RedHat Versus SUSE: The Battle of Enterprise Linux Distributions

28/12/2020
The enterprise Linux space is crowded, with several established companies providing open source software products to the global enterprise community. Two names that undeniably stand out from the crowd are RedHat, offering Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and SUSE, offering SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). In this article, we compare the two enterprise Linux distributions to find out what the similarities and differences between them are.

First Impressions

Both RedHat and SUSE target different geographical regions. Being a U.S. company, RedHat has focused a bulk of its marketing efforts toward its domestic audience. SUSE, on the other hand, is a German company whose priority is the European market.

RedHat was founded in 1993 and quickly became a top contributor to the Linux kernel. The company also acquired several proprietary software product codebases and incorporated them into its offering. SUSE was founded in 1992 in Germany and released the first version of what would later become SLES in 1994.

Overview and Setup

RHEL and SLES support many of the same architectures, including ARM64, x86-32, x86-64; and Power Architecture, and they are both suited for servers, mainframes, and workstations.

RHEL prioritizes stability over everything else, which is probably one of the reasons why 90 percent of Fortune Global 500 companies depend on it. SLES also strives to be as stable as possible, but it includes a number of software tools intended to make the lives of system administrators easier. One such tool is YaST, and it can be used to easily configure many aspects of SUSE’s operating system.

Tools like YaST are the reason why SLES is known to have a less steep initial learning curved compared with RHEL. However, system administrators who have successfully gotten past the initial learning hurdle presented by RHEL can enjoy a very solid operating system with much fewer parts that could break and cause downtime.

Support

RHEL and SLES are commercially supported Linux distributions with free trial versions available from their websites.

One year of standard support without any add-ons costs RHEL customers $799, and it includes support during standard business hours over web and phone support channels and unlimited support cases. RedHat’s premium support, which includes around-the-clock availability, costs $1,299 for one year. SUSE has similar prices, with one year of its standard support costing €670 (around $785) and one year of premium support costing €1,250 (which is $1,460).

Customers who are not interested in commercial support are encouraged to try CentOS and openSUSE Leap, the former being a replica of RHEL without commercial support, and the latter being a new type of hybrid Linux distribution built on the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) codebase.

Conclusion

With similar pricing strategies and equally enticing product offerings, RHEL and SLES both represent the very best the enterprise Linux market has to offer. Both distributions can be tested for free, and even regular home users can enjoy the stability they provide thanks to CentOS and openSUSE Leap.

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