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SQL Server on Linux, does it have Microsoft's full attention?

By Thom Andrews,

SQL Server on Linux has now been officially released for about 7 months, so it’s had a little time to now settle in and start to put its name out there. Personally, I think that providing a Linux version of SQL Server is a great move for Microsoft, and definitely helps them compete with other RDBMS that were already available on both Windows and Linux.

SQL Server on Linux still has a little way to go, though, with a lot of key areas still missing. Services, such as SSRS, SSIS and SSAS, aren’t yet available on Linux, meaning that if you do want these services you need to still need to use Windows. Alerts in the SQL Server Agent are another missing feature; something that I think is actually very important if you make a lot of use of scheduled tasks. I expect to see a lot of these features come along in a later version; maybe as soon as the next release (whenever that is). You also don’t have tools such as SSMS and Visual Studio/SSDT at your disposal on a non-Windows work environment. SOS (SQL Operations Studio) is available for Linux users, however, it’s still in Preview at the moment, and I feel there’s a little way to go before it can compete with SSMS (although Redgate Search is now available on it!).

Personally, I’ve been making use of SQL Server on Linux on Ubuntu, and I had quite a surprise earlier this month; SQL Server on Linux doesn’t support the latest LTS (Long Term Support) release of Ubuntu. Furthermore, it’s not just unsupported, at the moment it doesn’t work on the latest release.

This, in my eyes, is quite the shock. Ubuntu has had a very regular release pattern since 2006. A LTS version of the OS is released every 2 years (in April), and there are further non-LTS released every 6 months between each LTS release (in October and April). An LTS version of Ubuntu is supported for 5 years, whereas non-LTS are only supported for 9 months. When releasing SQL Server on Linux, Microsoft should have been well aware that the next LTS release was coming, and been in readiness for it. A CU (Cumulative Update) for SQL Server 2017 has been released every month since its release, so I would have expected one of these to have contained updates to cater for the new OS release. I wouldn’t, however, expect them to put a lot of effort into making sure it works on a non-LTS releases, due to the short support period they have. Ubuntu 17.10 was released at about the same time as SQL Server on Linux, and it didn’t work on that release “out of the box”, however, it wasn’t too difficult to get it going.

This does reflect poorly on Microsoft, and does give me pause for thought on considering a more to SQL Server on Linux. It makes me wonder how many resources and testing that are putting into the Linux distribution. Yes, they are supporting 3 different distributions (Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu, along with Docker), but you still expect them to be in readiness. At the time of me writing this article, there is currently no ETA on when it’ll be available. You can imagine how poorly received it would be, for example, if Oracle RDBMS didn’t work on Windows Server 2016 upon its release.

I do hope that SQL Server on Linux is going to improve, but people’s opinions are often based on first impressions. Those first impressions are going to be poor if your software doesn’t work on the latest supported version of the Operating System, or if you’ve release a product that only does some of the things it can normally do.

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