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Software management with openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise


April 26, 2007 9:51 am





Last week, openSUSE maintainers sent a note to the openSUSE mailing list telling folks that openSUSE will now be focusing on native software management using YaST and “zypp”, the package management library. As a result, openSUSE 10.3 will not include the ZENworks Management Daemon (zmd).

Here’s what that means:

First, and most important, patch, update and software deployment will remain compatible between SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and future Novell solutions, so that customers can rest easy that their existing update systems will work for the entire supported life-cycle of their SUSE Linux Enterprise investment.

Some background… openSUSE is the community project on which the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform is built. Novell funds openSUSE, and a large number of the engineers inside Novell are contributors to the openSUSE project. Both openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 include a package management library called “zypp,” which is a combined evolution of package-management infrastructures from Novell (the ZENworks family), traditional SUSE (YaST Online Update) and Ximian (Red Carpet Enterprise). Since the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, the openSUSE community has worked to enhance the capabilities of this “zypp” infrastructure, while maintaining the full enabling of enterprise customers and environments.

Last week, the openSUSE team decided to focus their efforts on YaST and “zypp”. Why? The short answer is that ZENworks is not necessary for openSUSE. openSUSE is targeted at the technical enthusiasts who want a cutting-edge distribution to sample the latest and greatest Linux technology. Most openSUSE users deploy one or two servers in their environment. They don’t need the capabilities inside ZENworks to manage those one or two servers. In order to patch one or two servers in a non-mission-critical environment, the YaST and “zypp” tools are sufficient.

For those organizations who want to run Linux across their entire infrastructure for mission-critical functions, we recommend SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, our desktop to data center platform. Ane we recommend ZENworks to manage and automate the delivery of policies, software and patches to all servers in the enterprise.

Our engineers continue to work on automatic detection and integration of SUSE Linux Enterprise systems into a ZENworks infrastructure, while maintaining the high standards of interoperability, scalability, security and performance customers expect from Novell technologies. Together, SUSE Linux Enterprise and ZENworks provide a complete enterprise Linux solution that helps customers reduce cost, lower complexity and mitigate risk. The ZENworks component “zmd”, as well as its associated command line and graphic interface tools, remain available and supported for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10. Going forward, ZENworks Linux Management will remain Novell’s solution for enterprise-class resource management for desktops and servers.

We are currently designing SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which is targeted to provide “interface-compatible” utilities to rug – the command-line interface that complements the ZENworks software management environment. openSUSE delivers most of this interface compatibility in its “zypp” environment. SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 will also include the well known graphical interfaces for software management.

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Categories: Expert Views, General, PR Blog


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  1. Judging from what happened with OpenSuse, and with many customers using Suse’s Enterprise stuff, Zenworks as it is now is a bit of of a technical disaster that will take some time to sort out and doesn’t give it particularly good press. That’s why it has been removed from OpenSuse.

    We are currently designing SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which is targeted to provide “interface-compatible” utilities to rug

    I take that to mean that you’re dropping Zenworks, in the form it is right now, in SLE 11 as well.

  2. By:Jef

    “The short answer is that ZENworks is not necessary for openSUSE. openSUSE is targeted at the technical enthusiasts who want a cutting-edge distribution to sample the latest and greatest Linux technology”

    So what’s your differentiation with Fedora?

    Let me remind your positioning when OpenSUSE was launched.

    “The openSUSE project explicitly looks beyond the technical community to the broader non-technical community of computer users interested in Linux.”

    Was that a lie? How about being mature and just accepting openly that you screwed up the packaging management with multiple competing efforts and now willing to clean it all up.

  3. By:Marcus Meissner

    Well, openSUSE is the best Linux distribution out there. 😉

    It just has not the long life usually required by enterprises, otherwise it is absolutely fine.

    Ciao, Marcus (working for Novell and openSUSE 😉

  4. By:Albertio

    What said about openSUSE being for technical enthusiasts reflects just the truth in my opinion. I find the position of Novell more “honest” from this point of view than the one of the “openSUSE team”, which think openSUSE is the ideal solution for everyone because it’s perfect.

    I think openSUSE is missing the point on many front:

    – The current state of openSUSE, with the terribly slow package manager, the need to manually remove ZMD, the lack of centralized and easy to add repositories to activate multimedia support and other stuff, added to the slow processes in solving issues don’t make openSUSE actually ready for non-technical users, or at least for users without a certain experience with Linux.

    – The documentation on the wiki is difficult to find, and often too technical to be accessible. I mean: there are too little how-to’s and too much development stuff. openSUSE is evidently a lab to develop the enterprise line of SUSE Linux, at least at the moment.

    – The communication inside Novell and between Novell/openSUSE and the community is terrible. Novell guys give different answers to the same question, and there’s almost no involvement of the community in the decision process.
    The status meetings, which should be the place for this kind of communication, is just a place where things are presented and always the same topics are discussed (OBS, wiki status, mainly, which I find of no interest for most of the users). The most frequent answer during the question time is “please post the question on the mailing list”. Not exactly a good tecnique.

    – The community on its side is almost non-existent. There’s a small group of users who accept the status-quo, and don’t want things to change. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, just visit the IRC support channel #irc # freenode.
    A community to be effective needs to grow, to involve new people. But to do this, it is necessary to help them at first even with “idiot” issues. The newbies are what will become the users and community members tomorrow, and it’s definetly pointless to give answers like (from #suse) “leave them to ubuntu”. With this approach ubuntu grow, and we don’t.


  5. By:Mats

    Agreed: If SuSE really is to be improved, it needs a package manager that takes less than 5 minutes to boot up (I just timed it; the Debian one loads instantaneously and it updates faster as well), and less than 5 minutes to install each piece of software (excluding download time).

    Yast also pollutes your desktop when it does its updating in the background: if you have multiple desktops then a window will popup and close every 2 seconds during the update process, as opposed to a progress pane inside Yast window. This too should be fixed.

    The fact that Zenworks is no longer included, however, is a big plus. Zenworks and zypper would periodically (once every 24 hours) spike up CPU utilization to 100% for almost an hour on a top-of-the-line processor. It also had a bug that made Yast impossible to close after installing software without forcefully killing Zen.

    If Smart was more user-friendly, I’d switch from YaST to Smart. The slow package manager is one of the reasons I almost switched away from SuSE. However it does have significant bonuses, such as being able to run semi-graphically in command-line mode, which has saved me on numerous occasions.