October is being a busy month for the YaST Team. We have fixed quite some bugs and implemented several features. As usual, we want to offer our beloved readers a summary with the most interesting stuff from the lastest couple of development sprints, including:

  • Improved handling of users on already installed systems
  • Progress in the refactoring of software management
  • Better selection of the disk in which to install the operating system
  • More robust handling of LUKS encrypted devices
  • Fixes for libYUI in some rare cases
  • Improvements in time zone management (affecting mainly China)

Improved Handling of Users

Let us start by quoting our latest report: “regarding the management of users, we hope to report big improvements in the next blog post”. Time has indeed come and we can now announce we brought the revamped users management described in this monographic blog post to the last parts of YaST that were still not taking advantage of the new approach. The changes are receiving an extra round of testing with the help of the Quality Assurance team at SUSE before we submit them to openSUSE Tumbleweed. When that happens, both the interactive YaST module to manage users and groups and its corresponding command line interface (not to be confused with the ncurses-powered text mode) will start using useradd and friends to manage users, groups and the related configurations.

There should not be big changes in the behavior apart from the improvements already mentioned in the original blog post presenting the overall idea. But a couple of fields were removed from the UI to reflect the current status:

  • The password for groups, which is an archaic and discouraged mechanism that nobody should be using in the era of sudo and other modern solutions.
  • The fields “Secondary Groups” and “Skeleton Directory” from the tab “Default for New Users”, since those settings are either gone or not directly configurable in recent versions of useradd.

There is still a lot of room for improvements in YaST Users, but we will postpone those to focus on other areas of YaST that need a similar revamping to the one done in users management.

Refactoring Software Management

One of those areas that need a bit of love and would benefit from some internal restructuring is the management of software, which goes much further than just installing and removing packages. We have just started with such a refactoring and we don’t know yet how far we will get on this round, but you can already read about some of the things we are doing in the description of this pull request, although it only shows a very small fraction of the full picture.

New Features in the Storage Area

We also improved the way YaST handles some storage technologies. First of all, we instructed YaST about the existence of BOSS (Boot Optimized Storage Solution) drives in some Dell systems. From now on, such devices will be automatically chosen as the first option to install the operating system, as described in this pull request with screenshots. As a bonus for that same set of changes, YaST will be more sensible regarding SD Cards.

On the other hand, we adapted the way YaST (or libstorage-ng to be fully precise) references LUKS devices in the fstab file to make it easier for systemd to handle some situations. Check the details in this other pull request (sorry, no screenshots this time).

Fixes for libYUI

As usually revealed by our posts, YaST is full of relatively unknown features that were developed to cover quite exceptional use-cases. Those characteristics remain there, used by a few users… and waiting for a chance to attack us! During the recent sprints we fixed the behavior of libYUI (the toolkit powering the YaST user interface) in a couple of rare scenarios. Check the descriptions of this pull request and this other one for more details.

Fun with Flags… err Time Zones

For reasons everybody knows, being able to work from home and to coordinate information with people from different geographical locations has become critical lately. That scenario has increased the relevance of properly configured time zones in the operating system. And that made us realize the time zones handled by YaST for China weren’t fully aligned with international standards. This pull request explains what was the problem and how we fixed it, so applications like MS Teams can work on top of (open)SUSE distributions just fine… everywhere in the globe.

That’s All… Until we Meet Again

As you know, YaST development never stops. And, although we only report the most interesting bits in our blog posts, we keep working in many areas… from very visible features and bug fixes to more internal refactoring. In any case, we promise to keep working and to keep you updated in future blog posts. So stay tuned and have a lot of fun!