Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What is the Evergreen Project?

An interview with Wolfgang Rosenauer
by Kostas Koudaras


Having a distribution that gives you a two year support for ALL editions is another fascinating aspect of the openSUSE distribution. Being in a community that allows you to say that you think that this is not enough and that you want to do something with it is another one. Wolfgang Rosenauer believed that something like that would be useful to users and gave birth to Project Evergreen.

Hi Wolfgang, I have some questions about the Evergreen Project that I got from a few people I talked about it. Let us start...
1)Tell us some things about the Evergreen Project. What inspired your idea for the project?

-Basically since I began to use Linux (long ago) I installed and openSUSE (previously S.u.S.E. Linux) for friends as desktops and servers including people who do not know anything about Linux. Also I'm running several servers in hosted environments for some association and myself. As I would call myself an openSUSE poweruser (in the past employed by SUSE Linux/Novell) I didn't and still don't want to switch to another longer supported distribution like CentOS, Debian, or Ubuntu LTS. I tried some and wasn't satisfied with them. Also using SLES is no option as there is no money involved at all.
I don't want to care about all the machines every day (you know it's nothing I get money for) but after 18 months at the latest the systems run out of security maintenance which is a very bad thing for machines running in the internet as web-/mail/etc servers. Because of that I always followed discussions about initiatives like openSUSE LTS and a CentOS-like clone of SLES. Unfortunately there were endless discussions about details instead of something happening and so I decided to try another approach: "Start it first and figure out details along the way". All that with the risk of the project failing at some point.

2)What is the usefulness of the Evergreen Project in everyday use? What I mean is how a regular-everyday user could find Evergreen project useful?

-Currently the project started to support 11.1. So it's useful for everyone still running 11.1 somewhere. It allows them to get security (and in some cases) bugfixes for their system.
That being said project Evergreen should not prevent people fromupdating their systems but it gives those who cannot do it for different reasons the chance to have a secure platform for a longer time.



3)The Evergreen Project now supports 11.1. For how long do you want-think you will support 11.1 and in some months that 11.2 support expires from Novell will you take care of it too?

-This is not the original plan but then again I'm not opposed to it. It all depends if we can attract developers to help with that. While I know that during a transition phase we probably leave 11.2 users behind while still supporting 11.1 it's probably not sane to think that we can support every openSUSE release. I mean even Ubuntu doesn't do it and if it would be easy then Novell would do it probably.
What we currently miss though is a roadmap which openSUSE release will be the next Evergreen supported one. I think it makes sense to choose the latest available when we have to stop 11.1 support. Since we currently do not know when that might be it's hard to tell what will be the next. It might be 11.4 but currently we have to see how the project works out at all.


4)What are the ways people can support the Evergreen Project?

-The main work obviously is to port needed fixes to the 11.1 packages. That's not an easy task but still the most important contribution we need.Another one is users who can take the risk and can test updates before we release them to everyone. And as written above not all processes are in place so people can give their support by joining discussions and giving feedback.

5)Tell us some things about your experience in starting a new Project in the openSUSE community. What would be your advice to someone who wants to start a project with in the community?would you encourage a such try?

-It obviously depends on the type of the project but I learned that it's important do something instead of just talking about it if you want itto happen. Usually nobody will hold you back. Things like trying to get people within the community enthusiastic about something is probably the most important thing. Fortunately in my case that wasn't needed that much since quite some people want to see something like Evergreen. I just need to find those who are willing to help creating it ;-)

Thanks a lot for the short interview Wolfgang.
Add anything else you would like to say to people

-Thanks to you and I hope I was able to give people some insight.

Wolfgang

Find more about the Evergreen Project at:
http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Evergreen

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