LABS GALLERY: Novell SUSE Studio Makes Linux Appliance Creation a Snap

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LABS GALLERY: Novell SUSE Studio Makes Linux Appliance Creation a Snap

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Getting Started

SUSE Studio supports OpenID for authentication.

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Choose Your Appliance Foundation

As base distribution options, SUSE Studio offers up the free and community-supported openSUSE 11.1, alongside two versions of the Novell-supported SUSE Linux Enterprise. I could choose from a variety of system templates for each distribution option.

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Name & Architecture

On the same page of the interface, I selected either the 32-bit x86 or 64-bit x86-64 processor architecture for my appliance.

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Ready to Roll

With my base choices in place, it was time to start adding software to my test appliance.

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Software Selections

The SUSE Studio interface presented me with the repositories and packages that came with my base template selection. From here, I could begin adding or removing software packages and software package sources from my appliance project.

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Software Browsing

I clicked the icon for "to be installed" software and began to peruse the queued applications.

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Adding Repositories

Some of the applications I wished to add weren't available in the repositories I started with, but SUSE Studio made it easy for me to add new software sources, many of which hail from the OpenSUSE Build Service project.

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New Repositories in Place

Back at the main software tab, I could see that the repositories I added were now part of my appliance project.

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Upload RPMs

In addition to connecting existing repositories to my project, I could quickly populate a new repository of my own by uploading or linking to RPMs or sets of RPMs.

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OpenSUSE Build Service

I don't know why, but the one repository that SUSE Studio refused to add to my appliance project was the Mozilla Beta channel on the OpenSUSE Build Service. I worked around this kink by uploading the package I needed through the RPM upload tool.

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Build New Packages

For applications without a ready RPM package, I could use the Build Service to create a package. SUSE Studio could benefit from tighter integration with the Build Service.

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Dependency Sorting

Novell's SUSE Linux distributions feature very good dependency resolution logic and tools. Both surface in SUSE Studio, which makes clear the relationships between software components.

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Banning Packages

I gave these dependency-resolving tools a run-through when I sought to "ban" the icewm package from my appliance.

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Addressing Conflicts

When I banned icewm from my project, an error message appeared in the interface's left-hand sidebar. Clicking the "more" link called forth a handful of operations that would resolve the conflict.

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Software Selection Warning

When I tried to resolve my icewm conflict by removing the sax2 package, SUSE Studio warned me that the removal would prevent my appliance from correctly configuring its X server.

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Solve Errors with Repositories

In addition to addressing package dependency issues by adding or subtracting packages, SUSE Studio offered, in certain cases, to resolve conflicts by adding new repositories.

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Software Recommendations

Many of the packages in the SUSE repositories come with lists of recommended and suggested complementary software packages. I could add these optional components either on a per-package or wholesale basis.

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Configuration Options

Once I was satisfied with my software selections, I moved on to set basic configuration settings, such as those for time zone, networking and users.

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Tweaking Appearance

I could also make some adjustments to the appearance of my appliance.

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End User License Agreement

SUSE Studio offered to tack multiple EULAs onto my appliance.

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Configure MySQL

SUSE Studio includes a handy option for pre-populating MySQL databases and for configuring users and permissions.

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Auto-Start Options

I could single out applications to launch upon appliance log-in, but found that this feature didn't work with my minimal X IceWM desktop.

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Storage and Memory Options

For appliance images destined for Xen or VMware hosts, SUSE Studio offered an option for setting RAM and storage sizes.

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Build and Boot Scripts

SUSE Studio provides a facility for adding post-build and boot-time scripts to its appliances.