Posted by & filed under openSUSE.

There is a new mailing list for operators on the openSUSE IRC channels – ircops at opensuse dot org.

If you have any queries, suggestions, or complaints regarding an openSUSE IRC channel, please email the list, supplying relevant log excerpts.

For reference, the IRC rules are located on the opensuse-community wiki..

If you are an operator on any openSUSE IRC channel, and have not yet done so – please join the list. The method of subscribing is the same as for any other openSUSE mailing list.

In other IRC related news, the SUSEhelp bot sitting in many openSUSE channels has for some time now supported localisable factoids. Some channels are already using this to provide localised answers to queries such as “SUSEhelp: mp3” and “SUSEhelp: kde4”. If you help in a non-English IRC channel and would find this useful feel free to ask me (benJIman on freenode) how to use it.

Posted by & filed under openSUSE.

Most of the time that I was able to spend actually hacking during hackweek I spent working on the software portal. It was very helpful to be able to discuss issues with Pascal in person.

The software portal project aims to expose the software available for openSUSE and other linux distributions to users as “Applications” rather than “Packages”. The differences between applications and packages are:

  • Applications can be made up of more than one package. e.g. Amarok is split into several packages on openSUSE.
  • There can be several applications in one package. e.g. kdenetwork3 contains both kget and feedbrowser on openSUSE.
  • Applications are not tied to a particular distribution.

The idea is that the user can locate available software by searching or browsing then add screenshots, comments, ratings, tags, translations, etc. The user should also be able to install an application he/she has found without having to know what operating system he/she is running.

Software Portal automates the import of package information from package repositories (rpm-md,deb) and in the future other sources. The import process also maps packages to applications automatically based on the available package metadata a process that can be refined and guided with rules.

Package information is imported from package repositories and mapped to applications. Users can also contribute to applications.

I spent quite some time working on providing a mechanism for users to guide how the repository indexer maps packages to applications, which is quite crucial to allow users to add their own applications and specify which packages make up the application.

I was also very pleased to achieve the goal I set myself before hackweek – to get an instance of the software portal running on a server where people could access it and test it. This has already led to many defects being found and some fixed. I will not publish the URL publicly yet as there are still major problems to fix, we are breaking it fairly regularly, and having lots of people playing with it at this stage would cause problems. Hopefully we can make a test version publicly available before too long.

Some current screenshots:

Software Portal Front Page
Listing applications
Viewing an application

More screenshots are available.

At present there are only two people working on the software portal project. If you are interested in helping either with java development, or with web design, or in any other area, please do join our mailing list, or drop into #opensuse-project on freenode with any questions.

Posted by & filed under openSUSE.

Having now left the University of Warwick, I have lost access to my Warwick hosted blog. So I will now be hosting it myself at

Last week was hackweek at Novell – during which Novell developers get to work full time on their own personal projects. Novell were kind enough to sponsor several openSUSE community members (including myself) to travel to N├╝rnberg to meet openSUSE community members (some of whom are employed by Novell) in person and participate in hackweek. It was great that so many people from outside Novell were able to take part this time.

My week was a mixture of some useful discussion about openSUSE (I’m not sure who came up with the name “chatweek”, but Andrew seems to have blogged it first at least.) and work on the software portal project (which I will blog about separately). I think it was productive to discuss some of the weaknesses of the openSUSE project, and what can be done to address them. I hope someone else will publish the outcomes of these discussions as I did not take very good notes.

It was also good to talk to people in person about the projects I am involved in (Software Portal and One Click Install) and give and be given suggestions and requests. I was able to talk to Klass about what we would need from the buildservice hermes messaging framework to allow the buildservice to push information about new packages directly to the software portal. It was also good to talk to Garret who has designed a vastly improved (if challenging to realise) user interface for the One Click Install handler.