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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SUSE Linux

History

The SUSE Linux distribution was originally a German translation of
Slackware Linux. In mid-1992, Softlanding Linux System (SLS) was founded by Peter MacDonald, and was the first comprehensive distribution to contain elements such as X and TCP/IP. The Slackware distribution (maintained by Patrick Volkerding) was initially based largely on SLS.
S.u.S.E was founded in late 1992 as a
UNIX consulting group, which among other things regularly released software packages that included SLS and Slackware, and printed UNIX/Linux manuals. S.u.S.E is an acronym for the German phrase "Software- und System-Entwicklung" ("Software and system development"). There is an unofficial rumour that the name is a tribute to the German computer pioneer Konrad Zuse. They released the first CD version of SLS/Slackware in 1994, under the name S.u.S.E Linux 1.0. It later integrated with the Jurix distribution of Florian La Roche, to release the first really unique S.u.S.E Linux 4.2 in 1996. Over time, SuSE Linux incorporated many aspects of Red Hat Linux (e.g., using RPMs and /etc/sysconfig).
The name "S.u.S.E." shortened to just "SuSE" in October
1998.
On
November 4, 2003, Novell announced it would acquire SuSE (Shankland, 2003). The acquisition was finalized in January 2004 (Kennedy, 2003) and the company's name was changed to SUSE Linux after Novell's purchase. "SuSE" does not officially stand for anything anymore. According to Ramesh (2004), J. Philips (Novell's corporate technology strategist for the Asia Pacific region) stated that Novell would not "in the medium term" alter the way in which SUSE continues to be developed. At Novell's annual BrainShare gathering in 2004, all computers ran SUSE Linux for the first time. At this gathering it was also announced that the proprietary SUSE administration program YaST2 would be released into the public under the GPL license.
On
August 4, 2005, Novell spokesman and director of public relations Bruce Lowry announced that the development of the SUSE Professional series will become more open and within the community project openSUSE try to reach a wider audience of users and developers. The software, by definition of open source, already had their coding "open," but now the development process will be more "open" than before, allowing developers and users to test the product and help develop it. Previously all development work was done in-house by SUSE, and version 10.0 was the first version that had public beta testing. As part of the change, YaST Online Update server access will be complimentary for SUSE Linux users, and along the lines of most open source distributions, there will both be a free download available on the web and a boxed edition. This change in philosophy led to the release of the SUSE Linux 10.0 release on October 6, 2005 in "OSS" (completely open source), "eval" (has both open source and proprietary applications and is actually a fully-featured version) and retail boxed-set editions.

Features

SUSE includes an installation and administration program called
YaST2 which handles hard disk partitioning, system setup, RPM package management, online updates, network and firewall configuration, user administration and more in an integrated interface.
Starting with the 10.1 release, SuSE includes a secondary installation program known as Zen-Updater, which can be used as a secondary means of installing software and replaces Suse-updater providing notification of software updates on the desktop.
SUSE has support for resizing
NTFS partitions during installation which allows it to co-exist with existing Windows 2000 or XP installations. SUSE has the ability to detect and install drivers for many common winmodems shipped with OEM desktop and laptop systems (such modems are designed to use Windows-specific software to operate).
Several
desktop environments such as KDE and GNOME and window managers like Window Maker and Blackbox are included, with the YaST2 installer allowing the user to choose a preselection of GNOME, KDE, or no desktop at all. SUSE ships with multimedia software such as K3B (CD/DVD burning), Amarok (audio playback), and Kaffeine (movie playback). It contains OpenOffice.org, and software for reading and/or creating other common document formats such as PDF. Due to patent problems, the distribution lacks codecs for proprietary formats like mp3 or avi, but these can be installed with packages available on the internet.

Versions


The latest release, SUSE Linux 10.1 is available as a retail package and a free, open source package, referred to as SUSE Linux OSS. In terms of software, the two are nearly identical. The major difference between the two is the retail edition contains some proprietary components, such as Macromedia Flash. In addition, the retail package, available for 59.95 USD, includes a printed manual and limited technical support. SUSE Linux OSS is available to download freely from their website. The retail and eval versions contain one DVD and six CDs, while SUSE Linux OSS uses five CDs.
Other flavours include dedicated server editions and groupware servers geared towards corporate networks and enterprises, along with a stripped-down business desktop which runs some software designed for
Microsoft Windows out of the box by virtue of WINE.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) are Novell's branded version of SUSE targeted at corporate environments. SUSE Linux Enterprise product line (SLES and SLED) include some proprietary software as well as technical support. For instance, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES 9) has fewer packages (around 1,000 packages) than the SuSE Linux Professional (consumer) distribution which has around 3,500 packages. Most of the packages that have been removed are desktop applications which are more suited to consumers than to a business environment. SLES has a guaranteed life cycle of 5 years and only the SLES products are certified by independent hardware and software vendors.

Distribution

In the past SUSE first released the Personal and Professional versions in boxed sets which included extensive printed documentation, then waited a few months before it released versions on its
FTP servers. Under Novell and with advent of openSUSE this has been reversed: SUSE Linux 10.0 was available for download well before the retail release of SUSE Linux 10.0. In addition, Novell has discontinued the Personal version, renamed the Professional version to simply "SUSE Linux", and repriced "SUSE Linux" to about the same as the obsolete Personal version. Now Novell has also announced that SUSE Linux will be renamed to openSUSE starting from version 10.2 of the distro.
Starting with version 9.2, an unsupported 1 DVD
ISO image of SUSE Professional was made available for download as well as a bootable LiveDVD evaluation. The FTP server continues to operate and has the advantage of "streamlined" installs: Only downloading packages the user feels they need. The ISO has the advantages of an easy install package, the ability to operate even if the user's network card does not work 'out of the box', and less experience needed (i.e., a Linux newbie may not know whether or not to install a certain package, and the ISO offers several preselected sets of packages). The retail box DVD supports x86, and x86_64 installs, but the included CD-ROMs do not include x86_64 support.

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