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Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 - A Review by Larkin Cunningham


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Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 - A Review by Larkin Cunningham that appeared in Linux Magazine

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Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 - A Review by Larkin Cunningham

  1. 1. Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 REVIEWS A look at Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 A New Suse Server Suse has taken the lead on competitors Red Hat and Man- drake by releasing an enterprise Linux product that comes with the 2.6 kernel. What do you get with the new Suse Enterprise Linux? We’ll give you a look at the best of what’s inside Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9. BY LARKIN CUNNINGHAM N ovell recently became the first develop modules for major corporate Linux vendor to YaST to integrate con- release a kernel 2.6 Linux distri- figuration of their bution for the enterprise market. By products into Suse’s integrating Suse Linux Enterprise Server central YaST control (SLES9) [1] into Novell’s family of com- center. plementary networking software YaST is used to install products, such as Netware and Open the operating system Enterprise Server (OES) [2], Novell from scratch and is also hopes to persuade Suse customers to used to upgrade from think seriously about extending their previous versions. In- commitment to Novell beyond just stallation of SLES9 with servers and desktops. YaST is very similar to the installation of One of the shortcomings of YaST has In this article, I’ll show you what’s SLES8 with YaST (see Figure 1). Almost been the inability to manage patches and inside Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9, all of the options are the same, except for software packages across multiple and what the 2.6 kernel will mean for the optional configuration of Lightweight servers using a centralized management the new generation of enterprise servers. Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), which tool. Red Hat addressed this somewhat can be used for user authentication in with Red Hat Network (RHN), which Installation and place of the usual /etc/passwd method of allows you to register your servers and to Configuration traditional Unix. automate the application of errata and SLES9 comes on 6 CD-ROMs. There are 5 product updates. SLES9 does not restrict The Latest YaST CD-ROMs for Suse CORE 9 and 1 for you to only using YaST’s Online Update SLES9 specific files. Suse CORE 9 is a set All the YaST system configuration mod- (YOU) (see Figure 3). Now you can use of common packages for Suse’s new cor- ules from SLES8 are included in SLES9, other Novell management tools such as porate Linux distributions. We might many with significant improvements, ZENworks and Ximian Red Carpet to expect to see OpenExchange 5.0 based such as Samba 3 configuration (see Fig- centrally manage errata and updates for on SUSE CORE 9 at some point in the ure 2). YaST also comes with some new all your servers. future. modules, including Email Server config- Package Options For 10 years now, YaST (Yet another uration, Heartbeat configuration for high Setup Tool) has provided excellent sys- availability, User Mode Linux configura- Traditionally, Linux distributions have tem management features for Suse tion, and several others. User Mode allowed a huge package selection. Even operating systems. YaST was always a Linux (UML) allows a system adminis- SLES8 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 proprietary tool of Suse’s until the acqui- trator to create virtual Linux instances (RHEL3) allowed you to select all the sition by Novell. Novell decided to that have their own memory and disk packages you would need for a desktop release YaST under a general public space. This feature is ideal for creating PC. However, this approach leads to license (GPL). This means that indepen- test environments and for hosting inde- unnecessary packages being installed dent software vendors (ISVs) can pendent applications on the same server. and ultimately leads to increased patch January 2005 42
  2. 2. Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 REVIEWS Figure 1: YaST installation of SLES9 is very similar to YaST installation of Figure 2: Samba 3.0 domain controllers and shares can be configured using SLES8. YaST. management for applications that are Device support is greatly enhanced in Advanced Memory Handling not being used. It makes sense for a SLES9. SLES9 systems can handle 4,095 Linux distribution aimed squarely at the device types and over a million subde- One of the major new features that enterprise server market to include pack- vices per device type. This will mean kernel 2.6 brought to Linux was Non- ages suitable only for servers. You will even larger storage arrays, for example. Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) [3]. not be given an option to install office A SLES9 server can manage more Traditional multi-processing support, software such as with devices, including controlling up to symmetric multi-processing (SMP), SLES9. This contrasts with the first beta 32,000 SCSI disks. Support for USB 2.0 allows each processor equal access to release of RHEL4, which contains twice and Firewire is included, as is support memory and I/O. The contention on the the volume of package options. for Serial-ATA . processor bus can become a bottleneck As is typical with an enterprise Linux I installed SLES9 onto an IBM T20 lap- and adversely affect optimal perfor- distribution, package versions are tightly top with a Lucent winmodem and an mance. NUMA, however, gives pro- controlled and are maintained consis- SMC wireless PCMCIA network card. cessors, or groups of processors (called tently with errata and patches. Often SLES9 recognized all the hardware nodes), access to local memory using a features introduced in later versions of immediately, giving me confidence that dedicated memory bus. By designing the software are backported by the Linux SLES9 is likely to recognize