08 November, 2011

12.1 closing in!

We're about to put the finishing touches on openSUSE 12.1 and the amount of activity in the openSUSE IRC channels is impressive. I see people working 12-14-16 hours a day, fixing the last issues, writing release notes, and in short getting this release ready for our users. Respect!

I myself have upgraded my laptop to openSUSE 12.1 RC2 now and I got to see the new Plasma Desktop. Overall, the difference between Tumbleweed and 12.1 are minimal. As expected, considering Tumbleweed (openSUSE's cool rolling release repository) was a hair away from 12.1, the biggest differences are probably artwork and of course Plasma 4.7 instead of 4.6...

KMail2 and Feeding Nepomuk

Ok, there is KMail2 which gave some work. It is really a mixed blessing. A bit slower in opening mails and folders, MUCH faster in checking and downloading new mail (awesome for bad network connections!), painfully big memory usage. There is a problem with the akonadi_nepomuk_email_feeder (yes, feeds mail from Akonadi in Nepomuk for indexing and search) where the queue fills up memory. My 6GB of mail surely doesn't fit in my 2GB ram so that's painful! But it fills up slowly while processing mail so restarting it every 30 min during the night (akonadictl restart) gave it a chance to index all my mails. And this problem is being worked on...

Less nice is the constant use of memory (MySQL alone is 120 MB), but I hope there is room to optimize things further. At least it's pretty much stable, which is a bigger deal than memory usage to me. Thanks to Sebastian being supported by donations we have a faster and more stable Nepomuk, making search finally usable for me. Also nice.

Talking about faster and more stable, KWin is noticeably faster again, and blur works great now :D

Other new things

I've also installed the 3rd beta of Calligra which is available from the KDE updated applications repo. It is not perfectly stable (reported my first Tables crash already) but Stage now works with all the standard openSUSE 12.1 presentations, unlike the older KPresenter version. That is good news as it's still quite a bit faster than LibreOffice. Not more stable, yet, both are unfortunately quite crash-happy.

I haven't had time to check out Snapper myself, mostly because but I've seen a demo at Brainshare and let's just say I greatly look forward to Desktop Integration! Being able to see previous versions of files and to roll back is really cool, especially once you don't have to go to a separate app anymore but can do it from the file manager.

Played with SAX3 a bit, broke my xorg.conf. Looks like the automatic configuration works better than my manual one...

And yes, systemd boots up marginally faster. And it doesn't seem to break things for me so I'm content with it.

Now, I have to finish some more writing!


  1. Hi Jos,

    Awesome updates, looking forward to it!

    I do have to mention, last time I upgraded to KDE 4.7 my KMail/organizer conversion completely broke. It's partially caused by doing to upgrade within KDE 4.6 I guess. For example, the local folders were not migrated which causes KMail to quit at startup, and dor KOrganizer I had to add Akonadi resources with file paths to ~/.kde/share/somewhere. Eventually I had to reset my KMail config, and rebuild the account settings.

    However, are you realy sure all migration issues are worked out? I kind of expect more bug reports and users-in-panic because of this situation.

  2. I do not get it, why you use kmail instead of Thunderbird like for example PCLinuxOS do. As you write Kmail experience is faaar from perfect. First thing I do after installing openSUSE is remove this all pim staff. At lest you have nepomuk disabled by deafult which is imho good thing

  3. Sounds cool, I can't wait to test the final release.

    I think this is a good opportunity to moan a bit.
    openSUSE 12.1 will be the 3rd openSUSE version that I will use on my laptop, and it will be the 3rd one where I cannot change my display brightness (At least if nothing in that regard changes between RC1 and Final). It will be the 3rd version where I have to rely on the preset brightness which apparently is chosen on startup.

    I always liked openSUSE, but I think it is sad that I cannot use basic funcionality on my main machine with this distro. And I feel a bit discouraged because I initially reported that issue in 11.3, contributed feedback several times for 11.4 and 12.1 betas, without any effect. I don't even know who to ask or blame.

    But anyway. I will switch to the next opensuse version asap. The community is awesome and openSUSE has the best polished KDE SC experience so far. And as a KDE user this is a highly aknowledged fact, IMHO.

  4. One thing that I would love openSUSE and other distributions that ship KDE to do is release a list of all the patches and configuration changes made to the software complication. That might promote more upstream work (I guess openSUSE has pretty good reputation on that one) and give new ideas to KDE users, developers and distributors on how to configure the system.

    Anyhow openSUSE seems interesting as always.

  5. Oh. So much for the UX. So, would be there any compelling reason to upgrade? On my homebox I'm still sticking with 11.2, unsupported and all - because KDE 4.3 is barely usable on 1GB RAM machine, and later versions are even worse, as long as you trying to do some real work (LibreOffice anyone?)

    Sure I'll give 12.1 a spin, but come on - you're going to release it with usability problems that even you admit. Why?

  6. As a workaround for high mem usage by MySql,I'd suggest trying different backend. Here (Fedora15+KDE 4.7.2) i'm using Postgres, usually it takes<30 MB of ram, with 4 email accounts, +1GB of mail stored locally+IMAP folder and no special tricks to make it less memory-hungry.
    I've never found it peaking over 40 MB of used ram.

  7. I use(d) KDE 4.5/6/7 on a three years old netbook with 1GB RAM, including desktop effects and wobbly windows and lately even blur. So KDE4's performance seems to be ok for weak hardware even if the demanding bits are enabled.

    Not sure what KDE4 has to do with LibreOffice's performance.

