While not strictly part of the distribution, the Build Service is a major advance for OpenSUSE. Package-based software management is one of the best attributes of the typical Linux-based operating system, and for volume markets such as the desktop, the success of a distribution is tied very closely to the success of the project's software packaging efforts.
Support for multiple distributions is very smart-if the OpenSUSE project can succeed in attracting volunteers from other distributions to use the service and make it easy for those users to produce OpenSUSE packages alongside those of their favored Linux flavor, then OpenSUSE can build up its software library without having to pry top contributors away from rival distributions.
What's more, the OpenSUSE build service is an open-source project in its own right, which offers proprietary software developers a route to creating OpenSUSE packages of their own wares, as well.
OpenSUSE's Firefox installation comes conveniently preconfigured with a search provider for locating packages in the Build Service, which I used to seek out a desired software package that wasn't available in OpenSUSE's default software repositories, Mozilla's Prism site-specific Web browser.
There was no Prism package already available in the Build Service, so I set out to build one of my own. After logging in through the service's Web interface with my Novell account information, and conducting a bit of initial configuration for my Home project, I was ready to begin packaging.
I was pleased to find that the Build Service sported a "package wizard," which stepped me through the packaging process across a series of Web forms. Ubuntu's Personal Package Archive service, in contrast, requires more detailed knowledge of Debian-style packaging.
I ended up ditching my Prism packaging effort in favor of a simpler test case-the Mozilla build system is significantly more complicated than the typical configure, make, install process that's required for most open-source applications.
However, as I worked my way through the Prism packaging process, I was impressed by the ease with which I could tweak the spec file and sources for my package, receive feedback on missing dependencies, and watch the build process unfold in a dynamic build log.
OpenSUSE 11.1 Vies for Desktop Linux Supremacy - Page 2