When enabling products such as server or desktop systems, vendors commonly provide to customers a handful of “packages” to be installed on the target OS. These packages can be anything from firmware updates, device drivers, and documentation that directly enable the hardware, to utilities and programs that enhance the user experience.
When providing packages to enable hardware products for use with SUSE Linux Enterprise products, the SUSE SolidDriver Program recommends delivering all packages for a given product, or even product family on a single medium so that customers have the opportunity to obtain from a single source everything that they require.
Driver Kit Add-ons
The medium of choice when providing bundled software is the add-On Product as described in the SUSE Linux Enterprise documentation:
“Add-on products are system extensions. You can install a third party add-on product or a special system extension of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (for example, a CD with support for additional languages or a CD with binary drivers). To install a new add-on, start YaST and select Software+Add-On Products. You can select various types of product media, like CD, FTP, USB mass storage devices (such as USB flash drives or disks) or a local directory. You can work also directly with ISO files. To add an add-on as ISO file media, select Local ISO Image then enter the Path to ISO Image. The Repository Name is arbitrary.”1
A Driver Kit is an add-on that contains kernel drivers to be installed on a given release of SUSE Linux Enterprise product. The driver kit add-on can be installed during the initial installation of the SUSE Enterprise product by checking Include Add-On Products from Separate Media on the Installation Mode screen or installed afterwards using the YaST2 Add-on Products module. For further information refer to the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Deployment Guide
Driver Kits Target Products
Proper preparation and documentation of driver kits is important for customer usability. The customer should be expected to know two things:
- Hardware product to be enabled
- SUSE Linux Enterprise product that is to be used with the hardware
Therefore, a driver kit should be documented and delivered based on the products it enables, rather than on the drivers it contains. It’s also important that a driver kit indicates the SUSE Linux Enterprise product that it’s designed to be installed on.
A driver kit that is documented as
Enables ACME ProServer S3000 server with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11
is much more useful to the end user than a driver kit described as
Provides updates to the igb and mpt2sas drivers
The names of drivers should not be of primary concern to the end user and the user should not need to figure out if these drivers apply to his product. In addition to proper description of the products that a driver kit enables, a list of drivers or other packages contained in the driver kit is useful as supplementary information.
It should assumed that the driver kit has been tested by the vendor for the products it’s indicated to work with.
These details go a long way toward usability and confidence for the end user and is another aspect of how the SUSE SolidDriver Program helps ensure the best user experience when using third party kernel modules with SUSE Linux Enterprise products.
Bootable Driver Kits
There are times when kernel drivers are required to boot a system in order to install the OS. There are even times when an updated kernel is required to boot a system. Since the bits contained in the SUSE Linux Enterprise product are frozen when released to customers, and do not get updated until the next service pack, the Bootable Driver Kit was developed by the SUSE SolidDriver Program to easily enable bringing up systems using updated kernels or kernel modules so that installation of the OS can be achieved.
A Bootable Driver Kit is an add-on product image that contains a boot loader section in addition to the standard driver kit add-on repository. The boot loader contains isolinux and UEFI loaders as well as a kernel and initrd containing the linuxrc2 program which in turn initiates the SUSE Linux Enterprise installation process. Only the components of this first stage of the installation boot process are contained on the bootable driver kit, which is used to kick-off the installation that then continues using the standard SUSE Linux Enterprise product media or repositories.
One of the other benefits that the bootable driver kit brings over the standard driver kit is that it primes the installation process by automatically adding the driver kit add-on to the selection of repositories used for installation. It can be designed to automatically install the additional packages that it provides or even provide user choice via patterns. This results in eliminating any extra steps that the end user for to do during the installation process to ensure that the packages provided by the driver kit get installed together with the OS. The installation of the driver it is seamless.