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openSUSE, the community GNU/Linux distribution set up by SUSE Linux, has released version 12.3 today and, in the process, become among the first to make the switch from MySQL to MariaDB as default database management system.

This change was known last month when both openSUSE and Fedora, the Red Hat community distribution, indicated their intention to switch, because of the way in which MySQL was being maintained by Oracle.

The distribution has also completed the switch to the systemd init system and dropped SysV init altogether. The log output from all services is thus collected into a journal and sent to the standard system logger; it can be accessed in a human-readable format by using journalctl.

If the systemd-logger package is installed, then the journal entries are written in a cryptographically protected binary format.

These days when a distribution makes a release, support for secure boot is always awaited.

Like Ubuntu and Fedora before it, openSUSE can boot on systems that have secure boot enabled. This means having a look at a live CD on a machine running Windows 8 in secure boot mode is possible.

But there it ends. While openSUSE 12.3 can be installed on a second hard drive such machines but thereafter accessing the installed system is not possible.

The installer does not offer the option of gaining empty space from a disk that has Windows 8 on it in secure boot mode.

With Ubuntu and Fedora, an entry is added to the Windows 8 boot menu after install, though accessing these entries is not straightforward. They are not presented on booting up, with Windows 8 coming up as the default and no other choice on offer.

One accesses the Fedora and Ubuntu entries after Windows 8 has come up, by holding down the shift key and clicking on the restart option. Then other boot choices are presented.

With openSUSE, this does not work. Neither does the process of adding a boot entry to the Windows 8 boot menu using an utility like EasyBCD.

But this is to be expected because the release notes with openSUSE say clearly that while support for UEFI is present, the support for secure boot is only experimental. And given that this information was clearly communicated to the media at least a week before release, the element of confusion has not been present.

Some other aspects of note are that openSUSE 12.3 comes with the 3.7 kernel which speeds up things considerably. The default filesystem is ext4 and btrfs is available as an option.

The release are versions for GNOME, KDE, LXDE, XFCE and Enlightenment users. All these variants are considerably modified from the upstream output.

The full set of packages for OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform, come with 12.3.

Given the amount of software that has been included, the smallest image available is now closer to a gigabyte. There is a also a 4.7 gigabyte image which contains everything.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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