back to article SUSE 11 takes off faster than 10

Novell kicked out its SUSE Linux 11 release at the end of March, so it's now time to ask how it's doing. The answer: better than SUSE Linux 10. But still not enough to close the substantial installed base and revenue gap that exists between number one Red Hat Enterprise Linux and number two SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in the …

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Linux

Turning it into money?

I used to purchase every other release of Suse - you got a good quality distro, on DVD, with seriously good printed documentation and a few weeks of support.

Then they got bought up, went 'open' and stopped selling boxed versions. I'd still be giving them 40 or 50 quid a year if they would take it from me.

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That's because

SuSE 10.x was rather doggish: flakey compilers, odd and hard to reliably replicate dependency check failures in the software installer/updater. Had a lot of trouble with the print server software. By IRRC 10.3 it was something I was willing to stick on a machine and give toa doc or grad student. But 10.3 was pretty late in the game.

SuSE 11, so far, fixed most of the problems with 10.x.

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My impression of SuSE

Maybe supporting so many versions with so many patch releases in between is a factor in their inability to generate Linux profit so far. It doesn't really make sense from a business point of view to spread your resources that thinly. Red Hat I think have got the right mix, and they are making money.

SuSE's bigger problem is how do they achieve that mind share tipping point. I've been kicking around this industry now for many years and have seen a slow but increasing shift from proprietary unix solutions that sometimes include a small linux component, to large linux solutions with not a whisker of propriety unix in sight, and it's always Red Hat. In all these years I've yet to bump into a customer who wanted SLES. Maybe it's just marketing, but maybe it's because SuSE seem to go out of their way to make themselves different to the point where mastering their distro as well is just too much of a headache. For example why can't mkinitrd implementations just be the same, they all do the same job. And only just recently I read about Zypper, a SuSE replacement for yum: no thanks!

SuSE have a major case of NIH syndrome and it's really counter productive. The more re-training and re-learning there is involved, the less attractive they are. This is the opposite of Red Hat, where learning RHEL also enables you to use CentOS and Oracle EL with no extra effort needed. I'm not saying they should become an RHEL clone, but just use some common sense and standardize where it adds value to your customers and also reduces your development costs.

Having said all that I'm going to take a good look at what they plan to do with clustering. The technologies they seem to be putting together look very nice. I'm already a big fan of OCFS2: it's very easy and quick to configure and works very well on a SAN or over iSCSI. DRBD8 is a great tool for a low budget shared nothing cluster as well. I imagine they'll probably spoil it all by tying it into Yast though. God I hate that thing. Does it still keep and manage its own copy of essential config files under /etc/SuSEConfig (what the hell is wrong with using /etc/sysconfig like everyone else) and does it still run all over the place checking and "fixing up" elements of the system completely unrelated to the change you just made? Back in earlier SuSE days when I had a go at learning it I had Yast trash a Postfix config once when all I'd done was use Yast to make a change to /etc/hosts. I should have stuck to using vim. I wouldn't let that rubbish behavior loose on any customer of mine, it's a Change Control nightmare.

Anyhow, I'm starting to rant.

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@Robert E A Harvey

openSUSE is still sold in boxed form with installation support and all, just like the 'pre-open' days you mention

http://www.novell.com/products/opensuse/

Interestingly, openSUSE 11.1 is the 4th hit on amazon.co.uk when searching for 'Linux'

You can of course also buy SLE 11's Desktop or Server editions

Hope this helps

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I dont' care

They can claim to have juiced up SUSE as much as they like. I will not ever be installing another SUSE, be it 11, 12 13 or infinity. I have had more than enough of the appalling mess foisted on me that was SUSE 10. My next install will be Ubuntu.

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They need a Rackspace, if they're to get Redhat's numbers

Most linux people, who work in the industry long enough, come across at least one Rackspace managed server. We even have one, where I work, that I interact with on a weekly basis - even though our shop runs everything from z990/iSeries, right down to Windows/NAS boxes.

