SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 Debuts

by Sean Michael Kerner

The first major update to SUSE's flagship distribution since the company was split out from Novell is now available.

SUSE is out today with its SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 release, providing users with new server and desktop features. The SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 release is the first major milestone update since version 11 debuted back in 2009. There have been several Service Pack updates in the intervening years, including SP3, which was released in July 2013.

Matthias Eckermann, senior product manager at SUSE, explained to ServerWatch that one of the key features in the new server SUSE release is the integration of the Btrfs filesystem for the operating system. SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 also includes the XFS filesystem for data. By using both Btrfs and XFS, Eckermann believes SUSE is solving a key enterprise challenge.

"We want to give customers the ability to do a full system rollback," Eckermann said.

Eckermann explained that a full system rollback means that the administrator can roll back to a known good state for server configuration. The way it works is the server administrator takes an operating system snapshot and whenever the administrator wants they can roll back to a prior state. Btrfs provides both copy-on-write as well as snapshotting functionality that is now featured in SUSE Linux Enterprise 12.

The challenge with a copy-on-write filesystem is that it can lead to hard drive fragmentation; that's where the XFS filesystem support comes into play.

"Our installer automatically proposes that users use XFS for any production data," Eckermann said.

With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, MariaDB is now the default supported database, replacing Oracle's MySQL. MariaDB is a fork of MySQL that was created by Monty Widenius, the original creator of MySQL. Eckermann emphasized that MariaDB is a real open-source project with the same client libraries as MySQL and generally works well as a drop-in replacement.

Though SUSE is shifting to MariaDB, it is not shifting away from Apache HTTPD as its default web server. In recent years, the open-source nginx web server has gained in popularity, though Eckermann argued that it's not the direction SUSE customers are going.

"My own personal point of view is that if you configure Apache correctly for performance, the difference against nginx is negligible," Eckermann said. "Given our deep integration with Apache and broad availability of extensibility, Apache is a better choice for customers that we are serving."

From a platform perspective, SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 works on x86, Power and SystemZ, but not on ARM. Eckermann said SUSE does have a build that will work on ARM that is available to selected partners, but generally speaking the ARM port is not yet at the same support level as other architectures at the current time.

SUSE is also extending its support for Microsoft with a Virtual Machine driver pack for Windows servers to enable better integration for SUSE Linux to run.

From a systems management perspective, there is a SUSE Advanced Systems Management Tool that is being developed. The machinery project that is at the heart of the advanced Systems Management Tool is a technology for helping administrators transfer a legacy machine to a newer machine image.

As part of the SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 update, SUSE is also introducing a revamped customer support service called the SUSE customer center. Eckermann explained that users now get a a dashboard approach with visibility into what actions need to be taken, whether those actions are system update or renewing subscriptions.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Monday Oct 27th 2014
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