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Red Hat Software Businesses

Which Red Hat Should Be Worn in the Enterprise? 710

Posted by Cliff
from the for-those-who-like-to-wear-hats dept.
weatherbug asks: "I've recently been appointed as a member of a team to help determine the direction our organization is headed with Red Hat Linux. Currently we're using multiple versions from Red Hat 6.x through Advance Server 2.1. However, now that Red Hat has effectively separated their distributions into a 'consumer' (Red Hat 8,9, etc) and 'enterprise' (Red Hat Adv. Server 2.x, etc), we aren't sure which version we want to adopt. A Red Hat salesman recently told us that the 'consumer' version of Red Hat was mostly for hackers and hobbyists who weren't concerned about stability and wanted the most up-to-date software, while the 'enterprise' version would be more stable and have a five-year product lifetime. As a long time Linux system administrator, I feel that this is a sales tactic and that there really is no compelling reason for us to ever use the 'enterprise' version. After all, it is Linux and it is open source, and we have enough in-house talent to not need Red Hat support. Why would we ever need or care about a five-year product lifetime? Am I wrong, and if so, could you set us straight? We'd be interested to know what other large organizations have decided to do."
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Which Red Hat Should Be Worn in the Enterprise?

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  • by Binestar (28861) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:06PM (#6153779) Homepage
    Wearing a Red Shirt [scifi.com] while on the enterprise.

    Oh wait, nevermind...
    • On the Enterprise it's not an issue. However, when a member of a landing party.....

      But seriously, folks. It's Linux. Either it's Open Source and companies with expertise can admin and update it themselves, or you're paying somebody else to do that for you. And why pay Red Hat big bucks unless you need their expertise? Are they going to stop chasing bugs in the consumer division because of the obvious conflict of interest with their revenue stream selling support? Red Hat can either sell one or the ot
      • And why pay Red Hat big bucks unless you need their expertise?

        Agreed. Some do, some don't. But those who don't, shouldn't.

        Are they going to stop chasing bugs in the consumer division because of the obvious conflict of interest with their revenue stream selling support?

        Um, this has *got* to be a troll. First off, any company that doesn't chase and fix bugs should (and will) go out of business. Second, selling support if *not* about fixing bugs, it's about set up, maintenance, and *applying* bug fi
        • by Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:48PM (#6155987) Homepage
          "Um, this has *got* to be a troll. First off, any company that doesn't chase and fix bugs should (and will) go out of business."

          This is where you don't understand the differences between their "Enterprise" and "standard" editions...

          First of all, microsoft doesn't chase and fix bugs, and they are not out of business. In fact, they are the most profiting company in this half of the world (probably the whole world).

          Secondly, That is what RedHat means about a "5 year product life" It means that the "Enterprise" edition of their software will be supported for five years, as opposed to RedHat Linux 9.0's support which will last maybe 1.5 years if your lucky.

          The point is that if you are a hobbiest, you will want the latest and greatest version of linux. And you will be forced to upgrade to the latest and greatest version if you want support (Read: patches and updates to the software). If you want support (Patches and updates) for more than a typical hobbiest needs, then you need to go with the "Enterprise" version, which will be officially supported by redhat with updates and security patches for at minimum of 5 years.

          If you don't need the telephone support and just need updates and patches, I suggest bypassing redhat's services altogether and going with Debian Linux, which has simlar long term support networks in place by default.

          The bottom line is that if you go with the "enterprise" version, RedHat will train and maintain a technical support staff that is capeable of troubleshooting your version of Enterprise Linux for five years. They will also release security updates to your version for five years. If you don't go enterprise, no matter what kind of support services you need, your version of Redhat will be defunct (read: no more security updates on unsupported versions) in probably less than a year. This is not good for enterprise servers that don't need to be upgraded to the latest and buggiest software every 9 months.

          • by IdleTime (561841) on Monday June 09, 2003 @08:37PM (#6157034) Journal
            You would use the Enterprise Edition on servers at least if you want to run lets say an Oracle Database as it is not supported with the regular editions and you would not get any fixes for any problems if you run it on a non-enterprise edition.

            As for the workstations in the company, you can use whatever you want. The most important machines are the servers and you would want support from RH on those. The support includes bugfixes, drivers etc and for a stable environment for the next 5 years, just as if you had bought Solaris, HP-UX, AIX or any other enterprise UNIX flavour.
      • by rutledjw (447990) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:39PM (#6155211) Homepage
        There are a couple issues here you're not addressing. One is accountability. Yes, it's expertise, but it also relates to issues that come up in a 24x7 environment. Guaranteed uptime, someone to point the finger at, whatever you like to call it. While many companies don't need it, some do.

        Another is this, and quite honestly, it's important. Controlled upgrades. As of now, there are multiple upgrades almost DAILY for various packages. How many are needed, critical (security), and how many are trivial and one doesn't care? How do you control upgrades over a large number of systems? RH AS provides solutions for upgrading your system.

        FINALLY

        RH AS also has some components from the 2.5 kernel that are tested and stable within their kernel. An example is the new job scheduler which more efficiently utilizes hyper-threading Intel XEON CPUs.

        So it's a combination of expertise, services and some advanced kernel components. As for consumers, RH will support folks using the same model as with older versions -OR- you can use thier AS Workstation and they'll support that as well.

        It's a pretty good product combination of SW, solution and service. HOWEVER (caveat) for the cost, I think it's outrageous, BUT for a large environment (like where I work) it makes sense if one can buy in bulk. Even then it's high, but once SuSE comes out with something similar we'll get some better pricing...

        For right now, it's not windows and that's good enough for me.

    • by tekunokurato (531385) <jackphelps@gmail.com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:20PM (#6153989) Homepage
      I don't know if you wrote that or not, but it's the worst statistical analysis ever! They cite the number of crew who died and the percentage of those who wore red shirts, but they don't say how that relates to the total percentage of crewmembers who wear red shirts, or the total percentage of away team members who wear red shirts, or even what percentage of red shirt wearers actually die! It could be that everyone wears red shirts and the only people who don't happen to be the same 28 that died who weren't wearing red shirts, making red shirts have a lower correlation with death than any other type of shirt! Such irrelevant data...
    • by jeremy_hogan (587864) <jeremy DOT hogan AT hyperic DOT com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:24PM (#6155746) Homepage
      So for the canned answer go to:
      http://www.redhat.com/mktg/which_rhl/

      But most of the folks in this thread have summed it up just as well.

      1) If you need 5-7 yr lifecycle, extended product/tech support, ISV certification, go with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux line
      2) If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, need more recent bells and/or whistles, have a smaller deployment, with less dependance on third party solutions go with Red Hat Linux (or the vendor that you already know, etc)

      A few things I wanted to clarify:

      When the fellow mentions the "stability" trade off, that means stability of the API/ABI, libraries, etc... not how often it crashes or not.

