During a typical YES Certification of a server or workstation, the Gold Master (GM) release of SUSE Linux Enterprise with the latest Service Pack (SP) is installed on the hardware during certification tests. Sometimes, the GM release needs specific fixes or updates in order to be compatible with a particular hardware platform. As hardware systems become more complex, each hardware vendor ends up tweaking or modifying their specific platform and/or system firmware to achieve better performance or reduce manufacturing costs. This sometimes causes incompatibilities with the operating system. In these cases, SUSE Linux Enterprise might need to be patched during a YES Certification of that platform.
Hardware manufacturers think it is easier to change the software than to make changes to the hardware, which is often true. Sometimes a specific patch or set of patches (also known as a Program Temporary Fix or PTF) is created specifically for that system. The PTF must be used on the system for normal operation and can also be used during YES Certification. This isn’t the normal scenario for most hardware certifications, but it’s perfectly fine. It’s not something you need to worry too much about, but definitely something to keep in mind.
Since this blog is about YES Certification, I would be negligent if I didn’t let you know where you can look for YES Certified hardware. The best place to begin your search is at https://www.suse.com/yessearch/. This is where you’ll find the most current YES Certification bulletins. These bulletins can help you reduce the worry and provide the knowledge you need to be successful with a hardware and SUSE Linux Enterprise combination.
A PTF is developed by SUSE Level-3 (L3) Engineering. The PTF is a way to provide a “one-off” software package that delivers customer fixes for a problem or set of problems that have been discovered since the last maintenance release. When officially released, the PTF is fully supported by SUSE and should be used on any systems where the known compatibility problem exists. When the next normal maintenance updates are released by SUSE, the PTF will usually be included or “rolled into” that new maintenance release. So, when the new maintenance release is applied, the standalone PTF is no longer needed and will be replaced with the normal maintenance channel update(s). Thus the “T” in the PTF acronym, which again means Temporary.
Because systems are certified on the hardware-manufacturer’s schedule and customers demand SUSE YES Certification when a system is released, a system might require the use of a PTF during certification testing. This change from the typical GM version will then be documented on the YES Certification bulletin in the configuration notes section. The note will also include the URL where the PTF update can be downloaded. As mentioned, the future maintenance release that includes the PTF updates might not release for a period of time. To keep their own schedule, and for support reasons, the hardware manufacturer must complete the certification with a PTF. A system certified with an officially released PTF is fully L3 supported, just like any other YES Certified system.
Sometimes other updates that aren’t packaged as a PTF are also required in order for a hardware system to pass certification testing. These updates might be released through the standard maintenance channel or provided through the SUSE SolidDriver Program. SUSE SolidDriver Program updates include drivers, driver kits and even complete installation kits (also known as a kISO; see my previous blog for more information on this subject). As long as the update is officially provided and released by SUSE, it can be used in a YES Certification and is fully supported. Again, all of the updates should be listed as a configuration note on the YES Certification bulletin, including a URL where they can be downloaded. If the fix has a designated reference or patch number, and is available on the standard patch database, that reference number might be listed in the configuration note as well.
We hope YES Certification, YES bulletins and the valuable data in these bulletins help you make more educated decisions when buying new hardware. Our goal is to support you early in the process so that you have fewer hardware-related headaches later as you purchase servers and workstations.
You can find more information about SUSE YES Certification at SUSE YES Program. As mentioned above, you can search for YES Certified hardware at YES Search. For more information about the SUSE SolidDriver Program or to download a driver or driver kit, go to SUSE SolidDriver Program. And finally, you can review all of our YES Certification blogs at YES Certification blog posts.