Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Mini-Review: Novell’s SLES 9

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:16 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

That’s Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 for the acronym impaired.
Well, I’m evaluating flavors of Linux to replace our antique Windows NT server, in my copious spare time, at work. Of course, my first choice was to go to Novell’s site and download the free demo of SLES 9. It took the better part of a day and night to download the ISOs and burn them, but, again, I did that in the background.
First of all, the install was quite simple and found even the junky, old hardware that I scrounged together for a test machine. Though, I have to admit that I found it rather annoying that I only used three of the six CDs I burned to do the install. And, I only used the third of those because I was installing a SAMBA server to minimize my client-side changes. (Yes, I know to block all SAMBA traffic out to the ‘net. Thanks for worrying about me though.) If I get the time, I’ll go back and try to figure out what was on those last three disks. I figure it was documenation and source-code, mainly, but that’s only a slightly educated guess.
Now, I’ve never actually used SUSE before, so it was a little new to me. Bascially, it’s standard Linux and X-Windows, but what’s installed by default and the assorted management programs are a little different than what I’ve gotten used to on RedHat. But, once I got the hang of YaST, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, reconfiguring the server via YaST was how I got the SAMBA server installed, configured and running. I should point out that I did this all without the benefit of reading any documenation and it still only took me about five minutes. Very easy to use, even for a relativel newbie.
Mostly, it’s what I’ve come to expect from the modern distributions of Linux. It was easy to install, simple to configure, and pretty to look at while doing both. Oh, and on the old PII with 512Meg of RAM, it ran really well. Nice and smooth. I was able to connect to the SAMBA server, map a drive and copy a file without any issues or having to set it up as a PDC or BDC (that’s Primary Domain Controller and Backup Domain Controller, again for the acronym impaired). I haven’t done any security testing against it, but it’s tucked safely behind our new firewall, so I’m not too worried.
The one thing I noticed that I really liked was the fact that you had to enter a password to reboot the machine. In RedHat, at least the RedHat AS 2.1 I used, anyone who had physical access to the server could simply click the reboot button and it would. With SLES 9, after clicking that button, I was prompted for a password. Only after I supplied the root password did the machine actually reboot. Nice feature, that.

So, over all, nothing spectacular, but a good, solid offering from the newest Novell group, SUSE.

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