      Also tech support and RHN are indeed available for both lines. There was a post that indicated that we took away RHN for his product. We limited the free/demo RHN product. While he could have purchased the full version, switching to BSD worked for him.

      Lastly, for those who have pointed out the gap we seem to have left between hobbyist and enterprise, we are looking into that as well. We are always looking to fill in the gaps in our offering.
      • by malfunct (120790) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:52PM (#6156055) Homepage
        For those that don't understand why a 5 to 7 year product cycle is important here is a small summary:

        Some companies have a large amount of (legally required) testing that goes into the selection and deployment of a new OS. This testing costs a great deal of time and money and so is done infrequently (thus the large number of institutions still running windows 3.1 and HUGE number still running nt4). These types of organizations need a garuntee from the distributor that the software will be supported for enough time to break even on the testing cost or they can't justify using the product. There are many contracts written between businesses and Microsoft garunteeing a product support lifetime and RedHat is wisely working on the same sort of situation to win over some of those businesses.

      • in a university (Score:3, Interesting)

        by danny (2658)
        I don't care about tech support or ISV certification, but I do want a version for which bugfixes and security patches will be available for more than a year.

        Advanced Server is too expensive - I work in a university. So I'm left with the choice between upgrading way more often than I'd like or switching to another distribution - too much work to contemplate at the moment, but Debian would be the choice if I did. (Of course if I stop using Red Hat, the Red Hat mirror I run for the university will go away..

  • by bytor4232 (304582) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:07PM (#6153797) Homepage Journal
    For now, our company has been deploying Red Hat 7.3 with all the latest bugfixes and security releases patched in. However, 7.3 is ending its product life at the end of this year, so we may have to "rethink" our strategy with using Red Hat.
    • by maharg (182366) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:15PM (#6153916) Homepage Journal
      We've created a minimal distro based on 7.2, with nothing that's not essential. You can optionally install RH's high availability tool "Pirahna" (snaffled from advanced server), but that's it. No X. Just enough stuff to admin the box. Everything else get's installed from source. The distro is easy to maintain; updates are downloaded by a cron job. Product End-of-life is worrying tho ....
  • by Captain Tenille (250795) <jeremy AT satanosphere DOT com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:07PM (#6153798) Homepage
    We started using FreeBSD. It's stable, doesn't cost a bundle, and isn't dependent on .rpm's. Just my thought.
    • by damiam (409504) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:15PM (#6153915)
      Seriously, if you don't need Redhat support and don't want their Enterprise features, why would you use Redhat on a server? *BSD or Debian would be more reliable, and Gentoo, LFS, or Debian would be much more customizable.
      • by stand (126023) <stan.dyck@g m a il.com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:32PM (#6154184) Homepage Journal
        Seriously, if you don't need Redhat support and don't want their Enterprise features, why would you use Redhat on a server? *BSD or Debian would be more reliable, and Gentoo, LFS, or Debian would be much more customizable.

        While I agree with this sentiment mostly, you have to realize that to the people that are paid to make these decisions (The Boss, the CIO, whatever) customizable == bad, at least as far as operating system decisions are concerned.

        It's impossible to know if you'll always have the expertise to maintain all your wonderful customizations and since, if the operating system can't be made to work, everything fails, it's extremely important that your os configuration be very transparent.

        Of course there are sacrifices in power, flexibility and so forth that you make when you choose this route, but to the CIO, ease of maintanence (not to mention replacability of maintenance staff) tends to trump those considerations.

        Redhat realizes this and I think this is the source of their success.

        • >> It's impossible to know if you'll always have the expertise to maintain all your wonderful customizations and since, if the operating system can't be made to work, everything fails, it's extremely important that your os configuration be very transparent.

          Hear, Hear!!

          I've had the experience of having someone else's highly customized creations dumped in my managerial lap after the customizer bolted for greener pastures. We had to bring in someone on contract to rebuild from scratch.

          Running the sl
  • benefits (Score:3, Informative)

    by frieked (187664) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:08PM (#6153803) Homepage Journal
    I think there's more to it than just some support and a 5 year lifetime... Enterprise addition will support many things that the other versions do not: 2 CPU's & massive amounts of memory for example [redhat.com]
    • Re:benefits Odd. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:14PM (#6153894) Homepage Journal
      Why would they charge more for SMP and Memory > 4 Gig? I could have sworn that SMP was available in the standard kernel and that the Memory > 4 was just a patch.
      Of you have the talent in house and do not need support then I would suggest Gentoo? Or maybe SuSE if you want commercial support.
      • Re:benefits Odd. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vladkrupin (44145) on Monday June 09, 2003 @06:30PM (#6155799) Homepage

        Why would they charge more for SMP and Memory > 4 Gig? I could have sworn that SMP was available in the standard kernel and that the Memory > 4 was just a patch.


        Why? Four reasons:
        1. If you can't figure out how to patch and recompile a kernel, you pay up.
        2. If you can, but your boss wants "Supported 24x7" written all over the OS of choice, you pay up.
        3. If neither of the above apply, but you have some spare cash, and just feel like helping RedHat out, you can pay too...

        There is nothing wrong with that that. In fact, I like that model. If you are (1) you pay the "stupidity tax"; in (2) you pay the "corporate assurance tax"; in (3) you are essentially doing a charity contribution (albeit, not tax-deductable). I find myself in any of the three categories once in a while. However, Redhat just came out with a new one -

        4. If you can't use Redhat9 because it's such a major pain-in-the-butt, you pay up for a decent distro (advanced server).

        <rant>
        It took me a couple days just to recompile all the things necessary because of the stupid Kerberos location (everything in /usr/kerberos) and OpenSSL dependency on it. That change alone broke (on source level) essentially every package out there that depends on OpenSSL and doesn't care about Kerberos. There are others
        </rant>

        It's not fun... Even if have the tools and the expertise in-house, it's just too painful to deal with. The time it took me to build a redhat9-based server multiplied by the $/hour my labor is worth probably was more expensive than buying an "Advanced Server" in the first place. (but on the other hand I am reading /. for the same $/hour right now, so I should probably just shut up)
    • Re:benefits (Score:5, Insightful)

      by photon317 (208409) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:23PM (#6154049)

      You can get both from standard source on kernel.org as well. I think what the original poster is *really* asking is "What features exist in RH AS 2.1 that are truly unique and worth the money, as opposed to stuff any good linux hacker could've thrown together on his own?". Redhat would do well to answer this.
    • Re:benefits (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AJWM (19027) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:25PM (#6154069) Homepage
      2 CPU's & massive amounts of memory for example

      Piffle. My $79.95 SuSE Pro 8.1 supports at least 2 CPUs and 64 GB memory out of the box.

