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Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 2:02 UTC (Tue) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832)
Parent article: Enterprise distributions and free software

Everybody seems to love RH. They contribute so much and others are just leeches. I don't think this is true.

I really hope the business model RH, Novell and Oracle use will die and I hope this is the first indication that it will die eventually. Oracle can just buy one RH license and continue to undercut RH because they don't waste millions on creating totally stupid franken-kernels that only appeal to dumb people that fell for false stability marketing.

A distro should be developed like the kernel itself. There should be one community that builds the distro releases and a lot of companies and individuals should drive it into the directions they want.

Where would Debian be if Novell and RH and Oracle etc had only put their resources into it instead of creating a whole new distro?

Logic dictates that not using free resources and wasting resources will be punished. I don't think we a free market anymore, but I hope that marketforces will bring down non-community distros.


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Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 2:06 UTC (Tue) by airlied (subscriber, #9104) [Link]

Have you ever used Linus kernel in a production env, then upgraded it 2 years later?

good luck.

The sheer number of regressions esp in areas like the VM is quite large, the kernel needs stabilisation periods that upstream doesn't supply, and shoving into Debian stable doesn't do anything other than sticking people with a kernel that isn't going to improve or add features.

The featureset of no major regressions + new HW support is something people think is worth paying for, community distros don't cater to this market at all.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 2:48 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

yes I have, I have been doing so for 14 years now.

I can point at the availability of the systems that I manage and compare it to the availability of the systems running RHEL and make a very good case that my linus kernel on whitebox systems is better than their RHEL on top-tier branded systems

if you blindly install a RHEL upgrade/kernel on your system without testing it, you will have some pretty horrible problems. If you are doing the testing, then it doesn't really matter if you are testing RHEL or linus-kernel based systems (although, if you run into something strange, you can get debugging and fixes for the linus-kernel faster than I've seen happen with RHEL)

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 4:18 UTC (Tue) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

I have to say I really haven't had this problem, even when running triple digit numbers of systems I can't think of the last time i've had an RHEL update go bad, kernel or otherwise.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 13:20 UTC (Tue) by SEJeff (subscriber, #51588) [Link]

RHEL 4.5 was a disaster of an upgrade:
https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=327591

Redhat took all of the upstream nfs client "fixes" that google primarily wrote and backported them to RHEL4. It did not go so well. The best thing I got out of working on this bug was ninja-level nfs debugging experience. See comment 8 for the secret sauce.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 18:21 UTC (Tue) by ricwheeler (subscriber, #4980) [Link]

NFS client patches that google wrote?

Are you confusing google (no interest in NFS) with NetApp which employs Trond, the upstream client maintainer?

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 20:11 UTC (Tue) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

If you compare the stability of vanilla Linus kernels on whiteboxen to $ENTERPRISE kernels on top-tier machines, you don't know if the differences are due to the kernel's stability, broken(ish) support for funky hardware on the "top" machines, different workloads/stress, or even simply due to different definitions of "stable" in different environments.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 12, 2011 21:00 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

true, although according the 'prevailing wisdom' both selecting top tier vendors and going with enterprise kernels are choices that are supposed to increase reliability

that being said, I used the kernel.org kernel on the top tier boxes for a few years before deciding that they didn't provide any additional reliability.

as for the argument that reliability means different things, in the case I am referring to, reliability is measured and defined by the same people.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 13:02 UTC (Tue) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

If nobody would do the Franken-kernel BS then all vendors would have to test with Linus RCs and everybody would be even happier. The enterprise kernel story is weak anyway you skin it and wastes so many hours of precious kernel devs lifes.
It needs to die and I hope it will sooner than later and I hope that the next few quarters RHs numbers won't be shiny and investors will punish them for wasting their money on inefficient development.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 20:26 UTC (Tue) by airlied (subscriber, #9104) [Link]

you look like you have a business plan in you, or don't really understand.

The QA cycle is longer than the kernel release cycle. QAing a kernel requires a set amount of time, at least for people to be happy that it isn't considerably worse than the previous one. Some of the benchmarks that enterprise customers care about can nearly take longer than the test cycle to get scheduled, they require hw that isn't always available. Never mind tracking down regressions using a bisect on a test that takes a week to run and process the results of.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 20:43 UTC (Tue) by lmb (subscriber, #39048) [Link]

QA cycles can be shortened. That is "merely" an engineering problem that can be solved: automation, parallelization, smarter tests, and better test plans. Not to mention better code review. There's a whole stack of books on continuous delivery & deployment out there in your library.

And even if the test cases were only run for, say, for every three upstream releases, I postulate that this would a) greatly reduce the chance that relevant regressions get introduced, b) even rev'ing the "enterprise" kernels every three upstream kernel releases would already be a huge boost over rev'ing them every 3 years.

