The openSUSE project has released version 15.4 of its Linux distribution Leap. Unlike the rolling release version Tumbleweed, openSUSE Leap is a distribution with fixed releases. The improvements in the current version include even more compatibility with SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE), various updates primarily for desktop packages and a fairly up-to-date kernel 5.14, which has also been adopted from SLE.
A distribution for desktops and servers
The freshly released openSUSE Leap 15.4 is based on considerable efforts by the developers to align the desktop and server products. Already in Leap 15.3, the distributions should actually be fully binary compatible with each other, but due to different flags when compiling some packages, this did not quite work. In the new version 15.4, SUSE wants to get this under control – and users of openSUSE Leap should be able to get direct support from the manufacturer for their system even better.
On top of that, YaST, SUSE’s venerable configuration tool, now comes with a module that can be used to convert an existing openSUSE system into an SLE system. The migration target can be both SLES and SLED, i.e. the manufacturer’s server and desktop distributions. The advantage according to the provider: existing systems do not have to be reconfigured and existing workloads do not have to be changed. Anyone who wants to can try out SLE in the form of openSUSE before making a commercial decision. Behind the scenes, the common technical basis of all SUSE distributions also serves to reduce complexity in development.
Lots of desktop updates
openSUSE Leap still has a focus on the desktop – and it is precisely here that the provider has not exactly made its users happy with generous updates in the past Leap versions. Apparently they want to do that now, so the new Leap edition comes with many new versions of classic desktop applications.
The Linux kernel used is 5.14.21, which openSUSE Leap 15.4 adopts from SLE 15 SP 4 and, as usual, contains a number of SUSE-specific adjustments and backported changes from later kernels. It is supported by the classic desktop environments, above all KDE Plasma in version 5.24, GNOME in version 41 and MATE in version 1.26. Other environments like Xfce (4.16) only get minor updates, largely due to the fact that there simply aren’t any major updates available upstream.
The developers have also improved the hardware support: Compared to the version from Leap 15.3, the updated kernel already comes with some new and heavily updated drivers; In addition, the modern graphics server Wayland can no longer only be used with Intel or AMD GPUs, but also with those of the industry leader Nvidia. Several other desktop applications such as Firefox. GIMP, Thunderbird or LibreOffice are also refreshed. For average end users, openSUSE Leap 15.4 presents itself as a facelift that you are happy to take with you. The manufacturer promises that updates can be imported seamlessly using YaST as before.
Traditionally, openSUSE is also aimed at special groups such as artists, and Leap 15.4 also has something up its sleeve for them. The modern audio framework PipeWire replaces the outdated PulseAudio. A number of multimedia tools such as Wireplumber or LV2 are available, as are tools for video enthusiasts in the form of programs such as Kdenlive or Blender.
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