Keep It Rolling …


Have you ever seen how they move big cheese loaves in the Netherlands?

They roll them vertically!

I don’t want to deduct that they actually roll everything down there 🙂 However, there seems to be some affinity to not directly lift heavy weights, to not perform things in uncomfortable steps. Instead they try to resolve everything as smoothly as possible – powerful, but without unnecessary burden.

Last year, I got a call from a customer in the Maasland – a green countryside where they produce a tasty Gouda called Maaslander.

Now, these guys had several hundred SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 systems running (SLES 10 SP3 at that time), and were looking for a way to migrate their systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (SLES 11 SP1) to benefit from its capabilities for Mission Critical systems.

What should they do?

  • Dumb question, right? Do a fresh install, and be happy! Well, that’s an option. Some competitor’s option. But it certainly misses the smoothness they were looking for.
  • Ok, then let’s do it the SUSE way: boot SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1, let YaST2 propose what to do with the SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 system, ask the administrator for his decision if YaST2 is in doubt, and, well, there you go.That’s better, and kind of smooth for five or six systems. But what about for several hundred systems?

Now, the admins in the Maasland (don’t call them Maaslanders!) knew how to use YaST2, and also knew about AutoYaST, and were hoping to use its great automation capabilities. Clever idea, and indeed nearly everything in YaST2 can be scripted with AutoYaST.

Nearly everything, except – you guess – the upgrade process.

Well, one of our Czech colleagues took on the challenge and he and his team enhanced the YaST2 upgrade modules by introducing hooks where the AutoYaST process could “ask” the AutoYaST control file (an XML file) instead of an administrator.

This capability would have been available in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 Service Pack 2 boot media by the end of 2011.

End of 2011?

Hmmm, doing your work smoothly is one thing, doing it slowly is another. And waiting is also something they don’t like to do in the Netherlands.

That said, as a gift to all our SUSE Linux Enterprise customers, we published the necessary update via our maintenance web site some weeks ago. Find a HowTo here.

And once your datacenter is rolling up to SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 1, think of the Netherlands, and how the desire to do things smoothly often drives innovation!


  1. What about ZYpp or zypper?Unfortunately ZYpp in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 is not powerful enough to drive a full migration from SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 to 11. For the upgrade from SLES 11 SP1 to any Service Pack or later major releases, we indeed plan to use ZYpp via YaST2 or the “zypper” commandline tool.
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