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Ubuntu In The Data Center And On The Desktop

Ubuntu LogoI was spending some time today on Wikipedia, reading the entry on Ubuntu, and something hit me- something which I've known for a long while. I decided to sit down and blog it for those who haven't really thought about it. Maybe this post will catch you unaware, and maybe not.

Ubuntu is ONE distribution that you can use both on your desktop and in your corporate data center.

Think about this for a second. Ubuntu was released as a fork of Debian unstable in October 2004, and has been releasing a new version every 6 months. Then, in June or 2006, we saw the release of the first long term support (LTS) release. Ubuntu continued to release new versions every 6 months for the desktop user. Then, almost 2 years later, Ubuntu is ready to release their second LTS release in April of this year, codenamed Hardy Heron. See what's going on here? One distro for two purposes- the desktop and the data center. Let's contrast this to Red Hat and Novell.

First, I have the utmost respect for Red Hat. It's a company that has done a lot of things right in the Linux scene. Its developers have brought a lot of solid packages to the Open Source world, and it does many things correct, like run levels and system-config-*. However, you want an "enterprise" (I hate that word) distro for your data center? Better get Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Want more "bleeding edge" software on your workstations? The Fedora Project is the answer there. In other words, you need two separate distros. Same goes with Novell. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for your data center, and OpenSUSE for your workstation.

I find this rather unfortunate, as neither Fedora nor OpenSUSE are officially supported by Red Hat or Novell respectively. You must purchase their enterprise offerings for support. Contrast this with Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, who supports not only the LTS releases, but the regularly 6-month scheduled releases. In other words, one distro for both your "enterprise" needs and your workstation needs, with official full-scale support. There isn't an "enterprise" release and a community release. Ubuntu IS enterprise. Ubuntu IS community.

I look at my personal situation. The server powering this blog, and many other sites and services, is running the first LTS release, Ubuntu 6.06.2, codenamed Dapper Drake. Come April with the next LTS release, I plan on upgrading the server. Two years later, I will continue with the next LTS upgrade, and so on and so forth. Yet, I am running the exact same distribution, different release, on my 2 laptops and desktop. This makes it easy for me to only have to learn one distribution. It makes it easy to migrate packages, config files and maintain binary compatibility. While there is something to be said for remaining "distro neutral", there's also something to be said for learning one distro, and learning it well.

Ubuntu, keep thriving. I've been with you since your inception in October 2004, and you've got me 100% so far. To me, the philosophy of releases, support and Free Software is dead on. Not to mention, 1 CD, versus 5 or a DVD, is a no-brainer. It's no wonder you're leading the Linux world currently. You're making all the right decisions.

{ 13 } Comments

  1. Igor using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Windows XP | February 8, 2008 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Also Novell have a enterprise(y also hate this word, its the silliest concept in computer world) desktop solution called SLED.

    But you're right, Canonical is better because it also support "community versions"

  2. Nathan using Firefox 2.0.0.5 on Fedora | February 8, 2008 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Redhat also has an enterprise version of RHEL 5.

  3. me using Firefox 2.0.0.10 on Fedora 64 bits | February 8, 2008 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    > I find this rather unfortunate, as neither Fedora nor OpenSUSE are officially supported by Red Hat or Novell respectively.

    Red Hat support Fedora. Red Hat does not provide *commercial* support.

    > You must purchase their enterprise offerings for support.

    For commercial support.

    > The server powering this blog, and many other sites and services, is running the first LTS release, Ubuntu 6.06.2, codenamed Dapper Drake.

    A lot of Fedora contributors use CentOS (7 years support like RHEL).
    Btw :
    http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/EPEL

    > This makes it easy for me to only have to learn one distribution. It makes it easy to migrate packages, config files and maintain binary compatibility.

    RH9 => RHEL 3
    FC3 => RHEL 4
    FC6 => RHEL 5
    F10 => RHEL 6 ?

    RHEL (or CentOS) is the "LTS" of Fedora. Well, the thuth is "RHEL is not only the "LTS" of Fedora !".

    You can't compare RHEL with Ubuntu LTS.

    http://www.redhat.com/magazine/019may06/features/fedora_rhel_1/index.html
    http://www.redhat.com/magazine/020jun06/features/fedora_rhel_2/index.html
    http://www.redhat.com/magazine/021jul06/features/fedora_rhel_3/
    http://www.redhat.com/magazine/022aug06/features/fedora_rhel_4/

  4. tale using Firefox 2.0.0.12 on Ubuntu | February 8, 2008 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I think Ubuntu is the better distro, but I'd like to point out that Red Hat does have versions of their enterprise distro that is designed for workstations. I'm not sure about Suse

  5. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Ubuntu 64 bits | February 8, 2008 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    @Igor- Yes. SLED is the enterprise desktop versus the enterprise server that I was outlining in my post. Both of which are "enterprise" versions of OpenSUSE.

    @Nathan- This was outlined in the post: "Better get Red Hat Enterprise Linux.", which is also known as RHEL.

    @me- Red Hat does not support Fedora, they only sponsor it. You will no formal support for Fedora from Red Hat. "Commercial support" = support. It's the same thing. Also, Red Hat does not support or sponsor CentOS. Finally, you outlined the point of my post perfectly. You need to rely on two distributions. One for community/bleeding edge, and another for "commercial support". And of course I can compare RHEL to Ubuntu LTS. My point being that Ubuntu LTS is every bit as solid as RHEL, yet it comes from one company, namely Canonical, and I can run the same distro on my laptop.

