If you are a sysadmin, Open Build Service is one of the tools you should add to your toolbox..today. “OBS”, hosted at build.opensuse.org is one of my favorite “killer apps” for openSUSE, yet for system administrators it has continued to be relatively unknown, but disproportionately valuable. At a high-level OBS is a tool for building and distributing packages, but on build.opensuse.org, there’s a social component which may someday save your bacon!

Today’s example was a common situation, one in which I frequently find myself: I want to use a tool which is available in the distribution’s packages but doesn’t quite have all features enabled. In today’s prototype, I was tinkering around with rsyslog and Apache Kafka via the omkafka module.

One problem: the default rsyslog package did not come with omkafka enabled, and omkafka was not packaged through another means. Since my test instance was running openSUSE, I found the rsyslog package, branched it, and made some minor changes to build a rsyslog-module-kafka rpm.

But wait! That’s not even the cool part!

Using the power of OBS, the project I branched (imagine the GitHub fork model) started building my changes immediately, and published my development packages within minutes! Suddenly I was able to have a fully formed rpm repository with my package in it. One which I could enable in my test environment and immediately start using!

Rather than fooling around with an entire custom build of rsyslog, I spent around an hour in between a couple of meetings tweaking the official package to add Kafka support, and then was back to the real work of prototyping!

OBS was well worth the learning curve!