SuSE shipping Opteron version of OS

With Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s new Opteron launched Tuesday, SuSE Linux AG is shipping a version of its Linux enterprise server operating system for the 64-bit chip.

SuSE plans to announce the Opteron version of its SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 during the official debut of AMD’s new chip in New York. [Please see AMD ready to drop the Hammer with Opteron launch.]

SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for AMD64 is based on the UnitedLinux operating system developed jointly by SuSE, Conectiva SA, The SCO Group and Turbolinux Inc. The Opteron version of UnitedLinux, upon which the SuSE product is built, will also be announced on Tuesday, a SuSE spokesperson said Monday.

Rival Red Hat Inc. doesn’t plan to ship a version of its enterprise Linux operating system for Opteron until the third quarter of this year, a Red Hat spokesperson said Monday.

It’s a good move for AMD and SuSE to partner, especially since neither is the top option for IT managers, the majority of which prefer their respective rivals Intel Corp. and Red Hat, said Ted Schadler, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst.

“This speaks of a relationship between AMD and SuSE that is strong and mutually beneficial,” he said.

For IT managers, SuSE’s Opteron support opens up a clear and clean migration path, since Opteron can run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, Schadler said.

SuSE’s challenge for the next six months will be to execute on this early lead over Red Hat and line up more independent software vendors (ISVs) for its operating system, he said. “They need more software running on SuSE. Red Hat has the bulk” of ISV support, Schadler said.

In this sense, SuSE did well to join the UnitedLinux project because developers who create an application for the UnitedLinux operating system have four vendors to pitch it to, which gives developers “a little more comfort,” Schadler said. However, he cautioned that support for applications among the four vendors might not be seamless, since each one adds to UnitedLinux a layer of unique features and tools.

Forrester Research likes both enterprise operating systems for their strong hardware support, but recommends IT managers choose and commit to only one, to simplify the process of dealing with vendors, managing upgrades and the like, he said.

At the heart of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for AMD64 is version 2.4.19 of the Linux kernel. The SuSE operating system has features that are important for storage area networks, such as asynchronous input/output operations, multipath memory access and management of up to 600 physical hard disks. It also supports up to 64 processors and features load balancing for leveling network computing capacity.

SuSE also will announce Tuesday that the Opteron version of its operating system has been certified for Oracle Corp.’s Oracle9i and IBM Corp.’s DB2 Universal databases. It also will announce that Polywell Computers Inc. will have four models of Opteron-based servers running the SuSE operating system.

The suggested retail price is US$448 per CPU, which includes four CDs, documentation and maintenance for 12 months.