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Linux Business

Businesses Choosing "Community" Linux Distros 149

Posted by kdawson
from the dropping-the-training-wheels dept.
An anonymous reader sends along a PCWorld recap of a new study by the 451 Group, which claims that business use of 'community' Linux distributions is on the rise — distros like Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian, as opposed to "corporate" packages like RHEL and Suse. The trend is most evident in Europe. The article points out examples in Sweden and Germany, and cites growing in-house expertise with Linux as one factor helping enterprises get comfortable choosing Linux distros without commercial support. Interestingly, the Swedish company mentioned, Blocket.se, has made a one-off support arrangement with their hardware vendor HP: "HP is really providing device driver and utility support it uses for customers running RHEL, but because the two distributions are binary-compatible, that support approach works just fine for CentOS. Blocket relies on its own engineers, systems administration, and software development to get its applications running on Linux. "
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Businesses Choosing "Community" Linux Distros

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  • by Night64 (1175319) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:05AM (#24829281)
    In Brazil, some times companies use Debian as their main SO, and hire their own support.
    • Or the user is your own support, like me (using slackware on work)
    • by monsul (1342167) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:23AM (#24829393) Homepage

      In Brazil, some times companies use Debian as their main SO, and hire their own support.

      I must confess I have no idea how much "enterprise" distro charge for support, but I think that if companies are starting to use their own support, it must not be cheap. Maybe this should send a message to RH and company

      • by erroneus (253617) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:35AM (#24829455) Homepage

        Part of the problem isn't just the cost, but what they will support. I have found in the past that reading and asking questions on forums is more helpful than waiting on the phone for a RHEL support person to tell me that the configuration I seek support for isn't supported. A lot of businesses are comfortable spending money for a support contract, but when they find the support lacking, they have to decide for themselves if it is worthwhile.

        I worry about reports like these because while I'm a CentOS user, I realized that I am somewhat riding on the coat tails of RedHat's development efforts...actually, now it is RedHat/Fedora-Community development but still. What if this trend were to continue resulting in the end of RedHat? I would really rather not switch distros. I more or less started with RedHat (even though my first install was Slack) and I have learned a lot from it. I have existed within a RedHat/Fedora/CentOS environment all this time. Switching could be a pain.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          As someone who's juggling OpenSUSE, Fedora, Gentoo, Ubuntu, Windows, and a few other boutique OSes, I can tell you for a fact that's not something you should worry about unless you hand tweak configuration files and have your /etc tree memorized. Anything short of that and migrating between distros will take you a month or two tops (assuming you're actively investing time learning the layout of the various administrative tools/menus.)

          Quite frankly the configuration tools on redhat have changed quite a bit j

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by houghi (78078)

          If you think RedHat is great at what it does, put your money where your mouth is. It is not that there is a lack of distributions.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by IDtheTarget (1055608)

            If Red Hat had a more reasonable price structure, they may get more revenue.

            In my civilian job we use both RedHat and CentOS servers. Because we can't afford the RedHat fees for all of the servers on which we use linux, we pay RedHat for three "production" servers, and use CentOS for all of our "development" servers.

            I'd rather pay RedHat for all of them, but considering that I always get better (and faster) support from the various forums and email lists than I do from RedHat (I get so TIRED of waiting on

        • by blhack (921171) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:28AM (#24831731)

          Admitted noob question:

          What benefits does a Linux like CentOS offer over something like OpenBSD? I used to be a strong Linux supported, but recently have started using OpenBSD everywhere I can. Ports is good, as good as any other package manager I have ever seen, the install is VERY simple, package availability is there...

          Is there something that I'm missing that makes the Linuxes so much better than the BSDs? They definitely seem to be more popular.

          • by erroneus (253617)

            Having never used a BSD, I wouldn't know. But are there things present to support all the hardware out there? Recently, this has been the case for Linux hardware support. So I can load Fedora on my laptop and play games with 3D graphics with my nVidia card -- does that exist for BSD? If so, I might buy another hard drive and give it a try.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by RCL (891376)
              You may try FreeBSD (if you are familiar with Unix) or DesktopBSD / PC-BSD (if your Unix journey started with Ubuntu). BSD are actually quite indistinguishable from Linux if everything you use is X applications.

              The nice thing about BSDs is that they can be shipped with binary and other non-GPL kernel modules installed by default (because they use BSD license). The bad thing about BSDs is that video hardware support is poor (only FreeBSD boasts good 3D performance when using NVidia proprietary drivers - bu
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by stupido (1353737)

            The main Linux distro advantages I see:
            1) fully "packetized" distribution. I haven't checked *BSD in a couple of years, but you could not upgrade just about anything as a package. The arbitrary distinction between the OS and ports does not exist in linux distros.
            2) better hardware support outside the pure-server world. Even in the server world, you get Intel to write Linux drivers for their hardware, but no so for *BSD. Dunno if this makes much of a difference.
            3) you get a few non-FOSS apps like acrobat, fl

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by styrotech (136124)

            As another OpenBSD fan, there are still things Linux does better IMO.

            Linux still performs better - especially on todays multicore systems.

            As secure as the core of OpenBSD is, it is only the core systems security that is looked after by the OpenBSD team. Unless things have changed recently (corrections welcome), security updates for 3rd party apps you've installed are your responsibility with OpenBSD.

