openSUSE Leap | What does this Linux distribution do?

openSUSE Leap is a Linux distribution is based on Tumbleweed and the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The operating system is suitable for server environments, clouds, or as a desktop. It is reliable thanks to its stability.

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What is openSUSE Leap?

openSUSE Leap is an operating system that began as a joint project between the company SUSE Software Solutions GmbH from Nuremberg and a community of developers, who are still responsible for its continued development. Their focus is on creating a user-friendly and stable distribution which can be used by companies and private individuals for a variety of different projects. Parts of the system, such as interfaces and applications, are based on the rolling release Tumbleweed, which was also created by openSUSE.

The history of openSUSE Leap

openSUSE is a community project which has been available since 2005. openSUSE developed Linux server distributions and various other tools which have interested administrators. A release is published annually along with security updates and small fixes. The releases build on the previous version and are numbered accordingly, with older versions being preserved through Snapshot. However, this practice was broken in 2015 when a largely independent system was introduced. This system was named openSUSE Leap and given the version number 42.1.

openSUSE Leap took the approach of using software from the parent company, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and combining it with the applications and interfaces from Tumbleweed. The number 42 is taken from the novel series “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. The number plays a famous role as the answer to the question “about life, the universe and all the rest”. However, further versions of openSUSE Leap deviated from this numbering and were released as 15.2 and 15.3. openSUSE Leap is being developed in a self-organized project with the company SUSE acting as the main sponsor.

What are the benefits of openSUSE Leap?

openSUSE Leap is popular in the community and is often used as an alternative for other systems such as Linux, Ubuntu, and CentOS, although these systems do have more users. There are several advantages which make this project so attractive to developers, which we will outline below.

Binary compatibility with SLES

openSUSE Leap it is still independent despite the fact it is co-developed by SUSE. However, openSUSE Leap has been based on the packages from SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) since version 15.3 in 2021. The code base of both operating systems has been identical since then and the distributions are binary compatible. This is a big advantage for users who are looking for a strong Linux distribution for enterprise purposes. No complicated changeovers are necessary, as both projects are developed in parallel. The two systems are comparable, aside from the lack of support for the free distribution.

Stability and security

One of the main reasons why openSUSE Leap has gained worldwide popularity is due to the operating system’s stability. The Linux distribution is considered extremely secure, making it suitable for fields that cannot risk errors or problems. While the desktop options are not always up to date, much to the annoyance of some users, the reliable base compensates for this. The security updates are always reliable, so the system is always protected.

YaST

YaST, or “Yet another Setup Tool”, is a tool that makes administrative tasks easier. Installations and configurations, server services, etc., can be done much faster and more clearly with YaST. YaST has been included since the 15.3 version of openSUSE Leap.

Applications

openSUSE Leap includes some useful applications which allow users to start working right away. In version 15.3, Chromium 89, LibreOffice 7.1.1, Mozilla Firefox 78.7.1, Python 3.6.12, RoundCube 1.3.15, and Thunderbird 78.7.1 are included.

For what purposes is openSUSE Leap best suited?

The original aim of openSUSE was to create an alternative to SLES which was not aimed at companies, but at private users. However, this is no longer the case since openSUSE Leap was released. It is aimed at the same target group, as the base is aligned with the Linux distribution SLES, and the two systems are binary-compatible. openSUSE Leap is also suitable for companies, but it does not offer support. For customers who do not find this to be a disadvantage, openSUSE Leap is a free and equivalent alternative which guarantees high reliability.

openSUSE Leap is a good choice for companies looking for a secure and stable operating system for their server environment, cloud, or deployments. It is comparatively easy to use, and the community’s contribution means that the system is well tested which prevents any unpleasant surprises.

What other openSUSE distributions are available?

openSUSE offers other Linux distributions, some of which are aimed at other target groups or take a slightly different approach.

openSUSE Tumbleweed

Closely related to openSUSE Leap is openSUSE Tumbleweed, which is the flagship of the project and provides the interface for the business operating system which was presented here. Tumbleweed is delivered as a rolling release and is updated constantly. This means the system is always up to date and new applications are quickly integrated. Since all updates are subjected to thorough testing and are only released if they are successful, the distribution is considered very secure and stable despite how up to date it is. openSUSE Tumbleweed is mainly popular as a desktop system and acts as the technical basis for MicroOS and Kubic.

openSUSE MicroOS

With MicroOS, OpenSUSE aims to combine edge computing, modern container concepts, and the classic Linux distribution. The system is kept minimalistic and scalable. As with Tumbleweed, the necessary updates are done daily and automatically, whereby the system can reset itself to the last intact state if an error occurs during the update. The Linux distribution is therefore space-saving and secure.

openSUSE Kubic

openSUSE Kubic is based on MicroOS but it acts as a container-as-a-service platform. The certified Kubernetes distribution enables transactional updates and uses the RPM format as well as Docker, and some others. The system is also space efficient.

Conclusion: openSUSE Leap is a strong alternative

The decision to bring openSUSE Leap and SLES together has worked. openSUSE Leap has become a worthwhile and free alternative for companies and is ideal for server use. The operating system manages to impress users from all over the world due to its stability and reliability.