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Where SLED/SLES 11 Fails

Kick me Novell



Summary: Early reviewers of the latest SUSE release are not entirely satisfied

SLED and SLES 11 have been released. Selected journalists appear to have received copies of it in advance, specifically for reviewing purposes. What did they think? Let's find out.



We wrote about the release of SLE* 11 a short while ago and therein we mentioned the review from Jason Perlow, an IBM employee who also writes for ZDNet and blogs in his private space. He used to advocate OS/2 vigorously and OpenSUSE is one of his favourite distributions, Ubuntu being another. Regarding SLED 11, he contacted us to show his review which concluded SLED 11 lacks polish. This is particularly embarrassing because what sets apart OpenSUSE and SLE* is supposed to be polish. Novell seems to have rushed this release out the door. It was not long ago that OpenSUSE 11.1, on which SLED 11 is based, got released.

Moving on to another review, we have Sam Varghese. Unlike Perlow, Varghese is a critic of the Microsoft/Novell deal and he is a vocal opposer of Moonlight and Mono. SLED 11 didn't do it for him. In fact, it hardly even worked at first.

Novell's latest SUSE release, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11, appears to be unable to boot from DVD on a PC on which another Linux distribution is installed. If you have Windows XP installed, the same DVD boots as it should.

I've just tested this out on two PCs, one running Debian Lenny and the other running MEPIS - both of which boot from a dozen other Linux and non-Linux discs without any problem - and a Windows XP PC. SLED 11 only boots from the drive on the PC with XP.

One of these Linux PCs is a single-core AMD64 and the other is a dual-core AMD64. The XP PC is a dual-core AMD64.

You, gentle reader, can draw your own conclusions. For me it looks like this is the height of interoperability!


Critics of his review say that it was unfair, so another reviewer, Jason Brooks (recipient of Vista 7 laptop), is worth taking into consideration. According to his review, SLE* lacks features. The heart of his critique can be summarised as follows:

Novell's desktop Linux OS is too limited in the software packages it offers, especially when compared with its community-centric relative, OpenSUSE.


The comments in Linux Today were mostly harsh because readers over there dislike the Novell/Microsoft deal and therefore resent SUSE to a degree. Here is a commenter who asks, "Who would actually buy it?"

Why on earth would anyone want to run a stable, secure and lean OS like Linux on an unstable, insecure and bloated OS like Windows?

What is the attraction of Silverlight and Windows media? Flash dominates, MPlayer (and a host of other free players) plays Windows Media files and a whole host of other things just fine, and ogg will be part of HTML 5.

Who needs SLES to provide Silverlight and Windows Media in a Windows desktop replacement? What most people looking for a Windows replacement are looking for are replacements for Windows applications, and a free (as in beer) desktop OS.

In my opinion, Ubuntu is more user friendly than SLED or for that matter Windows XP.


Novell relies very heavily on Microsoft, which adopted SUSE as its patents-encumbered trap for GNU/Linux users. As Netware revenue continues to dwindle, Novell absolutely must rely on other areas and the only growth area seems to be SUSE. The big money comes from large contracts which sometimes involve negotiations with or via Microsoft. Novell therefore has some obligations to Microsoft, which it usually fulfills by advancing Microsoft technologies.

SUSE is not about GNU/Linux. It's about making Microsoft happy because it improves chances of selling SUSE coupons/vouchers, which Microsoft openly calls patent "royalty payments."

"I've heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons "royalty payments"..."

--Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

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