      $cat /proc/version
      Linux version 2.4.19-64GB-SMP (root@SMP_X86.suse.de) (gcc version 3.2) #1 SMP Fri Sep 13 13:15:53 UTC 2002

      Not that I have 64 GB of memory installed, but I am running dual CPUs.
  • by aborchers (471342) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:08PM (#6153804) Homepage Journal
    When you said


    As a long time Linux system administrator, I feel that this is a sales tactic and that there really is no compelling reason for us to ever use the 'enterprise' version.


    • He answered his own question a second time:

      ....we have enough in-house talent to not need Red Hat....

    • by Zathrus (232140) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:24PM (#6154054) Homepage
      Not really... the obvious question that springs to my mind on reading this is, "If you have enough in house talent to not need RH support, why are you even using RH?". If you want to support the company, or feel that they have the best, most stable distribution, that's fine. If it's because management said you must have a supported OS, and Redhat fit that bill, then you don't have a choice -- you need to go with one of the server offerings.

      If you don't have a reason, then maybe you should rethink your reasoning for RH in the first place (I run RH9 at home, so I'm not anti-RH) and then go from there.

      My suspicion is that you're better off with one of the server versions because they do offer support. Sure, you can go without, but at that point I see little advantage of paying the additional money for RH in the first place.
    • It depends on how you answer the following questions:

      * Do you want to recompile each package every time you want to update it, or do you want to do rpm -i?

      * Do you want to backport source patches to your current version, and then install it, or do you want to do rpm -i?

      * Do you want to have to watch every mailing list for possible security problems on your software, or do you just want to look in the errata section of the RedHat web site?

      I think there's essentially five options:

      * Continually reinstall your servers to the latest RedHat

      * Buy Advanced Server

      * Form a community group dedicated to keeping up with older versions of RH - making the above changes as a group

      * Use a distro that already has a community group (i.e. - Debian)

      * Do it all yourself

      Or you could just leave your machine unpatched :)
      • * Do you want to recompile each package every time you want to update it, or do you want to do rpm -i?

        I hate to be the one to tell you this, but lots of open source programs have both RPMs and SRPMs available from their website. No need to wait on RedHat, and you can still use RPM.

        * Do you want to backport source patches to your current version, and then install it, or do you want to do rpm -i?

        This statement is just untrue. I ran RedHat 7.2 long after everyone else went to 7.3 and then to 8.0. The
  • Neither (Score:4, Funny)

    by Surak (18578) * <surakNO@SPAMmailblocks.com> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:08PM (#6153808) Homepage Journal
    You should choose neither! There is no Red Hat Advanced Server! They have taken all of their enterprise server capabilities from our product! We have sued the Red Hat Infadels out of existence! You will all be running SCO Unix soon!

    -- SCO Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf
    • Re:Neither (Score:4, Funny)

      by wfberg (24378) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:20PM (#6153987)

      You should choose neither! There is no Red Hat Advanced Server! They have taken all of their enterprise server capabilities from our product! We have sued the Red Hat Infadels out of existence! You will all be running SCO Unix soon!


      OK, who let loose the debian zealot? What the.. SCO? Who are they? Am I missing something?
  • If you don't care about using their patches and updated RPMs then you don't need 5 years of support. But if you don't want to have to compile the src on every server or do your own patching some other way then the "consumer" version is not thw way to go. They tend to stop releasing patched RPM's after a while.
    • <quote> But if you don't want to have to compile the src on every server...</quote>

      Why would you compile the source on every server?

      Seriously, this topic is pretty lame. The poster answers his own question, and the whole EOL issue is really a non-issue in open source.

      Who cares if a particular piece of software is no longer supported by a particular distro? You can get either an updated version from the authors, or a precompiled version from another distro.

      You can also use tools like rpm2tg [rutgers.edu]


  • Here you go :)) [freebsd.org]
  • go with RH 9 (Score:3, Informative)

    by adamruck (638131) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:10PM (#6153842)
    ive tried pretty much all of the RH versions, and I find that RH 9 is the best. I have never had a single crash once, ive never had any trouble with any of the configuration utilities, and ive never had to mess around with hardware issues(kernel modules and so on). It might just be that RH 9 suits the hardware im using very well, but I cant say the same things about any of the previous versions. Well thats my suggestion.
  • Why bother at all? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TCM (130219) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:10PM (#6153843)
    If you really have enough in-house talent to not need Red Hat support why bother with Red Hat on a commercial level at all? Just download one of their ISOs (that is possible, right?) - or any other distribution for that matter - and do it all yourself. Correct me if I'm wrong but the number one reason to actually pay for a Linux distribution is the support that comes with it, isn't it?
    • well.. you get some cool stickers as well

      not only do you get customer support, you know that OS your getting isn't infected with anything nasty, I try not to download from mirrors. I understand there is the md5sum and all, but its still nice to know that there is 0 percent chance of any bad data.
  • You could roll your own, ala Gentoo or LFS. Since you are bound to have many server or workstations that will need the same packages, you could have a machine(s) dedicated to creating the environment you want, and then distribute it from there. No need to compile on each machine. This will be streamlined, and potentially more secure. Of course this could be way more work than you are will to put in.
  • by cgenman (325138) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:11PM (#6153850) Homepage
    If you are, you may need support for many years for that OS version 9.x. There can be libraries that your application relies upon, but those older-version libraries might not be present in newer versions of the software that contain exploits you would want to patch, or features you might like to build around.

    Food for thought.

    And if you don't need Red Hat's service plan... why not just run Debian -> Stable?

    • by pergamon (4359) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:57PM (#6154479) Homepage
      I thought RedHat was the greatest thing in the world until I tried Debian. I now use Debian 'stable' on servers, 'testing' or 'unstable' on workstations/etc.

      It is hard to beat having security patches backported for keeping a system stable. (The other main reason I switched to Debian is that its the only distro that will install run on all the different hardware I use like PA-RISC, Alpha, Sparc{32,64}, and MIPS without jumping through any hoops).

      Before anyone jumps on me with a "this other distro is even better", let me clarify that I'm posting this only to say that I think there's a better option than RedHat. In particular, other great distros like Slack and Gentoo that don't have binary package management systems (for better or worse) aren't really comparable to RedHat. Mandrake, from the few days I've used it, just seemed like a flashier and even more bloated version of RedHat.

      The only downside I've found to using Debian over RedHat (or the other distros that are based on RedHat) is that some commercial apps are geared towards RedHat and only release RPMs. In particular, Compaq's Linux support software/drivers are almost exclusively in RPM format. Now 'alien' does indeed convert them to installable .debs for me, but hand tweaking is usually necessary.

