A small server for big companies – New Raspberry Pi support in SLES for ARM

Raspberry_Pi_SLES_Industrial

When SUSE created a Raspberry Pi image for SUSECon in 2016, there was a tremendous amount of interest. We saw thousands of downloads in just the first few days. Many people asked, “When are you going to offer real support for the Raspberry Pi?” The answer is Now!

Increasing customer demand drove our decision to offer commercial support for the Raspberry Pi to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for ARM (SLES for ARM). A number of large companies decided to use Raspberry Pi based monitoring solutions in their industrial manufacturing operations.

Uses for Raspberry Pi with SUSE Linux

These customers chose the Raspberry Pi for many reasons, but low cost, wide availability, and widespread familiarity with programming the Raspberry Pi topped the list. Most of these companies started out experimenting with the free Raspbian OS but wanted SLES for the actual deployment because they needed a secure, reliable, and supported operating system for their monitoring solutions.

A typical use case is an automated manufacturing operation that uses longlived capital equipment such as robotic screwdrivers. This older equipment often does not have built-in monitoring capability to send a signal when something goes wrong – they just stop. The Raspberry Pi based solution can monitor this type of industrial equipment using digital and analog I/O and can send an alert to a centralized monitoring system.

Some customers are also using the Raspberry Pi as an inexpensive shop floor computer.  Workers use a simple touch screen interface on the Raspberry Pi to flag problems with a manufacturing line such as lack of parts or machine failure.

Both of these use cases are intended to provide more granular information about industrial operations with a goal of reducing downtime and improving productivity.

We have heard of other potential uses for Raspberry Pi in commercial environments including digital signage, network monitoring, and IT monitoring as done by Malavix xymon (Malavix Partner Case Study). After this announcement, we will probably hear about many new ways to use SLES on the Raspberry Pi.

Differences from previous SUSE Raspberry Pi image

The biggest change is that we are offering support for this new Raspberry Pi SD-card image as part of SLES for ARM 12 SP3. The new image is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for ARM, so will include some fixes and enhancements from the latest SUSE Linux release.

The SUSE Engineering team has worked to reduce the size of the image. The image that was delivered for SUSECon in 2016 included developer-type packages such as compilers and debuggers. The new image focuses on providing IoT infrastructure. A number of packages have been removed to reduce the image size to around 630MB. Packages such as compilers can be installed using zypper and yast post installation and registration.

The new Raspberry Pi image is just another platform for SLES for ARM, so it uses the same update and installation channels as SLES for ARM.  This means that users of the Raspberry Pi will have access to all packages in SLES for ARM, including SDK and source files.  This also means that the free evaluation period is sixty days, just like all other SUSE Linux evaluation downloads.

The new Raspberry Pi image based on SLES 12 SP3 for ARM is available now here.

What has stayed the same

The new image boots into a lightweight graphical desktop and includes Wi-Fi enablement by default. The I/O support is generally the same as it was before, including support for HDMI, Ethernet, and the GPIO ports. Like the previous image, we do not support audio, 3D graphics, Raspberry Pi touch screen, or camera. These restrictions are documented in the Release Notes and the Quick Start Guide.

Please note that the only the Raspberry Pi 3 Model 3 is supported. The new B+ model uses different I/O chips and will not work with the current SP3 image.

Order info

It will take a few more weeks to get pricing for SLES for ARM on the commercial price list. Partners and SUSE Direct Sellers that have significant opportunities for the Raspberry Pi should contact me, (jayk@suse.com) for instructions on how to order during this period. For others, please take advantage of the free sixty-day evaluation to start working with SLES for ARM on the Raspberry Pi.

Future

This is only the first step in SLES for ARM support for the Raspberry Pi. In the future we intend to broaden the I/O support and allow for network installation of Raspberry Pi without having to use an SD-Card image. We also want to add support to other 64-bit Raspberry Pi hardware such as the Compute Module and the B+. We have received many requests for SUSE Manager support and are working to bring that to market as well.

Resources

Resource Link
Raspberry Pi 60 day Evaluation download https://bit.ly/sles4pi
SLES for Arm Raspberry Pi Quick Start Guide https://bit.ly/sles4piquickstart
User Forum https://bit.ly/sles4piforum
SUSE Customer Center https://scc.suse.com
Replay of Raspberry Pi webinar https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/11477/311441
SLES for Arm Raspberry Pi product page https://www.suse.com/products/arm/raspberry-pi/
Raspberry Pi Foundation FAQ https://www.raspberrypi.org/help/faqs/

Summary

The introduction of Raspberry Pi support in SLES for ARM is a significant milestone for SUSE and for the Raspberry Pi. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance and encouragement of Eben Upton and his Raspberry Pi Foundation to bring this product to market.

Have a lot of fun!

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About Jay Kruemcke

Jay has had more than twenty years of experience in the information technology industry. Starting from a rather humble beginning at IBM, Jay became a mainframe systems support programmer. Eventually Jay joined the AIX operating systems development team early in that product's development. Jay leveraged technical skills that he built in systems management to establish himself as a member of the IBM Austin Executive Briefing Center. His expertise in systems management with the SAP ERP system enabled his first product management role, as the owner of the Tivoli management product for SAP. Over the next three years he established that product as a success with the help of a strong development team. Jay returned to AIX in a product management position initially focusing on managing new requirements for the AIX operating system. Jay established himself as a subject manager expert in AIX and Power Systems virtualization and became a frequent guest at conferences around the world. Jay succumbed to the dark side and spent four years in IBM marketing in which he introduced AIX version 6 and AIX version 7 and many product innovations including the first every open beta program for an AIX release and a significant restructuring of the AIX offering structure and prices. Jay was part of the cloud software development organization and and focused on managing development engagements for clients deploying clouds using Power Systems servers with PowerVC and related products. In March of 2016, Jay retired from IBM and started in a new role as a product manager for SUSE, the Open Software company. Jay new focus is on enterprise Linux for POWER and ARM processor based systems. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @mr_sles, @cloudrancher and @chromeaix.
This entry was posted in ARM Processors, Gadgets, Internet of Things, SUSE Linux. Bookmark the permalink.

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