            Rebuilding for security patches is tedious compared to letting the package manager just download binary updat

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            I use both and I can tell you that Linux is more widely supported. You wouldn't see much difference between BSD and Linux if you're building a router, DNS server, etc, but when you start getting fancy, BSD becomes cumbersome. Imagine a laptop which runs Quake, webcam, chat with MSN, skype, etc, plus all the usual office junk and multimedia features(Linux wins here). Or try a server with some LAMPP, streaming audio/video, and some funky LDAP authentication backend. Linux is usually a lot eaiser to get runnin
      • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:18AM (#24829759)

        I must confess I have no idea how much "enterprise" distro charge for support, but I think that if companies are starting to use their own support, it must not be cheap. Maybe this should send a message to RH and company

        Depends on the context. If - as we do - you only use RHEL because you need a certified platform for some other obscenely expensive piece of software (eg: Oracle), then the cost of RH's licensing is basically irrelevant.

        • by morcego (260031)

          Parent comment is correct.

          Certification (Oracle, Dell, HPQ etc) is one of the major reasons to choose RHEL. Otherwise, I just use CentOS.

      • by Night64 (1175319) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:10AM (#24830161)
        I don't know what the prices are around the world, but in Brazil SuSe support prices are not particulary cheap. US$ 5000,00 per machine, on a 3-year contract with priority support, 24x7.

        In Brazil, some times companies use Debian as their main SO, and hire their own support.

        I must confess I have no idea how much "enterprise" distro charge for support, but I think that if companies are starting to use their own support, it must not be cheap. Maybe this should send a message to RH and company

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Selling support for an in-progress operating system seems like a diminishing business. If the operating system is being developed correctly, then the further along you get the less support you need. My recent ubuntu install was buttery smooth, without even the usual hassles experimenting with wireless chip drivers.

        The ultimate goal should be an operating system that needs no support at all. But then how would Red Hat et al survive as a business?

  • by eneville (745111)
    At the ISP I worked for, we used a mixture of Debian, OpenBSD and Windows. This was mainly for network tools. Generally there's little point in the "enterprise" distros since anyone who chooses their hardware wisely shouldn't really need that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually, there are plenty of reasons to choose a supported distro, even at a purely technical institution. For many organizations, it doesn't make sense to devote time or personnel to debugging system problems, and it often costs more to have an IT department handle everything than to have someone from Red Hat or Novell solve the problem. It is not just a question of hardware, it is also a question of software bugs, configuration problems, etc. Yes, any competent IT shop could take care of this, but tha
      • by vlm (69642) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:24AM (#24830295)

        I call astroturf on the above...

        Actually, there are plenty of reasons to choose a supported distro, even at a purely technical institution. For many organizations, it doesn't make sense to devote time or personnel to debugging system problems,

        Looking at the cost of labor, when you're working with low end stuff, it's usually cheaper to replace the hardware with something that is supported than waste labor time. When working with high end stuff, someone's job is/was on the line when they specified the equipment, so presumably they got it right due to careful research. It's a good question if there is a middle ground anymore or if that has been overlapped and eliminated.

        and it often costs more to have an IT department handle everything than to have someone from Red Hat or Novell solve the problem

        Usually the more people you involve the longer it takes. Realize that it is extremely unlikely that RHEL or Novell has hired author of the software that is having a problem, and probably not likely they have anyone with more experience than your own guys in your field of endeavor. It is also highly unlikely that you are having a problem with the distribution mechanism itself (bug in dpkg or apt-get or whatever). So, what it boils down to, is it more efficient for someone familiar with your local system to use google to find the answer, or to have your guys spend extra time explaining the problem to someone else, who knows nothing about your system, so they can use google to find the answer?

        Or did you think the most successful financial companies in the world made an unplanned decision

        Considering that virtually all financial companies are either bankrupt or going bankrupt due to fraud and stupidity, looking at them as a role model seems about a decade out of date.

        Virtually all decisions made to buy support contracts are either:

        1) Out of touch "pre google era" PHB decision

        2) No internal skillset for something that is business critical, terrible is better than nothing at all.

        3) Cascading interlocking licenses and requirements (you "need" oracle, which requires RHEL, so you "need" a contract) That is a bad economic structure which will eventually be worked around or eliminated.

        • You missed the part where I noted that there is more to it than hardware. I would suspect that Red Hat rarely gets support calls resulting from problems in configuring drivers. Really, Red Hat and Novell are spending their time solving problems like, "How do we work around this bug in ksh? Are you going to submit a fix to that?" rather than, "This network card isn't working." In fact, Red Hat publishes a list of supported hardware, and presumably getting support from them for hardware not on that list i
          • by vlm (69642)

            You missed the part where I noted that there is more to it than hardware. I would suspect that Red Hat rarely gets support calls resulting from problems in configuring drivers. Really, Red Hat and Novell are spending their time solving problems like, "How do we work around this bug in ksh? Are you going to submit a fix to that?" rather than, "This network card isn't working."

            No, I got that. Ironically RHEL would be far more useful at fixing the driver than fixing ksh, assuming the (numerous?) authors of ksh don't work at RH and assuming that their support group understands and can communicate how their developer group implemented their RH specific driver modules and module options.

