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enterprise distribution

I can tell you from experience and from being involved with the CentOS
group that it is a very good distro.  It is a direct recompile of RH. 
So anything that runs on RH will run on CentOS.  They support numerous
architectures and updates come out within 24 to 48 hours of them being
released from RH.  It's also completely free and has a great community
behind it.

Stay away from Whitebox, since the main guy John won't allow anyone to
help him with the distro, so he's the lone maintainer and it takes
months to get updates out and only supports x86 & x86_64

Also stay away from Lineox, they have licensing issues and it costs to
purchase updates.

Scientific Linux/Fermilab is also a good choice, but I find they are
more geared toward the scientific community, but they will work for
any RH type environment.

Also, if you are partial to a RH environment and looking to use this
in your own appliance, you could also build your own clone from the RH
sources.  You would just need to comply with the RH terms by removing
any references to RH including logos.  But remember to leave copyright
notices alone.

Matt Shields

On Wed, 16 Mar 2005 03:18:28 -0500, Tom Metro <blu at> wrote:
> Here's another "which distribution" question, which is going to sound
> a bit redundant with the one posted a few weeks ago, as I'm also
> looking specifically for a distribution ideal for a web server. (I had
> actually started researching the topic before that question was
> posted, but got sidetracked on other projects.)
> My second criteria is to select a distribution that has good
> commercial appeal so that I can gain exposure to a distribution that
> future clients/customers will be using. (I'm currently using Debian,
> which I like, but it has somewhat limited commercial appeal. I've used
> Red Hat in the past, but in the pre-enterprise days.) Although I have
> neither the budget nor the interest in paying $1000+ for a commercial
> enterprise distribution, so it seems my best alternative would be to
> approximate the chosen commercial enterprise distribution by using a clone.
> A minor criteria is that the distribution should have licensing terms
> that make it friendly for royalty free distribution as part of an
> appliance. (I think most of the official commercial distributions won't
> qualify for this. Red Hat does have a program for appliances
> (, which sounds good,
> but costs about $25K/year.)
> I'd also be interested to know how consultant/reseller friendly the
> commercial distributions are. Does anyone have experience reselling
> commercial support for Red Hat or SUSE? (If I'm following the Red Hat
> site correctly, it appears they don't offer any partner programs
> appropriate for a consultant/small VAR. Novell, up at the "brochure
> level," seems inclusive of consultants/small VARs, but they keep the
> cost/requirements of the partnering programs more hidden.)
> I think the answer to what I'm looking for is probably CentOS, but I'll
> include my research below for discussion. In summary, SUSE looks good,
> but is way behind Red Hat in terms of commercial adoption (see below).
> Red Hat Enterprise is too expensive, so a clone is probably the best
> alternative for building experience with the platform. CentOS appears to
> be leading the pack of RHE clones at the moment. Lineox, another RHE
> clone, is a possible second choice.
> If I wanted to be more speculative, I'd consider trying something like
> Gentoo, which unexpectedly seems to have a growing commercial appeal,
> and I've read might offer technical advantages when it comes to package
> management.
> I'd be interested to hear if anyone thinks there is another minor
> distribution that they think could be a break out hit with corporate
> users. (Looking at the stats below, Debian comes in 3rd behind Red Hat
> and SUSE in corporate use, but a distant 3rd, and for reasons mentioned
> below, I'm not sure it'll ever catch up in the corporate space.)
> Here's the research:
> To get a feel for distribution popularity, I figured I'd run some
> general web search engine queries. I was expecting Red Hat would be at
> the top, but I was curious to see how far behind SUSE would be. And more
> importantly, how the Red Hat Enterprise clones would compare.
> Then I had the thought that job postings might actually be a better
> proxy for commercial adoption than a general web search would, so I ran
> the same terms through the job search engine (no location
> specified; job category: "Information Technology"). More recently I ran
> across, another - possibly more comprehensive - job search
> engine, and repeated the queries there. Here's what I found:
>                         Google          Monster         Indeed
> redhat                  24,100,000      120             1,280
> "red hat"               17,700,000      199             1,471
> suse                    26,400,000      34              343
> suse -redhat -rhce                                      186
> rhce -suse                                              161
> "red hat linux"          6,270,000      76              752
> "redhat linux"           2,740,000      42              646
> "suse linux"             5,450,000      9               110
> "red hat enterprise"     1,100,000      9               110
> "redhat enterprise"        120,000      6               70
> "SUSE LINUX Enterprise"    464,000      1               2
