SLES for VMware – First Look

Last week VMware announced the availability of SLES for VMware, a world-class Linux distribution based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1.  The arrangement allows qualifying VMware vSphere customers to run an unlimited number of SLES virtual machines and receive all necessary patches and updates for free.  Technical support can optionally be purchased and provided by VMware Global Support Services (GSS).

The agreement also calls for VMware to begin using SLES for VMware as the base OS for virtual appliances.

Tour de SLES

Let’s take a look at how to get started.

Initial ISO boot menu:

Midway through the installation wizard, downloading latest patches:

Login screen with VMware branding:

SLES for VMware default desktop:

Parting Thoughts

I’m excited about this new arrangement and have recently started using SLES for some internal projects with no loss of productivity, having come from a Red Hat background.

In case you are wondering why VMware did not choose another distribution, such as Ubuntu, it all came down to support for enterprise applications.  SLES is certified by more ISVs than any other Linux distribution, so customers can rest assured knowing that all critical workloads — CRM, database, middleware, and more — are all fully supported for production.

For more information, please review the FAQ.

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11 Responses to SLES for VMware – First Look

  1. Neil says:

    Nice article.

    As an existing SLES11 SP1 user in the enterprise I was very impressed with VMware’s decision to go with SLES. The problem I have is that vSphere 4.0U2 and 4.1 do not come with binary kernel modules in their VMtools packages, which means installing VMtools from the ESXi host requires a compiler and kernel source. Not really what you want for production servers. It seem VMware do not fully support SLES11 SP1 yet.

    • Eric Gray says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting. At first I was going to point out that VMware has Operating System Specific Packages (OSPs) for SLES 11 SP1, but then I clicked over to your blog and learned that you were well aware of these repositories for VMware Tools.

      Sorry to hear that you had to endure some internal battles to switch back and forth between OSPs and vSphere-bundled Tools. Not sure what else to say at this point, but you should be assured that VMware supports SLES, and my view is that support will be continually optimized due to this new arrangement.

  2. Sketchy says:

    Would have loved for them to choose CentOS or, on the Debian side, Ubuntu LTS. SLES, and it’s opensourced brother can be totally frustrating at times. They do things different in their distribution that just makes me shake my head. Totally frustrating. And I’d agree with the other post about the VMWare tools issue.

    • roeland says:

      I seriously am wondering what you are referencing to.

      What are your frustrations I’d ask?

      you can mail me at roeland at if you wish.

  3. Pingback: SLES for VMware and VMware Tools |

  4. John Laur says:


    Digging up an old post here I know — but is it correct that the SLES benefit does not apply to existing VMware customers with active SnS on enterprise products? We are being told the only way to receive the benefit is to buy new licensing; yet due to the ever-increasing capacity of current hardware, we are actually running vSphere on FEWER cpu’s than we have licensed. We are also being told there is not a way to buy SLES for VMware separately. What gives?

    SLES for VMware might be a great product, but if no existing customers can use it, it seems pretty useless, don’t you think?

  5. roeland says:

    It’s my understanding that you need a single license for the hardware it runs on. So if you run 30 instances of SLES in VMware on a single ESX host, you need one single license. (RH can’t beat that).

    So the question is — can you reuse a license or not?

  6. John Laur says:

    Well, the terms of the program aren’t really clear; it appears that once you have SLES for vmware you should be entitled to run an unlimited number of VMs on any host that has active SnS. But then there is some restriction that the only way to obtain entitlement is to purchase a product after June 9, 2010 which doesn’t make much sense. What are existing customers supposed to do?

    According to the same document, they are supposed to contact VMware sales. Sales unfortunately only seems able to copy/paste from the terms document or forward you to vi-hotline who does the same thing after a series of escalations. According to them, there are no SKUs for SLES licensing; only for SLES support.

    I soft of wonder if the whole program wasn’t created so that VMware could convince a couple of large customers to move SAP to virtual machines: forget about the regular guy wanting to use it. I am pretty sure if we were more than a 28-CPU customer we’d be getting a bit different response.

  7. Hi Eric, I would like to ask about SLES activation key, if I run SLES on bare metal vs virtual machine should I buy different subscription / activation key or is it the same? thanks

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