openSUSE 12.2 was originally set to debut in July. Then in June the project hit a snag and delayed the release until now in an effort to improve the overall quality and stability of the Linux distribution.
Andreas Jaeger, program manager for openSUSE, told ServerWatch that the project implemented a feature freeze prior to the delay decision. As such, a few packages, including for example Firefox, will need to be updated by users when they download the distro.
Another package that did get a little stuck behind is the KDE desktop, which currently stands at the 4.9 release, while openSUSE 12.2 is including only the 4.8 release.
Jaeger stressed, however, that the overall net result of the delay was a positive one for the distribution, providing a better final release of openSUSE 12.2.
"In general we concentrated on stabilizing the release," Jaeger said. "We've had over two hundred bug fixes in the last few months."
The openSUSE distribution already gets a broad range of testing on packages thanks in part to its Tumbleweed rolling distribution.
The main openSUSE release is a milestone release with packages taken from a point in time and then stabilized. If an openSUSE user prefers, they can opt into the Tumbleweed rolling release cycle, where the latest and greatest packages are immediately available.
Among the key new features in the openSUSE 12.2 release is the Linux 3.4 kernel, which first debuted in May of this year. The most recent kernel release is now the 3.5 kernel, which Linus Torvalds released in July.
Jaeger noted that the 3.4 kernel allows the capping of CPU usage across entire groups of processes. He added that in comparison to the openSUSE 12.1 release, the addition of Linux 3.4 provides a faster storage layer. Additionally, the Btrfs filesystem has been enhanced to enable snapshotting before updates to provide additional system resiliency.
At the system level, openSUSE 12.2 now also uses GRUB2 as the default bootloader for the distribution. As well, Plymouth is now the default graphical boot technology.
Another key addition that server users might benefit from is a new suite of Digital Forensics/Incident Response tools (DFIR). The new tools are able to collect and record chain of custody information and can be used by computer forensic and incident response professionals.
To date, openSUSE has been focused on x86 system architectures, but that is starting to change. Jaeger noted that work is currently underway on an openSUSE 12.2 ARM version. The ARM version is expected to have its first release candidate in the coming weeks.
The openSUSE distribution has historically had an eight month cadence, and this is something that's likely to continue. The next major release, tentatively numbered as openSUSE 12.3, is likely to debut in March, eight months from the originally expected July release date for openSUSE 12.2.
In the coming weeks there will be an openSUSE conference in Europe where developers can gather to formally map out the future of the distribution. Among the items to be discussed will be formal plans for ensuring stable releases and plans for release staging.
"We have to discuss how to develop openSUSE and its features, and how to get stuff in so we have a stable environment moving forward for everybody," Jaeger said.