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Are YES CERTIFICATION bulletin Config Notes from “the Dark Side” of hardware compatibility?

Drew

By: Drew

February 13, 2017 2:30 pm

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The easy answer is nope—no way! That comes from a person with years of YES CERTIFICATION experience, not some Rogue person who suddenly has their Force Awaken one day! Please read on, because “Fear is the path to the dark side” and “Hard to see, the Dark Side is!”

In a previous, multi-part set of blogs, I outlined in detail all the information contained on a YES CERTIFICATION bulletin. These blogs highlighted what is on a bulletin, how to read and understand what was validated during certification testing, and how each section of the bulletin can help you understand specific hardware compatibility. In this blog, I will dive a little deeper and provide more information about the Config Notes section on a bulletin. In the process, I will answer the question, “Are Config Notes on a YES CERTIFICATION bulletin a bad thing?” From the first sentence above, you already know my answer, but just like any good vacation, part of the joy is in the journey.

First things, first. If you don’t already know, the best place to search for a YES CERTIFICATION hardware bulletin is https://www.suse.com/yessearch/. If you want to read my previous blogs detailing everything on the YES CERTIFICATION bulletin, go to https://www.suse.com/communities/blog/author/Jackman1/ and find the four-part blog series titled, “SUSE YES Certification bulletin exposed.”

The Config Notes section on a bulletin could be blank or could contain one or more highlights about a certified configuration. It could contain required workarounds, functionality that did or did not work, or even required additions such as updated drivers. The Config Notes on a bulletin will contain key data to be aware of when implementing SUSE Linux Enterprise on a specific hardware platform.

The information provided by a Config Note, or configuration note, can range from installation/boot to core dump (kdump) or updated kernel drivers to required maintenance updates. The majority of configuration notes are informational in nature—something you should know if you are installing and configuring SUSE Linux Enterprise on a certified hardware platform. They could provide more information on how the disks were configured during certification testing. One of the key value propositions of hardware certification is the ability to capture and document a known working configuration. This can be used as a hardware buying guide or a troubleshooting technique to solve a problem with a system.

Is it possible that a certification bulletin will not have any configuration notes? Yes. Many system certifications are completed without any issues so the certification bulletin contains primarily configuration information. If you’re like me and you come across a bulletin that does not have ANY configuration notes, you might wonder what the certifying company (usually the hardware vendor) isn’t telling you! Again, it is possible that the certification bulletin contains everything you need to know. As a reminder, one of the purposes of a certification bulletin is to provide useful hardware/operating system configuration data!

As I mentioned above, configuration notes could list how the operating system was installed. It might have been installed from an internal DVD (if an internal DVD is listed in the Tested Configuration, then that would be an indication as well), a virtual DVD, or even a USB-attached DVD. The configuration note could indicate that the system was installed from PXE (Preboot Execution Environment) over the network, with a UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) boot loader, or by using a legacy installation. A configuration note could list that an Installation Kit, a Driver Kit, or a kISO was used. All of these are simply updated installation media provided by SUSE to solve a known issue on that hardware. Note: the issues that these updates solve could also be enablement for new cutting-edge hardware that was not available when the operating system was originally released.

A configuration note could provide the required amount of memory necessary for kdump to function properly, permitting a valid crash kernel image to be captured (when a default setting doesn’t work). It could tell you whether a SUSE Linux Enterprise maintenance update was used during certification testing. This usually means the hardware requires an update in the operating system in order to function at peak compatibility. It could also list a specific driver version that was installed during testing.

Configuration notes also list power management functionality that is or is not supported on the hardware. This could include hibernation, sleep, fan control, thermal monitoring, battery support, or CPU frequency scaling. The configuration note could include information about a workaround for a specific power management function. It could also document how to enable a power management function by modifying a configuration file or using specific a command line so the function works. Or, it could outline a change in system settings.

Configuration notes could include basic information such as whether the system was tested as a headless configuration with no graphics adapter. It could list a URL where more specific installation information is available from the hardware manufacturer.

One last category of configuration notes is for virtualization-specific certifications. These could be Xen or KVM certifications or a third-party Hypervisor certification. These configuration notes usually have to do with virtualization host setup or boot parameters. They could contain specific SUSE virtualization drivers used during testing, such as the VMDP (Virtual Machine Driver Pack). This type of configuration note could also contain guest installation tips or a workaround—possibly even a recommended way to install the guest. Beginning with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, all Xen and KVM virtualization bulletins will have a configuration note listing whether the hardware supports network SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization) or network PCI Pass-through. If one of these features is supported, the note will also list the network adapter used during this testing. (Note: SR-IOV and PCI Pass-through are ways to use a host network adapter directly in a virtualization guest.)

Configuration notes also list things that are not compatible between the hardware and the operating system. You will see terminology such as “does not support” or “not supported” in these notes. Overall, the majority of configuration notes are simply informational. They help our customers have a better experience and provide in-depth hardware/operating system compatibility information.

We hope YES CERTIFICATION and YES bulletins help you make better decisions when purchasing new systems for your company infrastructure. Our goal is give you the ability to say, “I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me” when buying servers and workstations. You can find more information about SUSE YES CERTIFICATION at https://www.suse.com/partners/ihv/yes/. You can search for YES CERTIFIED hardware at https://www.suse.com/yessearch/.  And, you can review previous YES Certification blogs at YES Certification blog posts.

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Categories: Alliance Partners, Desktop, Enterprise Linux, Integrated Systems, Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for VMware, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on IBM Power Systems, SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack, Virtualization

2 Comments

  1. By:msbaker

    Great blog Drew, thanks for posting it…
    Very informational.

  2. By:poswald

    Useful for all hardware partners. Nice

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