Updating Software

A commercial Linux server such as SUSE Linux Enterprise Server offers the ability to subscribe to updates. To be safe from all possible threats to your server, it is mandatory to have a server that is consistently running the latest stable software. To use the update mechanism available in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, you must be registered with Novell. This requires you to purchase the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server product.

Tip If you want to test SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, you can get a 30-day trial subscription from the Novell website. If you have the Novell Software Evaluation Library (SEL), you are entitled to a free registration. With this registration, you are allowed to run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in a test environment.

Setting up the online update environment is a procedure that consists of three parts. First you need to activate the Novell Customer Center in which you can prove you are a paying customer.

Next you need to set up automatic update defaults. Then you can configure your system for software updates. The following steps show how to set up the Novell Customer Center:

1. From YaST, select Software > Novell Customer Center Configuration (see Figure 9-4). This screen allows you to manage all your subscriptions to Novell software.

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Figure 9-4. On the Novell Customer Center Configuration screen, you can manage all your subscriptions to Novell software.

2. Make sure the Configure Now option is selected. Next, on the same screen, you can select the amount of information that is exchanged with the Novell registration server. By default, your hardware profile is sent to the Novell server. Some optional information is sent as well. If you want to see exactly what information is sent to the Novell server, click the Details button; this will list all the information that is sent to the Novell registration servers.

3. Click the Next button. This will open a browser that will bring you to the Novell registration website. On the screen displayed by this browser (see Figure 9-5), you need to enter your e-mail address and an activation code. The e-mail address is mandatory; without a proper activation code, you can use the update service for 15 days. You also need a valid Novell account (visit http://www.novell.com for more details) to proceed. Make sure the e-mail address you enter here is the same as the e-mail address you are using in your Novell account.

4. After entering the e-mail address, click Submit. This will enter your data in the database on the Novell web server and entitle you to allow the online update feature.

Figure 9-5. You need to enter at least an e-mail address and an activation code if you want to use the update feature for longer than 15 days.

Now that you have registered your server, you can proceed by setting up online updating. The following steps explain how to do this:

1. Using the YaST Software Options screen, select Online Update Setup.

2. On the screen shown in Figure 9-6, check the Enable Automatic Update box to enable automatic online updates. Next, specify whether you want the updates to occur on a daily or on a weekly basis, and specify the time of day you want the updates to occur. Next, you can select two options; use Only Download Patches if you just want to download the patches without automatic installation. If this option is enabled, you can choose which patches you want to install and which patches you don't want to install. Select Skip Interactive Patches if you want the update to occur completely automatic. With this option enabled, only patches that can be installed automatically are downloaded and installed. Be aware that you do need to perform a manual update from time to time to ensure that the patches that can't be installed automatically are installed as well.

3. Now click Finish to complete the procedure. You will see a message that indicates that an update server was added successfully to your configuration. In this message, click Details for more details about this server, or click OK to complete the procedure.

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Figure 9-6. Use the Automatic Online Update Setup screen to specify when and how updates should occur.

Now that the online update service has been set up successfully, you still need to explore the options of the manual update option. This is because it is not recommended that you install all patches in all situations automatically.

1. On the YaST > Software screen, select the Automatic Update option, and click Next on the opening screen.

2. You will see the YaST software installation screen, as shown in Figure 9-7. This screen lists all the available patches that haven't been installed yet. Choose which patches you want to install and which patches you don't want, and then click Accept to install the selected patches.

Caution Be careful applying updates to the kernel. Installing a new kernel version (even if it is offered by the update software) can cause software or drivers to stop working, so make sure you have tested a new kernel version on an isolated server before applying it to your live servers.

Figure 9-7. The online update feature gives you access to all the patches that you can install.

3. After clicking Accept, all selected patches are downloaded and installed. Notice the messages on the installation screen, because in some situations your input is needed to install the patch. Then click Finish. This will complete the procedure and write all changes you have made to your server. After installation, the patches are in general available immediately.

Tip Make sure you run the online update feature after installing new software from the installation media. Installing software will, in all cases, install the original software as it is on the installation CDs, without any patches applied.

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