openSUSE Leap 15 is here! (download the iso) openSUSE has always been my favorite Linux distribution I’ve written extensively about the advantages that come from using zypper, the package manager that comes bundled into openSUSE and how to use it to install and update software on your system. Not only does openSUSE have the best package manager, they also have the best mascot. Geeko for the win!
I am really excited about Leap 15, it is a major improvement over Leap 42, which is saying a lot since Leap 42 has been an absolutely phenomenal operating system. Leap 15 has some big shoes to fill here but I think it brings a lot to the table that should make it a worthy successor.
As far as open source desktop systems go I think openSUSE can give any of the other Linux contenders a run for their money. Linux desktop environments are in no short supply, and openSUSE is the only distribution I have used that works flawlessly whether you choose to use GNOME, KDE, Budgie, Cinnamon….the list goes on (sorry if I didn’t list your favorite). You can run any or all of these desktop environments on Leap 15 and each one feels as if it was made specifically for openSUSE.
One of the great strengths that openSUSE brings to the desktop is that it is great for both beginners and longtime Linux veterans. The graphical control center (YaST) makes Linux less intimidating to newcomers, and gives power users and administrators a great tool to fine tune their systems. There really isn’t anything else like it in the Linux ecosystem. With YaST you can do everything from install software, create users and groups, set up a printer, create file shares, set up a web server, and a lot more. All from an easy to use graphical or terminal based interface that allows you to tweak nearly any aspect of your desktop or server.
For all that can be said for the openSUSE desktop, there are some great features built into this release for servers and that is what I would like to focus on.
In my mind letsencrypt is the best thing to happen to the world wide web since grumpy cat and it is now included in openSUSE Leap 15 directly from the official repositories. Letsencrypt is a free fully automated SSL certificate generation tool and signing authority sponsored by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG). Before letsencrypt, if you wanted an encrypted connection to your WordPress site (thus receiving that fancy green padlock in the address bar) you either had to pony up a couple hundred dollars to your hosting provider every now and then, or suffer through trust issues when your visitors received a warning from their browser explaining that your website was potentially malicious.
Having native support for letsencrypt in openSUSE is something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I am grateful for all the work that has been put into this effort by Lukas Schauer (@lukas2511)and the rest of the developers who work on dehydrated.
I wrote a how-to blog for securing a website with letsencrypt here: https://lukerawlins.com/letsencrypt/ I expect to be updating that post soon to include instructions for openSUSE Leap 15. Also, keep an eye out for Richard Brown to include a how-to on his blog https://rootco.de/
Migrate to SLE
With the release of openSUSE Leap 15 you now have the ability to migrate your openSUSE systems to a fully supported SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) subscription. This is a huge advantage in the server market where you have to worry about things like long-term support, and hardware or software certifications. In order to accommodate this transition openSUSE Leap 15 and SLE 15 were built from common source material and share the underlying code base. Basically, if you are running Leap 15 you are running SLE 15. “openSUSE Leap 15 brings plenty of community packages built on top of a core from SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 15 sources, with the two major releases being built in parallel from the beginning for the first time.” (source) This is the first time that openSUSE and SUSE have shared the same core operating system and are fully interchangeable. This say’s a lot of good things for the long-term stability of openSUSE and signals a strong commitment to the community by SUSE.
To find out more about this feature I reached out to the openSUSE chairman Richard Brown (@sysrich on Twitter). Who, while busy getting prepared for the upcoming Leap 15 release, did confirm that there is”no need to redeploy a system” and that the migration path from openSUSE to SLE is fully supported.
If you want to learn a little more about the process of migrating an existing Leap 15 system to SLE 15 this document is a good place to start: https://susedoc.github.io/doc-sle/develop/SLES-upgrade/html/cha.upgrade-online.html#sec.upgrade-online.opensuse_to_sle
With Leap 15, openSUSE is moving away from its iptables based SuSEfirewall2 scripts to the widely used and powerful firewall management tool, firewalld. Firewalld has been around for awhile now is familiar to anyone who has been using Fedora, or CentOS 7, over the last few years. Firwalld uses the concept of zones to filter traffic to a Linux system and provides an intuitive command line interface (firewall-cmd) to create or modify rules in the running firewall configuration. As mentioned before YaST also provides a graphical interface to manage the firewall.
Having support for firewalld in Leap 15 will make it easier for administrators with training or experience using CentOS or Fedora to more easily transition onto openSUSE or SLE in the future.
Transactional Server Role
When you install Leap 15 you will be presented with the option to install the system with the transactional server role. “This system role features a new update system that applies updates atomically (as a single operation) and makes them easy to revert should that become necessary.” When you choose the transactional server role you will have a system that mounts the root file system as read-only, with only the /etc and /var filesystems being writable by users or system services.
The transactional server role is the product of the openSUSE Kubic project. Which is largely focused on developing a minimal system to host containers, without all the overhead that comes from traditional operating systems.
Lots of other new stuff too
Leap 15 comes with PHP 7, update-alternatives, and improvements to managing AppArmor profiles. This is a great update for openSUSE and I expect we will continue to see great work poor out of the project. For a complete list of features take a look at the official press release: https://en.opensuse.org/Features_15.0
As always when experimenting with openSUSE, “Have a lot of fun…”