How SUSE builds its Enterprise Linux distribution - PART 1 | SUSE Communities

How SUSE builds its Enterprise Linux distribution – PART 1


This is the first blog of a series in which we will provide some insight into SUSE Linux Enterprise product development. You will get a first-hand overview of SUSE, the SLE products, what the engineering team do to tackle challenges coming from the increasing pace of open source projects, and the new requirements from our customers and partners and business-related constraints.

How SUSE builds its Enterprise Linux distribution:

Whether you are a long-term SUSE customer, a new SUSE customer, a SUSE partner, or just an openSUSE fan or open source enthusiast, we hope you will find these blogs interesting and informative.


Operating Systems

In 2020, one might think that Operating Systems in general are not interesting any more, possibly because some have an interest on shifting the attention to an “upper layer”, like Cloud or Containers. But even if the OS lost it’s former attraction, somehow you (or someone else) still needs a software system that manages computer hardware, software resources and provides services to applications and users. Obviously an OS is essential but it needs everything around it to serve an higher purpose than just a basic interface between human and hardware.

As of now with the increased pace of new technologies and changes to the “upper layer”, a modern Operating System needs to adapt, support new hardware, new software, and needs. But also be stable, resilient and secure to properly host the “upper layer”.

But before we discuss modern days, let’s have a look back in the past.

The beginning of SUSE

SUSE is a long lasting player in the GNU/Linux Operating Systems, as you might know SUSE once stood for Software-und System-Entwicklung (Software and Systems Development), and was created in 1992 doing a lot of translation, documentation and hacking (on technologies but not subverting computer security). The same year we were distributing the first comprehensive Linux Distribution (more than just Linux Kernel and GNU tools), called Softlanding Linux System (SLS), one of the earliest Linux Distributions at large.

Soon we switched our focus from SLS to Slackware (initially based on SLS), by translating in German and supporting this new Linux Distribution. And thanks to this effort and experience, we were able to release S.u.S.E Linux 1.0 based on Slackware in 1994.

This were really an exciting time for the Linux community, it was basically the beginning and everything rapidly changed or grew, new projects arise, new people started to contribute, in short a lot of things were in flux. Just two years after S.u.S.E Linux 1.0, in 1996, we have released SUSE Linux 4.2 our very first true SUSE distribution! which was not based on Slackware but on Jurix.

Yet another big milestone was achieved in 2000, when we brought the first Enterprise Linux Distribution ever, with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (for IBM S/390)!

First SUSE boxes

First SUSE boxes

The adventure continues

SUSE Distros boxes

From SuSE to SLE/openSUSE boxes

How time flies (when we are having fun)! We are working on Linux Distribution for 27 years now. And nowadays, we are not just building our own green Linux Distribution, our product and solution portfolio have vastly expanded and we can count about 22 different products. Of course, everywhere you looked SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the core of our products.

Funnily, one can feel that comparing the state of art of 27 years ago to nowadays, is akin to comparing the Jurassic Period and Modern Days. So much software and environmental evolution has occurred, some extinctions occurred and new “species” emerged.

At the very early stage we went from distributing the earliest Linux Distribution (SLS) and Slackware, to make our own Slackware-flavor, then switched to Jurix and soon enough we finally start to build our very own Linux Distribution: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

At large Operating Systems didn’t completely change but have definitely evolved and adapted, and the way we build our SUSE Linux Enterprise Operating System also evolved. Everything that basically makes software development attractive today, like  “Agility“, “Continuous Integration (CI)“, “Continuous Delivery (CD)“, open and wide collaboration are done as part of developing our Linux Distribution at scale.

We could write a lot on “How SUSE builds its Enterprise Linux Distribution”, but for the sake of keeping the content broadly interesting, we have selected some focused topics. The next upcoming blog post will be about “Linux Distribution“.

Further readings: 


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