            Here's your choices:

            1) Google for ksh and your error message, and either work around or fix ksh, depending on which solution better fits YOUR business requirements. Won't take long.

            -or-

            2) Spend quit

            • Wow I don't know where to even begin. Red Hat's consultants might not know what ksh is? I guess you've never dealt with them before, either. Not only is there an existing bug reporting system (modified bugzilla), but they routinely send people to work on site for their larger customers, and those people are exposed to all sorts of sensitive documents. Red Hat is required by law to protect the privacy of their customers; I would sooner trust them than I would some random software developer who wrote a pa
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jorophose (1062218)

        I work in small office.

        We can't fit an IT staff member, let alone an entire IT department. There's a fellow doing "IT" but he works with our office and a few others that we work closely with.

        Although shit never hits the fan (but I'm waiting for it any moment because of bad decision making by PHBs) and I'm able to resolve a lot of minor problems (they're a windows shop so sadly my experience is just helpful in trying to find a solution by exploring) I do believe a paid support contract would be worth it.

        But

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I should have been more clear, I was referring to large IT shops that must guarantee 24x7 availability for thousands or even millions of users, such as the firms down on Wall Street. Trying to accomplish this in-house is often more expensive for these companies than paid support from Red Hat or Novell.
        • Inquire at the placement office of your local junior college the next time your office has an opening of any kind.

          You'll find that there are a number or folks with a serious nerd factor who also are good at office admin, driving trucks, or warehouse work who BTW also can admin your Windows server, organize a solid backup regimen and build you a good corporate Golden Image with reasonable security. They'd be glad to dig whatever ditch you've got to dig as long as their title was "IT Administrator," or if y

      • Reboot your computer. Now uninstall conflicting applications. Now reinstall the OS from scratch to isolate the problem. Replace all the hardware. Oh! It's clearly the other vendor's fault.

        Because of the content of your post I'm guessing at that you've had a "support" call go differently than this at least once in your life. I have to ask: what are you doing that I'm not? No matter what HW+OS+App I have problems with, that's the inevitable response from the "support" if I can even get somebody that s

  • by Local Loop (55555) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:16AM (#24829345)

    How is Ubuntu not a corporate distribution? There is a
    corporation developing and releasing that
    product, even if it is loosely based on Debian.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's best known for it's community. It's not unusual for a new member of the Linux community to be directed to Ubuntu's forums or wiki. While it's possible to get official support a la RHEL, many (I expect the majority?) of it's users treat it as though it's a "Community" Linux Distro. I sure do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Icarium (1109647)

      Eh? They're referring to the target user base, not whether the distro in question is developed by a corporation or not.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Community is a misnomer, more like "free as in beer" distros. I think calling CentOS a "community distro" is a stretch too, isn't a recompilation of RHEL that explicitly make no functionality or patches themselves anything like a community? I think it's the Ret Hat Linux story all over again, it was very popular because it was gratis and Red Hat killed it in favor of products they could make money on (no, Fedora is not a replacement for what RHL was). We'll see what happens this time around.

    • The point is that businesses don't buy an "enterprise" version of Ubuntu for $800/yr to get support. The Canonical company sells professional support services and training a la carte.

    • by sloanster (213766) <<moc.emarhpniam> <ta> <nafgnir>> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:13PM (#24833081) Journal

      Yes, ubuntu server is indeed every bit as solid as RHEL or SLES, and enterprise support contracts are available from canonical. We're a SLES shop, but we've set up some ubuntu servers and are impressed with the distro. We'd love to roll out ubuntu on a large scale but the chief stumbling block is not any fault of ubuntu, but our old nemesis, the old boy network again.

      Oracle is the chief obstacle here, as they are pushing their own redhat clone (or redhat proper), barely tolerate suse, and dismiss everything else. They quite arrogantly (you had to be there) remarked that they had "no plans" to offer oracle for ubuntu. While annoyed at their arrogance, I do trust that time and market conditions will have them singing a different tune. I remember oracle telling me in 1998 that they don't support linux, and that I should try sco. muahaha.

      Even so, we're looking at using ubuntu for general infrastructure roles - smtp, ftp, ntp, dns, etc. On the oracle front, our national manager is just angry enough to look very hard at using postgres or db2 or anything but oracle.

  • by haeger (85819) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:18AM (#24829359)

    This is how things are supposed to work with linux, isn't it? You support your local economy by using local people, instead of sending money away to whereever the HQ happens to be.

    I thought this was one of the strengths with linux. Let's see if RH or SUSE has a business model that works according to this reality.

    .haeger

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wrook (134116)

      I agree completely. What RH and SUSE and Canonical, etc, etc now need to do is convince companies that they can do the customization job cheaper than the company's in house staff. Every installation needs planning, modification and execution. Why not choose experts who do it every day?

      The problem the big distros face is that they have been used to providing crappy proprietary style hand-holding support rather than giving a true service. If you read what Michael Teimann has written about his experience,

    • Who said that is how things are supposed to work? Last I checked, the way things were supposed to work is that you are entitled to a copy of the source code for your software, which you could redistribute under the same license that you received. Where did local economies fit into that?
    • by houghi (78078) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:20AM (#24829767)

      Let's see if RH or SUSE has a business model that works according to this reality.

