The developers behind the openSUSE project announced this week the availability of openSUSE 12.1, a major new version of the community-driven Linux distribution. After eight months in development, the new version brings some noteworthy improvements and updated software.
This is an especially significant release because it’s the first one that has taken place since Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell, openSUSE’s corporate sponsor. The openSUSE project serves as a test environment for SUSE, a commercial Linux distribution that is now marketed by Attachmate, and the company has continued to support openSUSE development in collaboration with the project’s community. The strong 12.1 release shows that the project has weathered SUSE’s change in ownership.
openSUSE 12.1 includes version 4.7 of the KDE software collection and version 3.2 of the GNOME desktop environment, along with built-in support for color management in both major desktop environments.
Oracle’s hot new btrfs filesystem, which is starting to see some initial end-user adoption, is worth checking out in openSUSE 12.1. Although it’s still probably a bit early to entrust the relatively new filesystem with mission-critical data on the desktop, it does offer some cool capabilities in the new openSUSE. A new tool called Snapper allows users to take advantage of btrfs snapshot functionality, making it easy to roll back to prior snapshots, and it’s integrated with the distro’s package management system so you can easily roll back after a botched update.
Under the hood, openSUSE 12.1 sports version 3.1 of the Linux kernel, which offers improved btrfs support and a number of other improvements. Another major change in 12.1 is the adoption of systemd, a new init system created by the same Red Hat developer who graced the Linux desktop with PulseAudio. The classic init system is still available and can be invoked by hitting the F5 key at boot in the event that something goes wrong with systemd. Thankfully, the transition to systemd doesn’t seem to be especially problematic so far.
One of the major reasons openSUSE has a place in our lineup of favorite Linux distributions is its excellent support for the latest development tools and frameworks. The latest release is no exception: it adds support for Google’s Go programming language. It also comes with version 3 of LLVM and the clang compiler. The standard version of GCC in the new openSUSE release is 4.6.2, which introduces experimental C++11 support.
For additional details about the new release, you can refer to the official launch announcement. You can download the release from the project’s website.