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How SUSE Organizes Its Server Linux Operating Systems

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted January 2, 2019


In order to enable a server, an operating system is needed to run applications and enable services. For many servers today, Linux is a primary choice, and when it comes to Linux, server administrators have many choices as well.

One of the leading enterprise Linux distribution vendors has long been SUSE. While SUSE has been providing enterprise Linux support for well over a decade, the way in which SUSE builds and develops its Linux distributions has changed somewhat over the years.

In a video interview with ServerWatch, SUSE CTO Thomas Di Giacomo explains how the SUSE operating system portfolio is set up and how it is built.

At the top of the portfolio is SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), which is currently at version 15. The SLES 15 Service Pack 1 (SP1) update entered beta on Dec. 19 and is expected to become generally available in June 2019.

SUSE's Factory Common Codebase

Di Giacomo explained that all of SUSE's operating systems are based on a common codebase known as Factory.

"Everything that we do, or that that the open SUSE community does goes into the same codebase," Di Giacomo said. "From there we derive LEAP, SLES or Open SUSE Tumbleweed."

The open SUSE Leap distribution is a community-based distribution that Di Giacomo said easily enables users to move to the SLES edition, since it's rooted in the same codebase. The latest edition of open SUSE Leap is also version 15.

Going a step to the side is the Tumbleweed edition of SUSE, which is what is known as a rolling release. Rather than having milestone editions that have fixed versions of software packages, with a rolling release individual software and operating system components are constantly being updated.

The rolling release approach has the benefit of providing the latest updates, but it can often lack the stability of a regular milestone release model.

2019 a Year of Transition for SUSE

SUSE as a company is set for transition in 2019 as it is spun out from Micro Focus, as part of a $2.8 billion deal with private equity firm EQT. SUSE has had different ownership structures since the company was founded in 1992. 

Novell acquired SUSE for $210 million in November 2003, and Novell in turn was acquired in 2011 by Attachmate in a $2.2 billion deal. Three years later in 2014, Micro Focus acquired Attachmate for $2.35 billion.

For 2019, Di Giacomo said SUSE's plans include expanding the overall ecosystem of applications that enable its server operating systems. He noted one of the key drivers of success for Linux has been the availability of software that runs on Linux. The same sort of availability is now emerging for containers.

"For example, we have partners providing blockchain technology as containers, and we certify that on our SUSE Container as a Service platform," he said.

He added that the SAP Data Hub analytics solution has now also been certified to run on top of SUSE's platforms. Di Giacomo said in the past there were different types of Linux distributions for different types of workloads.

With the SLES 15 update, SUSE is providing a common base on which both traditional and container workloads can operate.

"You can use the same distribution for some of the traditional workloads and some of the new cloud-native workloads," he said. "That's something we started with SLES 15, and we'll continue to focus on that."

Watch the full video interview with Thomas Di Giacomo below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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