  8. Warning: Calligra 2.4 beta 3 has some recently found bugs in style handling and saving, especially in Words. You can use it very well for viewing files, but for working on them wait for beta 4 which will hopefully be released soon. The Calligra sprint is during this weekend so I expect some serious hacking and bug fixing to be done.

  9. @first Anonymous:
    What are you problem? I mean, if you don't like KMail don't use and / or delete it. I don't use Firefox, I use Opera instead. But I won't start complaining why it isn't pre-installed.
    Take the DVD and select what YOU want. If you don't want to do this, you have to deal with the defaults!

  10. There has indeed been a discussion about not having KMail2 but Thunderbird as default email client for openSUSE. That would help with the problems for new users but of course existing users would not be helped so I don't think it makes that much difference. And the discussion was unfortunately started way past the time we could still do this...

    In any case, the KMail stuff is being worked on by the KDE PIM hackers and I suspect most will be fixed in the next release of openSUSE. We also ship something far more stable already than what Kubuntu or Fedora ship etc ship. For openSUSE 12.1, 99% of the problems with KMail will be related to performance.

    I would indeed not suggest to use KMail2/KDE PIM2 on a system with 1 gigabyte of ram. That is embarasing, for sure, but it is how it is. I hope it'll get fixed in the next openSUSE release... Of course one can run Tumbleweed to get fixes faster and the final release should fix at least ONE big memory problem - the import thing :D

  11. >I use(d) KDE 4.5/6/7 on a three years old netbook with
    >1GB RAM, including desktop effects and wobbly windows
    >and lately even blur.

    I can beat that... I've run OpenSUSE 11.3 and 11.4 (KDE 4.4/4.6) on a very old laptop with 512MB ram and a 4200 RPM IDE hard drive with onboard graphics that benchmark to slightly slower than the desktop video card I had in 1999!

  12. "There has indeed been a discussion about not having KMail2 but Thunderbird as default email client for openSUSE."

    Here's a question... from what I understand, the version of KMail that comes with KDE 4.6 was considered not really in a usable state, so OpenSUSE 11.4 included the same KMail version from 11.3. If KMail still isn't working properly, why wasn't this simply done again this time, with an update released if/when KMail was working properly? That avoids the bugs and also avoids switching default e-mail clients - and working fine for OpenSUSE 11.4.

    Is it possible to not upgrade the KMail when installing or upgrading to 12.1? Alternately, I have Nepomuk disabled right now. If it remains disabled, does that avoid the painful memory creep issue?

  13. One more thought: has anyone seen the Linux Action Show episodes where they outrageously tear apart Fedora release after release due to its snowballing lack of polish (the last review famously pointing out two buttons, "Software Update" and "Software Updates")? With the last OpenSUSE 11.4 review, talk of SUSE Studio, etc., the host Bryan (currently on hiatus) in one episode said he's not sure why he's not using OpenSUSE right now.

    It sounds like unlike the last releases, OpenSUSE decided to push forward with new features that aren't working fully rather than delaying them to another release as was done with things in 11.3 and 11.4. I'm positively frightened right now that Linux Action Show is going to rake OpenSUSE over the coals because of it. I was excited that the OpenSUSE review would be coming on the heels of their Fedora review and might work out great for us to contrast a bleeding-edge distro with one that was cutting edge but stable. Now, if Fedora has cleaned up its act and OpenSUSE's forsaken some of its stability for bleeding-edge, we might lose all of the good PR we've picked up from LAS over the past few years. Last Fedora review, Bryan said someone looking for an RPM-based distro should choose OpenSUSE rather than Fedora. What's going to happen this time around?

  14. Will it come with instructions on defeating bugs in software which should not be included like nepomuk and kmail2. 6 gb for one email account should never see the light of day. Who at opensuse caved into pressure from kde to let this happen? Based on comments here it sounds like 12.1 will generate some real frustration for users.

  15. Christian WansartMonday, 14 November, 2011

    I have another question. You say that Akonadi feeds Nepomuk, right? Is this done automatically or does Nepomuk needs to index the mail folder, probably ~/.local/share/local-mail or ~/.kde4/share/apps/kmail? And is there a way to see what's on Nepomuk's index?

  16. @Josef: the KDE Pim 4.4 version we shipped with 4.6 is now so old that according to the developers it would be more unstable than KDE PIM 4.7 if build with the KDE Platform 4.7. It is disappointing as KDE supposedly maintains binary compatibility with earlier releases but I wouldn't argue with them about it...

    Meanwhile, about the stability. We ship essentially KDE SC 4.7.3 (most of the .3 patches made it in) where other distro's ship 4.7.0. That means at least where it comes to KDE, openSUSE is far more stable. The same actually goes for the kernel (3.1 is a rather conservative and stable release) and as usual we stabilize a bit more than others. While there will still be plenty of issues to be found (it's not possible to polish such a huge amount of software in 8 months) it'll surely be better than Fedora and (K)Ubuntu.

    The gist of it all: we had no real choice other than to do our best to make KDE PIM 4.7 stable and ship it, despite its issues. The 4.4 release was not useable anymore, Thunderbird has its own issues and of course no migration at all. Moreover, we ship something at least much better than the other distributions, so if anything people should come to openSUSE, not go away.

    @Christian: Akonadi stores its mails in a mySQL database so local/share/local-mail is truly 'local mail', not the Akonadi cache. Akonadi thus has to pro-actively 'feed' Nepomuk the data, which is what the akonadi-nepomuk-feeder tool does.

  17. I'm expecting an ASUS Zenbook to arrive from NewEgg tomorrow and I'm very excited to immediately erase Windows7 and install openSUSE 12.1


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