openSUSE project: vote on name change

The openSUSE project informed it's members by mail to vote for a potential name change. The vote ends on 07.11.2019 at 23:59 UTC. In a Wiki article the openSUSE Board and Election Committee have gathered the most important arguments for and against a name change for all members.

The background

In an article the media platform Heise already reported on 12.06.2019 that the openSUSE project is going to build a foundation and might also consider a name and logo change in the process.

This article was the result of an ongoing discussion on the openSUSE mailing list because of the proposal for registering a foundation and the idea of a possible name change in this process. Who ever wants to read the the discussion in every detail can do so on the mailing list archive.

But before making a short summary we have to distinguish between the registration of a foundation, which received a lot of consent within the community, and the started discussion about a name and logo change.

Many members do support the idea of a new and more modern logo but the idea of a name change lead to a lot of controversial discussion. The community loves the idea of more freedom and easy donation handling with the help of a foundation. But no one wants to create the impression the community would want to end the relationship with SUSE. Unsurprisingly speculations and rumors about that had immediately spread all over the net and social media.

But be assured once again, neither the community nor SUSE wants to end their close relationship. Think of the foundation like you would about a child which is moving away from it's parents to realize one's own full potential. This does not mean the child is cutting ties to the parents, but the relationship stays fully intact.

Different to a child the community does not have to keep the family name but would be free to change it. At least this would be the best moment to do so if the community wishes to.

However as always in life this has benefits and disadvantages. Each members has to decide which side weights more, though.

To have a better overview about the most important and most discussed points, you can find a great overview on the Wiki article about the ongoing vote. This can't do the thinking for you but maybe helps to consider some of those point in the decision making process.

A short insight into my thoughts

As I was already part of the ongoing discussion on the mailing list you might already know one thing or another about my thinking. But still my descision is not made and changes whenever I re-evaluate each point.

But most important for me at the moment is, that openSUSE already has made a name among all the hundreds of distributions out there. A name that is tied to many experiences, expectations and accomplishments - most made possible by SUSE's work and marketing. And especially when we are considering the Leap distribution - which is available in version 15.1 currently - the connection to SUSE is a deeper connection beyond the name of SUSE, as SUSE Linux Enterprise and Leap share a code base.

A new name would cut loose the connection at least on the project name's level. And although a few out there might not have only positive associations, we can't deny that SUSE has a reputation for quality in the tech community. A rebranding theretore would require a lot of hard work and expensive marketing to establish a comparable positive association as we have right now with the name of openSUSE.

Last but not least I have a very personal and very own connection to openSUSE. Surely the community is the most important part of the project and is independent from any name. But the name we currently have, has a sound that is common and we are used to. I started my open source journey with SUSE Linux 7.3 and got to know about Linux through it. After a period of distro-hopping and even during that period, I always kept returning to openSUSE. So often that I am now even a member. In the future I would not have only to explain why it's called openSUSE now, but would have to explain yet another name.

Do I really want that?

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Pierre Böckmann

Born 1985 in Berlin, I am Software Developer, Blogger, Author, Open Source Enthusiast, openSUSE member and passionate openSUSE Leap user.