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What’s what with openSUSE, ZENworks, YaST


In late April, SUSE Project Manager Andreas Jaeger announced on the openSUSE list that “Beginning with the next alpha release of openSUSE 10.3, alpha 4, ZENworks will be gone. Instead, openSUSE “will use the native tools only — Zypper, openSUSE-updater, and YaST.”

Now, Bruce Lowry, Novell Inc.’s director of PR, explains in his blog what this means for Novell’s enterprise SUSE Linux operating systems.

Lowry opened by writing that, “openSUSE will now be focusing on native software management using YaST and ‘zypp,’ the package-management library. As a result, openSUSE 10.3 will not include the ZENworks Management Daemon.”

Starting with openSUSE 10.1, the openSUSE group, with Novell’s support, changed the default package management software from SUSE 9 and 10’s YOU (YaST Online Update) to zypp. This is a backend library that uses RPM (RPM Package Manager) packages for installing, removing, and querying program packages. This new program is an attempt by Novell to marry the best features of SUSE’s yast2 package manager and Ximian’s libredcarpet. It’s also used by ZMD to create the system-tray notification applet, zen-updater.

This change did not work well. There have been several updates to the new package management programs. Despite all these improvements, the combined package system did not work well.

Since openSUSE is the community Linux that becomes, after it’s tested out and matured, the basis for SLED and SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop/Server), the question arises: “What does this mean for Novell’s enterprise Linuxes?”

Lowry explained that, “First, and most important, patch, update and software deployment will remain compatible between SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and future Novell solutions, so that customers can rest easy that their existing update systems will work for the entire supported life-cycle of their SUSE Linux Enterprise investment.”

He went on, “The openSUSE team decided to focus their efforts on YaST and ‘zypp.’ Why? The short answer is that ZENworks is not necessary for openSUSE. OpenSUSE is targeted at the technical enthusiasts who want a cutting-edge distribution to sample the latest and greatest Linux technology. Most openSUSE users deploy one or two servers in their environment. They don’t need the capabilities inside ZENworks to manage those one or two servers. In order to patch one or two servers in a non-mission-critical environment, YaST and the ‘zypp’ tools are sufficient.”

Thus, the work for integrating the ZENworks client — zmd — and SUSE Linux is being given to Novell’s engineers. They will “continue to work on automatic detection and integration of SUSE Linux Enterprise systems into a ZENworks infrastructure, while maintaining the high standards of interoperability, scalability, security and performance customers expect from Novell technologies,” wrote Lowry.

“The ZENworks component ‘zmd,’ as well as its associated command line and graphic interface tools, remain available and supported for SUSE Linux Enterprise 10. Going forward, ZENworks Linux Management will remain Novell’s solution for enterprise-class resource management for desktops and servers,” Lowry continued.

“We are currently designing SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which is targeted to provide “interface-compatible” utilities to rug – the command-line interface that complements the ZENworks software management environment. OpenSUSE delivers most of this interface compatibility in its “zypp” environment.

SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 will also include the well-known graphical interfaces [YAST] for software management,” concluded Lowry.

The result will be that the current ZENworks components will be changed by Novell’s engineers to work better in the commercial versions of Linux. In the meantime, openSUSE will continue its work with Zypper, openSUSE-updater, and YaST. Zypp will stay in both, as the core package update component.

A version of this story first appeared in Linux-Watch.

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