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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 @08:05AM (#24829281)
    In Brazil, some times companies use Debian as their main SO, and hire their own support.
  • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:21AM (#24829381)
    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.
  • Works for us (Score:5, Informative)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @08:53AM (#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).

  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:18AM (#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 betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:24AM (#24829785)
    Not all certifications are useless. As a case in point, consider the fundamentals of engineering exam and the certification one gets from it, "licensed professional engineer." Passing that test is no joke, and LPE's are generally the sort of people you want to hire for engineering work (in some places, they are the only people you can legally hire).
  • by houghi (78078) on Monday September 01, 2008 @09:29AM (#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 Night64 (1175319) on Monday September 01, 2008 @10:10AM (#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 MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:06AM (#24830719)
    Google does corporate email accounts - http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/index.html [google.com] . I'm kind of hoping the OP meant one of those.
  • Works For Us ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by saltydog56 (1135213) on Monday September 01, 2008 @11:22AM (#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 IDtheTarget (1055608) on Monday September 01, 2008 @12:33PM (#24831781)

    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 hold), I can't easily justify doing so to my boss. At least he understands that paying RedHat SOMETHING will help keep them alive longer, which keeps CentOS alive as well.

  • by RCL (891376) <`rcl.rs.vvg' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:08PM (#24832253) Homepage
    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 - but ATI R300 series is not a good choice even for FreeBSD).
  • by Jorophose (1062218) on Monday September 01, 2008 @01:47PM (#24832777)

    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 then again, shit never hit the fan. So why should I pay for nothing?

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday September 01, 2008 @02:13PM (#24833087)
    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.
  • by luwain (66565) on Monday September 01, 2008 @04:09PM (#24834183)

    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 adequate to perform all my work (inoperability with my colleagues using comparable Windows apps was good). At home, again, I thought I would probably finding myself switching back to windows to do certain things, but that hasn't been the case (I haven't tried to manage my iPod yet, though). I think it may actually be easier for business to move from XP to Ubuntu, than to go to Vista. I know that my brother, a CEO, recently upgraded his home computers, replacing his two XP machines with a MAC and a Vista Box. He's found it easier to get used to the MAC than Vista. I'm sure he would find Ubuntu easier than Vista.

  • by stupido (1353737) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:39PM (#24835067)

    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, flash etc. Presumably they run in binary compatibility mode on *BSD, but why bother?

    Ports suck if you have to compile stuff on a low end machine. I've also seen broken port compilations that were really hard to fix. Never saw that with source rpms (as long as built them on the distro they were written for).

  • by styrotech (136124) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:56PM (#24835195)

    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 updates.

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