SUSE Linux Enterprise turns 15: Look, Ma! A common code base

SUSE today announced the impending release of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15, featuring a boatload of new toys and a leap in version numbering.

The new release, which is based on version 4.12 of the Linux kernel and allows the use of a wider variety of hardware (such as new AMD and Intel chipsets, Arm SOCs, NVDIMM, crypto cards and network devices), sees the adoption of a common code base over all flavours of the suite.

SUSE hopes that will make life easier for developers to transition applications over multimodal IT environments, where traditional infrastructure, software-defined infrastructure and a combination of both exist in an uneasy truce.

SUSE Linux Enterprise has been around for 17 years or so, with the last major release being version 12 in 2014, and the latest service pack (SP3) released last September. In March SUSE emitted a port of the suite for Arm, and the diminutive Raspberry Pi 3 Model B computer.

Aimed fairly and squarely at the corporate world, which looks for stability and support, SUSE Linux Enterprise receives more intense testing with only mature and stable components hitting the operating system. Hence releases and service packs are widely spaced.

While version 15 of SUSE Linux Enterprise won’t be generally available until mid-July, SUSE Manager 3.2 is available today, featuring a forms-based UI geared at managing everything from edge devices to Kubernetes environments.

SUSE trotted out partners from the likes of Fujitsu and Lenovo to extol the enterprise virtues of its platform, with IDC Senior Research Analyst Stephen Belanger also a fan: “SUSE Linux Enterprise comes out at the top for SAP applications, mainframes, high-performance computing and other key Linux enterprise-centric use cases.”

SUSE Linux Enterprise has traditionally found itself at home doing cloudy things in data centres, but has seen some success in the IoT arena following the Raspberry Pi port. Jay Kruemcke, SLES Product Manager for ARM, told The Register: “SUSE already has multiple customers implementing industrial automation/IoT monitoring using SLES for Arm on the Raspberry Pi. There has also been significant interest from other customers interested in using SLES for ARM on the Raspberry Pi for additional use cases.” SUSE were, however, reluctant to release actual figures.

Cost-wise, the operating system itself remains free. SUSE would, however, really like users to take out a support subscription. Kai Dupke, product manager of SLES 15, told The Reg that while costs would remain the same for the new version, “customers with a HA subscription will now receive the benefits of the GEO clustering extension for free as part of their HA subscription”. Lovely.

Based on an ad hoc survey of customers at the SUSE Expert Forum, SUSE reckons that around half of users will likely make the jump to the new version over the next 12 months.

And as for the jump in numbering? Dupke explained:

SUSE jumped from SLES 12 to 15 as both 13 and 14 are unlucky numbers. While many are aware of the negative connotations attached to the number 13, in China, 14 is also considered unlucky. This is because the number 4 in Chinese (四, pinyin: sì; Cantonese Yale: sei) is almost homophonous to the word for ‘death’ (死 pinyin: sǐ; Cantonese Yale: séi). Therefore, SUSE was asked not to use these numbers by partners and customers alike.

“Death in the Cloud” sounds like a modern reworking of an Agatha Christie novel, and no one wants that. ®

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