What’s new in Suse Linux 12

From more cloud connections to auto-updating to Gnome, Suse 12 has a lot to offer

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Suse Linux 12

It’s been more than five years since Suse delivered its last full release, and a lot has happened to the company during that time. In our testing we find that Suse Linux 12 has been worth the wait. Suse 12 is a broad set of Linux distributions ranging from desktop through enterprise level. We tested several instances and found them quite ready for enterprise use. All in all, Suse 12 is a worthy competitor to Red Hat and Ubuntu in the enterprise Linux market. (See our full review.)

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More editions

Since our last review, the list of editions has expanded. Current editions include Suse Linux Enterprise Server, Server for IBM System z, Server for IBM Power, Server for SAP Applications, Server for High Performance Computing, Server with Expanded Support, and Server for Point of Sale. There are desktop versions, too.

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Richer ecosystem

The server editions can be joined (where it makes sense) to options such as SLE High Availability Extension (with optional Geo Clustering), Enterprise Real Time Extension, VM Driver Packs, Microsoft System Center Management Pack, and/or a Workstation Extension.

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More cloud connections

In turn, most of these can be connected directly through OpenStack to VMware ESXi (although oddly, not recommended on ESX 5.5, according to SLES 12 docs), and managed through Suse Cloud and with Suse Manager, with payloads from Suse Studio, perhaps deployed with Suse Enterprise for Amazon EC2 (and compatibles) and/or Suse Linux Enterprise Server for Windows Azure. Other extensions add management capability for VMs under Microsoft’s System Center.

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Easy installation

We could install SLES 12 via VNC, PXE, or by attended installations. We tried them all, and we found no issues. We found the PxE install via SSH especially compelling and not difficult. Attended or unattended, you get btfs as the root file system, which Red Hat is said to preview in its coming updates to Red Hat 7.

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KDE is out, Gnome is in

The desktop and server GUIs are Gnome-based as Suse no longer supports KDE in this edition.

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Rsyslog is in, syslog and syslog-ng are out

Rsyslog is in, syslog and syslog-ng are out, which might be more of a fight between the German and Hungarian authors, respectively. As rsyslog is less known, it’s no less simple as the open source versions of syslog and syslog-ng and won’t affect many, as either can be replaced if desired with the other at little time, trouble, or even cost.

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MySQL is out, MariaDB is in

MariaDB is now the default bundled/supported relational database instead of Oracle’s MySQL. There’s no difference in terms of deployment or performance that we could find between the two, especially when we brought up two LAMP stack versions to test.

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We’ve found historically that Suse’s updates have arrived like clockwork, which imbues attention to quality and patches to security issues and CVE fixes fast. In this edition, auto-updating is possible, including kernel modules. Real-time kernel patching might increase stability, but we pray that man-in-the-middle attacks don’t permit a destabilization, or surreptitious module load that amounts to a rootkit invasion. Although in theory, protections already in place would make this unlikely.

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New ownership

Suse, based in Germany, was the first company to offer enterprise-focused Linux more than 20 years ago. In 2003, Suse was bought by Novell. Then, in 2010, Attachmate bought Novell. In late 2014, Micro Focus International, a publicly traded British company, bought Attachmate.