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Linux Like Legos: Inside Novell's New openSUSE Build Service 2.0

Linux Like Legos

  • July 16, 2010
  • By Sean Michael Kerner
Sean Michael Kerner

How is a Linux distribution put together? For Novell's openSUSE, it starts with its newly improved Build Service 2.0.

Building a Linux distribution is a complex task that involves both project and package management skills. For Novell's openSUSE community Linux distribution, the key tool it uses is the openSUSE Build Service, which was recently improved with a 2.0 release in June.

The open source openSUSE Build Service 2.0 release is the system that helps to build the openSUSE distribution, which was updated this week with the 11.3 release.

Andreas Jaeger, program manager at openSUSE, explained that the openSUSE Build Service 2.0 has a reworked user interface and includes incremental changes that make the whole build process more efficient. The Build Service is a tool that enables open source developers to build packages for the openSUSE distribution as well as for other distributions including Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu.

The openSUSE Build Service is a technology that was first announced back in 2007 and hit its 1.0 release in 2008. Currently the openSUSE build service is hosting over 13,000 projects encompassing nearly 100,000 software packages.

In addition to the ability to build software packages, with the 2.0 version, developers now get workflow capabilities for package updates and patches. With version 2.0, Jaeger noted that there is an interface where developers can track requests.

"We have this request concept in the build service where even if I'm not the maintaining a specific package, I could branch it, make changes and then submit it back to the package owner," Jaeger said.

He added that for the release manager, the build service 2.0 provides information on which packages are failing and which ones have a newer upstream version to ensure distribution stability.

"All that information makes it easier for developers and for the release manager for openSUSE 11.3 and future release development," Jaeger said.

From a competitive point of view against other community Linux distributions, Jaeger said that the Build Service also helps to differentiate openSUSE against its peers.

"We're on the same page as Fedora and try to do as much as possible upstream for the benefit of everyone," Jaeger said. "On the other hand, we're all fighting for the same pool of developers and I see the Build Service as a key advantage since it allows package building not just for a single distribution but for a lot of distributions and that gets us a lot of developers."

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

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