Novell openSUSE 11.3 Linux OS Gets Btrfs, New Kernel

by Sean Michael Kerner

The new open source OS release delivers a "better" filesystem (Btrfs) for Linux while updating packages and performance.

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After eight milestone releases and two release candidates, Novell's OpenSUSE 11.3 Linux distribution has now become generally available. The new version provides numerous improvements over the openSUSE 11.2 release, which debuted in November 2009.

Among the new items in openSUSE 11.3 is the next-generation Linux Btrfs filesystem, the Linux 2.6.34 kernel and support for the LXDE Linux desktop.

The openSUSE 11.3 release follows major new updates by Linux rivals Ubuntu in April and Red Hat's Fedora 13 Linux in June.

"Everywhere, there are lots of changes and we've enabled new technologies from upstream," Andreas Jaeger, program manager at openSUSE, told InternetNews.com. "The Btrfs filesystem is now enabled and it's working pretty good at this point."

Oracle engineer Chris Mason first began the Btrfs filesystem effort in 2008, and the effort has been in the process of maturation ever since. Btrfs provides large filesystem and snapshotting support, providing stability and disaster recovery features to Linux.

Though Btrfs is included in openSUSE 11.3, it's not the default filesystem and may not yet be ready for everyone.

"I'm running Btrfs on my heavy-duty build filesystem and I haven't had a single problem with it," Jaeger said. "I see Btrfs as the next big filesystem for Linux. I expect us to have Btrfs as the default filesystem in a future release."

openSUSE also isn’t the only major Linux distro that’s taking a look at Btrfs. The Fedora 13 Linux distribution included experimental Btrfs support specifically to enable system rollbacks

The openSUSE 11.3 release is also expanding the desktop landscape for Novell's community Linux with support for the KDE, GNOME and LXDE Linux desktops. Traditionally, openSUSE users overwhelmingly used KDE as their desktop of choice, according to Jaeger. Yet there has been a need for a desktop that can run on older PCs with low RAM and slower CPUs, and that's where LXDE comes in.

LXDE requires fewer system resources than either GNOME or KDE and can run on older, underpowered hardware.

The new 11.3 release also includes an updated openSUSE Build Service, which, unlike with other distros, is used to put the distribution together. New enhancements to version 2.0 of the build service offer developers and release managers better ways to track incremental changes and requests.

With openSUSE 11.3 now available the focus now moves to the next major release, which has tentatively been numbered as openSUSE 11.4 -- though Jaeger noted that a final decision on the numbering for the next release hasn't yet been made and it could end up being called openSUSE 12, too.

Regardless of what number the next release carries, Jaeger noted that the next openSUSE distribution release is currently set for a release date of March 10.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Thursday Jul 15th 2010
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