> "SUSE Enterprise"           53,400      1               14
> debian                  64,400,000      10              62
> Gentoo                   8,800,000      4               18
> UserLinux                  168,000      0               0
> centos                     945,000      0               1
> Lineox                     170,000      0               0
> X/OS -mac                  126,000      0               0
> "white box linux"           52,700      0               0
> "Tao Linux"                 40,500      0               0
> ThinTao                         40      0               0
> (Notes: "X/OS" is pretty much impossible to isolate, as Google and
> Indeed ignore the slash and consider things like "Mac OS 7.x-OS-X" to be
> a match, and even with the "-mac" to filter out the Mac stuff,  it still
> mostly turns up false positives.)
> Looks like Red Hat has a substantial lead on SUSE. Perhaps as many as 10
> times the number of job mentions (combining "redhat" and "red hat":
> about 300 vs. 30 at Monster; about 3000 vs. 300 at Indeed). And of the
> jobs mentioning SUSE, it looks like almost half also mention RedHat or
> RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer, I presume).
> On the enterprise side of things, the gap isn't quite as big at Monster
> (Red Hat gets 15 vs. 2 for SUSE), though the count is probably too low
> to be statistically significant. At Indeed (Red Hat 180 vs. 16 for SUSE)
> the difference is again in the 10 to 1 ballpark.
> So as expected, it seems Red Hat is the safe bet for what businesses
> will be using in the near future.
> As for the clones, the job market numbers are less significant, as you
> wouldn't expect them to be highly adopted within large organizations,
> not to mention that they're all relatively new. The more general web
> search is the more interesting figure, and for that CentOS clearly has
> the lead.
> Also, according to DistroWatch:
> CentOS has climbed from 29th to 14th place in the last year (actually a
> step ahead of Red Hat), and is the highest ranked distro that claims to
> be an "enterprise" distribution, with the except of SUSE, which comes in
> at #5 currently. (Though I imagine most of SUSE's popularity at
> DistroWatch comes from its non-enterprise version.)
> The only enterprise distros to show up at DistroWatch are CentOS, Lineox
> (currently at #31, up from #74 a year ago), and White Box (#43), aside
> from Red Hat and SUSE. (Some of the others listed there might classify
> themselves as enterprise grade, though they aren't clones of Red Hat or
> SUSE.)
> As far as I can tell, there are no SUSE LINUX Enterprise clones. The
> only thing I could turn up was this article from about a year ago:
> which says that YaST has been released under the GPL, and speculates
> that this makes a SUSE clone more likely.
> The lack of any SUSE clones is another strike against SUSE from my
> perspective. (Though I've heard you can use SUSE distributions beyond
> their trial period. If this is legal, and they allow you access to
> updates (though of course no tech support), then this might be an
> alternative to using a clone.)
> Raimo Koski, the creator of Lineox, another RHEL clone, has some
> interesting things to say in a whitepaper:
>    ...the very aspects that make Linux desirable, its low cost, Open
>    Source nature, and the way it gives customers more control over
>    their software, are under attack by Linux vendors bent on increasing
>    shareholder value. Businesses are paying more as Linux distributions
>    demand a per-seat cost and service lock-in for software that they
>    didn't develop and that others support.
> [...]
>    This has hampered the adoption of Linux. For example, a very large
>    multinational bank recently informed that they had called off a
>    10,000-system Linux deployment because "Linux is now more expensive
>    than Windows". An ISP complained that the cost of Enterprise Linux
>    is greater than the annual profit of one of his servers.
> [...]
>    ...the $1000 per year or greater that many customers now pay for
>    their Linux systems goes not for service, but for a brand and the
>    endorsement of a few application providers like Oracle.
> An interesting point, though I'm not so sure he can convincingly argue
> that Lineox can provide the same level of support as Red Hat or Novell.
> In fact currently Lineox only provides an update subscription service,
> and no actual technical support.
>    White Box Linux is a one man show... For whatever reason, [John
>    Morris] has refused all offers of help, stating that White Box Linux
>    is made for the library and will stay that way. The current (30.
>    Oct. 2004) situation is that there are still packages from Update 3,
>    which Red Hat released the 3rd Sep., which are not built for White
>    Box Linux.
> Seems like a valid criticism of White Box Linux, which doesn't seem to
> be gaining any ground (stuck at #43 for the last year per DistroWatch),
> though I don't see any good evidence that Lineox is much more than a
> "one man show." (According to their web site there are two founders and
> no mention of employees. The counter argument Lineox provides is that
> they get their updates out within days of Red Hat releasing them.)
>    So CentOS (RHEL rebuild project hosted by cAos) should be more
>    reliable than White Box because there is no single point of failure
>    in human resources. There are however some uncertainties and
