SUSE upgrades its distros with 19 years of support - no other Linux comes close

Like its rivals Red Hat and Canonical, SUSE does more than just Linux these days; but at heart, it's still a Linux company.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
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At SUSECon in Berlin, SUSE, a global Linux and cloud-native software leader, announced significant enhancements across its entire Linux distribution family. These new capabilities focus on providing faster time-to-value and reduced operational costs, emphasizing the importance of choice in today's complex IT landscape. 

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 Service Pack (SP) 6 is at the heart of these upgrades. This update future-proofs IT workloads with a new Long Term Service (LTS) Pack Support Core. How long is long-term? Would you believe 19 years? This gives SLES the longest-term support period in the enterprise Linux market. Even Ubuntu, for which Canonical recently extended its LTS to 12 years, doesn't come close. 

Also: I've used Linux for 30 years. 5 reasons why I'll never switch to Windows or MacOS

You may ask yourself, "Why 19 years?" SUSE General Manager of Business Critical Linux (BCL) Rick Spencer, explained in an interview that the reason is that on 03:14:08 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, aka Coordinated Universal Time) Tuesday, January 19, 2038, we reach the end of computing time. Well, not really, but Linux, and all the other Unix-based operating systems, including some versions of MacOS, reach what's called the Epoch

That's when the time-keeping code in 32-bit Unix-based operating systems reaches the end of the seconds it's been counting since the beginning of time -- 00:00:00 GMT on January 1, 1970, as far as Linux and Unix systems are concerned -- and resets to zero. Just like the Y2K bug, that means that all unpatched 32-bit operating systems and software will have fits. The Linux kernel itself had the problem fixed in 2020's Linux 5.6 kernel, but many other programs haven't dealt with it. 

Until then, though, if you're still running SLES 15 SP6, you'll be covered. I strongly suggest upgrading before then, but if you want to stick with that distro to the bitter end, you can. 

Also: These 5 Linux file managers are better than what you're using now - and they're free

In addition, the new SLES boasts an updated 6.4 kernel version. It also includes new libraries, such as OpenSSL 3.1, ensuring security in compliance with strict regulations.

As for security, SLES now boasts superior confidential computing support, which encrypts your data not only when it's stored or in transit on the internet, but in memory as well. SLES provides this extra level of security on systems using Intel TDX (Trust Domain Extensions) and AMD SEV (Secure Encrypted Virtualization) processors. This includes remote attestation with SUSE Manager, ensuring end-to-end capabilities for maximum security and compliance.

SAP users will also be happy to see SLES for SAP Applications 15 SP6: This release provides SAP customers and partners with a secure and reliable Linux platform for running mission-critical SAP workloads, from the data center to the cloud. It includes access to the latest innovations from Trento, an open-source web application that helps system administrators avoid common infrastructure problems with SAP systems that can result in delayed service implementations or unplanned downtime.

If you prefer a more lightweight Linux distro for edge computing or smaller servers, SUSE also released SUSE Linux Enterprise Micro 6.0. This immutable, lightweight, and secure open-source host operating system is optimized for containerized and virtualized workloads. It simplifies standalone container deployments and provides a stable platform for Kubernetes deployments. It also includes full disk encryption support to strengthen your data security.

SUSE is also building its own platform for AI using its Linux distros called SUSE AI. This is not your usual AI play. Instead of coming up with its own Large Language Model (LLM) and chatbot, SUSE is providing the tools companies need to build their own private and secure AI programs. For example, if you want to use your own data without worrying about someone looking over your virtual shoulder to create an AI-smart troubleshooter for your products, SUSE enables you to build just that. 

Also: 5 Linux commands you need to know to troubleshoot problems

On one side of the main SUSE family is SUSE's latest Linux release, SUSE Liberty Lite Linux. This distro is a replacement for CentOS 7, which, while still very popular, will reach the end of its supported life on June 30. SUSE's answer is a true drop-in replacement. You can literally just change your repositories from CentOS to Liberty Lite and keep operating. 

Moreover, Liberty Linux Lite is the first Linux distro built on the Open Enterprise Linux Association (OpenELA) Linux code base. In OpenELA, CIQ, Oracle, and SUSE joined forces to create a Linux code base for RHEL clones. 

Regardless of what SLES you're running, you can use SUSE Manager 5.0 to keep tabs on your server and Linux instances. Indeed, SUSE Manager supports far more than just the SLES family. It now supports over 16 different Linux distributions. These include Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), its numerous clones; Debian; Mint; and Ubuntu Linux. Indeed, you can even use it with Raspberry Pi OS, formerly Raspian, so you can manage your Raspberry Pis as well as your big iron. 

Also: Why I use the Linux tree command daily - and what it can do for you

SUSE Manager, based on the Salt DevOps systems, delivers automated patch and compliance management for any Linux, anywhere and at any scale. It is containerized for increased resilience, scalability, and portability, and adds remote attestation capabilities for SLEX 15 SP6.

Get the picture? SUSE remains fully committed to the SLES. In fact, the company is already working on additional innovations for the next major release of its flagship business-critical Linux platform: SLES 16 and SLES for SAP Applications 16, coming in 2025. Tomorrow looks bright for both SUSE and Linux.

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