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05.24.08

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: SLED/SLES Service Pack, More Xandros at Asustek

Posted in Dell, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, SLES/SLED, Windows, Wine, Xandros at 2:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There are various new bits and pieces in SUSE Linux, but the main news item is about the release of the second Service Pack. We start with SLES and SLED.

SLED/SLES Service Pack

Here is the mind-boggling press release.

Novell today announced the availability to customers worldwide of SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise 10 Service Pack 2 (SP2), containing enhancements in virtualization, management, hardware enablement and interoperability. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 is the only Xen-based virtualization solution with full support from Microsoft for Windows* Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 guests and live migration of those guests across physical machines. Several improvements specific to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Real Time 10 are also included in SP2. Novell further unveiled the Subscription Management Tool for SUSE Linux Enterprise, designed to help customers better manage their SUSE Linux Enterprise software updates.

Put simply, it’s a large maintenance release. The Service Pack was mentioned earlier in the week. Important questions were raised.

eWeek welcomed this release with yet another article that merely lumps it in with Red Hat’s new release, which to an extent stole SUSE’s thunder.

Novell and Red Hat announced upgrades of their Linux-based enterprise distros, featuring improved virtualization and hardware support. In addition, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10 SP2 adds a new subscription management tool, while Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2 adds new security, clustering, desktop, and networking features.

Information Week covered this also, as did Heise Open Source (Heise Online). Even Computer World.

Red Hat introduced its latest operating system update, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2, which includes enhancements in virtualization capabilities, updates for user desktops, encryption and security improvements, while SUSE announced the availability of its Service Pack 2 for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 operating systems.

SLED in Action

Steven JVN, who has always been fond of SUSE (especially on the desktop), delivered a nice report covering his experiences with SLED 10 (SP1).

That really was it. There were no hoops to jump through. No configuration headaches. No fuss, no muss. The ThinkPad R61 and SLED 10 SP1 just work.

Once it was on, the first thing I did was adjust the GNOME 2.12 desktop to my tastes. Since SLED 10 SP1 is a stable distribution meant for long-term business use it doesn’t have the latest software. Eventually, I’ll switch it out to another Linux, but for this review I wanted to see how the factory-installed Linux worked out.

Vendor Support

EMC seems receptive towards Netware and SUSE (no mention of other Linuxes).

EMC builds up disk backup

[...]

The new Avamar software supports 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and offers expanded client support for Microsoft SQL Server 2005; Vista; Native Netware client backup and restore (Netware V6.5); and Novell Storage Servers (NSS) volumes on Novell Open Enterprise Server (OES) SLES 10.

SAP, which is still very close to Microsoft (some suggested that Microsoft should acquire it rather than go for Yahoo!), gave Novell one of those symbolic rewards that are tossed around for mutual recognition and marketing purposes. Bear in mind that SAP’s Shai Agassi, who fortunately left the company, was a very vocal (and thus notorious) FOSS basher. The current CEO is not a fan either, unlike former managers who grew fond of it, over time.

Novell today announced it has received an SAP Pinnacle Award in the category “Technology: Co-Innovation for Core Business,” recognizing Novell as an SAP partner who has made significant contributions to SAP’s customer-focused ecosystem. Novell was honored specifically for work with SAP on SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise Server Priority Support for SAP as well as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server high availability and virtualization for SAP.

It shouldn’t be surprising that SAP goes for the ‘Microsoft-approved’ Linux. We wrote about the Microsoft-Intel-SAP-Novell axis before. It’s further augmented by relationships with OEMs, e.g. Dell and H-P. There’s a lot of ‘politics’ there.

SUSE Laptops

We encourage people not to buy laptops that have SUSE preloaded because there is no exemption from ‘Windows tax’. Microsoft collects royalties from Novell. In any event, since it’s Saturday, consider this review of the H-P laptop that comes with SUSE.

