Operating Systems

In the Linux and open source worlds, maintenance is usually made available by download over the Internet. Most tools included with the distributions to download maintenance are expected to be run on each system, resulting in a large waste of bandwidth. Security fixes are issued as quickly as possible. Other fixes aren’t released on a rigid monthly schedule, rather becoming available as they’re developed and tested for quality assurance.

This can result in two systems that were updated one day apart winding up with significantly different patch versions. Aside from their natural tendency to conserve resources, mainframe shops aren’t used to this concept, so they would rather download any maintenance once, and then internally distribute a consistent set of that maintenance. Fortunately, a similar methodology can be used with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server version 10 and later, via an optional package named YUM Update Proxy (YUP). Most of the information here is documented in the SLES Installation and Administration manual. The manual is included on your installation media, with a file name of / docu/en/sles-admin.pdf. There’s plenty of other good information in there, so you should at least browse through it.

The key to getting started is to have already installed and registered one SLES10 system of the same architecture as the maintenance you want to locally mirror. Before you can register a system, you must have a Novell Customer Center (NCC) account, with an associated email address. An email address can be associated with only one NCC account. It may be required for that email address to be validated. If so, log on to NCC (www.novell.com/center), hover your mouse over the “my profile” selection on the left, and click on “validate email” to start the process.

Each time you install SLES10, you’re given the option of registering the system, but it isn’t required. The screen will read:

Many people select the “Configure Later” option, thinking it isn’t really needed to be able to get access to maintenance. However, beginning with SLES10, it’s necessary. To configure from the SLES10 system itself requires a network connection with access to the Internet. If your system doesn’t have that access, you can still register it with a little cut and paste work. This may be the easiest method to use anyway.

To register a system without Internet access from a different computer that does have access, you must first obtain a registration URL. To obtain the URL, run suse_register without options on your new system. This may take a minute or more to complete. If the system is already registered, there will be no output from the command.

Assuming the system isn’t already registered, copy the URL from the suse_ register output and enter it in the location field of your browser. You’ll be prompted for the email address associated with your NCC account and, optionally, the activation code for your subscription. If you’ve already activated the subscription from the NCC, you shouldn’t re-enter it into the Web form.

If you decide to register the system from itself, you can do that by starting YaST, selecting “software,” and then “Novell Customer Center Configuration.” You’ll see the same screen as you did during installation. You’ll probably have to wait while YaST processes numerous files to figure out what it already knows about your software configuration. When you can, select “configure now” to start the process.

As you go through the process, a Web browser will start-up. Whether it’s a text browser, such as w3m, or a graphical browser will depend on what software packages you installed, whether your Secure Shell (SSH) session has set the DISPLAY environment variable, and so on. Once the browser initializes, you’ll be taken to the same Novell secure Website as previously mentioned.

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