SUSE Linux Enterprise is designed for the enterprise. Part of what it means to be “Enterprise-ready” is to have “rock solid” components in the distribution which have been fully tested and can be supported. Unstable and unsupportable components/packages just won’t do. BUT… Every now and then, it’s necessary to run “the latest” version of a component of the distribution. Perhaps you have a new application which requires the latest java, or a new development library, etc. So you don’t want to have to wait until that “latest version” of the package gets fully tested and “officially supported”. You’ve got to have that new version now!

You could go to the source and compile your own package for SUSE Linux Enterprise – and while not difficult, it is still kind of a pain – and certainly a turn-off for many a new Linux user. A much better option is to simply visit the openSUSE Build Service and see if your desired package is already being built for SUSE Linux Enterprise. You’ll find builds for SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, -plus- several other Linux distributions as well… Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, … So save some time, and check to see if the package you need has already been built by looking here.

Want more info on the openSUSE Build Service, check out this good overview article and this blog entry. and of course the project site which includes other great info.