    @tale- Red Hat does have the Advanced Workstations which are part of the RHEL releases. SUSE has the same with their SLED version.

  6. Terry using Konqueror 3.5 on GNU/Linux | February 8, 2008 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I would like to see Ubuntu have the OpenPegasus system as a package that you can install just like RHEL-4 (its called tog-pegasus or something similiar). Having a way for an enterprise administrator to be able to monitor and control the machines will be something that will make Ubuntu attractive to enterprises. You could even have HP OpenView connect to the pegasus repository and manage it. I'm sure it would make it more attractive to enterprises.

  7. Aaron using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Ubuntu 64 bits | February 8, 2008 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    @Terry- There are some attractive packages that are missing from Ubuntu, no doubt. However, many of which are very proprietary, even including a lot of tools from Red Hat and Novell when you purchase a support contract. I would like to see more administrative tools, however, make it into Debian and Ubuntu to make it more attractive for the corporate sector.

  8. me using Firefox 2.0.0.10 on Fedora 64 bits | February 8, 2008 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    @aaron
    > Red Hat does not support Fedora, they only sponsor it.

    You can "sponsor" a distribution only with cash or with a T-shirt.
    To "support" a distribution you need devlopers, track security issues, etc.
    Red Hat (and the communauty) support Fedora. There are explicit end of life for Fedora :
    http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/LifeCycle/EOL
    EOF means "no more updates, no more support, don't fill bugzilla, etc". It does not mean the distribution disappear or is "dead".

    It is not because Debian (the project) does not provide *commercial* support than Debian (the project) does not support Debian (the distribution).

    An example. Red Hat support for the kernel package of Fedora (and many many other packages) :
    http://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/buildinfo?buildID=34390 (For Fedora 8)
    * Wed Feb 06 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-135
    * Wed Feb 06 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-134
    * Tue Feb 05 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-133
    * Tue Feb 05 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-132
    * Tue Feb 05 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-131
    * Tue Feb 05 2008 Jarod Wilson 2.6.23.14-130
    * Tue Feb 05 2008 Chuck Ebbert 2.6.23.14-129

    It's support. Yes or no ?

    The development branche :
    http://koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/buildinfo?buildID=34341

    > Also, Red Hat does not support or sponsor CentOS.

    Right (for Red Hat). But all updates/errata done for RHEL are in CentOS. It's indirect support.
    All RHEL errata are freely available (src.rpm form):
    http://mirrors.kernel.org/redhat/redhat/linux/updates/enterprise/

    Changelog for the kernel of Centos
    -------------------
    * mer jan 23 2008 Karanbir Singh
    - Roll in CentOS Brand changes

    * mer jan 16 2008 Anton Arapov [2.6.18-53.1.6.el5]
    - [fs] corruption by unprivileged user in directories (Vitaly Mayatskikh ) [428796] {CVE-2008-0001}
    ...
    * ven déc 21 2007 Anton Arapov [2.6.18-53.1.5.el5]
    ...
    * mer nov 14 2007 Anton Arapov [2.6.18-53.1.4.el5]
    ...
    * mer nov 14 2007 Anton Arapov [2.6.18-53.1.3.el5]
    ...
    -------------------

    This is the Red hat support.

    > My point being that Ubuntu LTS is every bit as solid as RHEL

    You miss a point.
    RHEL is about certification (what certification have Ubuntu LTS ?), is about partners, compatibility, etc.

    > I can run the same distro on my laptop.

    With RHEL too.

    I use Fedora (desktop and some non-critical servers) because Fedora is a great distribution (like Ubuntu, Mandriva, ...), it's free ($0 and freedom), and give me the right support (some bugfix, security updates, etc). It is not a great support, but it's enough. And it's free (is it a problem ?).

    Which support did you pay form Canonical?
    Support can be free of change or changed.

  9. me using Firefox 2.0.0.10 on Fedora 64 bits | February 8, 2008 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Chuck Ebbert, Jarod Wilson, Anton Arapov work at Red Hat.
    The post-form removed the @...

  10. Matt Deverish using Firefox 2.0.0.11 on Mac OS | February 8, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Get Ubuntu to run properly on something like AWS in EC2 and you are assured of its dominance in the physical data center/virtual data center

  11. El Cerrajero using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.10 on Debian GNU/Linux | February 9, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Ubuntu people are making a great job attracting users to Linux, that's a fact, but after trying every taste of Ubuntu, I'm still feel more comfortable with pure Debian.

  12. Andy Goss using Debian IceWeasel 2.0.0.10 on Debian GNU/Linux | February 9, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    To upgrade from Dapper Drake to Hardy Heron you will need to go through all intervening non-LTS versions. Your other option is a clean install. If you want an industrial stength desktop that is upgradeable then Debian and CentOS fit the bill.
    I originally intended to use CentOS 5, but it did not, at that time, include a program that I rely on for my living, so from Dapper I migrated to Debian Etch.
    Unless you want fancy desktop features I see no point in looking past these two distros. Note that I am not knocking Ubuntu or Fedora, they are doing a great job of popularising Linux, but I would hesitate to use them for anything mission-critical.

  13. Xaco using Firefox 3.0b5 on GNU/Linux | June 7, 2008 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    @Andy Gross: not true 6.06 can directly be upgraded to 8.04

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