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SUSE Linux Enterprise Server – on the Raspberry Pi?



By: Jay Kruemcke

November 8, 2016 5:22 am

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Every once in a while, you get the opportunity to work on something that is as improbable as it is fun-that’s exactly the case for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for the Raspberry Pi.

Yes, we actually took the enterprise grade, 64-bit, Linux operating system that is used around the world to support mission critical workloads in financial institutions, air traffic control centers, manufacturing centers, and high performance computing centers – and put it on a $35 credit card-sized computer.

There are several reasons why we did this. First, it was a matter of serendipity.  We noticed that the processor on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B was a Broadcom BCM2837 64-bit A53 ARM processor. So theoretically, much of the work needed to enable this processor in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) had already been done as part of the SLES for ARM project. Second, since over 10 million Raspberry Pi units have shipped, we saw an opportunity to introduce SLES to a lot of people who did not already have experience with SUSE Linux. Third, we thought that it would be really a cool way for our field team to demonstrate SLES at trade shows. And finally, we did it because it looked like a lot of fun!

We also had encouragement from Eben Upton, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. He was very supportive and helpful with details like getting permission to use the name “Raspberry Pi”.

Despite all the work done to enable SLES for ARM, there was still a lot of additional work to be done.  We needed to package SLES in a way that would be familiar to people who already had experience with the Raspbian OS on the Raspberry Pi. SLES for the Raspberry Pi is based on the upstream kernel used for SLES for ARM and has a common code base with all architecture supported by SUSE Linux Enterprise.  The unique architecture of the Raspberry Pi required some special adaptations. For example, the Engineering team had to devise a way to use uboot to provide an EFI boot environment. There were other adaptations and patches to get things like the integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth working. Everything we did was up streamed and shared with the community.

SLES for the Raspberry Pi provides many standard SLES capabilities such as using the btrfs for the root filesystem. We chose to use the ICE Window Manager as the default for the Pi due to the somewhat limited memory resources on the Pi. Because there have been several ARM enhancements in the latest levels of gcc, you should use gcc-6 instead of gcc for compiling programs. Not all SLES capabilities are enabled in this release of SLES for the Raspberry Pi, we simply couldn’t get to everything in this release (Docker).

SLES for the Raspberry Pi requires registration to download patches and updates. We offer a free, one-year, self-service registration for SLES for the Raspberry Pi that is provided when you download it from http://tinyurl.com/slespi. If you are not already a SUSE Linux customer, you will need to create an id before you can download SLES for the Raspberry Pi. You will use the same email address when you register your copy of SLES for the Raspberry Pi as part of the installation process.

SUSE is not providing commercial support for SLES for the Raspberry Pi. Any questions should be posted to the Raspberry Pi forum at https://forums.suse.com/forum.php    We will also provide a quick start guide to help new users set up SLES on the Raspberry Pi.

Getting started with SUSE Subscription codes on the Raspberry Pi

We really hope that you enjoy this opportunity to have some fun playing with SUSE Linux Enterprise on the Raspberry Pi. The feedback we have gotten so far from the SUSE field team has been very positive and we are already making plans to improve SLES for the Raspberry Pi in the future. We look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Have lots of fun!

SUSECon Raspberry Pi

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Categories: Announcements, Enterprise Linux, Server

Disclaimer: As with everything else in the SUSE Blog, this content is definitely not supported by SUSE (so don't even think of calling Support if you try something and it blows up).  It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test, test, test before you do anything drastic with it.

18 Comments

  1. Definitely I will give it a try this weekend.

  2. By:jimmypierre

    @dmbyte @JeffUnderhill Greetings, Our LUG have been showing #raspberry PI since February 2015 at our monthly SFD in Rouen, Normandie. Recently we got Tumbleweed to work fine. We will definetely make a move to SLE for 19th November next and obviously will have a lot of *FUN* with SUSE.
    Keep up the good job!
    Jimmy
    nui.fr

  3. By:sajaldotinfo

    Thank you very much Suse dev team to provide this OS. I’m writing this comment using Suse on Raspberry pi 3 .Nice GUI & many essential functionality exist hare. 😀

    • By:jayk

      Thanks. The Engineering team did an excellent job with little time an resource. I think you will be pleased with future enhancements.
      Jay

      • By:madscientist_42

        Heh… Your team just caught my attention (again) after many years of wandering off.

        The last time was when your team had one of the ONLY stable PPC distributions and I was working on trying to move the brilliance John Carmack had done for the ATI Rage PRO’s Utah-GLX driver over to PPC machines.

        I’ll kick the tires and tell ’em thanks for the marvel.

  4. By:yangxuan8282

    When can we run docker on RPi 3 with suse?

  5. By:efabacq

    I’ll give a try on RPi 3. Is 1GB of RAM limiting the usage ? Which kind of applications do you suggest as preferred in a such environment ?

    • By:jayk

      I use mine for to drive a website for weather monitoring (really more to learn python).
      I have heard people interested in using the Pi for light weight web serving, digital signage, IOT gateway, and some industrial automation.

  6. By:juergenlangfeld

    I like the Suse Server on the Raspi 3. Works good. Ok, it’s slower as a normal system .. but hey … you have a small size computer with Suse Server on it 🙂 Well, I added a headsink onto the BCM2837 as the CPU is getting really warm if I run Wireshark for a longer time. Anyway, thank you Suse Team for the product.

  7. By:digbyt

    I did a RPi3 install last night, and it all went very smoothly. The quick start guide made it a breeze. Nice Job!

    I plan to use it to gain some familiarity with the ARM 64 bit architecture, and to compare the costs/benefits over 32 bit mode when memory size is fixed. My guess is that there should be a tangible benefit for specific applications, like emulating 64 bit mainframes, but less so in general applications.

    One question on the blog article – where do we get the RPi boxes with the SuSE Logo as pictured?

  8. By:hdtodd

    I’ve been testing SLES on RPi for 6-8 weeks. It’s my first experience with SUSE and it has been a smooth one. Thanks for this implementation … it gives me the ARM8 environment I’d been wanting to learn.

    One question, though, about the ability to boot from or redirect booting to a USB-attached hard or SSD drive on a Pi-3. Under Raspbian, editing cmdline.txt on mmcblk0 to set root to /dev/sda1 redirects the booting process to the hard drive. Or by preparing the Pi-3 with a special command one time, you can then boot directly from the hard drive (no µSD at all) or with a special BOOTCODE.BIN as the only file on the µSD, it will redirect booting to the hard drive.

    I don’t see any option in the /BOOT directory to redirect the boot device, and the only reference to mmcblk is in start.elf (binary, not text).

    Is there a way to direct the boot process to go to a USB-attached drive, or to redirect the boot to a hard drive with a modified bootstrap program on a µSD?

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