>    questions when your operating system provider is a volunteer
>    organization.
> [...]
>    A volunteer organization can't make any binding promises about the
>    release speed and availability of products and updates to them. One
>    has just to trust that the previous performance level is maintained.
>    There is also the somewhat related inability to sign papers like
>    NDAs, which are almost always required when dealing with commercial
>    companies.
> Valid points, but not a concern if CentOS is being used essentially as a
> stand in for RHEL. When the installation requires not just the software
> characteristic of enterprise software, but the business characteristics
> of it, then you pay the price and buy Red Hat.
> Depending on your level of confidence in Lineox, a certain demographic
> might find that their low-cost (about $20/yr/machine) update
> subscription service is a good alternative.
> It doesn't seem to provide any compelling advantage over CentOS from my
> perspective, with the one exception that Lineox might prove to be a far
> better business partner than a Red Hat or a Novell if you're a small VAR
> or consultant. For a client that couldn't afford Red Hat, I could see
> Lineox possibly being a better solution than CentOS.
>    All other current RHEL clones are built by doing the changes to
>    source files by hand. ... Lineox Enterprise Linux 4.0 will be built
>    completely by a script set. This means that the build process is
>    repeatable and the scripts act as a documentation. This approach
>    enhances the quality of Lineox Enterprise Linux and makes the build
>    process faster because the scripts can be prepared in advance using
>    beta versions of RHEL.
> Good point, though I'd be surprised if projects like CentOS were not
> heading in that direction as well.
> However...
>    Compared to Lineox approach all other clones have inherently lower
>    quality. As an other example, CentOS was the first with Update 3
>    after Lineox. Lineox had Update 3 based Always Current 4 days after
>    source availability, CentOS was ready two weeks later. So Lineox is
>    currently the only one with professional quality.
> I wouldn't necessarily equate speed of releases with quality. Is 4 days
> really enough for Lineox to have confirmed that their cloning process
> hasn't introduced any unforeseen side effects?
>    Where UserLinux fails first and foremost in my view is that it uses
>    Debian as it's base. This just isn't palatable for the existing
>    Enterprise Linux users because there is no upgrade path or even a
>    possibility to create one. Debian uses dep package format while
>    existing Enterprise Linux deployments use almost exclusively rpm
>    format and there are currently no existing tools to upgrade rpm
>    based installation to deb based one.
> [...]
>    It might help making Debian enterprise ready, but the response has
>    been very lame so far (see the article Perens readies old-school
>    Linux, but who wants it? for example).
> I read more about UserLinux, which aims to be an enterprise distribution
> for Debian, at the UserLinux site ( and some other
> articles. I agree with the gist of the above comments.
> In some ways UserLinux seems to miss the point of what an enterprise
> distribution is. In my view the software characteristics (release cycle;
> duration of maintenance releases; etc.) are only a small part of what
> draws companies to enterprise distributions. The big attraction is the
> traditional large company desire to have some other party be responsible
> (legally and otherwise).
> That means a community developed enterprise distribution isn't
> particularly appealing. They're good for small organizations that simply
> want enterprise-style software characteristics, but that's about it. The
> exception would be a community developed clone of a commercial
> enterprise distribution. This might have an appeal to some organizations
> as a lower cost alternative for non-critical systems, while providing
> uniformity with the official corporate distribution, so administration
> practices don't need to change, and systems can always be upgraded to
> the commercial distro if needed.
> UserLinux might have some success at larger organizations if a strong
> network of VARs and consultants forms around it to provide that
> commercial grade support.
> Other quotes on UserLinux:
>    And Gary Hein, analyst with the Burton Group, expressed doubt that
>    there would be much demand for the product. "What is a justification
>    for an enterprise to run UserLinux over Red Hat or SuSE? I don't
>    think cost is a factor," he said.
>    The price users pay for Red Hat and SuSE are "very palatable", he
>    added. "Especially if you see companies like IBM and Oracle standing
>    behind these distributions."
> And:
>    Bruce Perens writes: The solution here is obviously some front-end
>    on top of apt, and Debian packages. It's really strange that people
>    still complain about RPM dependencies, I don't understand why Debian
>    was able to solve this so many years ago and Red Hat still has a
>    problem.
> The article was from a few years back, but is package management still
> an issue on non-Debian distributions these days? Doesn't YaST on SUSE
> and Yum on Red Hat provide a comparable solution to apt?
> URLs for the clones:
>   -Tom
> _______________________________________________
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