I'd never have expected that, of all people, the _Linux_ folks would be the ones to claim that Linux/OSS can't work in an mission-critical environment but needs to be curtailed to a legacy "enterprise" model! I'm truly amazed.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 4:22 UTC (Wed) by airlied (subscriber, #9104) [Link]

I think you are missing a large point, if you have competent admins, and I stress admins, (having one super-hero admin is a really bad business decision and you deserve your whitebox+Linus solution to fail hard when your admin has some life altering event), then you can totally deploy Linus tree into mission critical places. Google, facebook etc are prime examples of this, even though google might be a few kernels back they are getting closer to mainline. However if you have management or admins who like to spend time with their kids/families then you have to have some sort of support place you can call and someone you can blame. Now the company providing that service cannot provide bespoke Linus kernels every 3 months, it just isn't practical.

Enterprise distros also have a whole bunch of certifications (government, application) etc that it isn't feasible to redo every 3-6 mths it can takes a year or so to get some of them finished.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 4:27 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

"QA cycles can be shortened. That is "merely" an engineering problem that can be solved: automation, parallelization, smarter tests, and better test plans. Not to mention better code review. There's a whole stack of books on continuous delivery & deployment out there in your library."

If you can make this model work, you have a brilliant edge over the competition. Feel free to try.

"I'd never have expected that, of all people, the _Linux_ folks would be the ones to claim that Linux/OSS can't work in an mission-critical environment but needs to be curtailed to a legacy "enterprise" model! I'm truly amazed."

Linux can certainly work in a mission critical environment. The debate is not about that at all but whether the current enterprise model is legacy or necessary. I would say that it is possible to tweak the model and vendors occasionally do that but it is not going to go away unless some vendor decides to provide a sustainable alternative.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 10, 2011 3:56 UTC (Thu) by BenHutchings (subscriber, #37955) [Link]

The featureset of no major regressions + new HW support is something people think is worth paying for, community distros don't cater to this market at all.

Actually, Debian does add hardware support, particularly for hardware that may be required during installation. However, we aren't nearly as thorough as Red Hat in doing this, mostly because we don't have the resources for regression-testing driver changes.

I have been meaning to propose some sort of hardware partner program for Debian kernel and X maintainers to work with hardware vendors (or upstream maintainers with good collections of hardware) on testing driver updates. But I think it would have to be somewhat different from commercial partner programs.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 6:06 UTC (Tue) by rilder (guest, #59804) [Link]

"
A distro should be developed like the kernel itself. There should be one community that builds the distro releases and a lot of companies and individuals should drive it into the directions they want.
"

All the upstream components which make up a distro - Xorg, Glibc et.al. among others are developed in a non-fragmented manner. You don't see two different vendors for Qt, do you ? Building a distro is perhaps the easier part, the actual upstream development which the distros refer to for feature enhancements,bugs etc is where the cake lies. Why else do you think there are virtually hundreds of distros ?

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 12:49 UTC (Tue) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

Most distros are just Debian with a different package selection.

And it is not like RH is a shining beacon of superb collaboration. All their Gnome3 hackers took a giant dump on freedesktop specs for example.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 20:13 UTC (Tue) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

"Most distros are Debian" is just not true in so many different ways...

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 23:42 UTC (Tue) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

http://distrowatch.com/search.php?category=All&origin...

That are 129 and it doesn't even include the Ubuntu, Knoppix etc based ones.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 4:34 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

You have selection bias and discounting all of the Fedora derived and yes, distrowatch doesn't list the majority of them either. If you go and count all of the different distros in Distrowatch, there is a enormous amount of them not related to Debian in any way.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 9:55 UTC (Wed) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

Maybe, but that doesn't change the fact that the majority is .deb.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 10:08 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

Claiming that it is a fact, doesn't make it so. Even if it true, it is different from your original claim that most distributions are just Debian with a different package selection. It is a world view of Linux distributions that revolves around packaging format, which is quite obsolete. SUSE for example is originally derived from Slackware and Mandriva while originally a Red Hat Linux derivative has diverge enough from its roots. While Fedora and CentOS share a packaging format, they are very different distributions. The interesting differences between distributions have nothing to do with a package format which is pretty much a archive with additional metadata and RPM/Deb is similar enough that this isn't worth pointing out anymore. Especially in the enterprise world, things like certification and lifecycle (RHEL is 7 to 10 years) are far more relevant.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 10:35 UTC (Wed) by patrick_g (subscriber, #44470) [Link]

Article from Bruce Byfield here : Linux Leaders: Debian and Ubuntu Derivative Distros
Quote :
"just under 63% of all distributions now being developed come ultimately from Debian. By comparison, 50 (15%) are based on Fedora or Red Hat, 28 (9%) on Slackware, and 12 (4%) on Gentoo."

