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Enterprise distributions and free software

Enterprise distributions and free software

Posted Mar 8, 2011 14:03 UTC (Tue) by lmb (subscriber, #39048)
In reply to: Enterprise distributions and free software by rick.dennis
Parent article: Enterprise distributions and free software

You are assuming that these requirements cannot be met by a "thawed" kernel; I disagree; and I do think I have some perspective. (And that is ignoring the small detail that the "frozen" enterprise kernels have substantial change rates as well.)

The main reason why enterprise distributions exist is that change causes fear in humans, whether justified or not. There are several ways of resolving that; one is to avoid/hide the change (which is what enterprise distributions do - "ohhh, version number is static, must be stable").

The other is to make the risk/cost associated with change drop below the benefits of the newer versions. There is no reason why "upstream tip" should be of lower quality or stability than an enterprise distribution. (That it sometimes, indeed, _is_ of lower quality perhaps tells us something important. But that can be addressed.)

Mind, the first model makes good money; and it satisfies a real and justified need the customers have - managing risk. But it is not the only possible solution. While you won't be able to sell the second to everyone, nor that it would work immediately, or that I have all the answers.

But it's one of these things that I'd love to investigate more. One of these days I'm going to shake a tree until a business angel falls out ... ;-)


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Enterprise distributions and free software

Posted Mar 8, 2011 14:26 UTC (Tue) by rick.dennis (guest, #61887) [Link]

I am assuming -- but it's from years of experiencing it with current hardware or 3rd party software. Perhaps if we hired enough people we could go concentrate on those items to make that latest kernel work -- though that is not our core competency.

I suppose it is fear. Fear that IF we rolled our own and said, yes we will loose support for that 3rd party messaging software or clustering solution, but I'll take on support for that too if things break. Fear that the business is impacted by this, or fear that I could spend my days debugging 3rd party software. (Though really, Sr. management probably has more fear of this and would never allow it to go that far.)

If you mean that the 3rd party software could use a "thawed" kernel in an enterprise distribution -- I don't think we have any evidence (or hope) of tens or hundreds of them all agreeing to support their products on such a kernel. Inevitably it will need to be frozen.

Enterprise distributions and free software

Posted Mar 8, 2011 16:30 UTC (Tue) by lmb (subscriber, #39048) [Link]

"We" already have the people working on it. They are just currently backporting stuff, and are actually _replicating_ a huge amount of QA and engineering, because they are the only ones testing that particular combination of patches.

If the same - probably less, overall - effort was piled on top of upstream, there's absolutely no reason why that wouldn't work. I clearly didn't say to "roll your own"; there's value in paying someone for this, because it allows them to specialize, and will be there to support users in case something goes wrong. (And also take the responsibility.)

I completely disagree on the "inevitably". Clearly, this is not the case - it doesn't get frozen forever, because every so often, the enterprise vendors do rev up the kernel. And because it only happens so rarely, it is a huge effort, at which time a lot of problems are found. (Because they crept in when nobody was watching.) If appropriate diligence was instead applied to the on-going releases, there's no reason why a smooth, incremental path wouldn't be available.

There's no reason why the latest upstream shouldn't be supportable. In fact, the pool of engineering on it would be even larger than for any current enterprise distribution.


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