There are many, many things SUSE does right. Of that lengthy list, being open often finds its way to the top. That is why it should come as no surprise that SUSE has brought to life a new distribution.
Ladies and gents, I give unto thee...openSUSE Leap. What is opensuse LEAP? In a word, it is to SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) what CentOS is to Red Hat. This is a major change for openSUSE. Why? First and foremost, it secures the future of the SUSE-based distribution. And because its core will now be maintained by SUSE developers, it will secure faster updates that will come directly from SLE. Because of how SUSE will be maintaining openSUSE Leap, you can be sure that openSUSE Leap will always remain incredibly similar to SLE. On top of this, LEAP will follow the same release cycle as SLE. This means no more upgrades for openSUSE every nine months. The major releases will come from SLE and the minor releases will come from the likes of KDE and GNOME. The release of openSUSE Leap also means the sunsetting of Evergreen openSUSE. This is due to the fact that openSUSE LEAP will have a much longer life expectancy than Evergreen.
This has been something we've needed for a long time. Up until openSUSE Leap, when an administrator wanted to test the waters of Linux on an enterprise server, they really only had one option...CentOS. That's all fine and good if you are either already familiar with Red Hat or plan on eventually migrating to the official Red Hat platform. But what if you're more familiar with SUSE and YaST? Now you have a very viable option. Even if you don't plan on the dropping the coin for an official enterprise-ready SUSE distribution, you will still get the same taste.
Of course, anyone considering this option must understand that openSUSE Leap differs from SLE in the same fashion that CentOS differs from Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In other words, openSUSE Leap is a community-supported distribution. At the same time, like SUSE, openSUSE Leap is focused primarily on maturity and stability. This means there will be far fewer gotchas and issues to be found. SUSE has also created a new testing tool called OpenQA, something they are using for both SLE and openSUSE Leap, so you can be sure when a new release arrives it has been fully vetted.
Maturity means no bleeding edge
If you happen to be looking for a bleeding edge distribution, turn the other way. Because openSUSE Leap focuses on maturity and stability, you will not find latest, greatest releases in all the packages. Anyone, within the world of Linux, knows that if you want stability you do not want bleeding edge (especially on a server). Most often the latest iteration of a package has not been tested enough for enterprise usage. Don't worry, though, openSUSE Leap packages may not be bleeding edge, but they won't be long in the tooth like some found in Debian.
No live release
This might come as a bit of a disappointment to some, but there will be no live release of openSUSE Leap. This will be like old times when you boot up the optical media and install directly. One nice benefit of this is that, with the full-release DVD, you will find nearly all desktop environments available for installation. In fact, just like in the good old days, you can opt to install all of the desktop environments. You can download the 64 bit release here.
Why do you want this?
The openSUSE Leap distribution is a game changer for the Linux landscape. Why? Because it has the best of all possible worlds...it offers the power of SUSE Linux Enterprise in a package a Ubuntu user wouldn't shy away from with the stability of Debian. What more could you want?
SUSE has been doing things very, very right for a very long time. It never ceases to amaze me that this brilliant company hasn't found more traction in the US. Hopefully openSUSE Leap will be that which will help them leap in the spotlight here in the States.
Do you SUSE? Will you Leap?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.