SUSE releases Service Pack 4 for Linux Enterprise 15

Update should help users combat software supply chain issues. openSUSE Leap 15.4 to follow a day later

The new version of SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) is compliant with version 4 of Google's SLSA framework, which should help users combat vulnerabilities such as Log4j and upstream JavaScript library issues.

The company's online conference, SUSECON, is under way, and the first big announcement was SLE 15 SP4, an incremental change to this relatively slow-moving, business-friendly distribution.

SLE 15 appeared in 2018, and the company puts out a new version about once a year. For its enterprise distro, it calls this a "service pack," but for the free distro it's just a simple point release.

Since the previous release last June, SLE 15 Service Pack 3 and openSUSE Leap 15.3, SUSE has synchronized the free Leap product with its enterprise version's codebase.

The new versions follow this model so SLE 15 SP4 and the free openSUSE Leap 15.4 are closely comparable, and according to the openSUSE roadmap, this should continue up to SLE 15 SP7.

At some point in that sequence, though, there will be a new major version, probably based on the company's Adaptable Linux Platform initiative. This may well emerge as SLE 16.

SLE "service packs" are new product releases, containing newer component versions, so the changes between SUSE SPs are much bigger than in Red Hat Enterprise Linux point releases. However, the relationship between SLE and openSUSE Leap is now broadly comparable to the former one between Red Hat's RHEL and CentOS Linux: the underlying codebase is the same, with the same major versions of the same products.

The free product, unburdened by corporate support contracts, contains a much bigger selection of components, complete with a choice of desktop environments and so forth.

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The SLE 15 SP4 release notes list what's new. As you might expect from what is effectively a point release of an enterprise distro, the changes are not radical. Whether that's connected with the departure of the former product manager to AlmaLinux creators CloudLinux is another question.

Both SLE and Leap 15.4 use kernel 5.14 and systemd version 249. Python 3.10 is now the default, but Python 2 support remains optional. It includes QEMU 6.1 and supports the latest AMD EPYC processors' Secure Enterprise Virtualization, including SEV-ES.

The desktop edition contains Gtk4 and GNOME 41. As Nvidia has now released open-source graphics drivers, the enterprise distro is able to include them, complete with support for Wayland and Nvidia's Bluefield 2 Data Processing Units.

It also adds the new Pipewire media server, although the release notes say: "Right now, pipewire is mainly used to provide support for screen sharing in the Wayland session. In the default installation, pipewire doesn't have sound support because it is still currently provided by pulseaudio." ®

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