      Not sure about RedHat, but Novell (with openSUSE) activaly sponsors openSUSE and has made it extremely easy to make an openSUSE basded distro [opensuse.org]

      Almost all other tools are included as well, including the Build service [opensuse.org] which can be downloaded and is used to make the distributions from scratch.

      So I would say they are at least very much aware of the reality. Also do not forget that these companies invest people and time in thinks like the kernel, KDE, GNOME and other OSS and Linux related projects.

      It will not be the downfall of Linux if those companies go away, but it will leave a serious impact when the developers who are paid to work on Linux won't be doing that anymore.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      More precisely, with OSS you are supposed to get enough information to manage your own support.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      That depends, companies like RedHat have been major contributors to all sorts of open source projects. If companies are hiring their own help, what are the chances that they're going to invest in the linux community the way RedHat does? If they're just using open source stuff in house, they're not distributing any changes, so they don't have to give anyone the source.

      I'm not sure it's a bad thing exactly, you're right, this is why the licenses were written that way. Maybe it will just encourage competiti

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by init100 (915886)

        If they're just using open source stuff in house, they're not distributing any changes, so they don't have to give anyone the source.

        In my experience, this is likely wrong, at least for bug fixes. Enterprises don't want to maintain separate trees for applications not part of their core business just for fixing a bug, so sending the bug fix to the developers is the sane thing to do, and at least this is what my employers have done.

    • As we are constantly reminded by the GPL zealots, the only "moral" way to make money from your software is to release it under the GPL for free and then charge for support. The article gives a fine example, IMO, why this business plan will fail and if anyone makes money from your GPL software, it would not be you.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:19AM (#24829363) Homepage

    What I'm seeing across Europe is a growing use of not ABW (Anything but Windows) but WIW (What I Want). So developers are using Linux, and supporting it themselves, and execs are using Macs. A very common pattern is to see the "standard" corporate image run inside a virtual machine which gives access to the corporate email and other MS apps while the user spends lots of their time in the native machine doing their work. As a way to do "home working" this also works well as it means the corporate contamination of your home machine is limited to just the virtual image.

    With more and more things being browser surfaced the need to have an MS box is reducing and people are choosing to use what they want and support it themselves. The corporate desktop therefore becomes virtual.

    Personally I've a Linux laptop for Dev and a Mac OSX for the rest of my work, the Mac runs a windows VM for my corporate access.

    This isn't a big religious thing its just that it works.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by jcn (55250)

      What I'm seeing across Europe is a growing use of not ABW (Anything but Windows) but WIW (What I Want).

      I wonder, how does one observe the subtle difference between these?

      • What I'm seeing across Europe...

        The real question is how is he seeing across Europe?

        That does however answer the question - do Linux developers these days have big egos? (said half-jokingly as I have also developed some stuff in Linux)

      • by gparent (1242548)
        It's rather obvious.

        Anything but Windows is anything but Windows.

        What I want is what you want, which might be windows.

        Seriously, you couldn't figure that one out?
    • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:11AM (#24829689) Homepage

      So developers are using Linux, and supporting it themselves, and execs are using Macs.

      I brought Ubuntu with me on day one on the new job. It's getting a warm reception. I tried suggesting Macs for the other execs and sales staff but they didn't want them. Some of the sales people want to stay with their Windows laptops, which is fine, we expected to support those anyway. The other execs surprised me by opting to move to Linux instead, even our CEO. I thought they'd be more amped about getting Macbooks, but no one really wanted one. That was a surprise.

      For some of the older IBM laptops we're experimenting with PuppyLinux. Seeing if we can get some more mileage out of them. But Ubuntu is getting a warm reception. Even caught one of the staff borging the Windows box in the flex work area with a live CD. Hiring hasn't been any problem. I've managed to find some blue chip Linux/PHP developers for about the same as we were paying the Windows only staff. Maybe the current job market played into the ease of that transition, but we had some really good candidates to pick from.

      Moving off Exchange was a little more choppy but we got it done. There was one Gmail gotcha that delayed our roll out for a week but we got past that. Another surprise was after people uploaded their old messages to Gmail was how fast they dumped Outlook. We had planned on supporting Outlook but most everyone switched over to the Gmail interface on their own, a few had already been using Gmail anyway.

      Linux is completely capable as a desktop OS in the working world. We have saved quite a lot of money just in licensing fees. Not only could we find skilled Linux people, we found them at competitive local market rates. Where we had three Windows developers, today we have one OSS developer and we're still meeting our development targets. Now we're moving on replacing services running on the remaining Windows servers so we can retire them. The savings are significant. It's a big win for me, although at this point it's picking off the low hanging fruit. Still, it's some good fruit. We're standing up servers for the cost of the hardware. Rolling out some pretty sophisticated services for the cost of the developer. Our next area of consolidation will be cutting loose some of the outsource providers and moving some of those services back in house. You can do things like that when you're not blowing your budget on Microsoft licensing.

      • For some of the older IBM laptops we're experimenting with PuppyLinux. Seeing if we can get some more mileage out of them. But Ubuntu is getting a warm reception. Even caught one of the staff borging the Windows box in the flex work area with a live CD. Hiring hasn't been any problem. ...