If 2007 was the year that Asus chose to introduce the small and affordable sub-notebook, then 2008 is the year that the concept has really begun to take off. Asus, predictably, has lead the way once again, with its updated Eee PC 900 putting right many of the issues raised by the original. Meanwhile, Intel has enthusiastically embraced the idea by launching its Centrino Atom platform for small, low-power, affordable notebooks and MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices). There are a few machines mooted to use Atom, most notably the impressive looking MSI Wind, but it appears it could be a while before we see Atom powered machines hitting retail.

There’s also the MSI laptop that comes with SUSE.

The other version of Wind will use Novell’s SUSE Linux OS and cost $399.

Fortunately, not all laptops come with SUSE or Xandros. Plenty of choice remains. Watch this interesting new article which speaks about “Novell for desktops.”

The big shocker for Raburn? “I was surprised to see Novell for desktops,” he says. “I’m not sure I know anyone who would run it for their desktop. Certainly Windows and Red Hat win the category, but the Mac certainly deserves a solid third place and is increasingly part of corporate networks.”

Xandros

Some people, such as reviewers from Laptop Magazine, learn the hard way that «Linux is Not Windows». They try to treat Xandros on the Eee PC as though it’ll be DRM-compatible, as well as Windows compatible (Wine serving as a compatibility layer). Watch what happens.

I am a big fan of Xandros on the Eee PC, but I’ve always said it has its limitations, especially when it doesn’t give me access to my favorite Windows programs. But when my editor told me earlier this week about Wine HQ, I nearly freaked. Wine HQ enables a compatibility layer that allows Windows programs to run on a Linux OS.

Asustek’s commitment to GNU/Linux is no surprise. It uses that same Xandros derivative to create a desktop solution called EBox.

The Ebox will certainly run the Eee PC’s Xandros version of Linux, and come bundled with the same line-up of applications.

The look of the Ebox is at odds with the design of a slimline home desktop PC that Asus demo’d at the CeBit show in March this year. That model, the “Digital Home System EP20″, was, however, said to run the Eee PC’s Linux OS.

What you ought to find most ironic is that Microsoft’s «Crippleware Program» [1, 2] (Windows XP for as little as $18 apiece) does not apply to anything other than low-cost and muchly-crippled laptops. How will it respond to this? Taxation of Xandros? This is an important one to watch.

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: Solid Week for the OpenSUSE Project

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Google, KDE, Novell, OpenSUSE at 1:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUSE in Blue

YaST updateAnother week went by and the OpenSUSE project has made further progress towards 11.0. Here are some highlights.

Development

Development news, as always, you can find in the OpenSUSE Web site, but our accumulation is totally separate and independent from it. Every Saturday we try to be gentler because of the nature of OpenSUSE.

In this week:

* Announcing openSUSE 11.0 Beta 3
* People of openSUSE: Wolfgang Koller
* Status Updates
* Duncan Mac-Vicar P.: The greatest unknown openSUSE 11.0 package management feature
* Lukáš Ocilka: Function Keys in YaST ncurses Frontend
* andi.opensuse-id.org: KDE 4.0.4 on openSUSE 10.3

YaST backupThe image on the left is GPL-licensed and it’s from YaST, which is still being worked on heavily. Here is a small progress report — with visuals — of the redesigned YaST expert partitioner.

An item that was also picked by OpenSUSE Weekly News is this one from Duncan, which speaks of an “unknown openSUSE 11.0 package management feature,” to use his own words.

During the development of openSUSE 11.0, we have been reporting in real time cool improvements like the fast installation, how YaST became sexy, how YaST/ZYpp/zypper became fast, how YaST/ZYpp/zypper performs better than others and even that our solver is also really smart.

Bugs

Zonker called for help with bug management.

Attention openSUSE users and contributors! It’s time to exercise your vote and help the openSUSE team identify the bugs that need to be squashed prior to the openSUSE 11.0 release. On May 22nd, we’re having a bug voting day to help ensure we identify the most troublesome issues in Bugzilla under openSUSE 11.0.

The resolvability of bugs was covered in Softpedia also, but not in the very same context.

openSUSE 11.0 Beta 3 Resolves Over 700 Bugs

The third and last beta version of openSUSE 11.0 was announced last night. Beta 3 fixes over 700 bugs, adds some new artwork and a few updated packages.