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 10:44 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

As I already pointed out, Distrowatch list isn't exhaustive. Even my own derivative isn't listed there despite active releases for a long time for unknown reasons. The original source of the distribution isn't that important either. Even if the package format is the same, in practise there are all sort of interesting differences in the installer, packaging guidelines, higher level tools, patches, lifecycle, commercial support, certifications etc.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 11:33 UTC (Wed) by patrick_g (subscriber, #44470) [Link]

If better data are not available elsewhere I must use this study based on Distrowatch as reference.
Do you have more precise figures ?

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 11:44 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

No precise figures will ever exist on something like this because a number of derivatives are not public or distrowatch refuses to list them. This is similar to asking how many users a particular distribution has. People can give you ballpark figures but nothing very precise. Even if you choose to rely on distrowatch figures, they are ultimately not a meaningful number because the raw count isn't a useful thing to look at the other factors I mentioned earlier. The claim of "Most distros are just Debian with a different package selection" is obviously false no matter how you dice it.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 11:54 UTC (Wed) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

There is no distrowatch conspiracy.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 9, 2011 12:09 UTC (Wed) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

Now you are just being very silly. Distrowatch doesn't list several distros, for semi-arbitrary reasons. They try to make a judgement on which ones are likely to stick around and don't list all of them immediately. Some of them languish in the waiting period forever for instance. Noone claimed any of this was a conspiracy but rather that the raw count is a unreliable reference and there are significant and more important differences besides the package format and distro origin.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 12, 2011 9:06 UTC (Sat) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

"And it is not like RH is a shining beacon of superb collaboration. All their Gnome3 hackers took a giant dump on freedesktop specs for example."

GNOME Shell developers have yet implemented a specification that KDE proposed. KDE hasn't implemented some specs that GNOME developers have proposed either. Just because it is hosted by freedesktop.org does not in anyway imply that there is consensus that everybody should use it. This is a common misconception that freedesktop.org is a standards body of some sort. This has never been the case ever since the day Havoc Pennigton from Red Hat launched freedesktop.org back in 2000. Choosing not to implemented a particular spec does not imply lack of collaboration. It can and often is just a technical choice.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 11:54 UTC (Tue) by pkern (subscriber, #32883) [Link]

It's unlikely that Red Hat allows Oracle to support others using a low-end subscription.

Compare this to SAP vs. Oracle. The main point of that lawsuit was that SAP wrongfully used their access to Oracle's support site (which they had access to for their own Oracle instances, AFAIR) to offer Oracle support to their clients.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 12:52 UTC (Tue) by kragilkragil (guest, #72832) [Link]

SAP just did it wrong. Oracle is even more ruthless and won't be that stupid.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 18:48 UTC (Tue) by rahvin (subscriber, #16953) [Link]

If they use a RHEL subscription to support their clients they will be in breach of their contract (not copyright, GPL allows them to do it, but the Support contract doesn't) with Redhat and liable for just as much damages as SAP is going to pay Oracle. I sincerely doubt Oracle is that stupid.

No this move is going to cost Oracle some serious development money to re-engineer all of Redhat's work. When they were just copying Redhat it wasn't much of a concern but now that they are going for the value proposition by trying to provide a "better" kernel Redhat needs to react to make them spend what Redhat does to support their Frakenkernel. With everything provided in detail Oracle could have easily reverse engineered the changes and why there were made and cherry picked what they wanted, now they will have to actually spend money to do that or Engineer their own Frankenkernel from the ground up or provide a vanilla kernel. In the end it's possible Oracle simply won't be able to afford it. Either way Redhat has the marketing position to point out that Oracle's kernel is inferior to their own.

I would suggest that Redhat work with the developers of other good community members (Debian, Kernel developers, etc) to reduce the concern but personally I fully support their need to hurt Oracle's business. I believe that Oracle is trying to kill Redhat to make Solaris more popular. Redhat is a key community member and pays for development of a lot of the key pieces of Linux and the community can't afford for the company to go under. There is no doubt Redhat has done questionable things in the past, but they are probably the best commercial community member and I support their need to remove a parasite.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 19:34 UTC (Tue) by foom (subscriber, #14868) [Link]

> I believe that Oracle is trying to kill Redhat to make Solaris more popular.

You think Oracle started developing Unbreakable Linux to destroy Linux in favor of Solaris, 3 years before they acquired Solaris? As evil as Oracle may be, that seems to stretch credulity.

Enterprise distributions suck and free software rules

Posted Mar 8, 2011 20:18 UTC (Tue) by vonbrand (guest, #4458) [Link]

The "Unbreakable Linux" saga was a total flop; that they are now trying to use it's leftovers to leverage Solaris is just (re)use of available assets.

And never forget Hanlon's razor.


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