by October 9, 2006 0 comments



If you have gone through the SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 review (Aug
2006, p122), you would have perhaps noticed the great integration of
applications which SLED 10 has out of the box. And when we talk about SuSE Linux
Enterprise Server (SLES) 10, the same benefits come to surface quite
prominently.

But this time the integration is not just about good looks and easier usage.
This being a server-class OS, we talk about integrated features such as FailSafe,
virtualization, security and robustness of the OS. The OS was reviewed on an IBM
e-Series Server having two Xeon processors and 1GB RAM. As always, the
installation was based on the YaST installer. During installation, the OS was
able to detect all the hardware in the server. It also recognized a Windows file
system present on the hard disks and asked whether we wanted to resize the
partition for SLES or not. 

Price:
Rs 18,497 onwards per server
Meant For:
Server admins, IT managers
Key Specs:
OCFS, XEN, AppArmor 
Pros: Easy to install and configure
Cons:None
Contact: Novell,
Mumbai Tel: 1-800-225777 
E-mail: indiamarketing@novell.com 

After our approval, it automatically resized it and created a ReiserFS
partition for installation of SLES 10. This is an added feature for a Linux
installer. Because traditionally we used some other application such as FIPS
(for FAT32), or parted to do this kind of resizing. The feature has indeed
reduced one step while doing a dual boot installation of a Linux distro with
Windows.

Virtualize SuSE with Xen
The OS was released on 17th July 2006 and has become the first server class
installable Linux distro to have Xen Virtualization Server out of the box. To
install Xen you need to select the ‘Virtualization’ option. Xen is supposed
to be a great virtualization technology as it doesn’t run a virtual machine on
top of the host OS. Rather it just loads a Linux kernel on top of a
virtualization layer where it either uses the same FS of the Host OS or uses a
separate ISO file built from any Linux file system. This technique drastically
reduces the overhead caused by the virtualization middleware. And because of
this very reason Xen is becoming immensely popular.

But the biggest drawback with Xen is its difficult configuration. As there is
no stable GUI front end available for Xen, the user is left with no option
except to go through quite a few manual steps to set up and configure it. But
SuSE solves this problem by providing a YaST plug-in which can setup, configure,
install the guest OS and use the new VM from a single GUI interface. This is a
great boon to those who want to deploy virtualization in their enterprise using
Xen. But there is a catch! While using the YaST plug-in for Xen, we found that
it can only do an installation of SLES 10 on a Xen Virtual Machine. We tried to
deploy FC5 and some other Linux distros but the VM installer failed to recognize
the installation media. We even tried to install the SLED 10 on top of Xen using
the same YaST plug-in, but to our surprise it failed to recognize the
installation media.

With the YaST plug-in of Xen, you can install a virtual instance of SLES 10 inside a running SuSE server

Secure your applications
After the arrival of SELinux, the concept of securing applications has become
hot in the Linux market. But again the problem with SELinux is its CLI (Command
Line Interface) nature and difficult configuration. There are some tools
available to configure SELinux graphically but those are still in their infancy
and lack features. So, to provide an application level policy manager for the
Linux platform, Novell acquired a product called AppArmor, turned it into
OpenSource and included it in the distro. The application has all the features
of an application based policy manager and is completely wizard driven. With
AppArmor, all you need to secure an application, is to run the AppArmor wizard.
Run the application that you want to secure for some time and click on OK.

Other key features
Novell is pushing scalability as the USP for this version of SLES. They have
built the kernel in such a way that it has virtually no limitation while
upgrading hardware. For instance, this version of Linux is running on an SGI
server where they have a single SMP machine with 1024 processors running
parallel. Other key features of the distro include out of box support for OCFS
(Oracle Cluster File System). FailSafe clustering for Xen can be set up
automatically for virtual machines and that too without the need of restarting
the VMs. Moreover, it has the latest, stable kernel (2.6.16) for the OS and for
Xen.

Bottom Line: A very stable distro with cutting edge features for
enterprise server needs. At this price it is one of the most cost efficient
server class OS.

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