a wide array applications to concentrate on local distributor, Novell in this case. This of devices, mostly thanks to improve- memory and minimizing inter-node approach to package distribution ensures ments in hardware detection with kernel communication, application vendors can a level of consistency and compatibility 2.6. achieve increased scalability and en- with downloaded patches. (With SLES8, hanced system performance using Suse Linux Enterprise there were many features of the 2.6 ker- NUMA. Server 9 nel that were backported to SLES8’s 2.4 You might ask if there are any applica- kernel before they were introduced into tions that have been developed to use Pricing later versions of the standard or vanilla NUMA, and the answer is that there are x86 and AMD64 and Intel EM64T 2.4 kernel.) not that many. However, Oracle and IBM Architectures are developing support for NUMA in • 1 server, up to 2 CPUs, per year: US$ 349 SLES9 Performance their flagship database products Oracle • 1 server, up to 16 CPUs, per year: US$ 899 Enhancements and DB2. Already benchmarks for these Itanium and IBM Power Architectures Many of the new features and enhance- databases on SLES9 are impressive, and • 1 server, up to 2 CPUs, per year: US$ 689 ments in SLES9 have a lot to do with the the use of NUMA can only increase those use of kernel 2.6. In terms of scalability, benchmarks further. • 1 server, up to 16 CPUs, per year: US$ 1,299 SLES9 now has no limit on the number IBM zSeries and IBM S/390 Architectures High Availability of CPUs you can use. SLES9 has been • Multiprise and G5, per engine, per year: tested with over 128 CPUs, so if raw One of the major concerns of any busi- US$ 5,999 computing power is what you need, ness is continuity. For some businesses, • G6, z800 and z890, per engine, per year: SLES9 can certainly pack a punch. SLES9 having a critical service unavailable for a US$ 11,999 systems can also support more users, number of hours can cost millions of • z900 and z990, per engine, per year: processes, and open files than previous Euros in lost production time. Novell US$ 13,999 versions. have implemented their own version of a January 2005 43
  3. 3. Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 REVIEWS Figure 3: Use YaST Online Update to manually or automatically update a Figure 4: YaST now contains a module for User Mode Linux, a popular tool server with the latest patch. that supports virtual machines within a host system. released. ond data. heartbeat high availability system for Early Adoption? Interesting Road Ahead clustering and failover. Heartbeat moni- toring refers to the ability of one node to So, with all the new features in SLES9, Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9, with its detect that another node is down when it will corporations be rushing out to buy 2.6 kernel and other important enhance- fails to detect the missing node’s “heart- it? There will be some early adopters of ments, is another indication that the beat.” According to Novell, SLES9 can be SLES9 who are buying it because it is an acquisition of Suse by Novell has tuned to detect a missing heartbeat in excellent server solution for general breathed new life into both Novell and less than one second. This early detec- applications, such as email servers or Suse. Novell’s name and marketing tion allows for sub-second failover in the PHP/MySQL servers. But it will take time power can only help increase the market most critical of environments. Failed for important certifications to come from share of Suse Linux, and Suse could nodes can be re-introduced automati- the major hardware and software ven- become a real threat to Red Hat’s posi- cally or manually. dors. Suse has strong ties with IBM and tion as the leading corporate Linux One other interesting feature related to you can expect IBM to be shipping distribution, not to mention Microsoft’s high availability and fault tolerance is SLES9-certified hardware in the near position in the overall server market. All the Distributed Replicated Block Device future. Expect HP and others to follow this can only encourage other vendors (DRBD.) DRBD refers to RAID level 1 quickly also. Oracle, who are developing to come up with even better offerings. As distributed over a network. This feature their own Linux software using SLES, long as Novell continues its support of supports multiple disks on multiple can be sure to certify their key software open source technology and continues to devices mirrored over a network. In the for SLES9 soon, as will IBM with their bring new innovations to Suse, the Linux unlikely event that a localized fire were DB2 database. to destroy one room full of servers, Existing users of SLES8 may have no INFO another room full of servers could have compelling reason to upgrade for now [1] Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 mirrored disks with live, up-to-the-sec- because SLES8 should be supported for at least another three years. Some exist- linuxenterpriseserver/ Notable packages in SLES9 ing users may decide to upgrade anyway [2] Novell Open Enterprise Server to take advantage of Novell’s vast array • Kernel 2.6.5 of networking and system management openenterpriseserver/ • Apache 2.0.49 tools. [3] Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) • PHP 4.3.4 With the first service pack for SLES9, FAQ: • MySQL 4.0.18 which includes Novell’s support for faq/index.html • PostgreSQL 7.4.2 Open Enterprise Server, scheduled for • Tomcat 5.0.19 release in February 2005, and software • Java SDK 1.4.2 and hardware certifications also coming Larkin Cunningham is one of the THE AUTHOR founders of DB Alliance, an Irish com- on stream soon, I would expect a signifi- • Samba 3.0.4 pany specializing in Linux and Open cant demand for SLES9 next year. Novell • Postfix 2.1.1 Source solutions. He enjoys exploring may have timed the release of this prod- • amavisd-new 20030616p9 the latest open source applications to uct to perfection. It is possible that the • SpamAssassin 2.6.3 see how they can reduce costs and first service pack for SLES9 could appear improve efficiency. • Clam AV 0.70 before Red Hat even gets RHEL4 January 2005 44