[svlug] enterprise linux?

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Fri Jul 18 12:04:54 PDT 2003

On Fri, 18 Jul 2003 11:00:54 -0700 (PDT) 
Gordon Vrololjak <gvrdolja at nature.Berkeley.EDU> wrote:

> I was wondering how everyone feels about enterprise linux from Redhat,
> is it worth the extra money?  

I'm rather unimpressed with it.  At the Linux level its a back-rev RH
product with a couple kernel patches for Oracle thrown in.  Nothing to
write home about, and very little that's worth the $$$ as the kernel
patches are OSS.  If paid Oracle support is significant to you, then it
could be interesting, but that's a poor and tenuous argument at the best
of times, let alone the worst.

> Are there other more supportive distributions for large servers?  

Define "large" and define "supportive".

> What about using a desktop distribution and customizing it to optimize
> for your uses yourself?

At the general level there are five points on which to make the choice:

  1) Processor specific optimisations.

  2) Kernel configuration, especially as regards proprietary binary-only
  or limited-availability modules.

  3) Commercial support constraints (ala Oracle's "RH only").

  4) Customisation for your specific task/domain (eg ClusterKnoppix).

  5) Ease of administration, maintenance, and deployment.

My tendency is to consider the last, #5, as particularly and
overwhelmingly interesting.  Depending on your tasks and activities,
YMWV.  Figure out your costs and needs first.

  ObNote: Based on the above logic I use Debian.

> This is sort of new to me as I got used to buying one license and with
> open source, you can just install it on many machines. Now I'm
> assuming I'd have to a license for each server?

RH could make this more clear than they do.  

No, you don't.  The Enterprise editions are just standard Open Source
Linux with some extra Open Source kernel patches, a few build options,
and some certification work done by various vendors.  With the possible
exception of the clustering tools on Advanced Server (I don't recall
their licenses), there's nothing on those CDs you couldn't build
yourself, and there are no restrictions on installations.

> Does the enterprise editions follow the open source movement at all?

Yes, slowly.

> With each distribution doing heavy customizing to optimize speed,
> performance, and security (according to their website sales
> propaganda)...

In the vast majority of cases that propaganda is a flat-out lie.
There's little to no optimisation, and there's no precious little
performance work that goes into any commercial distribution: they can't
afford the complexity and installation incompatibility and support
problems it would raise.  The RH Enterprise and Mandrake flavours vary
this slightly, but mostly in uninteresting ways (eg RH's kernel patches
which you can apply as well).

> .. do they hide the customizations and configurations and not allow
> you to meddle with it?


J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?		  
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.

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