The beginnings of openSUSE date back to 1992 when four German Linux enthusiasts -- Roland Dyroff, Thomas Fehr, Hubert Mantel and Burchard Steinbild -- launched the project under the name of SuSE (Software und System Entwicklung) Linux. In the early days, the young company sold sets of floppy disks containing a German edition of Slackware Linux, but it wasn't long before SuSE Linux became an independent distribution with the launch of version 4.2 in May 1996. In the following years, the developers adopted the RPM package management format and introduced YaST, an easy-to-use graphical system administration tool. Frequent releases, excellent printed documentation, and easy availability of SuSE Linux in stores across Europe and North America resulted in growing popularity of the distribution.

SuSE Linux was acquired by Novell, Inc. in late 2003. Major changes in the development, licensing and availability of SUSE Linux followed shortly afterwards - YaST was released under the General Public License, the ISO images were freely distributed from public download servers, and, most significantly, the development of the distribution was opened to public participation for the first time. Since the launch of the openSUSE project and the release of version 10.0 in October 2005, the distribution became completely free in both senses of the word. The openSUSE code has become a base system for Novell's commercial products, first named as Novell Linux, but later renamed to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Today, openSUSE has a large following of satisfied users. The principal reason for openSUSE getting high marks from its users are pleasant and polished desktop environments (KDE and GNOME), excellent system administration utility (YaST), and, for those who buy the boxed edition, some of the best printed documentation available with any distribution. However, the recent deal between Novell and Microsoft, which apparently concedes to Microsoft's argument that it has intellectual property rights over Linux, has resulted in a string of condemnation by many Linux personalities and has prompted some users to switch distributions. Although Novell has downplayed the deal and Microsoft has yet to exercise any rights, this issue remains a thorn in the side of the otherwise very community-friendly Linux company.

  • Pros: Comprehensive and intuitive configuration tool; large repository of software packages, excellent web site infrastructure and printed documentation
  • Cons: Novell's patent deal with Microsoft in November 2006 seemingly legitimised Microsoft's intellectual property claims over Linux; its resource-heavy desktop setup and graphical utilities are sometimes seen as "bloated and slow"
  • Software package management: YaST graphical and command line utility using RPM packages
  • Available editions: openSUSE for 32-bit (i386), 64-bit (x86_64) and PowerPC (ppc) processors (also installable live CD edition); SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server for i586, IA64, PowerPC, s390, s390x and x86_64 architectures

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updated: 01.11.2010

released: 01.11.2010