[lug] distribution favorites?

Dan Ferris dan at usrsbin.com
Sun Nov 12 07:54:34 MST 2006

CentOS is pretty nice.  They also package a bunch of things that aren't 
in Redhat EL, like heartbeat and drbd.  I found that very handy.


Nate Duehr wrote:
> Sean Reifschneider wrote:
>> On Thu, Nov 09, 2006 at 09:34:45AM -0700, Daniel Webb wrote:
>>> On Sun, Nov 05, 2006 at 07:06:55PM -0700, Nate Duehr wrote:
>>> Same here.  I like Debian stable.  The plus for Debian stable is 
>>> that once you
>>> get it set up, you can go for a *long* time without fiddling.  You 
>>> can usually
>> I tried operating under that theory, but found that Debian really didn't
>> deliver that.  If you set up a Debian "stable" system, it's going to
>> upgrade to the newest "stable" the next time you "apt-get dist-upgrade"
>> after the Debian project pushes out a new stable.  Whether you're 
>> ready for
>> the upgrade or not...
> No, but you found the answer below.
>> You can stick with named versions, like "woody", but that only gets you
>> slightly better...  Let's say that today your production environment is
>> using woody and you need to install a new system because of growth.  
>> I hope
>> you kept your CDs around, because you won't find the ISO images on most
>> Debian download sites.  Did you apt-get anything after the install?  
>> Oops,
>> they're gone too...  And that stuff you got from backports?  Nope, not
>> available either.
> 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 
> Debian's, but Sid and Potato was still on the mirrors three years 
> after both were dead and gone, if I remember correctly.
> I think there's a policy document somewhere for those *really* paying 
> attention as to when exactly the older versions truly disappear.  One 
> of the reasons in recent years that they have to be taken down is that 
> security patches are unavailable for them.  That and other things 
> break like "stable" during the reinstall is now pointed somewhere 
> else, as you mentioned.
> I don't typically wait all that long after a new stable is out to 
> upgrade, but I see your point.
> But I'm doubting heavily that many RH/Fedora mirrors still have RH 7.3 
> on them, either.  :-)
> 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 
> always have the source and notes on how to make it again, if I really 
> need something that badly.
>> One of our clients who is in this situation has set up a caching HTTP 
>> proxy
>> that all their servers use, and the cache never expires, so they can 
>> later
>> get packages that were installed previously.
> Interesting tactic.  Why not just upgrade?  Considering the cycle is 
> years and years long, isn't it time anyway?
> I (probably better than most, I work in telco!) understand slow 
> methodical glacial speed upgrade cycles with deep certification 
> testing and the associated (heavy) costs to the folks running the 
> servers -- but even in telco which tends to lag 3-5 years behind the 
> rest of the Unix world, there does come a time when it's time to bite 
> the bullet, load up a test machine, and see if you can get it through 
> the upgrade cleanly.
> The sun is just now starting to set (no pun intended!) on Solaris 8 in 
> telco... but testing of Solaris 9 and/or 10 started years ago for 
> these environments, and some new products had it from day one, so the 
> companies using Solaris 8 got some exposure and comfort level about 
> anything new by now.  I don't expect to see Solaris 8 truly gone for 
> another four to six years, in the telco-world.  Sun will push that 
> sooner if they can.  (Or the way they've been acting lately, they'll 
> go under completely... Ouch.)
>> Personally, I would recommend CentOS (7 or 10 years) or recent Ubuntu
>> (ones that say "LTS", 5 years for the desktop) for setting up a server,
>> because of exactly this reason.  Once you install a system and 
>> qualify the
>> applications, you probably want to stay with that platform.
> 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 
> message.  They weren't options until very recently, in my timeline of 
> running Linux.
> CentOS would definitely be my choice for anything requiring 
> RedHat-isms.  Ubuntu is an odd duck and so far seems pretty good, but 
> I worry about where it will go when the billionaire becomes bored with 
> it. Shuttleworth's grand experiment.  At least he's got deep pockets.
> Ubuntu is (typically) at about the level Debian's "testing" branch is 
> at with slightly better security support (no delay in security 
> packages as they work their way through "unstable"), so I've never had 
> a dire need to use anything yet that was already in Ubuntu but not in 
> "testing" that I couldn't backport myself, if needed that badly.
>> With CentOS and Ubuntu, you don't NEED to upgrade for quite some time
>> unless it's your own requirements that drive it (needing newer PHP or
>> something).  With Debian Stable, it's really the Debian project that's
>> driving your schedule.  That's what I've found.
> Yep, they're nice options, now.  It took RedHat about six years to 
> morph 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, and now is a virtual copy of RHEL without anything 
> weird wrong with it.    But, prior to that, I was already running 
> Debian that already had a plan laid out and documented (!) for all of 
> this.
> That's got to be my favorite part of Debian really, in the long-term. 
> The packaging rules, release rules, etc... are all very well 
> documented and highly mature and ingrained in the culture.  While this 
> may drive new developers and some people nuts, it's hard to beat being 
> able to know that if you present a bug of type X, that bug is mandated 
> to be critical and will stop the entire release until it's fixed or 
> the package is completely removed from the distro.
> 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 start from as a jumping off point for folks deciding how 
> much IN-stability they choose to add to gain new features.  RH and 
> Fedora have never been great jumping-off points.
> CentOS *is* RHEL, which *is* a good jumping off point for making 
> something stable.  Like you, I'd recommend it to just about anyone 
> setting up a server if they couldn't do a Debian machine for whatever 
> reason.
> 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 it's to make some really crazy distro that you'd never put 
> anywhere near a real production/business server, really.  That or it's 
> a VERY stripped-down version (SmoothWall comes to mind here) where 
> they took lots of things OUT of Fedora to stabilize it for 
> embedded/small-system work, or added things for clusters, etc.  Never 
> to create another "desktop" or "standard consumer" distro.
> Nate
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