      And yes, it is much easier to use 'apt-get' than dealing with the RHN to get 'up2date' working.
    • Debian (Score:4, Insightful)

      by conan_albrecht (446296) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154565)
      I have to concur with the posters here and throw my (non-red but debian) hat into the ring. I used many different distros (most RH based) until I grew up to Debian. It might be harder to install, but I don't believe anything else, including RH, can come close to Debian Stable. It is simply a whole level of stability higher than anything else in the Linux world.
  • Stability (Score:2, Informative)

    by dontkillme (577915)
    After using Redhat 8, and then redhat 9, I can definately say that their talk about stability/bleeding-edginess of their consumer versions is true so maybe the rest of what they're talking about is too. You will definately want to ensure that whatever version of Redhat you choose is compatible with whatever software you're using. For instance, I use a perlTK app at work, the version that came with Redhat 8 AND 9 was missing things and wouldn't run the app. CPAN also refused to work, in the end I had to use
  • Security Patches (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DreadSpoon (653424) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:11PM (#6153857) Journal
    The lifetime applies to security patches, which is a good point to consider - are your experts up to keeping usable RPMs ready for any and all security vulnerabilities releases, across a variety of RHL products?

    There's also application support to consider; the "hobbyist" version of RHL breaks binary compatibility ever other version these days, it seems. Depending on how much non-Free software you want to install, this could be a problem.

    Finally, the hobbyist RHL releases tend to have lots of instabilities. There are at least several glaringly obvious major problems in every release. I haven't used an Enterprise RHL, so I can't attest that they are any better; you may find with some experimentation tho that the Enterprise RHL releases are more stable and polished, and wont take as much of your experts' time in fixing dumb distro errors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:11PM (#6153858)
    Well, my org was using Red Hat 7.x, plus the $60/yr Red Hat Network stuff keeping everything up to date. When RH announced their end-of-life policy, that meant we had to upgrade a bunch of monitorless machines, we had to be physically present to do it (can't do it over the network), and we'd have to do it every year.

    Our solution?

    All machines now run FreeBSD and are kept up to date with CVSup. No more corporate BS. The saved $60/yr/machine covers the cost of an admin running "make buildworld" every now and then.

    Once you get BSD set up just right with your make.conf and stuff like that, it's so easy to keep up to date.

    I'd recommend this (or one of the Linux distros that use similar tech like Gentoo or Debian). Red Hat has made life difficult for anybody between "hobbyist" and "enterprise" .. which is a lot of folks.
  • ..and support linux. That way you are sure not going to miss out on anything that could be in the enterprise version.
  • If you see no reason to use enterprise, then don't. In that case, go with the least complex distro they have. At the very least, it might save you troubleshooting headaches later on. Perhaps put half on enterprise, in case you need the additional features, and half on the others.
  • by orev (71566) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:11PM (#6153861) Homepage
    Think about a mission critical system that needs to run 24x7. Every time you have to apply a patch or upgrade the system, that's downtime you can't afford.

    "Enterprise" servers are one's that just work and you don't have to mess with them. That is contrary to what most sysadmins like to do with systems - that is, mess with them constantly.
  • Versions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:11PM (#6153863)
    You answered your question yourself. If you don't want long-term Red Hat enterprise support, then go for the consumer releases. If you have enough expertise in-house to support it yourself, then great. Frankly, I would be surprised if any large organization would choose to do such a thing. Relying on hacker-experience in house is dangerous, unless you have a mammoth internal training program. The cost of enterprise-level support is far less than the cost of enterprise-level downtime. And that's not a sales pitch.

    Furthermore...do you ever hear of large companies buying commercial Unixes (AIX, HP-UX, Solaris) without support contracts? Do they ever say, "we have lots of people who know unix...why do we need support?" It's the exact same thing. When it comes to support, it really doesn't matter if it's Open Source or not. It's still a big complex product which can't be allowed to break.

    The advantage of Open Source comes in when you want a customized version of Red Hat deployed. You can rewrite and recompile the kernel and all applications to suit your needs. In that case, I doubt any external support organization would be able to help you.
  • It's really a matter of hardware and longer development cycles. For instance, it's hard to get HP FC HBA drivers for RH8/9, but drivers for RH AS 2.1 are available. This is true for a number of HBA vendors. The same can be said for other vendor provided drivers. They don't want to release binary-only modules for 15 revs of the kernel if they don't have to.

    The other side is the longer release cycle. A server doesn't need everything and the kitchen sync, but relies upon the viability of the core application

  • If you don't stick close to the stock RH packages (roll your own kernel or apache, etc), there would really be no reason to go with a support plan, etc. If you stick closely to the RH packages, roll your own RPMS etc, it may be helpful to go with Advanced Server or the like. One thing to consider is if your org will be the same 5-6 years down the road as it is today. If it is a nice small shop that doesn't change a lot, it may very well be. If it is a traditional corporate environment, your dept may be
  • In 5 years... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NathanE (3144) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:12PM (#6153867)
    I think one thing to keep in mind is what will your tech department look like in 5 years. Shoot, 5 years ago who would have guessed things would be like they are now? Say your staff is halved in 5 years for whatever reason. Will not having official support matter at that time? I'm not trying to advocate buying Advanced Server, but you should at least keep in mind that crazy things can happen over the course of 5 years.

    To some, the extra money is well worth the insurance you get.
  • by npietraniec (519210) <npietran@resistivCOUGARe.net minus cat> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:12PM (#6153869) Homepage
    For what my opinion it worth... We've got about 200 workstations (a decent enough size network) and we've got several RH servers... we standardize on every 3rd release (6.2, 7.2, and now 9) and don't have any problems. We've got redhat network subscriptions for updates and everything is rock solid. I see no need for "enterprise editions." Upgrading the servers every few years before end of life isn't that horrible for us... And there's usually compelling reasons like journaled file systems and new versions of ssh that justify it.

    But you need to evaluate your own needs obviously.
    • by vondo (303621) *
      Except now the end of life is just one year. Do you want to move to RH 10 on April 30, 2004? Then do it again every year after that. Redhat is targetting groups like you (and me). How to handle this has become a more complex issue recently.
  • It depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darthtuttle (448989) <meconlen@obfuscated.net> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:12PM (#6153873) Homepage
    It depends on how much you rely on RedHat after you install the product, and how much the company wants to continue to do that.

    First remember to think in terms of the company. While you and your fellow admins might be uber-gurus you might not be with the company forever. Will they find other slashdot reading uber-gurus to replace you, or will they be left with less capable people?

    Then consider what you do on your own. Do you install RPMs from RedHat, or do you "use the source"? Do you update your own kernel? What do you do if there's a security flaw or bug in a software package? Do you use the source or the RPM.

