Challenges of a Product Manager in the Open Source World - Part Three | SUSE Communities

Challenges of a Product Manager in the Open Source World – Part Three


In the first two blogs in this series of three we had discussed, how communities influence a product manager’s life; and we looked at the concrete example of the Linux Kernel version for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1.

And I wondered: What would you have done?

You certainly would not have built your opinion and strategy on one single technology and community. Neither did we: recent Linux Kernels contain a huge number of incremental enhancements (think of storage and network drivers), but also remarkable development steps. Let’s look at some:

  • Networking and network filesystems: NFSv4.1 improves security of NFS in general and the interoperability with other NFS implementations. It also is the base for the upcoming pNFS.
  • The process scheduler (CFS) has become more mature and overall system performance improves significally.
  • btrfs, the new star in the family of Linux filesystems, finalizes its on-disk format, becomes more stable and catches up with other filesystems on throughput.
  • Support for AES instructions and new floating-point capabilities in recent CPUs.

Considering the benefits of selective version upgrades, we entered the next phase: In a two months evaluation phase during summer 2009, we in product management for SUSE Linux Enterprise compared the impact of various options with respect to:

  • Customers: their environments and deployments.
  • Partners: hardware vendors, independent sofware vendors, their products and and certifications.
  • We intensely communicated with our engineering team, primarily the and Kernel people, where vocal community members had again and again asked for upgrades of the Linux Kernel in former Service Packs already.

Compatibility and quality were paramount in all these discussions.

When SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1 is released mid 2010, it will ship with an updated Linux kernel (2.6.32), together with two closely associated packages – glibc (2.11) and X-Server (1.6).

A number of other important packages will also be updated: Xen, Samba, Gnome, Qt, and KDE. These updates will improve reliability, interoperability and usability.

Because userspace application compatibility is preserved from SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 to SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1, it will not be necessary to re-certify existing application stacks when upgrading the operating system.

Let me end this long story from a product manager’s life with three thanks:

  • To the Linux Kernel community — for driving innovation so eagerly, and for following the spirit of change. And to my Kernel Engineers – for providing a Kernel 2.6.32, so carefully configured that it would even work as a drop-in replacement to 2.6.27 on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 GA.
  • To my X engineering team – for squaring the circle, by keeping X userland libraries compatible while implementing the new X-Server functionality.
  • To the Linux Foundation as a “formal incarnation” of some of the communities we are living in – for driving standardization and certification, and for initiating tools and processes which help to test and verify the level of compatibility we are looking for.

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