Retail Is Taking Off,
But from What Launch Pad
SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Provides the Foundation for Innovative Services
Written by Meike Chabowski
To easily roll out SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service, you can build customized application images that graphical and non-graphical terminals automatically download from the branch servers when they boot.
Creating images is easy. To start, SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service ships with templates that are proven to work out of the box.
Each image file contains the Linux operating system, drivers, configuration settings and application files. Each terminal requires two images: a boot image that contains the kernel and a bootstrap image and the system image.
You can build images using the KIWI command-line tool, but it's much easier to use the YaST Image Creator, which is a front end for KIWI and is with SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service. This YaST for building images is as YaST for building new systems.
When you start Image Creator, you'll see the Configuration Overview dialog, which lists image configurations that have been saved in the /var/lib/SLEPOS/system directory. You can add, delete or edit configurations right in the dialog box. You can also build images from a newly added configuration or from the configuration opened in Edit.
To create a new image configuration from a template shipped with SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service, follow these steps:
- In the YaST Control Center, click Miscellaneous followed by Image Creator.
- In the Image Creator Configuration Overview dialog, click Add, which brings up the Image Preparation dialog. Enter the name of the new configuration in the Kiwi Configuration.
- Select Base on Template and choose the template to use from the list. If you want to re-use previously created configurations, select Base on Existing Configuration and choose the directory with the configuration to use.
- Select the Image Type you want to create. To create a bootable live CD with a system image, choose Live ISO Image. To create a bootable USB memory device with a system image, choose USB Stick Image. If you need to boot clients from the network using PXE/DHCP and then download a system image from the network, select Network Boot Image. The path in which the directory with the image will be created is set in the Output Directory. The default value is determined by the template, and you can leave it as it is.
- Package repositories used for creating the image are listed in the Package Repository table. The templates include paths to the copies of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service source media located in the default distribution directory, /var/lib/SLEPOS/dist/. These copies should be created using the POSCopyTool before creating images.(See Figure 2.)
- To add a new repository, click Add, select the type of the repository and enter the required information. If the image-building server is on the same architecture as the terminals (i586), it is possible to use update repositories defined in the operating system. To add a system repository, configure the update repository according to the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Administration Guide and use Add From System in Image Creator.
- You can also add selected packages manually to the /var/lib/SLEPOS/system/image_name/repo/ directory.
- Click Next to proceed with creating the image configuration. Image Creator now downloads the repository metadata, which may take some time. If the configured repositories are not valid, Image Creator will report that.
- In the Image Configuration dialog, add root and other needed users. Otherwise, you can use the default values defined in the template.
- Create the image by selecting Yes. If you choose No, the image configuration will be saved but no image will be built. A window showing logs opens. After successfully creating the image, click OK. The path to the directory containing the new image is shown. Click OK.
Managing POS Terminals Remotely and Securely
A daemon enables you to connect to POS terminals located in remote locations via the branch server to shut down terminals, reload configurations and restart applications. You manage remote POS terminals using easy command line options. You can also back up and restore all system information for each branch server and POS terminal from the administration server. All information is stored in an LDAP directory on the administration server.
Security comes via several barriers. First you should ensure that each server, administration and particularly each branch server, is physically secure. SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service then uses AppArmor to maintain profiles to restrict applications to accessing only files and directories for which they are authorized.
A Dedicated Solution for a Recovering Industry
The retail industry's unique use of POS devices connected through branch offices or stores requires unique technology solutions. This industry has traditionally lagged behind other industries in its investments in technology to provide solutions due to low margins and tight IT budgets. This has been compounded by the recent recession. But the retail industry is pulling back into the black and is boosting its IT budgets. SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service is a dedicated operating system solution for this industry and offers a secure, flexible and low-cost solution that lets retailers make use of their current hardware to manage their POS devices from a central location without vendor lock-in. It is an ideal foundation from which to launch a market recovery.