    RedHat offers an attractive model for companies who don't want to depend on having "Bob the admin" around and would rather depend on the idea that "RedHat" will be around (the former usually isn't there as long as is around.)

    Everyone company has a different culture and answer, those are some of the questions to consider.

    • Re:It depends (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digidave (259925)
      Think in terms of the company? Sorry, but CYA (cover your ass). If you can get a huge amount of "now value" out of your decisions and you know that it will increase your company's dependence on you, then go for it. It's not as if you're the only one who can maintain these systems, but you'd be giving someone of your skill a job rather than someone of lesser skill. This gives you more room for a promotion and/or raise.

      Do you think that's unethical? Show me a company that values its employees more than its o
  • by nyc_paladin (534862) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:13PM (#6153880)
    I know that if you have Oracle in your environment, Red Hat is going to push you to use Advance Server 2.1. Too be honest there is not really that much difference between the two except how they configured the kernel and advance server is specialized for clustering. Which you can do on your own. But if you are looking for support for products like Oracle or any other corporate solutions go with advance server. If you are just using it for email, web server, file server, etc (isn't linux wonderful) then stick with the "consumer version". It's cheaper.
    • by ces (119879)
      I know that if you have Oracle in your environment, Red Hat is going to push you to use Advance Server 2.1. Too be honest there is not really that much difference between the two except how they configured the kernel and advance server is specialized for clustering. Which you can do on your own. But if you are looking for support for products like Oracle or any other corporate solutions go with advance server. If you are just using it for email, web server, file server, etc (isn't linux wonderful) then sti
  • If you ever want to run an Itanium2 with Linux you'll need Redhat Advanced Server. And cough up the dough too. For both the machine and the software license. Intel did a deal with Redhat to give first shot at itanium2's for porting. And with an Itanium2 there is a lot of porting to be done.

    I'd personaly go with an opteron myself. You dont need to reorganize your software for the architecture so it will run efficiently. Also you are not tied to Intels linux compilers which are pretty poor quality for the i

  • Linux is about freedom of choice, why you ask about just 2 redhat flavors?

    If you want an "enterprise" distribution, well, I suppose that you want to run there certified software (like i.e. Oracle), and then you should see for what distributions that software is certified to choose from (for the Oracle example, probably will be RedHat Advanced Server and United Linux in general).

    If you don't meant to run certified software, and have knowledgable people there, well, probably most properly maintained dist

  • by Rimbo (139781) <rimbosity AT sbcglobal DOT net> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:17PM (#6153950) Homepage Journal
    Not every organization, large or otherwise, has the in-house talent to do their own open-source maintenance and support. Maybe they have most of their machines running Windows, maybe not.

    Beyond that, a lot of experienced tech executives, having been burned by a lack of support in the past, are not going to chance it without a service contract like the one Enterprise offers.

    The arguments for and against are like the arguments for and against buying insurance, because the support contract is a form of insurance. You will never convince me that the full coverage I pay for on my vehicle isn't worth it, because at the moment my car was stolen and totalled, I received more money back than I'd ever paid the insurance company. On the other hand, you'll never convince my girlfriend -- who drives an '83 Accord -- that anything other than the minimum liability insurance the law requires is necessary.

    We're both right, because our situations are different.

  • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:18PM (#6153963)
    This was recently discussed [beowulf.org] on the Beowulf list.
  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:18PM (#6153967) Homepage
    There is a significant difference between the correct stability/reliability tradeoff for a desktop/hobbyist operating system and a production server operating system.

    This difference is especially apparent with Linux distributions. A distribution intended for desktop use will, by nessisity, include unstable software and libraries so as to allow constantly-unstable software like media players to work. On the other hand, a server distribution will run tested, stable versions of everything.

    If Red Hat is actually claiming 5 year product lifetimes for their server products then it's probably worth getting them. That will allow you to not do a reinstall until your application needs a OS upgrade - instead of needing to reinstall because Red Hat no longer supports the old version.
  • Which do we use? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by matth (22742) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:18PM (#6153973) Homepage
    We have several servers running 7.3.. They run just fine. it's linux and really as long as you keep your apps and kernel up2date everything is fine. The only advantage I can see to upgrading to another version of RH is the apps that come along with it. So if the server is running RH7.3 with all patches and software upgrades on it.. I say let it run. In fact my OS of choice for servers is RH7.3 because I feel that anything above that is starting to become bloat ware. I just install 7.3.. do up2dates and customize to my liking. Has worked well so far.
  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:18PM (#6153974) Journal


    As one who works somewhere where the pointy haired idiots don't even want to hear the word Linux, I would kill to have your problems.

    Quit whining and pick one you lucky little bastard.

    • Re:GRRRRRRRR..... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by weave (48069) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:36PM (#6154243) Journal
      I would kill to have your problems.

      Not only do we run Redhat servers here, but my employer sent me away for redhat-run classes, I got to crash at the Mariott across the street even though the training site was only 30 miles away, ate steak dinner nightly, and got my RHCE, all at no charge to moi! :)

      /rub-it-in-mode

  • by gak313 (131789) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:19PM (#6153980)
    In my organization, we use Oracle applications (Collaboration Suite, iFiles, etc.), and Oracle will not support installations on any Linux distribution other than AS 2.1. The way that they package updates and installers makes it impossible to use anything else. My point is that you need to look at the requirements of any software you may be running before making a decision.
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:21PM (#6154003) Homepage Journal
    I think from an administration standpoint, you're right on. But you might want to look at it from a management perspective.

    What makes your boss feel more secure? Is your boss the kind to totally trust you and your judgement, or do they like to see some 'backup'?

    Also, would you like to be totally on your own, or would you like to be able to say "Know what? I'm sick of this problem!" and call up Red Hat support? This could be helpful in shifting blame away from yourself.

  • by T5 (308759) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:21PM (#6154010)
    I've been told straight out from the RH sales folks that they really couldn't care less about the "comsumer"/free as in beer version of RH. They don't believe that market penetration at the desktop level for general use is where they need to devote resources, therefore, they're going for the server and high-performance workstation market. Thus, we have the Enterprise AS/ES/WS products, with long-term support and more attention/quality focus. I for one like this idea of 5-year support cycles, but am worried about the increased costs, in particular at the workstation level.

    I'm in the same situation as the article poster. I'm running 6.2 up to AS as well, and am somewhat confused as to what I will do with my workstation users. There's little to no economic incentive to prefer Enterprise WS over WXP. RH 7.3 and 8.0 lose support at the end of this year, and I'm not sure that 9's support will last much beyond that. It seems that the "comsumer" grade products will have only about a year of support. And, with no "apt-get dist-upgrade" equivalent, I'd have to visit these boxes personally to perform upgrades. In some cases, that's impossible for me to do, as they're embedded all over the country in remote-sensing applications.
    • by pmz (462998) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:58PM (#6154489) Homepage
      I've been told straight out from the RH sales folks that they really couldn't care less about the "comsumer"/free as in beer version of RH. They don't believe that market penetration at the desktop level for general use is where they need to devote resources, therefore, they're going for the server and high-performance workstation market.

