openSUSE Slowroll: The King Is Dead, Long Live the King!

openSUSE Slowroll: The King Is Dead, Long Live the King!

With ALP and Slowroll on the horizon, openSUSE users may feel lost in translation. Don’t! Here are the answers and what lies ahead.

For many years, the openSUSE project has steadfastly adhered to a rigorous release model characterized by two primary variants – the fixed openSUSE Leap and the rolling openSUSE Tumbleweed.

These releases have provided stability and reliability and have become familiar names within the open-source community.

However, as the openSUSE project looks ahead, significant transformations are on the horizon, poised to reshape how we perceive and engage with this renowned Linux distribution.

The forthcoming shift promises to usher in a new era, where the established names will be replaced with novel monikers such as Slowroll, ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform), and others.

Furthermore, there is also openSUSE MicroOS with all of its variants, such as Aeon (GNOME desktop) and Kalpa (KDE Plasma desktop), which is expected to undergo renaming.

In this light, even die-hard openSUSE enthusiasts need help navigating the cannonade of metamorphoses and new concepts, so what remains for the average Linux user? For them, getting lost in translation is almost inevitable.

This article sheds some light on the changes that are taking place in openSUSE so that you can quickly navigate through the ecosystem of the cute green chameleon, beloved by countless users worldwide.

It All Started with ALP

ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform)
ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform)

To explain the causes that led to the emergence of ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform), we need to go back briefly. Here is what it is all about.

Suppose you’re a regular desktop Linux user (which we all are in the mainstream), using your workstation for the usual things like web browsing, media playback, office tasks, etc. In that case, limiting our understanding of Linux to the desktop versions of the various distributions is perfectly okay.

On the other side, if you are in any way involved in the enterprise IT world, you are aware that almost all IT infrastructure and services we know and use today are being driven behind the scenes by the holy grail of recent years – virtualization, containers, and the tools to orchestrate (manage) them.

This is a vast business niche driven reasonably expected by Linux. The demand for highly specialized server platforms has resulted in the skyrocket of immutable operating systems designed to manage massive containerized workloads while providing enhanced security.

Leading Linux vendors like Red Hat, Canonical, and others have jumped into this market with their solutions, including CoreOS, Fedora Silverblue, and Ubuntu Core. SUSE, on its part, has also come up with its offer – SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro and openSUSE MicroOS.

ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform) is the next step in evolving the SUSE mentioned above products but with a slightly different focus.

While MicroOS is still an excellent solution for home users and small businesses, ALP focuses more on the medium to large business – i.e., the enterprise segment.

Since the platform is still a prototype, Linux users are sometimes confused that ALP is the successor and continuation of openSUSE’s flagship Leap. Let’s be clear – the two distributions have nothing to do with each other! And to make it even more transparent, we will explain below.

Is ALP the Successor of openSUSE Leap? No, It Is Not!

openSUSE Leap is built on SLE (SUSE Linux Enterprise) source code, which makes it binary compatible. At the same time, ALP is based on itself – meaning its source codes.

Moreover, the goals of the two distributions are different. While Leap is geared toward meeting server and regular Linux desktop user demands, the ALP concept has no single tangent with desktop users.

It is an all-server operating system, highly specialized and entirely focused on containerized workloads while abstracting from the hardware and the application layer.

In other words, dear openSUSE Leap users, ALP is not the answer to your needs. It is not intended to provide desktop functionality or have anything to do with the Linux desktop niche.

If we continue, we would also add that Leap is clearly on its way to its swan song. But before you get sad, we have good news – something new and promising is on the horizon. Here’s what.

Bye-bye, Leap and Welcome Slowroll

openSUSE Leap 15.5
openSUSE Leap 15.5

We will immediately state that the familiar point-release model followed by openSUSE Leap will soon be in the past. Despite being frequently underrated, the distribution has gained a reputation for many years as an uncompromisingly dependable platform for servers and desktops.

However, openSUSE decided it was time to change course. Along these lines, users were recently polled about how they see the future Leap successor going. It is worth noting that we’re no longer discussing whether one will exist but who it will be. Two options were proposed:

  • Linarite – a regular old-fashioned release desktop distribution, likely with a narrower package selection than is used to with Leap.
  • Slowroll – a Tumbleweed’s derivative, attempting to provide something more stable than full-speed-rolling Tumbleweed.

After analyzing the survey results, it was clear that the community preferred Slowroll. So, it is evident that while Leap is heading into the sunset, Slowroll is looming on the horizon, looking for a place in the hearts of openSUSE fans.

But by all means, don’t be in a hurry to ditch Leap! Don’t! The transition will take a long time because everything is still in its early phases. In addition, openSUSE Leap 15.6 will be released on schedule in June 2024.

