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SuSE Businesses GNU is Not Unix

YaST to Become Open Source 478

Space_Soldier writes "According to, YaST is going open source: 'For years, SUSE has considered its YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) software for installing, configuring and managing Linux an advantage over its competitors and forbade them from incorporating it into the products they sold. But with the new plan, to be announced Monday at Novell's Brainshare conference, the company will release YAST under the GPL, sources familiar with the plan said.'" Several years ago, when I first used YaST, I found it to be superior to the rest of the all-in-one administation tools around at the time. It was generally regarded as a great program, save for the licensing. Today, that's no longer a concern.
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YaST to Become Open Source

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  • by horati0 ( 249977 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:31AM (#8607079) Journal
    Autoyast is very neat, btw. Apparently RedHat has something similar to that.

    Yep. []
  • by grolschie ( 610666 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:33AM (#8607092)
    Same here. An awesome setup tool, however, myself being too Debianized, I try to edit the system files, and YaST overwrites them. arghhh!!!

    However, it's an awesome tool. I love their installer and partitioner with the option of automatic NTFS partition resizing and the creation of a dual boot system if it finds Windows on the drive. Superb!
  • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:55AM (#8607183)
    This comes just a few months after Anaconda, the RedHat installer, started being used for another distro (is it Debian's new installer?). Novell obviously saw this move as a good thing.

    Well, I dunno what other OS is using it as it's installer, but it's not debian. Debian's new installer's self rolled, text only, very basic stuff. Anaconda has, however, been ported to install Debian by Progeny []. Pretty neat, but I don't see it eever taking precidence to the Debian Installer.

    And I do agree with you that it probably won't take away any market share. If anything, it sets up SuSE as running against RedHat, which should be a very interesting battle. And we are the ones to benefit.
  • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <`r_j_prahad' `at' `'> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08AM (#8607242)
    I'm running YaST Online Update (YOU) in the background even as I type this, downloading a new Athlon kernel and associated security patches. YaST is not your run-of-the-mill useless sysadmin megascript; it's forty or fifty inter-related packages that address every important aspect of managing a Linux system. Microsoft doesn't have anything close to it. I don't know of any reason why you couldn't use it on any RPM-based distro, but I have to admit I've been using it solely on desktops, and not in a server environment. It's the newb's answer to keeping a healthy up-to-date patched Linux box on the Internet that won't be a detriment to it's neighbors or an embarassment to the Linux community.
  • Re:YaST over SSH (Score:5, Informative)

    by jrcamp ( 150032 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:15AM (#8607269)
    No, you must not be very familiar with YAST. Starting it from the command prompt yields a ncurses GUI with the same functions that you would get from the Qt version. So, the parent is quite correct in that it is easy to use over a plain SSH connection.
  • by Jeff Mahoney ( 11112 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:33AM (#8607338)
    Yes, the YaST ncurses interface is fully on par with the X-based version. You can even choose not to install the graphical version if you don't want it. The actual heavy lifting is shared, and the front-ends are only interfaces to use it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:38AM (#8607362)
    Sun's Java Desktop is a variant of SuSE.
    That's how.
  • by Red Storm ( 4772 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:45AM (#8607386)
    I've been using SuSE since about 5.1 and Yast has come one hell of a long way since then. With Yast there are basicaly three levels of adminstrability. The first is the simplest method using the Yast tool, which works the same in console gui and X-Win gui. Next is using the /etc/sysconfig scripts and then calling SuSEconfig as needed. If you look closely Yast actualy edits the files in the /etc/sysconfig directory and then calls SuSEconfig. Finaly you can turn off SuSEconfig for various programs by changing that programs sysconfig file in the /etc/sysconfig directory. Thus if you want to use your own config file for say bind you can do so without SuSEconfig writing over them.

    Overall I think SuSE has struck a very good balance between gui tools, and config files.
  • by R3 ( 15929 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:49AM (#8607399) Homepage
    Bu using SuSE 8.1 (or was it 8.2?) as the base for Java Desktop - essentially adding Sun logos and some extra content to it.
  • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:51AM (#8607414)
    Yes it works even if you don't have X installed.

