Opensuse factory as a rolling release

I’ve  been running factory on my desktop for a while now.  And, overall, it has been doing well.  This updates my experience.

There was a hiatus of around three weeks between the last snapshot in June, and the 20140721 snapshot.  The factory repos were not updated during that period.  This was apparently due to the errors that were showing up in the openQA testing.  In a way, that’s a good sign.  It indicates that the opensuse team really is trying to avoid giving you a broken installation.

The 20140721 snapshot

When the 20140721 snapshot was published, there was an admission that there was still some brokenness.  I updated my system anyway, running

zypper dup

from a text console.   And that worked out pretty well.  I did not run into any serious problems.  Gnome 3 would now run, which it had not done after the previous update (Intel video problems).  There was a minor problem with akregator.  When I shutdown akregator, the KDE crash reporter shows up.  It looks as if akregator is crashing during the last stages of closing.  But it has already saved any volatile data, so the problem is at most minor.

KDE shows up as version 4.13.80, which I believe to actually be a beta release of 4.14.  And the only problem I have seen with it, is the one mentioned for akregator.

There were some reports of NetworkManager not working.  I’m not using NetworkManager on my desktop, and networking continued without problems for me.

I did try a clean install, using the 20140721 snapshot.  And that was a total failure.  The installer could not find the repos on the install media.  So I gave up after three or four repeat tries.

The 20140728 snapshot

I was traveling for a few day.  When I returned home, I checked the factory download site.  And there were live KDE and Gnome shapshots for 20140728.  But there was no DVD image available.

I took that as an indication to update online.  That update went well.  There were a couple of conflict resolution dialogs.  Apparently there was a problem with “abiword”.  One of the suggested resolutions was to delete that package.  Since I have never used it, that was an easy decision.  The update continued smoothly from there.

Again, I did not run into any other new problems.

Checking the next morning, a DVD image was now available at the download site.  I downloaded the iso, wrote it to a USB, and did a test install.  That install went quite well.  The problems that I had seen with an install from the 20140721 snapshot did not show up.  So it looks as if they had been fixed.  I set my freshly installed system to use NetworkManager, and that also worked without problems.

The 20140730 snapshot

Checking this morning, I noticed a new snapshot.  So I again did an online distribution upgrade.  And that seems to have gone well.  I have not downloaded an iso for that snapshot.  I’ll wait a week or two before trying another full install.

This mornings update reinstalled “abiword”.  It’s a newer version, that apparently corrects the problems with the prior version.

All in all, my rolling factory installation has been doing quite well.

The installation name

After today’s update, “/etc/os-release” contains

VERSION="20140730 (Harlequin)"
PRETTY_NAME="openSUSE 20140730 (Harlequin) (x86_64)"

My install from 20140728 iso has a grub menu name of “Opensuse factory distribution”.  The “13.2” version number has almost disappeared.  It is still there on the license and on the name of some of the branding packages.  I expect it to stay that way.  At some time, approaching the release of 13.2, the project will be split and the 13.2 name will likely be reintroduced for the pre-release beta and release candidate versions.

The repos

After my install from the 20140728 snapshot, I checked the repos.  They were already listed as the factory repos.  So I did not need to change them to factory.  This is a pleasant change, and will  make it easier for people to install factory as a rolling release.  Again, when 13.2 is split off from factory, I expect it to get 13.2 repos.


Factory is now looking pretty good as a rolling release.  It looks as if the future plan will be to keep factory as a reasonably (but not perfectly) stable rolling release, and have regular stable releases such as 13.2.  And I’d say that this is working out pretty well.

I should add that I also have 13.1 installed on the same computer.  If my factory release should break, I can quickly switch back.  I do not recommend using factory for mission critical applications.  But, if you want the latest and are willing to take the risk of occasional breakage (hopefully only mild breakage), you might want to give factory a try.  And, if you do, remember to report bugs.  Those bug reports are an important part of the project.



About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

3 responses to “Opensuse factory as a rolling release”

  1. tomtomme says :

    Can you give me a hint on where the NetworkManager problems are discussed? My NM needs about a minute to start and trying wicked needs also 5 seconds, which doubles my boot-time comared to what I had before…


    • Neil Rickert says :

      I’m glad you found the messages.

      NetworkManager does seem to work with the 20140801 snapshot. I have it managing a ethernet connection on one of my systems. And, booting live KDE on my laptop, I had no problem setting up a WiFi connection.

      However, boot time does seem slow. On the factory system using NetworkManager for ethernet, it seems particularly slow. I’m going to switch that one back to “wicked” and see if that makes a noticeable difference.


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