Review: eWEEK Labs encountered a few snags testing SLES 11 with SUSE Linux Enterprise 11's Service Pack 1, especially involving KVM and Hyper-V, but Novell is doing a good job of maintaining SLES as a leading enterprise operating system that should be evaluated by any organization that employs virtualization.
With the first
service-pack update to its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, Novell has stuck
with its philosophy of appealing to as many different server constituents as
possible, with a particular focus on assuming as many different virtualization
host and client roles as possible.
OEM arrangement with VMware for SLES that Novell announced in June and the
goodies that SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1 brings relating to Xen,
KVM and Hyper-V, SUSE's enterprise-oriented Linux offering merits evaluation by
organizations running virtual infrastructures of all stripes.
For a visual tour of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, click here.
Of course, the
more broadly a vendor spreads its attention, the more difficult it can to
really to nail any one area. In my tests of SLES 11 SP1, I encountered a few
snags-particularly in the KVM and Hyper-V quarters outside of Novell's
preferred Xen terrain-but I was impressed overall by the progress that Novell
has made maintaining in SLES as a leading enterprise operating system amid
industry shifts around virtualization and cloud computing.
SLES 11 are available for the x86, x86_64, Itanium, IBM PowerPC and zSeries processor
architectures. I tested the x86_64 version of SLES 11 SP1 on a dual-processor
server with 4GB of RAM, which I pressed into service as first a
KVM virtualization host and then a Xen virtualization host. I also tested SLES
11 SP1 as a guest operating system running under those KVM and Xen hosts, and
as a guest machine running under Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
SLES 11 is
sold by annual subscription, with pricing that differs based on support level
and processor architecture. For x86 and x86_64 architectures, subscriptions
range from basic plans that include 30 days of telephone and e-mail-based
support and cost $349 per system to priority subscriptions that cost $1,499 per
system and include 24/7 telephone and e-mail support over the full support
subscriptions include access to product updates and allow for an unlimited
number of hosted virtual machines. For more on SLES 11 pricing, go here.
SLES in the lab
I kicked off
my tests with Hyper-V. Owing to the infamous Linux collaboration arrangement
that Novell and Microsoft began back in 2006, I expected the path to running
SLES under Hyper-V to be particularly smooth. Right off the bat, I was pleased
to find that the so-called enlightened drivers required to use full-speed
virtual components under Hyper-V were automatically installed on my test
I was less
pleased to find that while the driver required for my test instance to use its
virtual network interface came preinstalled, my test system needed some
prodding before it would use it. I had to issue the command "modprobe
hv_netvsc" to get my SLES instance to recognize its network interface. I
then edited my instance's /etc/sysconfig/kernel file to load the module
automatically upon subsequent boots.
the virtual hardware front, I encountered some frustration with the lack of
mouse support for Linux under Hyper-V, which I experienced when my first SLES
booted up by default into a graphical interface. Microsoft does not provide a
Hyper-V driver for mouse support, and the input driver that Citrix's XenSource
developed under its Project Satori doesn't work with the Version 2.6.32 kernel
that powers SLES 11 SP1.
I was able to
interact with the graphical interface of my SLES instance machine by enabling
its VNC-based remote administration feature, and I could administer the system
easily through a command line SSH (Secure Shell) session. The system's setup
tool, YAST, comes with a nifty terminal-friendly version of its interface.
However, both of those routes require network access, and as I mentioned above,
I encountered a few issues there, as well.