The new release, Leap 15.4, of openSUSE is out, and with it, the need to update the various systems we have running it. It remains a curious blend of old and new, but its key attribute also remains - it is absolutely rock solid. At last, Leap 15.4 ditches the much-patched Linux kernel 5.3 and jumps to 5.14. That is a relief. But it remains on python version 3.6, which is now no longer supported upstream. This last has been a problem on our laptops, but let's concentrate on the servers at the moment.
A while ago, I documented some of the reasons to move from Raspberry Pi OS to openSUSE to run our raspberry Pi servers. I discussed openSUSE's use of btrfs, and while I think there are risks running btrfs in all its full snapshotting, multidisk glory on the Raspberry Pi, because of the constraints of USB-connected disks, nothing says you have to use btrfs like that. So I drive out all that complexity, and simply use btrfs as a well-supported file system, with one caveat - we make use of the ability btrfs has of doing on-the-fly compression. This does two things. It saves disk space, but it also results in fewer solid-state disk reads and writes, and may well contribute to lengthening the lives of the disks.
I had a test server set up. Actually it's more like a little development server. OK, full disclosure, it's just a disk, as the joy of the Raspberry Pi is you can have as many systems as you have disks, and simply switch them when you need a particular function. So this disk, on the spare Pi, was a development server, on which I compile the latest lighttpd, test things, and generally potter. I simply followed the excellent notes on this page, rebooted and found myself with a fully updated machine. It was so simple and painless that, when we visited a friend, for whom I administer a Pi-based Nextcloud system he uses for various purposes, I was confident that it would not break his system. And indeed, it did not.
When it came to updating our own home server, though, I was a little nervous. This runs far more that either of the previous two, but again, I had no need to be concerned. This contrasts strongly with a previous Raspberry Pi OS upgrade, where the advice is really to re-install to be most certain of proper operation. Ah, yes. Now I remember why the move to openSUSE was likely to be a good one.
But, as I note in this blog post, there was one fly in the ointment. The same problem, regarding Python versions, meant that the certbot utility for renewing Lets Encrypt certificates was no longer in the repositories, and in fact, had been removed from the system. Of course, I only found out after the next renewal run had been completed, but I had enough time to find an alternative. And thankfully, these are Linux systems, and free and open source software, one of the advantages of which is that there are pretty much always alternatives. As it happens, I can't really fully blame openSUSE for this problem, as, inexplicably, the EFF, which develops certbot, know recommends using the snapd system to install their utility. I discuss why this is a strange requirement in the blog post.
So there we are, another painless upgrade. When it comes to servers, yes, we want recent and well maintained software, but we also want it to be boringly consistent. That's been achieved yet again.