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Novell's Second-Class SUSE Citizens

Speaking of Imaginary ODF 'Service Packs', Novell Has a Service Pack

As you may be aware by now, Novell has released a Service Pack for SUSE. It was not a low-key announcement, but it's truly interesting how this event was just lumped in together with announcements about Red Hat's update (version 5.2 of Enterprise Linux). Novell was somewhat of a second fiddle in the press. A reader wrote to say: "I see Novell has started to release 'Service Packs'. This I presume is what used to be called updates, patches and bug fixes only without actually using those words. I wonder, is this available to subscription-only 'customers'?"



The Service Packs are actually not new and Novell used this terminology before. It might make a convenient wording in case Novell and Microsoft ever become one (more on this later). Here are a couple of articles about Novell's latest Service Pack. Mind the headlines and be aware that we are not being selective here. These just happen to be the most prominent articles which note the update.

Red Hat debuts 5.2 version; Novell issues service pack



[...]

Novell issues Service Pack for SUSE

Meanwhile, Waltham, Mass.-based Novell Inc. just released its Service Pack 2 for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, with improvements in interoperability, virtualization, management and hardware. Based on the Citrix Systems Inc.'s Xen virtualization engine, SUSE Linux is fully compatible with Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization, Novell said.

Jones said neither announcement was monumental. Novell is delivering on its promises, adding interoperability and improving support for its management tool update system, he said.

"Both vendors are making progress, fixing problems and adding features to keep up with the market," he said. "There's no wow factor here."


Most of the article is just about Red Hat. Here is another.

Novell, Red Hat upgrade Linux offerings



[...]

Novell also updated its YaST (Yet another Set-up Tool) to ease boot-ups and add network module support for new devices. Red Hat also focused on improving its virtualization capabilities, which are based on the same Xen hypervisor technology Novell uses.


Returning to our reader, he had some more insights to share. He highlights this clarification which he has found:

"SMT is fully supported and available as a download to customers with an active SUSE Linux Enterprise product subscription"

On this he comments: "I guess that answer to that one is NO. From what I can gather, Novell is paying lukewarm support while acting to steer the 'best bits' to SLED. Unlike Ubuntu and a few others who release the same code under dual licenses. This, together with the Microsoft covenant, makes their commitment less than enthusiastic. Does this matter? Is Novell benefiting in any way from Open Source/Linux. Considering NetWare is moribund and Novells business is being built on SuSE, a bought in Linux distro, I do believe the answer is yes.

"I got into a discussion with one of the OpenSUSE forums moderators a while back (before I was banned). He said the only worthwhile thing in Linux was the Kernel. Let's see Novell dispense with everything else then.

“From what I can gather, Novell is paying lukewarm support while acting to steer the 'best bits' to SLED.”"Personally I feel kind of tainted when market speak starts creeping into technical documents. See also where they refer to regulatory compliance. Like, does the machine know it's in compliance and will this thwart the crooked hackers?"

Further, he points out these bits from the press release:

"Novell today announced the availability to customers worldwide of SUSE€® Linux Enterprise 10 Service Pack 2 (SP2) [...] with full support from Microsoft for Windows* Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003"

"The Subscription Management Tool (SMT) for SUSE Linux Enterprise helps customers easily manage their SUSE Linux Enterprise software updates while maintaining corporate firewall policy and regulatory compliance requirements"

His conclusion: "Of course, no one in their right minds would 'update' a live system. And getting the latest bug fix, sorry 'Service Pack', isn't so important in Linux land. As a bug won't generally lead to a total system compromise." The next post will discuss some more severe issues.

Gates on SUSE

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