Administrator Experiences with VMware and SUSE Linux

Recently, VMware announced a partnership with Novell in which they would support Novel SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) directly on VMware vSphere. Neil over at VirtuallyNil wrote about his experiences with SLES and VMware ESXI. Unfortunately, he had some problems with VMware’s additions to SLES.

To enhance the experience with virtual machines, virtual environment managers add tools to the guest environments – and VMware is no different. For SLES there are tools available that permit advanced operations directly from the virtual machine manager. With ESXI, these are available for SLES 10 and SLES 11 – but not SLES 11 SP1.

This means that you either build your own SLES 11 SP1 tools or you cannot upgrade your SLES 11 to the most recent patch level. This is unfortunate.

I have experienced this before with an application that required a particular version of Red Hat Linux (7.1 if I remember rightly) even though that version of Red Hat was no longer supported by Red Hat itself.

Also, Neil points out two other sites that have images of people’s direct experiences with the new VMware-supported SLES. One first look comes from vcritical.com (a blog by Eric Gray, a VMware employee); the other comes from Jase McCarty at Jase’s Place.

Novell and VMware Team Up

VMware announced in June that Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) will be shipped with every copy of VMware’s vSphere product. In addition, VMware sales staff will have incentives to sell SLES. During the recent sales call by Novell, they expanded on the details of the enhanced partnership.

According to VMware’s page for SLES on VMware, it also sounds as if current vSphere customers would be eligible for a supported copy of SLES as well.

This is incredible news – it means that SUSE may be able to gain some traction in the data center. I’ve been partial to SUSE in some ways ever since I found that XFS (and JFS!) had been supported in SUSE Linux for years before Red Hat did – SUSE has always supported technologies first, providing more value than Red Hat did.

I also supported SUSE Linux in the data center in the past; it has been rock solid (as is Red Hat). SUSE Linux has a lot to offer – as does OpenSUSE (which just recently introduced 11.3).

Red Hat has always done well – as it should – but SUSE has been in the shadows for too long.

It has also been noted that VMware could be a company that buys SUSE and Novell’s Linux business. VMware was bought by EMC not that long ago. Cisco also has a joint venture with EMC that includes VMware products. Is it possible that Cisco will be shipping products with SLES on them?

SUSE Studio: Build Your Own Distro

Novell created and put up something called SUSE Studio, a web site dedicated to helping you create your own Novell SUSE-based Linux distribution. SUSE Studio is extensively documented over at the OpenSUSE wiki.

SUSE studio takes you through all the possibilities, and allows you to extensively customize the resulting distribution, including wallpaper, scripts, software, and more.

You can choose what form (or forms) the ending result takes: a VMware image, a Xen virtual image, a Live CD/DVD, and others. You can even run the image live over the web using a Flash-based console or VNC.

Over at ComputerWorld, they reviewed the updated SUSE Studio extensively; I plan to give it a try in the upcoming weeks. Should be interesting.