Because of the Rackspace influence, Redhat is one of those distros that just about anyone is guaranteed to have worked with, sooner or later. Whether they like it or not, they'll have experience of it. Because SuSE is Yet Another RPM based distro, it doesn't have a strong differentiator, other than quality. If they fumble the quality, they can lose loyalty fast.

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@Macka

... and my experience is exactly the opposite.

I know people who have SLES and won't go near RedHat.

Personally, I like YaST - it's always done what I want it to do, no hassles, no cock-ups, and I mess around with the system quite a lot. As opposed to the mess that the RH made of trying to install the system (dependency hell, wouldn't install the boot loader etc.)

SUSE was the only distro that'd recognize my graphics card and configure it correctly and get the screen resolution right.

And so on and so forth.

The last time I installed RH (couple of years ago) it installed ok, so did SUSE but I've always personally prefered Debian but if I have to use another distro 'coz it's the only one that works, then I will.

Mind you, I have an ex-colleague who thinks exactly the opposite of me. Tastes, situations etc. etc. etc.

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@I don't care

chris 233 wrote "My next install will be Ubuntu." - well if my experience is anything to go by then I'd avoid 8.10. I had six attempts to get that p.o.s. on a Shuttle box and it's still the least reliable Linux image I've ever seen. However when I tried the latest Fedora and Suse installs (to check that the underlying box wasn't knack'd) they both worked flawlessly. My main boxes run 8.04LTS and 9.04 and they're pretty reliable and acceptably troublefree. So I think that troublesome Shuttle install has a 9.04 install in it's future.

Meanwhile, my 7 year old insisted on the 'lizard one' (SLES11) when her 2nd hand laptop was being OS-installed. I did that one, everything worked, and it's done so since. She's really happy with it, and it runs quickly/reliably - a real contrast to that p.i.t.a. Ubuntu install that was done around the same time.

I've got good memories of Suse - as it was the platform of choice for my first LAMP application, and I remember the local PC World offered it as the only Linux OS for a long time.

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Anonymous Coward

My Linux distribution is superior to yours

<serious>Until we sort this mentality out, Linux has a credibility problem.<serious>

<flippant>Anyway, Red Hat is the best distro.</flippant>

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Redhat clones

In reference to Macka's post - I sincerely doubt that Redhat had the slightest influence over the appearance of either CentOS or Oracle EL. Both of them I perceive as essentially parasites, and Oracle's intent was _hardly_ designed to help Redhat. (Quite the contrary, I think Oracle were very clear about this)

As far as I can see, they exist simply because Redhat is the most popular commercial distro. If SuSE were #1, they'd probably have the same number of parasites copying and re-distributing their work.

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TPM forgot....

..... during his casual sideswipe at Itanium, that the Itanium app numbers quoted by hp only include the apps that have been verified by hp to run on hp's supplied OSs, i.e. hp-ux, OpenVMS, Linux (RHEL and SLES) and Windows Server. They could actually include quintiple and sextuple counts if they included the z/OS mainframe apps that can run on Integrity under the PSI OpenMainframe firmware, and all the unchanged Slowaris apps that can run under the Transitive QuickTransit emulator. But then that is because Itanium is the migration platform of choice, so much so IBM went out of their way to buy PSI and Transitive so they could kill them (when was the last time your IBM salesgrunt mentioned PowerVM Lx86 to you?).

As for M$ pushing SLES, my experience is that is very much a case of "if you don't want the lovely software we can sell you, this is the alternative we would recommend if you put a gun to my head, but it's not as good as our stuff, it's actually really sh*t, but not quite as sh*t as the other freetard stuff, and did I tell you how much better our stuff is?" I suspect that M$'s "support" for Novel has in some cases been harmful, and is mainly there to deflect accusations from anti-competitive bodies.

Oh, did I mention SLES 11 runs very nicely on Integrity? :P

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