Originally Posted by punchy71
Can someone explain what the purpose of OpenSuse is in the Linux distro world these days?
Purpose? Well, I think you mean market focus.
From the point of view of SUSE (Attachmate, their owner, as much as anything) the purpose is testing stuff which eventually turns up in SUSE (SLED/SLES).
The market focus of the distro (as distinct from other offerings), however, has little to do with software developers specifically. Look here
for more information (and other pages and documents linked from that page).
Originally Posted by punchy71
However, I can't see new Linux users being lumped in with software developers (programmers in other words), software vendors (sellers of software (?)) and "experienced" users (advanced Linux "gurus" in other words).
Why not? In other words, is there something that is good for a newbie that is bad for an experienced user? In effect, openSUSE is saying that they are committed to making a distro that works in both of those use cases.
Now, it is easy to argue that means that there will be less of a focus on a single use case, but on the other hand, there will be more of a freedom to grow without changing distros to do it. Is it the right decision? I can't really say, but it is certainly a valid proposition.
I think that you are referring to something like this blurb:
The openSUSE project is a community program sponsored by Novell. Promoting the use of Linux everywhere, this program provides free, easy access to openSUSE, a complete Linux distribution. The openSUSE project has three main goals: make openSUSE the easiest Linux for anyone to obtain and the most widely used Linux distribution; leverage open source collaboration to make openSUSE the world's most usable Linux distribution and desktop environment for new and experienced Linux users; dramatically simplify and open the development and packaging processes to make openSUSE the platform of choice for Linux developers and software vendors.
, but presumably originally from somewhere in the openSUSE project - probably, there should be an updated version which revises the mention of Novell, these days, so the text is probably slightly out of date, although the main thrust will not have changed radically.)
You mention software vendors and software developers several times in your posts. I think that you are conflating two things: a target for end-user use, and a platform to develop on for end user use. To understand the distinction more fully, you have to look in to the Open Build Service and look at that as part of a development process which results in the software supplier having a program which can be installed on various end-user platforms.
So, SUSE generally is hoping that software suppliers make the offerings available for the platform, but it doesn't necessarily follow that they use either openSUSE or SLES/SLED as an integral part of the development process to get there, or that such suppliers who do form an appreciable part of the user base.
On the other hand, it is implicitly acknowledged that wide availability of such software helps the user base, more generally.
As a very general point, the point of a Linux distro, particularly when not an immediate profit-generating product can be something of a slippery subject; in the case of openSUSE (and SLED/SLES), the situation can be compared to that of Fedora and Red Hat, although it has to be pointed out that users of the 'consumer' distro can have quite different objectives from the users of the Enterprise product (...and it still all work...just about).
I think that you can reasonably say that openSUSE is not aimed as being such a techie-focussed distro as, in various different ways, Fedora, Arch, Gentoo, (LFS, if that's a distro), etc. At the other extreme, it isn't one of the most 'dumbed-down' distros, either (dumbed-down is probably not the best description, but it will have to do for the moment). At the same, it has a 'do-it-all' element, also present in something in something like Debian, where you can make of it what you want, which is unlike some of the simpler distros with less extensive repos and the single-purpose distros, specifically for appliances of one sort or another.