Considering its maintenance period, at least until the end of 2025, openSUSE Leap will be available to users. However, it is expected that 15.6 will be the final release in the Leap series. With that said, now let’s see what to expect from its successor, openSUSE Slowroll.

openSUSE Slowroll: What Is It?

openSUSE Slowroll should fill the gap after the discontinuation of Leap releases but following a slightly different concept. The original name picked says it all: it will be a rolling-release distribution that rolls more slowly.

In other words, imagine at one end Leap, with its stable, reliable, and tested packages, but paying the price for that stability with slightly older versions of the provided software. At the other end is Tumbleweed, hovering on the wave’s edge with the latest and greatest software offerings.

Now draw a line between them – that’s where openSUSE Slowroll is positioned, but a few steps closer to Tumbleweed. It is a middle ground between the stable Leap and the rolling Tumbleweed.

However, this raises some questions. For example, what happens to users relying on Leap as a server? Given its slightly rolling nature, will Tumbleweed-based Slowroll offer the same reliability and stability, which is not the best solution when talking about servers?

On the other hand, it answers your questions if you’re a Leap desktop user. Slowroll is expected to be reliable and stable on the desktop side, close to what you had in Leap, but with newer software versions.

As the project is still very early, it remains to be seen how it will develop. For the most impatient who want to be among the first to get a feel about Slowroll, here is how to migrate your current Tumbleweed system to it.

Bottom Line

With ALP and Slowroll’s impending arrival, the path may seem uncertain for many openSUSE users. However, fear not! As the openSUSE community marches forward, it is not lost in translation but is transformation, paving the way for a promising future.

We hope this article has shed enough light and helped you navigate the highly dynamic world of openSUSE lately. And remember that any comments are welcome. Thanks for your time and for being our readers!

Bobby Borisov
Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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3 Comments

  1. So, no more SLE binary compatible OS from openSUSE?

    On the server side, is Leap supposed to be replaced by Slowroll? I know ALP has nothing to do with desktop but, Leap seems closer to ALP than Slowroll for servers.

    Is ALP a distro designed to run on bare metal? If not, then there won’t be an openSUSE distro that will fully replace Leap. Seems SUSE is trying to undermine the open source community as Red Hat did, although not as harsh as the latter did.

  2. > So, no more SLE binary compatible OS from openSUSE?

    Correct. The reason is that SLE itself is on the path to being de-emphasized as a legacy product, to be replaced by ALP. I feel it’s a risky business gamble for SUSE, but that’s what they’re currently planning to do:
    reddit[dot]com/r/openSUSE/comments/vb4268/is_opensuse_leap_really_on_its_deathbed/ic7jwmn/
    So SUSE will stop sharing its SLE sources with openSUSE after Leap 15.6, and SUSE will start aggressively pushing new contracts for ALP and basically keep SLE in maintenance mode for their paying customers.

    > On the server side, is Leap supposed to be replaced by Slowroll? I know ALP has nothing to do with desktop but, Leap seems closer to ALP than Slowroll for servers.

    Definitely not Slowroll for servers. It’s still a rolling distro, albeit slower rolling than Tumbleweed. For servers openSUSE currently has the buzzword-compliant containerized/immutable/atomic-updating MicroOS, which is the same concept as ALP, and that’s what they would recommend for servers currently and also once Leap is gone. Of course that’s their opinion. They’ve also talked about openSUSE Linarite, which might be a more conventional stable Linux product for servers and maybe for limited subsets of desktop usage scenarios if it gets off the ground.

    > If not, then there won’t be an openSUSE distro that will fully replace Leap.

    Right.

    > Seems SUSE is trying to undermine the open source community as Red Hat did, although not as harsh as the latter did.

    I would say that SUSE are just being more honest about their for-profit intentions. In the previously mentioned Reddit thread and in this other one there are multiple clear and unvarnished statements from a SUSE employee about their corporate goals to make money that are motivating all of these changes:
    reddit[dot]com/r/openSUSE/comments/u3iejc/leap_155_declared_the_last_leap_15x_release
    Of course that’s just one (very influential) SUSE employee; there are lots of community-orientated openSUSE contributors that may or may not take openSUSE in a different direction. It’s all a bit of a mess right now, but we’ll see what happens after the dust settles.

  3. ALP (Adaptable Linux Platform) cannot be a successor to Leap, which is perfectly logical. P stands for platform, or said differently something that distributions can be built from, hopefully in an easy maintainable way that reduces the effort compared to the effort that is required today to produce a distribution.

    The article has language that may suggests the ALP is a distribution, it is not. W.r.t. the desktop there is nothing in the ALP concept that prevents building of Desktop focused projects against binaries that already exist in ALP, not is there anything conceptually preventing the addition of such bits to ALP itself. Characterizing ALP as something that is only useful for building server focused distributions is simply incorrect.

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