      A client-side monopoly coupled with incompatible and proprietary formats and protocols is the main reason Microsoft has any penetration in the server market.

      There are always two sides to client-server, and ignoring the client means potential customers can be expected to say things like "but Samba doesn't support Windows XP Professional Edition SP2 file sharing" or "this Outlook 2006 thingy no longer supports IMAP in favor of undocumented protocol XYZ".

      Companies like Red Hat, Apple, IBM, and Sun won't be able to stop bitching about Microsoft until they get MS' desktop market share under 50%. Without a "controlling stake", Microsoft just might be forced to play fairly, for once. Until then, Microsoft will remain the 200lb bully kicking sand into Red Hat's 98lb face.

      Fortunately, even big guys like Sun are developing desktops based on Linux for corporate users, and companies like Lindows are targeting home users. Let's hope they are successful.
  • Which to choose (Score:4, Informative)

    by uslinux.net (152591) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:26PM (#6154083) Homepage
    7.x - obsolete for business (EOL 6/30/03) 8.x - replaced by 9.x 9.x - good for desktops, at home or work, provided that *if* your company pays for Red Hat support, you don't expect to get any help. AS (Advanced Server) 2.1 - good for business, but being replaced shortly. AS - New upcoming version (3.0 or 2.2?) is the next step from AS 2.1. 8+ way CPU support, 16GB RAM, etc. ES - Business server version for small/mid sized businesses. 1 or 2 way CPU systems. WS - Business desktops. Basically, the AS, ES, and WS offer 5 year support. That probably doesn't matter to a home user, but to a business, it's good to know you can build a server and then only need to patch it for the next 5 years, without worrying about whether the next glibc upgrade will break your applications. You don't need to buy the 5 year support plan now, but if you have a problem in 6 months or a year and need extremely fast help, you probably won't get it with a "home user" release. What Red Hat is saying makes perfect sense. AS, ES, and WS will be basically the same system. WS will include desktop components that AS and ES don't need. AS will include kernels for beefier systems and will include clustering software - things ES users won't need. All three will be thoroughly tested and will provide a solid, unchanging (save for patches) target. Home users will still be able get the latest and greatest. As to your answer, if you're doing this for a business, go with AS, ES, and WS. The only reason you should be using Red Hat 9.x in a business is for your desktop if you're 1337 and want cutting edge software.
  • by molo (94384) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:27PM (#6154093) Journal
    We are running into this here at work. We've been deploying RH 6.2 workstations from the beginning (more than 2 years now). We wanted a standard software configuration and stability. Until March, we've been receiving RH 6.2 security updates from redhat. Now, RH isn't providing them any more.

    We are planning on upgrading to RH 9, but patch/fix support for that is only scheduled at a year! Where do we go from here? Yearly upgrades? There goes our stability model.

    I was told that RH's "Enterprise" workstation product only comes with an additional year of security fixes and support, coming in at 2 years. We really need something on the order of 3-5 years.. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    -molo
  • by digidave (259925) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:27PM (#6154098)
    There are a few ways of looking at it. The most simple being that Red Hat 9 et al are great for the desktop because they include the newest desktops and office apps without hassle. The AS edition is for the server where stability, lifecycle and support are more important.

    If you are running commercial apps on the server, then have a look at what they officially support. We have two Websphere 5 servers and IBM supports Red Hat 7.3 and Suse 8.1 Pro (I may be wrong on that Suse version) on the server and Red Hat 8 for a development system. In this case, we also want support from IBM, so using AS makes sense even though Websphere works fine on Red Hat 9, Debian, etc.

    The answer is really just a combination of what you're looking for. For a team of Linux experts who will update their own software, Red Hat is merely an installer. If you're going to update with RHN, then a long product lifecycle is important to keep your system secure.
  • by fizban (58094) <fizban@umich.edu> on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:29PM (#6154135) Homepage
    When someone has a problem with the server, do you want them calling you when you're on vacation, relaxing at home on the weekend, sleeping, etc., or would you rather have them call Red Hat support?
  • It's about support (Score:4, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:30PM (#6154143)
    If not from redhat then from third party vendors. I think that eventually people like Oracle, Peoplesoft, etc are going to support their software on RH AS exclusivly because they won't have to come out with a new version every couple of months but will instead have to follow the 3-4 current versions of AS. If you don't think you will need this kind of third party support, or will only need it for some of your servers then maybe split your shop, RH AS for those platforms that need to be more stable and less of moving targets, and the standard distro for webservers, whatever that can afford to be broken once in a while because it's tracking the bleeding edge.
  • SuSE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by panurge (573432) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:31PM (#6154159)
    Just to add to your indecision, look at SuSE Enterprise Server 8. Runs on just about everything, up to 32 processors/64GByte, costs around $750/year per server including maintenance. And SCO may have a hard time with SuSE.
  • by noda132 (531521) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:33PM (#6154196) Homepage

    I've never been a big fan of Red Hat. We replaced our Red Hat 6.2/7.0/7.1 servers here with Debian (some stable, some testing) and haven't looked back. There's something so comforting about never having to worry about versions and upgrades -- it's as if we've got infinite support.

    Plus, I've found IRC people (what I refer to as "REAL tech support") most helpful on debian-related channels. How many times have you called up Red Hat because you needed support? Google and mailing lists are probably a more effective method anyway.

    If you know your Linux, Debian is probably what you want. If not, there are several options besides Red Hat. Don't be afraid just because the name is different!

  • Advanced Server (Score:5, Informative)

    by irix (22687) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:41PM (#6154291) Journal

    You have to consider 2 things...

    1. RedHat 9 is only going to have 1 year of errata published for it.

    2. RedHat Advanced Server is going to be the target for a lot of Enterprise application vendors.

    For #1 - what are you going to do for errata after 1 year? Upgrade to RedHat 10? Find another source of binary patches, or hope that some other commercial entity decided to build them? Build them yourself? You need to figure this out

    For #2 - many application vendors like Oracle are aiming at RHAS, simply because the "commercial" 8/9/10... distros are a target that moves too quickly. I assume that others (Veritas, etc.) are in the same boat.

    My organization is small enough that people running Linux on their desktops take care of themselves and the Linux servers are few enough to be upgraded as needed. However, if your orgzanization is larger you need to consider what RHAS provides. I'd be interested in what people who have larger RH deployments are doing...