People

Last week’s person of openSUSE was Wolfgang Koller, whom you can learn a little more about.

While some are preparing their fly to Austria to attend EURO 2008, ‘People of openSUSE’ already flew but rather to meet Wolfgang Koller – founder of SuSELinuxSupport community and author of some nice KDE applications such as KTrafficAnalyzer.

Funding

The press release about Google’s Summer of Code was mentioned last week, but here are a couple of articles that covered it a little later. The first one shows that some of the output will be of general use to more GNU/Linux distributions (not just SUSE).

The projects funded by Google are as follows:

* LTSP GUI Management for openSuse by Jan Weber (mentored by Jigish Gohil)
* Interactive Crash Analysis by Nikolay Derkach (mentored by Jan Blunck)
* Face-Based Authentication by Rohan Anil (mentored by Alex Lau Chun Yin)
* Grub4ext4: Enable ext4 File System as Boot Partition by PengTao (mentored by Coly Li)

[...]

Timothy Prickett Morgan has a summary of recent developments, including the above.

Novell Buys $100 Million in Shares, Joins Google Summer of Code

Commercial Linux distributor Novell said last week that its board of directors has authorized the company to head on down to Wall Street with a couple of bales of cash to buy up shares of the company’s stock in a effort to bolster the shares and boost per share earnings growth calculations in the coming quarters. Novell also announced that search engine giant Google is funding some openSUSE projects as part of its Summer of Code donations back to the open source community.

We wrote about the buybacks in [1, 2].

Reviews

Every week there are a few people who write about their experiences with stable versions or development versions of OpenSUSE. Here is one such experience, which is largely positive

OpenSUSE is another awsome linux, other than the few i blogged about earlier ( Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, .. ).

The best part of OpenSUSE is its installation procedure. It really rocks.

Here is a more negative one.

I downloaded the Ubuntu CD image, burned it to a disk, swapped the hard drives and booted the CD. Less than an hour later the installation was finished, and it was up and running. I have tried this several times before, most recently with SuSE Linux, and this one the first time that it seemed to have gotten all of the major laptop devices and configurations figured out properly. I’m impressed.

Here is a comparison.

Arch has taught me so much and I will go back to it one day. For now, I plan to decide between three popular KDE distros – openSUSE, Kubuntu and Fedora. The desktop environment of choice? KDE 4.0.

[...]

openSUSE 10.3 :

* Use of the Aya plasma theme with new artwork rocks.
* YaST uses an Oxygen icon theme which suits it.
* Firefox doesn’t look that ugly even without the gtk-qt-engine for some reason.
* Only KDE 4 applications present.
* YaST installer messed up my GRUB for some reason; took a while to fix.
* Printer setup was fine.
* Slow YaST (since this is 10.3) makes me wait eagerly for 11.0.

Lastly, here is a test drive of the development build.

In Satuday evening I tried KDE Live on VMWare environment before playing with the DVD iso. Surprised, it was worked flawlessly, running well without problem including Live installation. I don’t know why the LiveCD worked without problem on VMWare workstation but having problem on physical machine. I assumes that it would like the problem with the iso burned on CD, not with iso itself, so I take another blank disc and burned the kde live iso once again.

OpenSUSE’s KDE side in 11.0 will be an interesting one to watch. A lot of the latest Qt is incorporated and last week’s news from Nokia (about mobile Linux) elevates hopes that the company will take Maemo further, maybe at the expense of Symbian. Might Nokia change its mind and let Qt maintain more focus on the desktop? It seems safe to at least remain hopeful.

KDE is moving fast!

SUSE KDE

Novell and Microsoft as Virtualisation Partners, Collecting/Colocating Assets and Companies

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Patents, Red Hat, Servers, SUN, Virtualisation, Xen at 12:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell and Microsoft working together: where not?

