Broad Support

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2006-09-25 Print this article Print

. Novell maintains a hardware compatibility list for its products, including SLES 10, at Across the platforms on which SLES 10 runs, we found 579 support bulletins. Of those bulletins, 124 were for Hewlett-Packard systems, 305 for IBM systems and 87 for Dell systems.

Browsing through the SLES 10 hardware compatibility list, we found that the SLES platform with the most certifications was AMD64. (Dell, for instance, certifies SLES 10 only on this platform.) We also were interested to find that HP offered the most certifications for Xen on x86 and x86-64 platforms.

Running SLES as a Xen host involves running a Xen-enabled SLES kernel (as opposed to the default SLES kernel), which adds a bit of a support wrinkle. The Xen project and VMware, along with the Linux kernel project, are working to develop a virtualization interface within the kernel that is intended to enable virtualization systems to run atop a single kernel. This would make for a simpler support and certification path for vendors.

Like Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, SLES 10 is in the midst of a change in the software framework that it employs for adding, removing and updating software packages.

As we saw in our tests of Novell's OpenSUSE 10.1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, Novell is moving to integrate the software management pieces once known as Red Carpet, which Novell acquired when it purchased Ximian. The SLES 10 software tools worked acceptably for us, but we found them a bit slow when adding new network software repositories.

Lockdown capabilities

SLES 10 ships with AppArmor, Novell's relatively easy-to-use application security framework that has impressed us in past reviews of the technology.

Click here to read reviews of AppArmor and other trusted OSes.

During tests, AppArmor made it fairly easy to create profiles to limit applications to only the privileges required to get their jobs done-which, in turn, limits the scope of damage that subverted or otherwise out-of-control software can wreak.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions ship with a similar capability, in the form of SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux). However, while SELinux's enforcement policies can be tricky to create and modify, profile creation in AppArmor is pretty straightforward. App-Armor's learning mode tracks the resources and capabilities a given application accesses during normal operation, forming the basis of AppArmor's profiles.

On-the-job training

Standard and priority subscriptions to SLES 10 come with a self-training program that covers SLES 10 fundamentals for administrators new to Linux. Novell offers a handful of other training programs for purchase, as outlined here at

We were fairly pleased with the documentation that ships with SLES 10 and is available through the help browser thats built into the GNOME desktop environment to which SLES defaults.

There's also a good deal of documentation on Novell's Web site. However, as we found with Novell's SLED 10 forums, SLES 10's forums are lightly trafficked. We're still looking for a fruitful point of contact with other SLES users.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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