    • Re:Advanced Server (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alan Cox (27532)
      One thing I'd say about the 1 year support (which is true of way more than Red Hat if you look around) is that for a lot of the desktop stuff when you want the latest and greatest you might well be thinking "need to upgrade want cool new evolution want funky new KDE 4" within 12 months anyway.

      In hacker terms Red Hat Enterprise products are "boring". For some markets this has a huge appeal, for others it doesn't.
  • by vondo (303621) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:42PM (#6154302)
    So, I've seen various opinions on this, including one from Redhat. Why do I need a license for each machine running RH. Doesn't their software allow me to install one copy of Advanced (workstation/server/whatever) to any number of machines? Ok, so I can't contact their network from each machine to get updates and I get zero support, but what if I don't care? I've never needed support, and I'm used to updating RPMs by hand. So, why can't I just continue on like this?
  • by NoRefill (92509) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:43PM (#6154313)
    If you have the in house talent to provide your company with support and do your own upgrades, then what reason would you use red hat? Grab a free, unadulterated distribution, like Slackware, and do it from scratch.

    I think red hat's strategy in having "consumer" and "commercial" versions is pretty much what you stated that they rh salesman stated. "consumer" versions can have the latest and greatest, while the "commercial" versions can be slightly older, but stable, production proven versions. In any evolving software, the more time you can let people bang on software, the more stable it will prove to be. Also, more companies will target those stable versions than they will the bleeding edge stuff, unless they are forced to through a new kernel feature.
  • by gosand (234100) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:43PM (#6154314)
    Why on earth would you choose RedHat? Haven't you read this [bangroot.com]?
  • they're right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by halfelven (207781) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:51PM (#6154415)
    Yes, the salesman is correct. :-) (isn't that something that almost never happens?)
    The Red Hat Advanced Server is indeed the best choice for the enterprise. The consumer-grade Red Hat is interesting indeed, has nice features, but sometimes is just a bit too much into the cutting edge.
    I've run several times into issues with various pieces of software when running them on the consumer grade Red Hat. No, it wasn't because "Red Hat is buggy" :-) but because, for example, they backported some features from kernel-2.5 into the distribution kernel, thus triggering some weird stuff in the VM on systems with lotsa spawning processes from Perl, or they were early adopters of glibc-2.3, thus breaking some assumption some threading applications were making, etc. All that is fine on my home computer, it's not fine on the servers that pay my bills.
    If you're a small company and want to use the consumer grade Red Hat because it's cheaper, there are some tricks you can play. One of them and probably the most important, is to not start using it as soon as it gets out. Wait for a few months, i'll say at least three, then deploy it. This way, the most obvious bugs will get squashed out. Once i even deployed RH8.0 instead of RH9, because at the time SpamAssassin was not happy at all when running on 9.
    Now, Red Hat choose to shorten the support for older versions of their consumer grade distribution, therefore making it more difficult to apply my advice. So, use your best judgement.

    Overall, i'll say Red Hat has a three-layered approach to stability:
    1. They have the so-called the Rawhide distribution, which is their perpetual beta, from which a new consumer grade distribution emerges every 6 months.
    2. The consumer grade distribution, from which RH Advanced Server emerges every 2 years or something like that.
    3. Red Hat Advanced Server.

    IMO, the consumer grade distribution is a beta for RHAS, only they don't call it that way. ;-)
  • why not mandrake? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b17bmbr (608864) on Monday June 09, 2003 @04:56PM (#6154473)
    really. it's a graet desktop distro, and all the server goodies are there. same too of suse i guess, though i've never tried suse. they have done some nice work in their corporate edition and they have really nice gui interfaces, but you can easily do it all with vi and a term. in my class, i have a p3 933 with 512mb ram runnign 9.0, and it acts as a Xserver for 7 clients, runs ftp/http, has 4-5 ncp mounts at any one time, has 3-4 copies of OO.org and moz open at any one time, etc. plus, every where i go on campus i bring my old notebook, and bring up X remotely. amazes the hell outta people. when my students are in the lab, i'll have them share files via ftp and have more than 30 connections concurrently, and lots of other stuff. now, this is hardly "enterprise", but my uptime is over 150 days. i pound it really hard, and still no crash. none. seriously, drake is quite good.
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:01PM (#6154536) Journal
    "I feel that this is a sales tactic and that there really is no compelling reason for us to ever use the 'enterprise' version. After all, it is Linux and it is open source, and we have enough in-house talent to not need Red Hat support. Why would we ever need or care about a five-year product lifetime? Am I wrong, and if so, could you set us straight?"

    Well I'll try to set you straight without being patronising or snide about it.

    In an enterprise environment, a business is run on stability and predictability. Red Hat is free, which is fine, but how much money will your company pay to make sure that someone is there to take responsibility for but fixes over the next five years? I'll give you a hint--if you're a private, profit-making company and YOU are expected to fix the OS after a year, then get out now--you'll be living in hell for another year until your company goes under.

    As cliche'd as it is, companies buy solutions. I don't want to buy Red Hat v8 or 9 or SUSE whatever, or slackware or Windows XP or Solaris--I want to buy a system that does the job I give to it, and I want a vendor to back it for at least half a decade.

    If you're a professional company, don't even consider trying to 'do it yourself' with hobbiest level software. Get a conservative, supported package; and work with the vendor as much as possible. Don't waste time and money trying to go it alone.
  • by stanwirth (621074) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:02PM (#6154562)

    We switched from RedHat to SuSE [suse.com] several years ago.

    Our reasons for making the transition were:

    • SuSE's stable enterprise/server editions are far less expensive than RedHat's
    • DB2 UDB and Oracle are both Certified for SuSE enterprise server editions
    • More specialised sub-distros available if you don't feel like twiddling and paring down the full distro yourself.
    • I supported RH from 1997-1999 (IRIX, SunOS, Solaris, BSD 4.2 and 4.3 before that) My opinion is that the support database for SuSE is better than RH, and that SuSE's support is much, much better -- and not nearly as often required -- compared to SGI's or Sun Microsystems.
    • When we made the transition from RH to SuSE, SuSE was streets ahead of RH in security. While not entirely up-to-date, Marc Heuse's article [suse.com] is a succinct and readable yet technically comprehensive introduction.
    Areas in which RH and SuSE are roughly equal are:
    • While RH is the market leader in the US, SuSE is the market leader in the EU. So going with the Open Source market leader because that's where the best support and latest developments are going to come from doesn't give you an answer.
    • While Oracle is doing a lot of work directly with RH, IBM is doing a lot of work directly with SuSE. So going with the distro that has support from a large and highly skilled corporate because that's where the best support and latest developments are going to come from -- also doesn't give you an answer.
    • Both use RPM, so if you're used to doing RPM from the command line, there is simply no change. It's very rare that I run across an RPM or a source package built for RedHat that has even minor glitches on SuSE.

