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Debian and Enterprise Linux

Debian and Enterprise Linux

Posted Oct 9, 2003 18:31 UTC (Thu) by X-Nc (guest, #1661)
Parent article: An Evening with Bruce Perens

While I completely agree that Debian is one of the best distros in existance, there are some fundimental "problems" with using it as the foundation of an Enterprise Solution.

First, it's development cycle is, paradoxicly enough, both to slow and to fast. The "stable" tree is to slow WRT adopting things that are newer which businesses will likely need. The unstable tree(s) are, well, to unstable for a business to use. I know that they really are what we would call stable, but companies have a different POV on these things.

Second, the deb package format is just not going to fly. Before everyone starts a debate (flame war) on this, the deb format is very good and technicaly excellent. The problem with it is that it stands alone. If a company has a choice of using what is percieved as a "standard" or something that is percieved as "radical" it's a no brainer which they'll pick. Remember, apt is not part of the actual package format but a utility for manipulating it. And it works just as well with rpm as with deb.

Third, the installation and configuration of Debian are not easy enough to use for the scope of businesses. Even Solaris and AIX are much better and easier to use from this perspective.

It seems to me that if you wanted to make a Free Enterprise distribution you could start with the srpm's from RH AS or ES. Take them, filter out anything that isn't as "free" as defined by whatever this proposed Free Enterprise distro decided to do, and build from there.

At least that's an idea.

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Debian and Enterprise Linux

Posted Oct 10, 2003 3:20 UTC (Fri) by bajw (guest, #11712) [Link]

While I am a stock holder in Red Hat, I mostly use Debian, though there are some problems there as well. For example, Debian is not an easy setup on a Mac even with a 2.4 kernel, due to the setup of a USB mouse, among other things. This type of issue will keep businesses away. There are other examples, such as newer hardware, even on Intel PCs. Look at the binary-only drivers for nVidia cards or other stuff in the Intel machines. Of course, Red Hat doesn't support Mac hardware at all and has the same Intel limits, so is certainly not better.
But it is still true that RPM doesn't come close to apt-get for package management, even though either system is still rather poor for long term, continuing updating. In either system, the pain caused by an upgrade is usually solved/prevented by keeping all data in the (separate) /home partition, and doing a complete forklift upgrade by reinstalling to a newer system that just "comes with" all the desired hardware support and reinstalling the /home from backup instead of trying to keep up with knowing enough about the system to upgrade the "right way" in pieces. Even so, this is way too hard to do for most business users, due to the need to recreate each config file or other customization. Yes, the Debian way is better, but less "standard" (whatever that means), but it still doesn't make for easy computer replacement for an individual user in a business setting, or even simple hardware replacement/upgrade on a single machine, especially when the support for that hardware is only available in the newer kernels or other software not in "stable".
There seems to be room for yet another distro, or a merger between Debian and Fedora, or some other solution to these limits that are too hard to deal with for most businesses, and will prevent their adoption of Linux and all the perceived troubles that would cause in the lives of the IT staff who would implement the change, and the managers who fear Free Software because of not seeing how to make it fit into their business views, which include a (rather fanatical) support of "Free Interprise" and all the patent/trademark/copyright things that implies to them.
Some of it is a peception problem, but some of it is real. The combination allows the closed source, "business-oriented" suppliers to maintain a perceived advantage over the Free Software stuff.

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