Dear VMware: Please don't buy Novell

It's always hard to tell someone that they might be choosing the wrong partner

I'll come right out and admit it: I don't like Suse Linux as a server OS. I'm sure that I've offended a large number of you right off the bat, but hey, no sense in beating around the bush.

Some of my dislike is based around the fact that it's not nearly as common as Red Hat, CentOS, or Ubuntu in the United States, and thus feels very foreign to someone used to those particular flavors. The rest of my aversion to Suse has to do with core beliefs. Suse has always seemed to want to make things easy for novice Linux users and, by doing so, makes things much harder for those of us who know what we're doing. To me, that's anathema.

[ Check out the InfoWorld 2010 Bossie Awards to see our picks for the best open source software of the year. Also see Paul Venezia's comprehensive guide to preparing your infrastructure for a virtual world in InfoWorld's Virtualization Networking Deep Dive Report. ]

The basis of this is YaST2, the all-encompassing system tool that ships with Suse. It allows admins to perform a wide variety of system configuration tasks, from adding network interface configurations to downloading and installing new software to configuring any number of services on the box. It comes in a GUI and in a text-based console -- and drives me absolutely nuts because it always seems to get in the way.

The way that YaST works is to assume complete control over text-based service configuration files, making it extremely difficult to implement any changes to the system outside of YaST. If YaST doesn't specifically support a configuration element for a particular package, you have to fight with a host of YaST structures to make everything work. To me, that's not much help.

Another problem is that, in times of trouble, you have to use YaST to make even simple configuration changes. When you do that remotely, the lag introduced by having to either run VNC to connect to the GUI console -- or even the sluggishness in running the menu-driven YaST text-console app -- is maddening. I like tools that get out of your way when you don't need them. YaST simply isn't that.

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