    $ rpm -qa | grep curse

    There is a ncurses version and best of all you can find all the options and menus in the same places as you would with the X version - very consistent. It's funny I replied [] to another poster earlier today who was complaining about YaST being "closed source". This is great news because hopefully now we can put this "non-gpl" argument behind us and support [] Novell & SUSE with our wallets on May 6th when SUSE 9.1 becomes available. Or pre-order it now - I don't know from where though. I do remember seeing a link somewhere during a Google search.

  • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:56AM (#8607429)
    I don't have much experience with Redhat but one thing that I like about YaST is that all the configuration can take place by just typing yast at the command line. You don't have to deal with separate redhat-config-* packages, just one command and from there it's all very simple.
  • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:18AM (#8607488)
    Now, GPL OpenExchange and let it become the de-facto groupware server in the open source world and watch as the knowledge pool of people who can configure it grow and as it does it quickly eats into Microsoft's exchange sales.

    I don't think it's that easy: []

    How does OGo compare to SuSE OpenExchange?

    A: SuSE OpenExchange is actually two things: an OpenSource messaging server based on Cyrus and OpenLDAP and a closed source, proprietary web groupware server (ComFire).

    OGo is very similiar to the groupware server part and indeed you can install OGo as the groupware component on an OpenExchange server to save the ComFire license costs and use a solution wholly composed of OpenSource software.

  • by bobsledbob ( 315580 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:18AM (#8607491)

    Which is why we should move to something like XML based configuration files. Lets gui tool configurators and manual tweakers coexist happily.
  • Re:SaX (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeff Mahoney ( 11112 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:24AM (#8607518)
    SaX2 is LGPL, according to /usr/share/doc/packages/sax2/LICENCE
  • by Hooded One ( 684008 ) <<hoodedone> <at> <>> on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:31AM (#8607540) Journal
    Actually, SuSE/YaST has a pretty good way of dealing with this. Many of the auto-generated files, e.g. modprobe.conf, have comments explicitly telling you to edit [filename], but to make your own [filename].local, which is incorporated with an include statement at the end of the file, and tweak that to your heart's content. This way all your custom changes are preserved.

    Yes, you can do that in other distros as well, but YaST sets it up for you by default.
  • Re:YAST vs urpmi (Score:4, Informative)

    by King_of_Crunk ( 763543 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:31AM (#8607541) Homepage
    SUSE even required user accounts be managed through YAST, what kind of nonense is that? Hmmm adding users in both YaST and from the command line using useradd works for me... Heck YaST even shows them and don't overwrite or change them not matter which way I add users... Not sure but maybe my SuSE Version 9 distro is diffrent from everyone elses.
  • Re:Good work Novell (Score:3, Informative)

    by ErikTheRed ( 162431 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:47AM (#8607580) Homepage
    It's not quite all open source, but props to Novell for finally releasing a downloadable evaluation version [] of SuSe Enterprise Server...
  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:52AM (#8607598)
    Huh? Downhill in what way. I have used YAST since, shoot, a long time anyway, and I've seen nothing but improvments all along. Can you give some examples as to what has degraded, regressed, etc. over time? And for what it's worth I would imagine that Novell is GPL'ing it as YAST's lack of GPL has been one of the biggest gripes of SUSE users over the years.
  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:56AM (#8607609)
    I believe that YAST was the "big reason" that SUSE (my personal favorite Linux distro) didn't have ISO's for download. I never had any trouble installing from FTP, and I will continue to buy the retail packages for the great manuals, but ISO's would SURE be nice.
  • Linux distributions (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:00AM (#8607618)
    I've tried SuSe not long ago when my brother had it in his comp. I didn't like YaST at all, it was too "eyecandy" for my taste. I'll stick to urpmi.

    But GPL'ng YaST is of course good news.

    This is actually why I use Linux over Windows; lot of more choices :)

  • Re:YAST vs urpmi (Score:3, Informative)

    by pe1chl ( 90186 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:02AM (#8607627)
    >YAST? well, the day it actually works, and does something useful I'll consider it.

    Another requirement is that you actually study what it does to determine if that is useful to you.
    Up to now you apparently did not do that.

