YaST development never stops. But we have to admit we have not kept our readers as informed as usual about the activities of the YaST team, other than our blog post about Hack Week. We had to adapt the length and focus of some sprints before and after Hack Week. That, together with Easter season in Europe and some extra vacations, affected our good publishing habits. On the bright side, we have tons of topics for you, let’s do a quick recap.

  • Reduction of the memory consumption during installation.
  • New option to enable installation in systems with small RAM.
  • Improvements in the NetworkManager support.
  • Polishing of the upcoming releases, especially AutoYaST and hardware enablement.
  • A new extend parameter in linuxrc to help openQA.
  • More consistent and polished LibYUI development.
  • Research and open discussion about the current state and future of:
    • YaST Firstboot,
    • YaST Users,
    • the installation workflow.

So let’s go by parts. As you may know, libzypp was recently updated in all SLE and openSUSE distributions to bring some cool new features. Unfortunately that came with a small increase in memory consumption. That was enough to exceed the current installation requirements, so we had to find some way to save memory in the installer. We adjusted several things, especially the installer self-update mechanism. See this pull request to know how we managed to fit again into the requirements. As a nice side effect, we improved the handling of the memsample script we use to track memory usage during installation.

Talking about the memory consumption of the installation process, we also added a cool feature to linuxrc and YaST that makes possible to install (open)SUSE in systems with an small amount of memory. Check the new zram parameters in the linuxrc documentation and see the description of this pull request if you are interested in the details.

Another area that received quite some love is the support for configuring NetworkManager during the installation process. For SLE-15-SP3 and Leap 15.3 that includes better DNS settings, support for bridge and bonding configuration and improved AutoYaST integration. For Tumbleweed it also includes displaying the corresponding details in the installer’s summary screen.

We also invested quite some time polishing the upcoming releases of openSUSE Leap 15.3 and SLES-15-SP3. Especially improving the handling of AutoYaST profiles, extending the support for some storage technologies like NVMe and adjusting the boot loader configuration for a wide range of hardware.

On the more technical side of things, we also added a new extend parameter to linuxrc (which now allows a smooth integration of the libyui-rest-api plugin in openQA) and we unified the repositories of LibYUI (which simplifies maintenance and future contributions).

While doing all that, we also found time to think about the future of YaST. We did some extensive research on the current state of three areas we would like to improve in the mid term:

  • YaST Firstboot. Check this Github issue (and all the related issues linked from it) describing several aspects of the current state and also ideas about improving its look&feel and making it a more useful tool.

  • The current installation process. Again, we are using Github issues to discuss how to make it shorter and more understandable. As a starting point, check this issue that contains an interesting conversation and also links to several other related issues.

  • YaST Users. We are considering to refactor this module to improve the management of local users and to reduce the risk introduced by its current complexity. As a first step, we created a new repository that, so far, contains several documents describing the status quo.

As you can see, we may have been a bit absent but definitely we have not been idle. And the best news is that we are back to our usual biweely schedule, so we will have more to share soon. Meanwhile stay safe and fun!