprise, Scott Guthrie, made the official announcement.

“The cloud is changing the world, offering enterprises, independent software vendors (ISVs) and developers alike endless scale, speed and agility in a cost-effective way. I’ve been talking with customers about “why cloud” for years. Recently there has been a shift in these conversations, as the benefits have become undeniable”.

Red Hat solutions will be available soon and it will bring enterprise Red Hat solutions along with JBoss Middleware plaftorm.

Microsoft also promises integrated enterprise grade support that is calls “deeper and richer than any other public cloud offering”. This will also offer .NET integration for development of applications, as well as workload management.

Guthrie describes this as “flexibility and choice have united Microsoft and Red Hat to meet customers where they are on their cloud journey”.

New Linux Releases from Ubuntu and SuSE

Ubuntu LogoIn the same way as you wait ages for a bus only for two to come along at once, it’s the season for new Linux releases. Today Canonical released Ubuntu 14.10, aka Utopic Unicorn, and in less than two weeks OpenSuSE will push out 13.2. I’m a SuSE user so I’ll be downloading that over the weekend and getting stuck in.

openSUSEIt’s good to see such a flurry of activity. The new releases all have a plethora of new features. Interestingly, Ubuntu is going after the Android developers with the new Ubuntu Developer Tools Centre which helps coders develop apps. The new Centre downloads the Android toolkits along with libraries and dependencies, bringing them into the launcher. Although first available for Android, the plan is to extend this to other platforms such as Go and Dart. A big win too is that Netflix now plays in Chrome without any trickery!

From OpenSuSE, the new release focuses on the much-improved Gnome desktop (3.14), though KDE users aren’t forgotten either with plenty of improvements there too. I think it would be fair to say that it’s an incremental release but there’s still plenty to look forward to – more will be revealed as the release gets closer.

Reflecting on recent use, I don’t get to use my desktop as much as I used to. Like many other people have found, tablets have taken over for day-to-day computing and the desktop has been relegated to occasional use. Between a Nexus 7, a Chromebook, a local NAS and the cloud, my big box is heading for extinction. Much as I love tinkering with Linux and RAID, I really don’t know if I’ll replace the PC when the time comes. It is undoubtedly a post-PC era.

Not happy with the look of Windows 8.x? Make it resemble Ubuntu

While reviews of Windows 8.x have been mixed, it seems there is a perception problem with the general public about Microsoft’s latest operating system. Version 8 was largely hated, and 8.1 only went so far in fixing those issues. The company plans to go further when “Threshold”, or Windows 9, debuts later this year.

However, if you’d like to at least change the look of the OS, you can get a taste of Linux with an Ubuntu theme for it. Ubuntu is perhaps the most universally loved consumer version of Linux, though Mint has been gaining steam recently. It has a beautiful user interface that makes it consumer-friendly.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to actually install Linux, or learn all of the associated commands — a theme called Mavericks (ironically the same as the latest OS X) can go over top of Windows 8 and just make it look as if you are running the rival operating system.

It’s a free to download and install, though a premium version is available for a mere $1.35, which is a small price to pay by any app or software standard. The theme was created by the good folks over at Deviant Art and can be found here. You’ll also want to read the detailed instructions and get the visual style information.