    YaST does not, like some older Unix administration programs, take over all administration from you and prohibit your own changes.
    For example, you can add users with commandline tools like useradd or by editing the 4 relevant files, and YaST will have no problem with that.
  • by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:35AM (#8607737) Journal
    Quite a few people seem to hate SuSEconfig changing what they had manually changed, check here: /etc/sysconfig/suseconfig

    You'll notice this:

    "## Path: System/SuSEconfig
    ## Description:
    ## Type: yesno
    ## Default: yes
    # Some people don't want SuSEconfig to modify the system. With this
    # entry you can disable SuSEconfig completely.
    # Please don't contact our support if you have trouble configuring your
    # system after having disabled SuSEconfig. (yes/no)

    Set that to no then, saves the trouble in switching over to a completely different distro. Whilst you're at it, check the other files in that directory.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by petecarlson ( 457202 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:39AM (#8607753) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I can finally install packages myself without having someone else remotely login and set them up for me.

    That's one of the things I like about YaST, I can SSH in and run it to install packages or configure without having to think.
  • Wrong headline (Score:3, Informative)

    by jayminer ( 692836 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @05:06AM (#8607837) Homepage
    YaST has already been open source. It was just not GPL'd.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @05:12AM (#8607853)
    $ rpm -qa | grep curse

    Intsall 'pin' and then do:
    $ pin programname. It will give you a LOT of info.
    While I am at it. If you need to compile something yourself, use checkinstall instead of 'make install' and make your own RPM files.
  • by ahillen ( 45680 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:06AM (#8608011)
    I believe that YAST was the "big reason" that SUSE (my personal favorite Linux distro) didn't have ISO's for download.

    Why? I don't see how the (old) Yast license would have had any influence on that matter. Certainly not for SuSE, but also others could distribute Yast freely as long as no money is involved.
  • Re:YaST over SSH (Score:2, Informative)

    by Flaming_Ice ( 747250 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:09AM (#8608020)
    From experience Synaptic the graphical frontend for apt-get can also be run over ssh without X forwarding. I find it very usefull when updating my router box that only has a power cable and 2 network cables connected to it.
  • by chegosaurus ( 98703 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:25AM (#8608062) Homepage
    As do Solaris [] and HP-UX [].
  • by halsathome ( 118120 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:33AM (#8608078) Homepage
    I think you've got the mentality wrong.

    The architecture supporting YaST is (very simplified*) like this:

    1. Yast edtits the files under /etc/sysconfig.
    2. Yast runs /sbin/SuSEconfig which will run:
    3. /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig."whatever". These things read the /etc/syconfig files and produce app-specific configurations.

    "whatever" is things like apache, gdm2, tetex and loads of other stuff. Sometimes all of them gets run, but most will not actually do anything if nothing has changed. (md5 checksums ar kept for lots of things).

    Several of the files under /etc/sysconfig have variables to turn off parts of the SuSEconfig machinery, meaning that the actual config files of the apps will not be changed. That way you can make your own changes stick, while still using YaST for most things.

    You can add your own custom stuff to the /etc/sysconfig/* files, and add calls to custom stuff in the /sbin/conf.d/SuSEconfig.* scritps. Also when I've changed my /etc/ without turning off YaST processing of sendmail, SuSEconfig writes its version in a different file, allowing me to do a diff and maybe incorporate what I like in the actual These kinds of things will usually be disabled by an upgrade though, so it's best to keep custom stuff in separate files and just insert a "source" command in the stuff that belongs to YaST.

    * "very simplified" means e.g that some things under /etc/init.d read the /etc/sysconfig/* stuff directly, YaST may stop/restart a service that is about to have its config files changed, and that there are lots of nooks and crannies in YaST I haven't stumbled upon.

  • by raju ( 225812 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:42AM (#8608101) Homepage
    The Windows registry is nothing more than a glorified file system. It is in fact a set of files that gets loaded. But, there is one difference: permissions. One can assign full NT ACLs to registry keys. One cannot lock down a part of Apache httpd.conf file on Unix, for example. One would have to set file permission on the whole file which, in some cases, is too coarse-grained.