        Once the top staff notice that they using the computer for work rather than spending all their time fighting Windows, you can probably zap that last box, too.

        PuppyLinux is good. There's also "Damn Small Linux" and "SliTaz" to try. Fluxbox on ubuntu (see also Fluxbuntu) is not too bad. I had it for a while on an old PII w/128MB RAM. It was fine except swapping between applications could take a second or three.

        • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:41AM (#24830475) Homepage

          Once the top staff notice that they using the computer for work rather than spending all their time fighting Windows, you can probably zap that last box, too.

          Most of the staff managed without any prompting from us. We were prepared for a lot of hand-holding that never materialized. Even with OpenOffice there hasn't been much. One question on how to do mail merge, I think.

          The XP box in the flex area is supposed to be for guests and one of our vendors uses GoToMyPC for demonstrations and that doesn't work with Linux...that I know of anyway. And, yes, that's one of the vendors we're phasing out.

          There is entertainment value in seeing the XP box sitting alone and unused in the flex area. Ultimately suffering the indignity of becoming the pedestal for the flex area scanner/copier and being periodically borged with a live CD. Poor sad little Windows box, nobody wants it. lol.

          Puppy got the nod because it looks nice. I know that's not a great reason but if that smooths over the transition, fine. The laptops aren't that old. They have 256 meg of RAM and are pretty zippy running Puppy. The sales and execs probably use their Blackberries more than the laptops anyway. The only people with desktops are administrative, developers and support.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Moving off Exchange was a little more choppy but we got it done. There was one Gmail gotcha that delayed our roll out for a week but we got past that. Another surprise was after people uploaded their old messages to Gmail was how fast they dumped Outlook. We had planned on supporting Outlook but most everyone switched over to the Gmail interface on their own, a few had already been using Gmail anyway.

        You moved your internal Emails (containing business-critical information and trade-secrets) to gmail? ARE YOU CRAZY?!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by luwain (66565)

        I'm not surprised that "community distros" are becoming more popular in the business setting. I've always been skeptical of Linux's ability to steal market share from Windows, but I've just recently installed Ubuntu 8.0.4 on a home computer and work computer. I'm astonished. It's stable, installation was easy (easier than Windows XP or Vista), package management was easy, and device drivers were plentiful (device detection was perfect). At work, the OpenOffice Suite, Netbeans, Java, and Eclipse were adequa

      • by syousef (465911)

        Moving off Exchange was a little more choppy but we got it done. There was one Gmail gotcha that delayed our roll out for a week but we got past that. Another surprise was after people uploaded their old messages to Gmail was how fast they dumped Outlook. We had planned on supporting Outlook but most everyone switched over to the Gmail interface on their own, a few had already been using Gmail anyway.

        GMail? Seriously? In a corporate environment? How's that going to work. Google gets all your data including

        • GMail? Seriously?

          Yeah. Are you really surprised or being factious? It didn't surprise anyone on the board, no one even challenged the idea. One of our sales staff used to work for IBM, they didn't bat an eye. It's been well received. Staff like it, management is easy and it comes with Google Apps.

          In a corporate environment?

          Why would this surprise anyone? Google has corporate accounts and customers that dwarf us in size and mail volume.

          How's that going to work.

          You sign up, set up the accoun

          • by syousef (465911)

            Yeah. Are you really surprised or being factious?

            Genuinely surprised.

            Google has corporate accounts and customers that dwarf us in size and mail volume.

            Do you have a corporate contract with Google? If so, I get it now. If not, corporate relationships with other entities are irrelevant.

            And so does RIM, your ISP and anyone with a relay between you and your message destination.

            That's why companies run internal email services, and if they have to run at multiple sites encrypt with a VPN. Where I'm from interna

        • by hughk (248126)

          Exchange & LoNo servers have substantially more downtime than GMail. GMail is faster an d they have fewer issues with large Mailboxes. Google Calendar is great too.

          As for the SLA, well if you choose to pay Google for their corporate service, that risk can be mitigated. Their free service is much better than many companies' in house services.

          As for secrecy, well if you are Yahoo, Al Quaeda or the KGB, it probably isn't the service for you but PGP/GPG on top of GMail works fine.

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      A very common pattern is to see the "standard" corporate image run inside a virtual machine which gives access to the corporate email and other MS apps while the user spends lots of their time in the native machine doing their work.

      I don't think "common" is the word you're after here. I struggle to believe such an expensive and complex solution is necessary - let alone desirable - outside of a handful of corner cases.

    • "What I Want" is just as much a "religion" as is pursuing software freedom for its own sake (a position often, and erroneously, called religious). Software freedom just works for me (and apparently millions of others).

  • by isorox (205688) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:22AM (#24829383) Homepage Journal

    Ubuntu support contracts are available, same as Redhat, which is the reason we use ubuntu as our standard server, not debian. The other reason being our in house engineers are more likely to have ubuntu experience than redhat, as it's free and ubiquitous.

    • Ubuntu is ubiquitous? That's a laugh. Ubuntu is popular on the desktop, but last I checked, it was Red Hat derivatives that were dominant in the server market.

      Really though, good point about support contracts being a reason to choose one distro over another. That's what the article misses: for a lot of IT shops, support contracts are very cost effective.
      • by isorox (205688)

        Ubuntu is ubiquitous? That's a laugh. Ubuntu is popular on the desktop, but last I checked, it was Red Hat derivatives that were dominant in the server market.

