Sunday, February 27, 2011

» Packman: switching to new repositories

As I wrote about a couple of days ago, the Packman team has been busy migrating to a new openSUSE Build Service instance as well as, while we were at it, changing the repository layout.

We've been putting quite some steam behind the effort and we finally have reached a point where everything is working great (for us as packagers) and where the most used packages have been added and re-built on our new openSUSE Build Service instance, as well as having been published in our new repositories, including on all our mirrors.

On Wednesday (2011-03-02), in CET evening, we will delete the old repositories. We will create symbolic links to make the old URLs point to the new repositories (e.g. 11.3 to openSUSE_11.3), in order to make the old URLs still work perfectly fine.

But it will also mean that there are a lot of packages that were in the old repositories that are not in the new ones, as we didn't migrate everything yet, and didn't migrate everything on purpose. Indeed, it is also a good opportunity for us to get rid of old cruft which we added many years ago and isn't used by anyone any more, or even anyone in the first place.

At the same time, I will change the list of repositories that show up in YaST's "community repositories" module in order to reflect the new layout, with the option of picking only some of our repositories, and not just the "big one" (for details, please refer to this post). Of course, once performed, I will duly announce it.

So if you do run into a package you were used to get from us and which doesn't show up in the Packman repository any more, please let us know by sending us an email to our mailing-list at (no need to register first, just send an email to that address, in English or German).

Sorry for the inconvenience that move might create, but it will definitely help us because we will hopefully have a little less packages to maintain (because no one is using them), and also make the service a bit swifter for you to use, as there will be less RPM-MD metadata to download on each refresh.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

» Packman: removing 11.1

We're going to remove the openSUSE 11.1 Packman repositories from our primary server and, hence, also our mirrors.

If you would like to keep a copy (for whatever reason, as they're unmaintained), make sure to pull the tree before Monday (2011-02-28).

The reason, obviously, is that openSUSE 11.1 has gone End-Of-Life since mid-January, and as we're restructuring our repositories, we do need quite some extra space right now and don't want to put too much of a burden on our mirrors (there are a few rsync mirrors in there too).

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

» Packman service interruption and migration

The Packman website and repositories are going to be broken and in the works for several days (possibly up to a week) starting tonight at 20:00 CET, during which the following services will not be available, or only sporadically:

The reason is that we are performing a major migration of our services to

  • the latest version of the openSUSE Build Service (we were still using an old version)
  • a new layout of our repositories, to enable a more fine-grained control over what parts of Packman should be used (see below)

In order to try to keep a minimum service going during that time, you may use and point people to our new repositories, that already contain the "Essentials" part, which are almost complete with the bare minimum everyone needs (mplayer, vlc, libraries, ...).
The URLs for the new repositories are as follows:

There are no .repo files there yet, so adding one of these is done as follows:
zypper ar -n packman packman
(obviously adapt the URL to your openSUSE version).
You may also use one of our mirror sites, as they already have our new repositories:

New repository layout

As has been announced (including here), we have had a discussion back in December about whether and how we should reorganize the layout of our repositories. Up to now, and for many years, it has always been "one big repository", which had pros and cons:

  • good: easy to use, just add onr repository and be done with it
  • good: easy for us to manage
  • bad: you get everything and the kitchen sink, including packages that are duplications of stuff from other repositories, specifically from (which didn't exist when Packman was created), and potential conflicts with those
  • bad: large metadata files to synchronise (although zypper has become pretty fast at that)

We came up with a solution to this, as more and more people requested having split repositories, in order to control whatthey want to use from Packman:

  • we will have four repositories instead of one: Essentials, Multimedia, Games and Extras
  • Essentials will be the bare minimum to get your multimedia experience on openSUSE going (libraries, MPlayer, vlc, ffmpeg, ...)
  • Multimedia will contain additional applications that are not available for openSUSE or only in a crippled build, such as avidemux, etc...
  • Games are, well, games, although we will try to move most of what may be hosted on to the games project there
  • Extras is all the rest

In order to provide the best of both worlds or, rather, still provide you with the old option of adding everything, we are using a little trick and are running "createrepo" on the top-level directory, which results in having repository metadata that contains all the packages from all the above mentioned repositories without having to duplicate the RPM files on our server (and mirrors).

Hence, to make it short and less technical, you can still also use the "old way" too.

As an example of what needs to be added to zypper, once the migration is complete and .repo files are available too:

  • add the Essentials repository:
    zypper ar -r
  • add the "everything" repository:
    zypper ar -r

I will announce our progress on my blog (which is also aggregated on Planet openSUSE) and will obviously post another announcement here once our migration is complete.

