[conspire] Novell SLES & SLED 11 ISOs; also, modern medicine on $10/day

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Apr 10 15:50:33 PDT 2009

Obligatory Linux topic:  I've downloaded the DVD ISOs of Novell's SUSE
Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)
version 11, for both i686 and x86_64.  However, I haven't burned them to
media.  If someone has an urgent need for the software, I can arrange to
have it at tomorrow's CABAL meeting.

  Yes!  Another fabulous CABAL meeting, Sa. April 10, 2009, 1-9 PM!

If nobody speaks up, on the other hand, don't complain if the stuff
isn't there.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what SLES / SLED are, how
freely available they are, what costs money, and how they differ from
OpenSUSE.  So, I thought I'd speak to that.

Originally, there was just S.u.S.E. (Software und System-Entwicklung = 
Software and systems engineering) Linux from S.u.S.E. Linux AG of
Nuremburg, Bavaria, Germany, which had a US office in Oakland.  S.u.S.E.
(later, "SuSE", and then "SUSE") Linux was a large RPM-based
distribution with a commercial bent and some proprietary contents,
available in a couple of huge, kitchen-sink boxed sets and also in
semi-redistributable downloadable editions.   The boxed sets got you
proprietary packages whose owners don't permit the public at large to
redistribute them, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, etc.  

Novell bought SUSE Linux AG in 2003, and put the product line through a
series of confusing name and product-definition changes, which are best
skipped over.  When the dust settled, Novell had a dichotomy largely
similar to that between Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora:  The freely
downloadable, non-commercially-supported based distribution is now 
called OpenSUSE -- but there is also a corporate-focussed variant
dubbed SUSE Linux Enterprise {Desktop|Server} with long-term commercial
support and maintenance, with relatively infrequent formal releases --
about every 2-3 years -- with formal service packs between releases.

Policies about no-charge access to SLES/SLED have been murky, but 
have become clearer and more liberal as they've gone from v. 9 to v. 10
and now to v. 11.  SLES/SLED 11 came out this past March 24.  You _can_
download it for free:  It's available only from Novell's download site,
where you have to do a free-of-charge registration.  You _can_ at that
time (but aren't required to) get an "Activation Code" for 60 days of
"software updates" (Internet-accessible bug-fix/security-fix RPMs).
Each SLED or SLES release is eligible for 5-7 years of paid commercial 
support including updating the thing's hardware support for newer
hardware components.

Note:  Nothing in the _software_ requires "activation".  

It's highly likely that duplicating SLES/SLED DVDs for friends is
technical copyright violation, on account of their including things like
RealPlayer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and so on.  

As is usual with corporate-focussed distributions, you actually get a
thinner selection of software than with OpenSUSE, the idea being to
focus on a limited set for standardisation and support-target purposes, 
being better able to give business customers the warm-fuzzies.

Of necessity, OpenSUSE tends to be much more cutting-edge, but still,
in general, very stable.  Both OpenSUSE and SLED/SLES provide both GNOME
and KDE, with a slightly greater focus on GNOME.  (The opposite was the
case prior to Novell's acquisition of SUSE and Ximian.)  There's a
single-piece administrative software framework called YaST (Yet Another
Setup Tool):  All software configuration, package management, user
account administration, etc. can be done from within YaST.

For anyone for whom OpenSUSE is too boringly stable, there is always a
rolling development branch, which appears these days to be called

On the other topic:  To recap, five days after the 2nd CABAL meeting
this month, I get to have in-patient treatment at Kaiser Santa Clara 
for a (fortunately, curable) major medical problem, after which I'll 
be a bit knocked sideways and healing for a few months, but otherwise

Today, at the unspeakable hour of 8 AM sharp was my day for chatting
with the anaesthesia people, and getting the detailed pre-operative

"Good morning!" 
"Good morning."  (Me, trying to sound sincere, and moreover awake.)
"How are you doing, today?"
"Almost all of me is doing just great.  A small part of me dissents, and
is trying to kill me."  (Now-traditional classification at Casa Moen.)

Take my vitals:  healthy.  Various lab results, ditto.  EKG and lung
checks show organs vital enough that they'll need to be beaten to death
with a stick, at some point.  Medications?  None.  Smoker?  No.
Diabetic?  No.  Blood pressure?  Normal.  Exercise?  Yes.  Other health
problems?  No.  (What are _you_ doing here, really?  You're boring.)

Briefing about the day of surgery; various measures to make me
super-clear of sources of possible sepsis, various details of how I'll
go under general anaesthesia (via intravenous drip) and be sawed on for
probable 3-5 hours if the intended technique works out, longer

Checklist of things to bring to Surgery Admitting Dept.  (Right.  We do
like checklists.  We are process people, we are.)

o  Kaiser medical record card
o  Patient photo ID
o  Duplicate copy of signed surgery "informed consent" form.
o  Current list of prescribed medications
o  Co-payment.  (Call 1-800-464-4000 to verify amount.)

Me:  "Huh?  What would the co-payment be for major surgery?"
She:  "I don't have anything to do with that.  It might be on the
      back of your card, or you can call and inquire."

So, we go through everything else, I collect the burgeoning stack of
paper, and toddle off to breakfast, still wondering what _is_ the
appropriate and customary co-payment for life-saving surgery?

I did get the answer by calling later, but the usual co-payment for
visits to Kaiser is $10, depending on the plan you're under, basically
to discourage you from wandering in without a good reason.  But before I
did, I had a surreal vision of Surgery Day:

(In my imagination:)  6:45 AM, I show up at Surgery Admitting Dept.
Loose clothing, no personal belongings, no breakfast, nothing to drink
for the prior three hours.  

I plunk down photo ID, Kaiser card, paperwork.  Two surgeons (no
waiting!) are standing there, an assistant or two, an anaesthesiologist
holding an IV stand.  

"That'll be a $10 co-payment.  (Special today on major surgery.)"
"Er..."  <fumbles>  "Deirdre, do you have a ten?  Um... How much
surgery can I get for _$5_, instead?"  "Maybe we should see if Stanford
will offer us a better deal."

Cheers,              Híggledy-pìggledy / XML programmers
Rick Moen            Try to escape those / I-eighteen-N woes;
rick at linuxmafia.com  Incontrovertibly / What we need more of is
McQ!  (4x80)         Unicode weenies and / François Yergeaus.

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