SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) has a colorful past. Like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it was spawned from a commercial Linux distribution (SuSE Linux) primarily geared toward the desktop. In 2003, Novell acquired the german company SuSE Linux AG, and sought to reap the benefits from the already strong server base that the distribution enjoyed. SLES is designed specifically for the enterprise server but still maintains many of the user-friendly setup tools, such as YaST2.
Despite controversy over its working relationship with Microsoft and its later acquisition by the Attachmate Group, a company with business ties to Microsoft, SLES continues to benefit from many of the business relationships established under Novell. Among its achievements was that IBM chose it to power its Power7 systems that ran its famed Watson artificial intelligence.
SLES favors Xen for virtualization, but it also has support for KVM in its latest versions. It uses RPM for its package management but receives online updates through the Zypper and YaST2 system. Like most server-based distributions, SLES supports application server, web server, virtualization, and cloud usage. It also supports high performance computing, interoperability with other platforms, and advanced security features through the use of AppArmor.
Like many commercial Linux distributions, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server requires costly licensing based on a subscription model that includes maintenance and support.