In advance, sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for your understanding. We are convinced that our move will not only provide us with a better infrastructure, but also improve your experience with Packman and openSUSE.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

» New repository for openSUSE artwork and marketing material

I just created a new git repository for openSUSE artwork and marketing material on

We decided to create a new repository instead of using the existing one because it contains the trademarked branding content as well.

Instructions on how to get started and the workflow to retrieve and modify content there is explained on the wiki.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


So FOSDEM 2011 is over, at last, and it was a huge success, as always (mind you, I'm one of the organizers, my opinions might be just a little subjective here ;)).

From the organizational point of view, I was less active this year compared the the 7 previous ones (yes, it's already the 8th time for me, and I noticed how annoying it is to say "8th" in English quite a few times during the weekend): lots of procastrination and my "spare time" being vampirized by other activities, most prominently work on the openSUSE Board (which I am now no longer part of). Definitely something to fix for next year, and a big mea culpa to my mates on the FOSDEM organization team.

That being said, it was still a lot of work, as it is for every edition, and while I suppose that most if not all the visitors are sorry that the event is already over, we're pretty happy it is, I'm sure you can understand why :).

All in all, it was very successful. There were more visitors, as each year, and I believe that we've really reached the limits of the infrastructure we're using at the moment. That means we'll have a few "interesting" challenges ahead of us for the next edition (no, we won't move away from the ULB nor from the Solbosch campus, we'll just have to stretch the space used by FOSDEM a bit more to use more and larger rooms). But more about that in a few months' time.

It was also very smooth for everything else. Having so many volunteers to help us out during the weekend, including for the very tedious task of setting things up, was really ${deity}-send. Thanks to the support of the ULB networking team, Belnet as well as Cisco made FOSDEM provide what must be the best possible wifi infrastructure at an event of such size. Our usual collaboration with LPI went great as well (was awesome to meet my good friend Fabrice Mous again) as it provided the opportunity for ~130 exams to be taken by FOSDEM visitors.

We even managed to fill up our largest room, Janson, which is one of the largest auditoriums in Belgium with 1400 seats, up to the limit and even a bit more for the keynotes. That was impressive, to say the least.

It was a great pleasure to meet so many fine people and friends again (including, but not exclusively, Henne Vogelsang, Peter Linnell, Andrew Wafaa, J├╝rgen Weigert, Will Stephenson, Bruno Friedmann, Pavol Rusnak, Michal Hrusecky, Vincent Untz, Michael Meeks, Daniel Seuffert, Frank Karlitschek, Delphine Lebedel, Tristan Nitot, William Quiviger, Tom Marble, etc etc etc... -- sorry if I forgot you, I'm just too lazy and tired to keep pulling names out of my brain at this point, too many to list :)), even if it was usually only for a short chat as I have to keep running around all over the venue to get things done.

That's usually the point where one realizes again that it is so much about the people, more than anything else (you are fine to disagree here, dear reader, it is just my very humble opinion). So many FOSS projects are driven by so many great people, I'd just love it to last for a couple of weeks to have the time to have beers (or coffee) with every single one of them, at the very least the ones I already know. I'm really happy and thankful -- to FOSDEM, I guess -- to be so lucky to have been in touch with so many interesting people, and obviously hope to still be in the future.

And FOSDEM is also a very inclusive event, where projects and initiatives covering the whole spectrum in terms of technologies, domains and (OSI compatible) licenses get together to have a great deal of fun. I believe that every single visitor would agree that it is the most effective way to get our motivation batteries loaded to spend our spare time, energy, love, sweat and blood into doing such great things.

On the cross-pollination front, which is more and more of a priority for us, I'm happy to see the Crossdistro developer room clearly evolve into the right direction (thanks to Wouter Verhelst (of Debian fame) to take care of that); where not quite there yet, as intentions need to be followed by much more action, but it is a step forward already, and such things do take a good deal of time, as much as many of us would like to see it happening as soon as possible, especially at openSUSE. FOSDEM is such a great opportunity to get together with other projects and people, as so many of them are on the spot.

For a couple of final words, my big "thank you" goes out, in no particular order, to the volunteers who helped us during the weekend, to the sponsors that support the event, to the visitors who have donated money in order to keep giving us the chance of remaining independent, to the people and projects who were there at the stands, devrooms, lightning talks, to the speakers who accepted our invitations, obviously to the other members of the FOSDEM organization team (we did it again! :D), to the ULB and CI for providing us with their infrastructure, and, of course, to the people who attended.

On a side note, if you were at FOSDEM 2011, please take a minute to fill out our census as well as our feedback form.

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