    NT did not bother too much about locking down the registry though the facilities were there. Sure, there were whole trees that were off-limits to mere mortals but they could have done a much better job. I hear that Windows XP does a decent job in this department.
  • by Trongy ( 64652 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:01AM (#8608161)
    Oh no! A 45 MB file, in an age of 300 GB hard drives! The horror! ;)

    You are missing the point. Storage space is not the only problems associated with the size. How long does it take to read the file?

  • by ssbljk ( 450611 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:05AM (#8608177) Homepage Journal
    YaST change files if it is said to it to change them, but it won't change manually configured files because it keeps track through MD5 sums of files, and instead of that it will save config to backup file so you can use it on your own.
    When you need manual config, most of config files that YaST use have ability to include other files, so you deal with your own modifications in another file and no need to change ones that YaST created.

    Nowdays YaST is very usefull so I'm switching most configs to use them from YaST because it saves me lot of time when dealing with lot of machines.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:53AM (#8608322)
    Wrong. Just use XFS and add things to the /etc/httpd/conf.d/ folder. (On Apache 2.0 at least).

    All the permissions you need.
  • Future! (Score:4, Informative)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2004 @08:19AM (#8608395)

    YaST is nice and makes a great foundation for configuration. Are we talking YaST and/or YaST2? But SaX2, the X11 configuration tool, has been exceptional in my experience.

    Anyone can configure a Linux machine these days, but few can get the X11 configuration working correctly.

    If linux is truely aiming for the Desktop, wouldn't it make sense to have X11 configuration realiable and easy?

    The real test now is coming into the configuration of peripheral devices more than the core OS and applications. Email and Web is not hard to do if you pay some attention to what you are doing.

    But getting USB, FireWire, printers, sound, video all working cleanly and consistently will be the real test. Many distributions do this well to different degrees of success, but as always you have to check your hardware carefully before you buy it. This peripheral support is still a factor holding back the adoption of Linux

    But consistent with the problem of obtaining a Desktop Linux is the problem with Multimedia. Multimedia support under free sucks really bad. SuSE ships with the lamest install of xine/mplayer I've ever experienced. And it's not just SuSE or Debian. It's the multimedia libraries and all the Intellectual Property bullshit. There's no innovation here folks, just territorial land grabbing.

    Maybe with the EU having the balls to make a judgement against Microsoft and the chance of them sticking with it in the vote today, there's a chance that some day we'll be able to watch DVD's on our Linux computers without the need to hide in closets.

    I think the release of YaST means this:

    YaST2 and the entire Linux community has developed to such a point that YaST no longer holds a leading edge against the competition to the extent that it used to. As such it would be a better investment if YaST was more freely available to evolve according to the OS environment as we (SuSE/Novell) concentrated our efforts on other tools that still provide a leading edge over the competition (YaST3?, SaX2..)

    This isn't to say in any way that YaST isn't still a valuable tool. But it might be a matter of, "We have a pretty good tool, lets give it back to the community.... Now that's done we can gather around another project more intensively."

    Like Anaconda.

    I wonder what Debian or Gentoo has to say... They need some help with this stuff, especially Gentoo.

  • Re:Future! (Score:3, Informative)

    by crusher-1 ( 302790 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @10:37AM (#8609333)
    "YaST is nice and makes a great foundation for configuration. Are we talking YaST and/or YaST2? But SaX2, the X11 configuration tool, has been exceptional in my experience."

    YaST (ver 1) is obsolete and no longer used. YaST2 is the "only" YaST that exists today (save those run fairly old versions of SuSE). If in a shell, when "yast" is called it is merely a symlink to /sbin/yast2, but in the ncurses form. Whereas calling "yast2" brings up a QT/gui version (unless in init 2 or 3).

  • Re:Good work Novell (Score:3, Informative)

    by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:41PM (#8613349) Homepage
    SuSE was one of the big GNU/Linux vendors, but they were slowly declining.

    I don't know where you got this from. SuSe's market share and profit margin have been increasingly steadily. They've never been in decline, and their sales numbers show that sometime in the next few years they have the potential to surpass Redhat.

    Probably due to the fact that YAST makes it easy even for the clueless to install Linux.


Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.