SUSE adds 2.6 kernel to Linux

Last month at LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco, Novell Inc. released the latest version of its enterprise Linux product, SUSE Enterprise Linux 9, which now includes the 2.6 Linux kernel.

The benefits of the 2.6 kernel include performance increases, better scalability, management and significant security enhancements. This makes SUSE Enterprise Linux 9 more suitable for the data centre compared with the previous SUSE Enterprise Linux 8, which was based on the 2.4 kernel, said Ross Chevalier, chief technology officer, Novell Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont.

The Burlington Coat Factory in Burlington, N.J. is just one of Novell Inc.’s clients looking to upgrade to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Mike Prince, vice-president and CIO of Burlington, said that from his perspective, SUSE Enterprise Linux 9’s most notable improvements include improved scalability, better SMP support and the ability to put more processors into a single node. While Burlington Coat Factory uses a variety of flavours of Linux, its use of SUSE grew out of the company’s efforts to bring Linux to the data centre for its mainstream servers, Prince said.

“About two years ago we were trying to roll out a pretty robust mainframe-capacity type stack with Linux and we were running into different glitches …. The big differentiator for SUSE was their responsiveness working with us to try to work through these problems,” Prince said.

With a large-scale server there can be literally hundreds of disk drives, Prince explained, and the out-of-the-box Linux it was using at the time couldn’t handle that. “It was a standard kernel shipped with parameters that limited the number of drives to 512, or something. We also ran into some bugs in the Linux distribution. Some of them were generic to the core Linux distribution and some were specific to SUSE’s competitor,” he said.

“SUSE helped us isolate the problems, provided patches and put those things back in the next release in the kernel. There was a whole different sense of urgency and support that we got from the SUSE people that we weren’t getting otherwise.”

About a year ago, Burlington Coat Factory chose SUSE Enterprise Linux to deploy some large-scale Oracle Corp. 9 databases on its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, but the retailer plans to move to the Oracle 10g database on SUSE 9.

Burlington will be replacing its Unix from Sequent Computer Systems, which was bought by IBM Corp., and now Big Blue has decided to discontinue the product line. Currently Burlington has only completed about five per cent of its migration, Prince said. When it is about halfway through the deployment it will make the switch from SUSE 9, eventually moving to Oracle 10, he added.

Novell’s purchase of SUSE has benefited Canadians, Novell Canada’s Chevalier said, and the benefit comes in terms of improved support. Now Canuck SUSE users have access to 24 x 7 telephone-based support rather than having to rely on e-mail based support from Germany, he said.

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