        Yes, in the U.S. Suse seems more popular in Europe. However anyone that has previously admined any linux box professionally will be able to deal with the Ubuntu/Debian way of doing things.

        We don't employ those people. We aren't a computer company, we're a broadcaster, we employ broadcast engineers. They are most likely to have experience with Windows XP on the desktop, maybe OSX on the desktop. If they have ANY unix experience, it will be ubuntu, not Redhat.

        We have so many interdependant systems that even w

  • New Business Model? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CustomDesigned (250089) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:31AM (#24829435) Homepage Journal

    What about the Red Hat business model? (A little arm chair CEOing here - clearly I'm not CEO material, but this is Slashdot.) Hopefully, it can continue to support a steady stream of businesses migrating away from Microsoft for some time. But what about when that runs out?

    The self supported businesses will still need to obtain their in-house expertise somehow. So training and certification would be one profit center. Contract work like IBM does would likely become the core business. Having an inside track as the distro maintainers is a valuable selling point, so continuing RHEL is vital - but must now be subsidized by training and contract work.

    • Red Hat doesn't need to change anything about their business model. The fact that many companies are choosing "free" distributions, as opposed to "commercially supported" distributions, is simply a sign that the entire Linux market is growing. Red Hat's business is growing at an amazing rate and that will continue for some time to come. Basically, everyone involved in Linux sees their customer base growing because the entire Linux "pie" is continually getting bigger. If anything, people using these othe

      • That is a good point. No in house team can expect to be expert on every application out there, so there will always be a market for application specific support. The trick is to see it coming an be ready with competitive offerings (as opposed to whining about the good old days like RIAA).

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Centos is a way for Red Hat to compete against Ubuntu, suse etc.

        Centos = "Use RHEL for free and get used to it". There is significant difference in the way Redhat Linux works and Ubuntu works.

        If one day you want Oracle, SAP, Expensive Software that's only certified to run on RHEL, the cost of RHEL is nothing.

        For my own home server I've switched from opensuse to ubuntu because I've got tired of waiting for yast software management (it's really really really slow) and waiting for suse to fix it.

        But I'm not su
  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:34AM (#24829447) Homepage Journal
    isn't that better for the economy overall than paying private company x for a complete solution. At least doing it this way keeps money and jobs nearby.
  • openSUSE? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:34AM (#24829451)

    openSUSE is also a community [opensuse.org] distro [opensuse.org] where Novell is part of that community (as well as the sponsor).

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      But that's openSUSE. The summary/article means Novell's SLED version of Suse, which isn't a community distro.

  • I use CentOS because it's less of a hassle. No RH's braindead subscription management.
    • No doubt. And the fact that using the only RPM package manager I have any interest in using (yum) ends up with them having an out on the support contract. We're a 30 server CentOS shop now. Mostly 5, but some 4 in there still. It works just fine, and, being a tech company, I just don't see the need for a support contract. And because its RHEL, all the stupid Dell DMI/Openmanage/firmware updates work just fine.
  • by Junta (36770) on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:51AM (#24829553)

    Well, SuSE's distribution was always aggravating to those who wanted it for free (no free ISO downloads back in the day meant it was hard to install for free). RH was amenable to first-party free distribution until RH9, after which they decided this was their way.

    Namely, both SuSE and RHEL have a 'commercial-only' distribution with those enterprise sensibilities and a free 'first-party' offering that is ostensibly an enthusiast endeavor which really translates to recruiting enthusiasts as testers. They bank on trademark/copyright of text and images to keep clones from looking *too* much like their first-party offerings. CentOS is from a technical standpoint, a clone (plus some other stuff, but the clone-only behavior is default), but distinguishable enough to preclude Vendor and ISV support (both don't want to go the linux support path alone generally).

    Meanwhile, here comes Canonical. They truly keep the distribution and support model independent. They have rapid release cycles, but denote a more 'enterprise-friendly' LTS cycle underscoring things. Regardless, the distribution is free to download and distribute. So clients can prototype and train and even do production as they feel comfortable with doing so without support, and then when they do need support, the contract is available without reinstall or other drastic measures. Suddenly, the mark of whether another party will support it or not is not keyed on the distribution, instead requiring a Canonical support contract to be in place.

    I think SuSE/RH's approach is botching the market. I know of a *lot* of CentOS installs going in to places that might feel more comfortable with the option of purchasing a support contract. Knowing the strict distinction between RH and CentOS, Ubuntu will be very appealing to those places. The absolute identical nature of free training/development/prototyping systems with low support requirements and production use is also appealing.

    • by houghi (78078) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:29AM (#24829807)

      SUSE has always been free for download. In the beginning it was free 2 months after the boxed version. This has changed when Novell took over. They also have put YaST under complete GPL as well.

      Now there is a more clear difference between the community distribution and the corporate one. SUSE is corporate, openSUSE is community/

      Both can be downloaded for free. For SUSE the (security-)updates need to be payed. For openSUSE they are free.

      Oh and it hasn't been SuSE for a long while now.

      • by Junta (36770)

        I thought SuSE used to be download available, but only piecewise. In other words, you could do a live internet install or download packages individually, but from SuSE you would not have gotten a simple set of ISOs.

