Channels are a method of grouping software packages.
In SUSE Manager, channels are grouped into base and child channels, with base channels grouped by operating system type, version, and architecture, and child channels being compatible with their related base channel. When a client has been assigned to a base channel, it is only possible for that system to install the related child channels. Organizing channels in this way ensures that only compatible packages are installed on each system.
Software channels use repositories to provide packages. The channels mirror the repositories in SUSE Manager, and the package names and other data are stored in the SUSE Manager database. You can have any number of repositories associated with a channel. The software from those repositories can then be installed on clients by subscribing the client to the appropriate channel.
Clients can only be assigned to one base channel. The client can then install or update packages from the repositories associated with that base channel and any of its child channels.
SUSE Manager provides a number of vendor channels, which provide you everything you need to run SUSE Manager. SUSE Manager Administrators and Channel Administrators have channel management authority, which gives them the ability to create and manage their own custom channels. If you want to use your own packages in your environment, you can create custom channels. Custom channels can be used as a base channel, or you can associate them with a vendor base channel.
For more on creating custom channels, see administration:custom-channels.adoc.
When you subscribe to a vendor channel with a traditional client, the product package will automatically be installed. On Salt clients, the packages will be added to the package state, and you will need to apply the highstate to push the changes to your systems.