[lug] distribution favorites?

Sean Reifschneider jafo at tummy.com
Sun Nov 12 14:50:23 MST 2006

On Sun, Nov 12, 2006 at 12:13:25AM -0700, Nate Duehr wrote:
>You'll find the ISO's and the packages on the main Debian sites, but 
>most mirrors choose to take the older stuff down.  Their choice, not 

Yes, there are definitely SOME mirrors out there that will keep older
copies.  I don't know if my problems are largely related to Debian policy
of excluding older stuff, or if it's the mirroring that's the issue, and to
be honest I don't really care.

I do, as a Debian mirror admin, care that my Debian mirror takes as much
maintenance on an ongoing basis as all the other sites I mirror combined.
I've had to switch mirrors at least 3 times in the last year because the
upstream I've chosen either goes away, or starts having an incomplete feed,
etc.  So, my experience tells me that it may be the mirror infrastructure
that's to blame.  Should I really have to care though?  :-/

>But I'm doubting heavily that many RH/Fedora mirrors still have RH 7.3 
>on them, either.  :-)

Actually, it was only about a year ago that Red Hat split off the Red Hat
releases all the way back to 1.0, and moved them out of the main FTP

>As far as backports go, I avoid them like the plague.  Or I make my own 
>packages after looking at the backport source package.  That way I 

If I'm not going to be leveraging the existing packaged software sources, I
might as well be using Gentoo.  :-)

I want to use packages that someone else is watching for updates and
security fixes because that best leverages the Open Source community.  It
also helps make my and my clients lives easier.

The real problem with Debian here is that it's, historically, been fairly
slow in it's releases.  So much so that people felt the need for backports,
to get some newer software on stable releases.  I think Ubuntu is winning
here, because they are having 5 years of support and releasing every 6
months.  So you can plan to deploy something and have it stable for up to 5

RHEL is pretty good in this regard as well, but they are a bit behind right
now.  The current release is fairly old right now, I really think that RHEL
5 should have been out by now.  However, they have kept up with new
hardware support, so installing on even very recent machines tends to work
very well.  But we do have clients who have been disappointed in CentOS
4.4, because of things like Python being version 2.3 instead of 2.4 or 2.5.
Those clients have been pretty happy with Ubuntu.

>Interesting tactic.  Why not just upgrade?  Considering the cycle is 

There are only so many hours in the year.  Resources that are spent
redeploying production are resources that are not improving the product,
selling and managing the growth of the company.  Business is all about
making decisions about the tradeoffs, and many companies would like the
option of delaying the upgrades of production systems in favor of other

>Those sound nice.  I'm probably disconnected from it enough that I 
>didn't notice, but Ubuntu LTS I'd never even heard of before this 

CentOS has been an option for a couple of years now, but indeed, it's a
fairly recent coming.  It's been a great option though.

>where it will go when the billionaire becomes bored with it. 
>Shuttleworth's grand experiment.  At least he's got deep pockets.

I don't worry about that.  There's enough to worry about, that's not even
in my top ten.  At that point, maybe we have to switch to CentOS.  However,
they're trying to make Ubuntu stand on it's own, revenue wise, so I don't
really think that's a big concern.

>Ubuntu is (typically) at about the level Debian's "testing" branch is at 
>with slightly better security support (no delay in security packages as 

I get the impression it's better tested than testing, particularly as it
freezes every 6 months.  It's also much less of a moving target than
testing.  The freezing is a huge benefit.

Debian testing I think would make a great development box, where you
probably do want to track current versions of everything.  However, I
haven't been that happy with it in production.

>into the commercial and non-commercial versions (RHEL vs. Fedora) and 
>then another year or so for CentOS to turn into the free stable version 
>of RHEL -- at first it wasn't quite "baked" right, but generally worked, 

It took quite a bit longer than a year, I don't think CentOS even came out
until RHEL version 3.  Before that we had used Whitebox for around a year,
but there was basically just one guy maintaining that, and that's the way
he wanted it.  If he got busy for 3 months, you didn't get security
updates.  I got the feeling that was the big reason that CentOS started,
was to make up for Whitebox.

>   But, prior to that, I was already running Debian that already had a 
>plan laid out and documented (!) for all of this.

I was also running Debian stable on our own servers and things like
python.org, hoping for the longer release cycle.  Again, my experience was
that it didn't work as well as I had hoped.

>Ubuntu (and flavors, Kubuntu, etc...), Knoppix, MEPIS, and others simply 
>wouldn't exist at all if there weren't a core Debian stable release to 

Indeed.  I don't hate Debian or anything, I think it's a fantastic group,
doing really good work.  I just don't like directly using Debian stable for
production systems.  Ubuntu and Debian seem to have come to a pretty good
symbiotic relationship, with them both contributing to each other.  Debian
is hugely important to the Linux community, IMHO.

>IN-stability they choose to add to gain new features.  RH and Fedora 
>have never been great jumping-off points.

Fedora I think make a great development machine as well, and one of the big
things that Fedora is contributing these days is the Extras RPM repository.
That is flowing down-hill into things like CentOS, reducing the burden from
others, much like Debian's packaging is doing for Ubuntu, etc...

>I think it says a lot that you don't see people spinning off new (sane 
>and popular) distros from Fedora.  Every once in a while you see it, but 

As a company who spent a large portion of it's 10+ years in the Linux
business doing a Fedora-based distribution, I might disagree.  :-)

 Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.
                 -- Fred Brooks
Sean Reifschneider, Member of Technical Staff <jafo at tummy.com>
tummy.com, ltd. - Linux Consulting since 1995: Ask me about High Availability

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