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Lately, the relationship between SUSE and openSUSE community has been under discussion. Different options are being considered, among which the possibility of setting up openSUSE into an entirely independent foundation is gaining momentum. This will enable openSUSE to have greater autonomy and control over its own future and operations.

Though openSUSE board chair Richard Brown and SUSE leadership have publicly reiterated that SUSE remains committed to openSUSE. There has been a lot of concern over the ability of openSUSE to be able to operate in a sustainable way, without being entirely beholden to SUSE.

The idea of an independent openSUSE foundation has popped up many times in the past. Former openSUSE board member Peter Linnell says, “Every time, SUSE has changed ownership, this kind of discussion pops up with some mild paranoia IMO, about SUSE dropping or weakening support for openSUSE”. He also adds, “Moreover, I know SUSE’s leadership cares a lot about having a healthy independent openSUSE community. They see it as important strategically and the benefits go both ways.”

On the contrary, openSUSE Board member Simon Lees says, “it is almost certain that at some point in the future SUSE will be sold again or publicly listed, and given the current good working relationship between SUSE and openSUSE it is likely easier to have such discussions now vs in the future should someone buy SUSE and install new management that doesn’t value openSUSE in the same way the current management does.”

In an interview with LWN, Brown described the conversation between SUSE and the broader community, about the possibility of an independent foundation, as being frank, ongoing, and healthy. He also mentioned that everything from a full independent openSUSE foundation to a tweaking of the current relationship that provides more legal autonomy for openSUSE can be considered. Also, there is a possibility for some form of organization to be run under the auspices of the Linux Foundation.

Issues faced by openSUSE

Brown has said, “openSUSE has multiple stakeholders, but it currently doesn’t have a separate legal entity of its own, which makes some of the practicalities of having multiple sponsors rather complicated”. Under the current arrangement, it is difficult for OpenSUSE to directly handle financial contributions. Sponsorship and the ability to raise funding have become a prerequisite for the survival of openSUSE. Brown comments, “openSUSE is in continual need of investment in terms of both hardware and manpower to ‘keep the lights on’ with its current infrastructure”.

Another concern has been the tricky collaboration between the community and the company across all SUSE products. In particular, Brown has stated issues with the openSUSE Kubic and SUSE Container-as-a-Service Platform.

With a more distinctly separate openSUSE, the implication and the hope is that openSUSE projects will have increased autonomy over its governance and interaction with the wider community.

According to LWN, if openSUSE becomes completely independent, it will have increased autonomy over its governance and interaction with the wider community.

Though different models for openSUSE’s governance are under consideration, Brown has said, “The current relationship between SUSE and openSUSE is unique and special, and I see these discussions as enhancing that, and not necessarily following anyone else’s direction”.

There has also been no declaration of any hard deadline in place.

For more details, head over to LWN article.

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