    As we're primarily an AS/400 development shop, with Linux just providing part of the infrastructure, it's been fortuitous that our choice, SuSE, has turned out to be the most stable distro for the AS/400 and PPC platforms.

    We dealt with no salesperson in either case. Just bought the disks and support packages we felt we needed, and based our judgement entirely on what versions of what were already available on the latest release. Possibly because the RH and SuSE distro cycles were out-of-synch with each other, the latest SuSE had the more recent patch levels when we made the transition. But every time I've checked, this seems to be the case.

  • Slashdot ignorance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jregel (39009) on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:29PM (#6155067) Homepage
    I'm surprised at the level of ignorance shown in some of these posts. Deploying Linux in the enterprise is different from installing it on your own machine. The company I work for has several Linux installs including 6.2, 7.2, 7.3 and 8.0. The rapid release cycle just doesn't work for us. We have enough things to do (such as running a business) to keep updating multiple servers to the latest release.

    The Red Hat Advanced Server product is just what we want. It is stable, well tested and has a long support life. The cost goes towards an annual support contract which removes the fear that Linux has no backup when there's problems. Knowing that pay for, commercial software (such as Oracle) and specific hardware models are certified for this platform makes life very easy. You need to think how some of our customers who are used to Sun or Microsoft feel about using a "toy" operating system. To them, the financial costs are not the issue, having a mature, stable and supported platform on which to run their applications is all that counts.

    We've standardised on Red Hat Advanced Server ES for our Linux customers, but we're still using 8.0 internally. We have enough UNIX experience to manage our own boxes, but for customers, Advanced Server is perfect.

    Red Hat may not be the most hardcore distribution, but it is the most respected in the business world. That's why we are happy to use and recommend it.
  • by Malor (3658) * on Monday June 09, 2003 @05:47PM (#6155312) Journal
    This isn't really a direct answer to your question; it started out as one, but it gradually morphed into "what distro should I use" instead of "what Redhat should I use." At this point it's only tangentially related to the original question, but I'll go ahead and post it anyway. It may not help you specifically, but other people reading it may benefit.

    ****
    I'm an RHCE (not an especially tough cert, btw, but someone who passes it is at least competent), but I don't overwhelmingly like their distro as a server. I should point out, however, that I have not run their Advanced Server, so I am unsure how valid my opinion is there. I have run quite a lot of RH boxes over the years; I stopped using their system around 7.0.

    I'm presently running a network of about 80 machines. Most of them are Debian, and are incredibly easy to manage remotely. We have a few remaining old RH boxes, and they're very difficult to deal with in comparison -- hard to administer, hard to patch, just a royal PITA.

    The support-contract option with RH can be a nice thing to have, but you say you have a lot of inhouse talent already, and Debian is very, very good as a server. I think it makes a rotten desktop client (personally I like Mandrake for that), but Debian stable is *extremely* stable, and Debian testing is just fine for most production servers. If you happen to want to run it as a desktop, you can use unstable for that, which is the bleeding-edge stuff that may break horribly.

    Debian's entire emphasis is on two things: stability, and being managed remotely. They do not casually break things; by the time it gets even to 'testing' it's usually very solid. Their distributed community is really, really good. It's a great example of just how good truly free software can be.

    It does, of course, have problems. My biggest gripe is probably that installation is always a new adventure. The installer is old, text-based, and not updated frequently. Getting it running on newer hardware can be a real pain, and once you have it running, you can run into weird dependency problems sometimes. (for awhile, as an example, when I did a base install, updated the source lines from 'stable' to 'testing', and then tried to install a recent kernel image, the install failed with a requirement for 'dash', but I couldn't install either dash or ash because both required ash! My solution was to drop back to stable, install ash [which had no dependency], and then switch back to testing. ) That particular problem may be gone, but every time I install a new batch of servers I run into a whole new batch of problems, be it unsupported hardware or what have you. I have never had a problem *once I have the server running*, but getting it up and stable in the first place is probably Debian's weakest point. RH has their wonderful Kickstart system, which is just lightyears better, one of the things I really, really like about their distro.

    The cost in switching from RH to Debian is probably not trivial. It took me probably six months to learn, and I'm still picking up new tricks and tips. But I believe you will see an excellent ROI, as it's amazingly easy to script updates across vast numbers of machines very quickly. It's just a cleaner design, and it's easier to work with remotely. You don't really have to worry about intentional obsolescence.... there are people out there who, with great care, have been running their Debian servers for 5+ years without reinstalling. The Debian teams react very, very quickly to security issues. And it's both free-as-in-speech and free-as-in-beer.

    RH, on the other hand, offers much better installation, and they have a custom version of the kernel that many people swear by. It's the best-supported of the Linux distros, and if you have a substantial investment in scripts and the RPM format, or if you need commercial application support (eg, Oracle) it's probably not worth switching. And it's easier to find people qualified in RH.

    So what's best? Purely up to you. I can tell you that I'm extremely happy with a combo of Debian and Mandrake.
  • by Raptor CK (10482) on Tuesday June 10, 2003 @01:38AM (#6158637) Journal
    If not, then get away from RedHat. Far FAR away.

    The main reason to move onto Red Hat Enterprise Linux is for Oracle support, as you simply won't get any under 7.x-9. If you're not dealing with ever calling up for support for either Oracle or RedHat itself, then why bother paying so much for Linux?

    However, the higher-ups won't be happy about giving up an external support resource. The only way around this is documentation, and lots of it. Relying on debian packages? Running a custom apt repository? Document your policies and stick to them. Don't just install some random Linux, make an in-house distro, and with it, the documentation needed to upgrade it. This isn't a toy for a teenager and his Pentium box, it's a corporate-grade Linux distro. No downtime, no compromises. They'll want you to be able to train staff quickly, and in the end, you *are* replaceable. Don't make it too hard on yourself.
  • by Pegasus (13291) on Tuesday June 10, 2003 @05:24AM (#6159265) Homepage
    We still run some redhat 5.x boxen in our datacenter. Many 6.x too. Recently, 7.2 and 7.3 prooved to be pretty reliable, too.

    Then came the Advanced Server thingie. I've had more problems with it than with any RedHat before, even had to fix kernel bugs to get my hardware to work properly. RedHat was aware of this particular probelm, but even with paid support, we only got 'fix in the nex errata' reply. So much for a support.

    It does not matter if you have rh AS, 7.3, debian, *bsd ... as long as you know a lot about it and you feel comfortable with it. Since i deployed AS on some critical servers, i find myself looking at debian and *bsd more and more...

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