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Components: Administration Server, Branch Server, POS Client Images

SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service is a solution for the Retail Point-of-Sale (POS) environment comprised of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and specific add-ons. It provides a stable platform to run POS applications on cash registers and other Point of Service devices that use the x86 hardware architecture. It solves the problems of deploying, managing, monitoring, and updating the POS operating system installations in a cost-efficient manner.

It does that by:

  • Providing templates, tools, and documentation for the creation and customization of Linux operating system images optimized for use on POS hardware
  • Providing a deployment and administration server infrastructure for branch office deployments of Linux on POS devices

SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service includes three primary components: Administration Server, Branch Server, and Point of Service Client Images.


The Administration Server

The SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Administration Server runs at the main office. At least one administration server is needed in a typical SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service environment.

The administration server manages all Point of Service devices. It keeps the master operating system images for the Point of Service devices and is used to create POS Linux client images that are based on SUSE Linux Enterprise, using the image building tool KIWI. The Administration Server is the central repository for information, storing the configuration of each POS client in an LDAP directory. Finally, the Administration Server replicates the POS Linux client images to the branch servers.

Point of Service operating system images are built from templates, using SUSE Linux Enterprise and its maintenance updates as the base. Images can be built on the same server instance used as the administration server or on a separate physical or virtual server instance. All physical administration servers or image build servers need a SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Admin Server subscription. Additional server applications or databases can be run on an administration server only if they are directly related to running the Point of Service infrastructure. All other server workloads need to use a general purpose SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription.


The Branch Server

The SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Branch Server is used to deploy the SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service client images. In a nutshell, the SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Branch Server provides the server infrastructure for:

  • Booting the Point of Service clients from the local network
  • Registering new client devices at the site
  • Distributing operating system image updates to the client devices

The branch server can also hold a local copy of the central configuration directory to allow offline setup of a site, and running a site offline for a certain period of time.

Typically you need at least one branch server per branch. You can run the branch server directly off the administration server for small-scale implementations of SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service. In that case you need only a subscription for the administration server.

You can use your SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Branch Server subscription for the actual Point of Service branch server as well as for other SUSE Linux Enterprise Server instances running at a branch, as long as they are used to serve data or applications to the Point of Service client devices. However, servers in branches that are used in other roles not tied to the Point of Service tasks need to have a generic SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription.


The Point of Service Client Images

Consumers interact with various point-of-service devices daily. Not only do these devices accelerate and improve the shopping experience for the consumer, but they serve an important business-management role as well. They process and record purchase transactions and enable real-time reporting of sales and inventory data for a wide range of retail and hospitality companies. Point of Service devices or clients can be bank tellers, cash register systems, product scanners, kiosks, fuel pumps, self-checkouts, and more.

The SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service client images are built on the Administration Server—or if you prefer, you can also set up a separate Image Building Server. You can build client operating system images for the x86 architecture. SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service comes with a set of pre-built image files that you can customize to set up your own system. Every Point of Service terminal in general requires two different kind of images: a boot image and a system image.

The boot images contain the kernel and a bootstrap image (initrd), providing the minimum your Point of Service terminals need to initially start up from a bootable CD or USB stick, or from the network. The following boot images templates are available for the current version of SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service:

  • The isoboot image template creates all the files and directories required to boot diskless and preinstalled disk-equipped systems from CD. This boot image must be combined with a system image to create a CD that can be used to boot the Point of Service terminal.
  • The usbboot image template creates all the files and directories required to boot diskless and pre-installed disk-equipped systems from a USB stick.
  • The netboot image template creates all the files and directories required to boot diskful and diskless terminals from the network over Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) and DHCP.

The system image templates included with SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service are specially designed for the most common types of retail Point of Service terminals:

  • The Minimal image template contains only the runtime environment for native-code applications and the specific library for non-graphical user interface support. The Minimal image supports only console-based applications. Maximum image size: 128 MB (compressed), minimum size of RAM required to boot the image: 64 MB
  • The Graphical image template includes the features of the Minimal image and essential graphical interface capabilities, as well as the ability to run Java programs. Maximum size: 120 MB (compressed), minimum size of RAM required to boot the image: 256 MB

All Point of Service client devices that are running a SUSE Linux Enterprise operating system image, either deployed by the SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service solution or installed from installation media, need to have a SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service Client subscription. Client devices should only be used for running typical Point of Service applications or supporting client applications (for example a Web browser). If the Point of Service application needs certain additional server services to run–for example a local instance of a database–this is also covered by the client subscription. Point of Service devices that are used as a combined Point of Service terminal and branch server or Point of Service hardware used in any other server role need to be covered at least with a branch server subscription


Additional Deployment Options

  • SUSE Manager: You can deploy and manage your SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service solution with SUSE Manager. SUSE Manager is a systems management solution delivering best-in-class capabilities that enable you to comprehensively deploy and manage Linux systems with a single centralized solution. SUSE Manager provides automated and cost-effective software management, system provisioning and monitoring capabilities. As a result, you can decrease total cost of ownership while improving compliance and service quality.
  • High Availability Servers: You can set up your SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service servers as two-node High Availability clusters. In that case you additionally need to purchase separate subscriptions of the SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension for all cluster nodes.
  • Virtualization: As long as the restrictions mentioned above are met and all instances belong to the same Point of Service infrastructure, you can run more than one virtual SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service instance on a single physical server that has an administration server or branch server subscription. For example, you can run an image build server in a virtual machine on the administration server, or a branch server as a virtual instance on a combined Point of Service and branch server device. However, you cannot use SUSE Linux Point of Service subscriptions for general purpose server or client virtualization.

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