        Anyway, now there is SLES and OpenSuSE, with the same relationship as RHEL and Fedora.

        But you are right, both RH and SuSE can be downloaded for free with registration, with cutoff on updates. I wasn't even aware of this. It does ease some of the problems, but the simpler Ubuntu approach still

        • by houghi (78078)

          SuSE (now SUSE and openSUSE) was available via FTP as ISO and as individual packages and as network ISO so installation over network was possible. Individual packages could be downloaded, although there was no real need to do so, as everything was on the DVD and CDs anyway.

          Due to the large amount of packages and the increase in Internet connections, some packages are only available via Internet.

          The main difference between SUSE and openSUSE is that SUSE will be having paid security updates for 7 years from t

    • by Nevyn (5505) *

      Meanwhile, here comes Canonical. They truly keep the distribution and support model independent. They have rapid release cycles, but denote a more 'enterprise-friendly' LTS cycle underscoring things. Regardless, the distribution is free to download and distribute.

      Exactly, so Canonical does exactly the same thing as SuSE/OpenSuSE or RHEL/Fedora ... except they brand it with the same name (just putting a LTS sub-brand on the realistically supported version). They also don't support their LTS for as long as

      • by Junta (36770)

        Exactly, so Canonical does exactly the same thing as SuSE/OpenSuSE or RHEL/Fedora ..

        No, RH and SUSE treat their enterprise variants 'special'. Hard to obtain and wording to make it sound like time-bombed shareware. Updates are not free, like LTS.

        Also, at least in Fedora, major changes are made to a release between releases that Ubuntu would postpone for the 6-month cycle. Using Fedora, suddenly they've switched kernel revisions, broken your binary drivers, etc etc.

        I hear what you say about more commercially prominent vendors able to hire more developers, but Canonical offers support con

  • Works for us (Score:5, Informative)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @07:53AM (#24829571)

    We use CentOS on pretty much all our 150-odd Linux servers, except for those that require RHEL to be in a supported configuration (Oracle DB, Oracle Appserver, Oracle Financials).

    Of course, while we mainly do this to save money, out of the million-plus we pay Oracle, the few thousand in RHEL licenses doesn't even count as a rounding error (hell, compared to Oracle licensing, even the cost of the hardware is irrelevant).

    • Works for us too. Typically, we keep one current RHEL license in case we need support and every machine gets a CentOS install. The RHEL license is our "last resort" option if we cannot fix a problem ourselves or get support from the usual community resources.

      With that said, we haven't had to use Redhat's support in several years. It's more of a baby blanket at this point. At one time it was something held closely to our hearts, but over time we just kinda forgot about it...but can't bring ourselves to f

    • Similar reasons here for switching to CentOS (from other Linux distros) for our servers.

      It's a lot easier to find a local tech-head who knows RHEL and plop them down in front of a broken CentOS box then it is to find someone who knows (your favorite niche linux distro). Or at least there's far better odds that your local linux support shop folks will have heard of CentOS/RHEL.

      Plus, if we every do decide to go all official-like... the migration from CentOS to RHEL should be fairly painless.
  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <.tim.almond. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:05AM (#24829659) Homepage

    Does this present a problem in terms of one of the models of open source? One of the things often discussed on /. is the question of profiting from working in open source.

    What's often been suggested is that there's money in support, and that if you create some software, and have experience then supporting it, that you gain a competitive advantage. That the likes of RedHat, MySQL etc will be customer's most likely first port of call.

    If companies are simply going to go to someone else, that then suggests that investment in open source software could go down...

    • by houghi (78078)

      If companies are simply going to go to someone else, that then suggests that investment in open source software could go down...

      It could also mean that more (local) people get involved and are closer to their customer so willing to solve the problem and investment in open source software could go up...

      Instead of 100 developers in one company, you will have 1 developer in 200 different companies.

    • > Does this present a problem in terms of one of the models of open source? One of the things often
      > discussed on /. is the question of profiting from working in open source.

      > If companies are simply going to go to someone else, that then suggests that investment in open
      > source software could go down...

      It's a legitimate concern; but looking at it from the standpoint of someone who has worked in corporate environments using closed source software, with support contracts, another possibility pres

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by williamhb (758070)

      Does this present a problem in terms of one of the models of open source? One of the things often discussed on /. is the question of profiting from working in open source. What's often been suggested is that there's money in support, and that if you create some software, and have experience then supporting it, that you gain a competitive advantage. That the likes of RedHat, MySQL etc will be customer's most likely first port of call. If companies are simply going to go to someone else, that then suggests

      • By a lot of the OSS advocacy. One of the biggest things I see pushed is that OSS costs so much less because you aren't paying for licenses. Ok, cool, and true enough at the fundamental level. However, if you sell a company on Linux by saying "It doesn't cost anything," you are then going to have trouble telling them that you want $80-180/desktop/year to run RHEL (which is what it costs). Now it doesn't look so favorable against a Windows license. Even at retail prices ($270 for Vista Business), you break ev

  • "corporate" linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by louzerr (97449) <Mr@Pete@Nelson.gmail@com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:14AM (#24829717) Homepage

    We use SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) from Novell for many of our servers, and are very happy with how easy it is to maintain (a lease cycle for the hardware eliminates the need for upgrades). I would be extremely hard-pressed to even consider using a community edition for production servers - that corporate-level support is extremely important.

