OpenSUSE 12.1 bulks up on features for cloud, servers, desktops

After eight months work, OpenSUSE 12.1 has arrived

The OpenSUSE project has released its next stable version, a.k.a OpenSUSE 12.1. It includes the Linux kernel 3.1, tons of enhancements for use with public and private clouds and the cool new Tumbleweed tool, a project conceived by SUSE kernel engineer Greg Kroah-Hartman.


openSUSE includes a feature called "ownCloud," which is a filesharing alternative to services like DropBox. ownCloud has two downsides: it takes some skills to implement it and it doesn't keep the files persistently on your computer to access them offline. openSUSE solves that with its new mirall tool which eases deployment of ownCloud and creates a local folder in which it synchronized local and cloud files.

Additionally, the openSUSE Virtualization and Cloud repository includes the latest versions of Eucalyptus, OpenNebula and OpenStack for building private clouds. It supports both Xen 4.1, and KVM (and VirtualBox, too). These can managed with improved virt-manager and open-vm-tools.

Snapper is a new tool that employs the snapshot functionality in btrfs to allow users to view older versions of files and revert changes. The integration of Snapper into the zypper package manager allows users to roll back system updates and configuration changes.

The openSUSE folks also claim to be the first major distribution to ship the Go programming language, Google's new open development language. Go is a fast, easy-to-use language that helps programmers handle multi-core, networked machines with the convenience of garbage collection and run-time reflection.

But wait, there's more! OpenSUSE 12.1 includes an option to enable Tumbleweed, a version of openSUSE with rolling updates that contain the latest stable versions of all software. Tumbleweed lessens the significance and change impact of major releases by updating systems continuously.

For desktop users, the new OpenSUSE includes Gnome Shell 3.2. It features a touch-screen friendly UI that looks good on smaller screens, multi-screen setups and supports automatic rotation. It also includes KDE and its Apper software manager, for easier software installation. Plus openSUSE threw in the Plasma Active tablet interface in the Open Build Service.

openSUSE has a large active community that contributed up to 300,000 changes/fixes to version 12.1, project leaders say. Moreover, by tapping into SUSEStudio users can build their own versions of openSUSE 12.1, with custom package selections, artwork, scripts, etc. and these can be deployed directly to Amazon EC2 or other cloud platforms.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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