The VAR Guy has watched the SUSE Linux community closely ever since Attachmate acquired Novell and the SUSE business in early 2011. He's also kept one eye on openSUSE, the community-driven, open-development version of the distribution. So what's new with SUSE and openSUSE, and what are the implications for channel partners? Some clues will emerge at a first-ever SUSECon 2012 and an expanded openSUSE 2012 conference. Here's the update.

First up: SUSECon 2012 (Sept. 18-21, Orlando). SUSE, under former owner Novell, didn't really have a standalone, spotlight conference for partners, ISVs and customers. SUSECon 2012's core goal: Showcase how and why customers are running SUSE in their data centers.

That's a  critically important goal for SUSE and Attachmate. Sure, SUSE has made some noise in recent months -- especially in the areas of ISV relations and a Dell cloud partnership. But overall, it still "feels" like Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) commands more respect among channel partners in North America.

Meanwhile, the openSUSE community is gearing up for a big European event. Actually, openSUSE 2012 is one of four conferences scheduled for this October in Prague, Cz. That's not exactly an easy trip for North America solutions providers. But the event will include:
  • Gentoo Miniconf 2012:  Gentoo is a free operating system based on either Linux or FreeBSD. Leveraging a technology called Portage, Gentoo can become a secure server, development workstation, professional desktop, gaming system, embedded solution or something else, Gentoo backers assert.
  • LinuxDays: A conference that replaces LinuxExpo CZ, which was canceled this year. Fedora, Gentoo, openSUSE and Ubuntu will be represented at the event.
  • 12th SUSE Labs Conference: This will include the "core plumbing hackers of SUSE" for "deep discussions" on where the Free Software platform is going, event organizers have stated.
  • 4th openSUSE Conference: The openSUSE team says it will bring a "strongly technical, international touch to this event."
So where do channel partners potentially fit into this discussion? One way to measure the health of a commercial Linux distribution (say, Attachmate's SUSE Linux) is to track the health of its community-driven solution (openSUSE).

A strong openSUSE conference could generate some buzz and ISV discussions that spill over into the commercial SUSE industry. Couple that with a strong SUSECon 2012 gathering, and Attachmate could wind up rallying channel partners, ISVs and customers ahead of the 2013 IT buying season...