    However, when it comes to the desktop, the community editions offer more modern features - Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), is several years behind the current Open Source SuSE.

    If the linux desktop ever comes of age for the average user, SLED may offer a very stable, easy to use environment (at least for supported hardware). However, since Linux Desktop is still primarily a developer's game, the OSS version offers the bleeding edge developers like, and know how to cope with.

  • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:17AM (#24829741)

    I could see this happening for smaller companies, but for the larger companies, I can't see them switching over. Large companies *hate* change. And I'd imagine that it's the larger companies who are using the corporate editions, while the smaller ones feel comfortable with the community editions.

    • I worked in a small company that used a software development project life cycle management application called SourceForge Enterprise Edition. You can download and use what they call the SFDE [sourceforge.net] version of it if you have 50 users or less. This is a VmWare appliance where CentOS is the guest OS. We had no trouble with it whatsoever. We looked at what it would cost to upgrade to RHEL and, frankly, that was just out of the company's reach financially.

      I have been writing business application software for over

  • Most... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shads (4567) <[shadus] [at] [shadus.org]> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:59AM (#24830061) Homepage Journal

    Most of the businesses I've worked for I've pushed Debian as the distribution of choice. The biggest problem I see in mixed shops with Linux is often times there is no standardization on a single distribution. The one company I worked for had: Slackware, Gentoo, Redhat, SuSE, and some custom homebrew... I spent 3 months standardizing everything over to Debian. I built a standardized install manual, made sure we had a repository up to date with the latest drivers for special hardware, and setup all kinds of custom system status tracking with cacti and snmp. Management liked the new system setup so well that they eventually got rid of all the windows servers except two who ran custom software that our company's programmers wrote years ago and we lost the source code for.

    Debian's free, the support is spectacular, it's package management is *excellent*, it's upgradable, it's easy to manage, and it doesn't install a lot of junk that is unneeded.

    I *hate* rpm. It makes me crazy.

    • Ditto. When I started working here they had Windows a combination of Windows (POS, Laptops) and linux on the servers (Some Fedora, others Gentoo, CentOS, and a couple debain boxes). Basically the owner of the business had his IT infrastructure built over the past 4 years by different contractors, most students from the local university. So it was a mash up of whatever the flavor of the year was back when.

      Personally, that has been one of my biggest beefs with Linux over the past 8 years is that every year

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you're running a large compute cluster or server farm, it only makes sense to use one of the community distributions. Even with volume discounts, licensing and purchasing support for an enterprise release such as RHEL or SLES is prohibitively expensive. This is one reason why the Rocks clustering distro is well-accepted, as it's based on CentOS and uses unencumbered packages for just about everything.

  • Works For Us ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by saltydog56 (1135213) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:22AM (#24830891)
    Several years ago we here at NASA replaced Solaris X86 with Red Hat Linux as the operating system for our PCS systems (Thinkpad laptops used as the crew interface in the Space Station's command and control systems) We are currently in the process of rehosting again, this time to Scientific Linux, a CentOS-like rebuild of RHEL done by the good folks up at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Certainly cost was a factor, but not the deciding one. From our perspective it is golden not to have to track how many laptops each of the various development groups (many of which are international) have it loaded on.
  • by Yfrwlf (998822) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:40AM (#24831877)
    It seems like several companies are still trying the tactic of software exclusivity, the same tactic the console companies are waging on one another. (In that arena, it's pretty unfortunate, too, as a lot of it just comes down to how much money you're willing to pay for exclusives, and Microsoft has the deepest pockets, or so their accountants claim.) This is something that cannot and should not occur in Linux as it hurts everyone. Part of software freedom is software accessibility, so when a new driver is created for example, it needs to be modular and easily pluggable into any Linux or Linux-like kernel, quickly and without hassle (the point of modules). Some companies are going to have to face the fact that they cannot get away with attracting everyone to their platform just because they have a certain software title, or just because they have large repositories.

    Linux should be Linux, period. You should be able to use the entire Internet as your Linux repository. If package managers want to keep these so-called "third-party" packages separate from the ones they officially support for support contract reasons, so be it, but do not take away my freedom to install any piece of Linux software I want easily on any Linux distro. Cross-distro Linux packaging is more than possible [linuxfoundation.org] and should become a reality soon.

    So, without these "exclusive" distro-specific software packages, what remains to define a "distro"? Well, of course it's what it was from the start, a simple bundle of software for the convenience of being able to find all the basics, or simply the software you want, in one place. Linux distros should never be anything more than software bundles.

    Help with Linux defragmentation. Support more standard APIs for desktop [freedesktop.org] and general Linux interoperability to give everyone more choice and thus more freedom.
    • by Yfrwlf (998822)
      Oh, forgot to add, how can distro companies expect to make money then? Same way they did way back when: commercial paid support to answer the immediate need of any company that requires it, though of course this can easily be done by any development team and should in no way be tied to a specific Linux software bundle because it should have nothing to do with it (companies being tied to specific Linux software bundles really are unnecessary), AND last but most importantly and mainly, should be behind speci

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