Dec 18, 2015 – SUSE Releases Service Pack 1 for SLES 12
Finally after 416 days, just before the week of Christmas – SUSE has released the SP1 (Service Pack 1) for its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Operating systems. SUSE is known to release its major versions of SLES approx every 4 years and minor version approx every 18 months, however this minor release from SUSE has arrived just in the 14th month itself. The Update brings stability, bug fixes, improvement to its previous line of features and a lot of new features as a Christmas gift. The update seems to bring SUSE’s focus on LXC’s (LinuX Containers). SLES 12 SP1 is still be based on the old kernel version 3.12. Recently Dec 15, 2015 end of life was announced for kernel series 4.2.y bu Greg K H asking all to move on to kernel version 4.3.y series. Abiding to this Ubuntu recently announced that their upcoming LTS (Long term Support) version 16.04 will be having kernel version 4.3. SUSE seems to lag behind on this but there shouldn’t be any dissatisfaction to SUSE users because of the stability based focus that SUSE has been known to follow. Some of the major highlights from Service Pack 1 include support for Docker, SLES JeOS, Shibboleth, full system roll back from service pack upgrade and selective driver updates.
Below is a small overview of what’s new in SLES 12 Service Pack 1
Docker – For Linux Containers
Docker is an open source project that allows us to build, distribute, run and automate deployment of applications in light weight containers which adds to its portability and flexibility.Previously Docker was introduced by SUSE as a Technical Preview – meaning some features were not supported and was functionally incomplete, unstable or in other ways not suitable for production use. With SLES 12 SP1 its being said that Docker is now fully supported as stated on susecon.com. However, the release notes still say that Docker is available as a technical preview. We have asked SUSE to provide a confirmation. Whichever way this opens doors for SUSE users who plan and containerize their applications thus improving productivity and portability of their applications in future. Docker pre-built images are available to SUSE subscribers from the standard repository which are verified and distributed by SUSE to make deployment easy and fast compared to provisioning dedicated virtual servers for applications. You can learn more about docker from this Page: Docker Quick Start Guide for SUSE
JeOS (Just Enough Operating System)
JeOS pronounced as “juice” is a leaner and light-weight version of an Operating System that can be tailored to meet your very specific application requirements. If you don’t want to use Docker, this can be an option for you. SUSE has designed its JeOS so that it can run on any virtualization platforms such as VMware, Xen, KVM or x86-64 bit machines. Once installed SUSE’s subscribed user can connect to the SLES repositories and install just the required packages. And the best part is, JeOS is based on the same code base as SUSE Linux Enterprise and if you are certified on SUSE Linux Enterprise, you do not need to re-certify for JeOS.
Shibboleth – Allows Single Sign-on
Shibboleth is a free and opensource Single sign-on solution that uses SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) markup language. This allows users to sign in using a single identity to various systems across different domains. This software package is now directly included in SLES 12 SP1.
Rollback Service Pack Upgrades on SLES
Now you can deploy your Service Pack upgrades with less risk, thanks to the rollback feature that has been around and improved consistently by SUSE. If you soon plan to upgrade your SLES 12 OS to Service Pack 1 and after upgrading find any compatibility issues that cannot be fixed immediately, you can do a full system rollback very easily. This is made possible by the btrfs filesystem in conjuction with snapshots that can be managed with the snapper tool. Do make sure you have the snapshots in place before you up do the upgrade so that a rollback can be made when there are issues.
Live Kernel Patching
Yes, now you can maximize your uptime by patching your kernel on the fly if you are using SLES 12. This was a feature already introduced before Service Pack 1 release, where users can patch their kernel during runtime by using kGraft live patching technology. This technology is usually useful in-times of emergencies when there are known vulnerabilities that need to be fixed as soon as possible. It is not used for scheduled updates where time is not critical.
Apart from all the above other notable changes include:
- New core technologies like systemd, replacing the System V init process
- Open Source Database MariaDB now fully supported.
- Gnome 3.10 for best desktop experience.
- Ability to customize the name of a network interface in YaST for eth , bond , bridge , and vlan type interfaces.
- You can find out more about the changes made from SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP1 Release Notes.
Though SUSE has not upgraded the kernel version in this Service Pack release, there have been a lot of bug fixes and patches to the kernel. They have also added kernel version upgrade to their agenda for Service Pack 2. I think that SUSE’s approach towards stability is one of the major reasons because of which it is the preferred Operating system for SAP and a tough competitor for Redhat in Enterprise level support for Linux Operating systems. I personally have learnt a lot from SUSE Operating systems as it was one of the first Linux Operating systems besides Redhat in my career as a Linux System Administrator. SUSE has come a long way but still has a lot of work to do in the field of Linux. What do you think about SUSE Operating Systems ? What features do you expect ? Let us know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: Readers are requested to verify the statements made in the blog before using them elsewhere.