While currently my Linux distribution of choice, openSUSE is not the most popular distribution by any means. Honestly, I think it’s a little unfortunate that openSUSE is in the name, but the openSUSE Build Service (OBS) may be the most important thing to come out of the openSUSE team.

Build service?! My users can build from source, you say. Don’t be stupid. Linux momentum is growing because users don’t have to do that anymore. If you’re not providing packages for the major distributions, you are doing two things:

  1. You label yourself as a minor app without the skill or resources to provide packages.
  2. You label all users of distros you don’t support as having made a bad choice and not being worth your time.

Why? Why in a world with Launchpad from Canonical and so many other great products for packaging is OBS a big deal? Because despite being made by one distro, it can package for all the main distros including Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, openSUSE, Red Hat, SUSE Linux Enterprise and Ubuntu. Notice that they’re not just the ‘open’ distros but a few commercial derivatives too. They have made a tool to make it easier for you to get your app in the hands of Linux users all over.

Users who may be using a distro you don’t care for.

The distribution puzzle of Linux creates certain problems other operating systems just don’t have. Odds are that there are a big group of users out there that right now, simply can’t use your software. The OBS levels that playing field.

Benefits

Think about it for a second.

  • No more waiting for your users’ distribution to update the official distro packages before they can use your cool new feature.
  • No more looking for a packaging expert for that one distro or waiting for that expert to have time to help.
  • No more saying to users that you only support distro X. That’s almost like saying that the distro they have chosen is for losers. That may even be true. But give them a break.
  • No more download page with nothing but a source tarball on it.

What It Is Not

OBS is not a project management tool. It is a build service (that’s why it says that in the name). OBS won’t get your project on track, but should be used in conjunction with project management tools.

This just emphasizes how great OBS is. Rather than making something that corrals developers to “their” playground, the OBS team have made a tool, not a world for you to live in. Come on in, take advantage of this great service, and then distribute the results to your users!