Novell Previews SLES 10 Service Pack 1, OES 2 Extensions
Published: March 27, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The centerpieces of last week's BrainShare 2007 user and partner event hosted in Salt Lake City by Novell was the preview of Service Pack 1 for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, and its companion, the Open Enterprise Server 2 NetWare extensions to SLES 10 SP1 that more or less completes the merger of Linux and NetWare for Novell. SLES 10 SP1 was expected before the end of 2006, and then in the spring of this year, and is now slated for delivery in May.
Novell previewed its plans for OES 2 and delayed the rollout of SLES 10 SP1 last December. After considering its approach to keep SLES and OES as two distinct products--each with its own licensing--Novell at that time decided that it would be better and easier--and presumably more profitable--to take the NetWare features of OES and simply ship them as an add-on to SLES 10. This is a good approach for Novell to take, and it probably would have been better if the original OES was designed this way rather than being pitched as a product that allowed the Linux kernel to support NetWare services or the NetWare kernel to support Linux services. Having one operating system that runs the Linux kernel and provides NetWare print, file, and application services transparently is a much cleaner product, and even makes revenue recognition easier, too.
To provide a virtualized NetWare environment, as Novell wants to do with OES 2, which is code-named "Cypress," will require a move to an updated Xen hypervisor, however. The Xen 3.0.4++ hypervisor has better support for paravirtualized operating systems, such as Windows and NetWare, which means the operating systems can run on chips that have Intel's VT or Advanced Micro Devices AMD-V hardware-assisted virtualization features for their 64-bit chips.
In addition to the new Xen hypervisor, which makes good on Novell's promises last year that it would be able to support and manage Windows instances inside SLES 10, the SP1 update to the company's Linux will have support for quad-core processors from AMD and quasi quad-core processors from Intel. Because of the Xen and VT/AMD-V support, SLES 10 will be able to host Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 server operating systems and Windows XP desktop instances; it is unclear if Windows Vista is supported, but that is, at this point, largely irrelevant given the tiny market penetration of the new Vista platform from Microsoft. The desktop variant of Novell's Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, will support Xen partitions running Windows as well with SP1. Novell's top brass also previewed a trimmed down version of SLED 10 called SUSE Linux Enterprise Thin Client, which is aimed at thin client providers who want to provide a Linux platform for their machines. This software is also intended to be deployed by end user companies, perhaps on older PCs that cannot support resource hogs like Vista. Novell is aiming to have this thin client variant of its Linux out the door later this year, and is not being more precise about dates.
The cluster file system, volume manager, and cluster resource manager software embedded in SLES 10 will also be updated with SP1, but the nature of the improvements have not been divulged.
OES 2 is dependent on SLES 10 SP1, so it will be delivered a bit later. There were rumors last year that OES 2 would ship in mid-to-late 2007, but hopefully for Novell, it will not take that long to get it to market. OES 2 will provide the same file system, iFolder, and iPrint services that OES 1 did, but the archiving and versioning server and the DNS and DHCP capability provided by the eDirectory server, which did not make it into the OES 1 product, will be added with OES 2. OES 2 will also include Kerberos authentication for Windows-based PCs and workstations hooked into OES through eDirectory or Active Directory links, and it will also support a 64-bit client for Windows Vista machines that want to access OES services. And finally, OES 2 will include a full set of NetWare 6.5 CDs so customers who still want to just run NetWare can do so.
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