The title, as seen above, might be a case of stating the obvious (with a snag), but it’s important enough to show and to explain this, so as to leave no doubt about Novell’s risk to virtualisation’s status quo. A lot of today’s clouds, which thrive in Virtualisation, are built using VMWare and GNU/Linux. Red Hat is an important ingredient in this and deployments typically involve giants like IBM, Amazon and maybe even Google. Needless to say, Microsoft is not happy about it.

“Novell and Citrix are both virtually controlled by Microsoft’s will.”There are newer market entrants such as KVM and even Xen. Allow Novell and Microsoft to introduce them to an exclusive club — a club where companies get acquired for their technologies and then integrated to increase pressure on common 'enemies' like Red Hat and VMWare.

We now have Novell and its very recent acquisitions that cover virtualisation. Then there’s Citrix that acquired XenSource and Microsoft, whose virtualisation technology is more of an import (acquisition) than an in-house development project. Novell and Citrix are both virtually controlled by Microsoft’s will. Most observers would ignore the connection. All of these seemingly separate efforts, however, are being combined and then directed at common rivals that pose a risk to the Microsoft ecosystem, of which Novell and Citrix are an integral part.

The Microsoft Virtualisation Gang

As we stated very recently, Xen was becoming a bit like the “the Novell of hypervisors”, especially after it had sold out to Microsoft’s partner Citrix and soon thereafter focused on Windows instead of GNU/Linux. The deal they signed with Microsoft had had some impact before that. The evidence is all over the place, though some choose not to see it.

In the news you now find that a recent Novell acquisition, PlateSpin, sponsors a virtualisation conference. This is fine. Watch this new press release though:

PlateSpin Pledges Extended Support for Citrix XenServer Customers

PlateSpin ULC, a Novell company, today reaffirmed its commitment to support Citrix* XenServer across the PlateSpin product line. XenServer support is a key element of PlateSpin’s multiplatform strategy, which aims to offer enterprises a unified suite of solutions for managing heterogeneous data center environments and making physical and virtual infrastructures work as one.

Increasingly, you are likely find collaborations that can be characterised as Novell + Citrix + XenSource + Microsoft (Hyper-V) + PlateSpin, all pitted against VMWare, Red Hat, Ubuntu (KVM), Sun (xVM, VirtualBox), Oracle and server other server virtualisation forces. In a way, Microsoft may be building itself a ‘coalition’. It has ignored hypervisors for far too long, so it hopes that scale of combined forces can help it catch up. Remember that Microsoft admitted very clearly a few weeks ago that clouds and services may be the way to go.

“If You’re Not With Us, We Won’t Play”

Novell loves Microsoft [1, 2]. Microsoft 'punishes' some of SUSE's GNU/Linux rivals. Here we come to revisiting an old problem again. It comes from the news [1,2,3]. (mind our added highlights in red)

Microsoft, using Hyper-V, discriminates against Red Hat et al and requires software patent deals to be signed merely to be no longer disregarded. It's a form of extortion that’s used against some of the biggest players in the market. Remember that Microsoft may be planning to invite the antitrust envelope because there’s too much to lose without an anti-competitive last resort.

In the links below, Microsoft is still promising what many call an inferior product. it plans pre-bundling as its business (integration) plan. Expect antitrust and dirty tricks.

___
[1] Microsoft Says Hyper-V RC 1 Good to Go

But already there are holes in this proclamation: Hyper-V RC 1 doesn’t work with Microsoft’s own virtual machine (VM) management software, and the only other guest operating systems it supports in addition to Microsoft’s are Novell SUSE Linux, which partners with Microsoft.

[2] Microsoft releases Hyper-V RC1

Hyper-V supports a number of guest operating systems: Windows Server 2003 SP2, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, Windows Vista SP1 (x86), and Windows XP SP3 (x86).

[3] Microsoft Moves Closer To Hyper-V Rollout

Microsoft Tuesday unveiled the second release candidate for its long awaited Hyper-V hypervisor, which adds minor tweaks like guest operating system support for Windows 2000 Server and mouse integration tools for Novell SUSE 10 Linux.

Microsoft Novell

Novell (to EU): Microsoft supports Linux.

Microsoft: Yeah, like Novell said, we support Linux. The ‘legal’ ones.

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