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Old 08-01-2005, 03:43 AM   #1
rolandw
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Server Approved - good idea or a stitch-up?


I look after, apparently, one of the bigger enterprise Linux server farms in the UK. Our big name server manufacturer provides a list of Linux distro's that they have checked out and approved. Basically they give us a choice of RH or SuSE. If you stray outside these then they don't support your systems anymore - ie they won't support the hardware. Originally they said "RH7.3" so we installed RH7.3. It kept on falling over. So then they said "Oh that won't work, you need AS2.1" so we shelled out £1,000 per server but only installed it on 25% of the machines. The remainder we simply upgraded the kernel. We haven't had any problems since but... we haven't maintained a subscription to RH because of the high prices.

I'd like to be moving away from RH to a "cheaper" distribution. I think our hardware suppliers are holding us over the barrel of a gun to the benefit of someone else.

Are they justified in doing so?

Should we continue with our process of installing from very old install discs (ie RH7.3) and simply upgrading the kernel and other apps as a way of getting around this restriction?
 
Old 08-01-2005, 11:52 AM   #2
XavierP
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I would avoid using such an old distro if I were you, there may not be security updates for it and you could leave yourself wide open to attack.

Your distributor may mention RH and SuSE/Novell because that is what their techies are used to and they probably have a deal with those distro makers - nothing sinister in that, they are simply the 2 bigger and better known distros.

If you like the rpm based server distros, but don't want to stick with RH themselves, you could try CentOS - it's the RH Enterprise server distro but rebranded (completely legally) to not be RH. It means that you can still yse updates from RH.
 
Old 08-01-2005, 05:05 PM   #3
abrooks29
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Well your big players in the server market..at least getting support for, are Red Hat and Suse. Mandriva is trying to move into the arena but they are not there yet. If you're looking for vendor support, that's about the only option you have. With that being said, I run mostly CentOS on my servers. I have no support per se but I get the long life cycle. I still have a Mandrake 10.0 server but it's end of life is September 30th and I'm planning to move that to CentOS also. Unless you have some exotic hardware, I wouldn't listen to your hardware vendors and if you don't need the software support, I would look at the other enterprise alternatives. I do agree I would avoid RH 7.3. It's way too old to be used in a server environment. I run a small server farm myself for a local company. We have a mixture of CentOS and Windows 2000 servers and we do our own in-house support and couldn't be happier.
 
Old 08-15-2005, 02:43 PM   #4
tomasch
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You might also take a look at trustix - it's RH based and I have had excellent results with Version 2.2

Thay recently released 3.0 but it's going through it's teething problems.

Have not personally used CentOS - but given the number of times I've seen it lately - I might

Tom
 
Old 08-15-2005, 02:53 PM   #5
Kdr Kane
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Novell/SUSE is up to date and half the price of RH.
 
Old 08-15-2005, 05:31 PM   #6
abrooks29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kdr Kane
Novell/SUSE is up to date and half the price of RH.
Maybe you should go back and compare the two again instead of trolling. I give you a 2/10 for the effort though.
 
Old 08-16-2005, 10:56 AM   #7
rolandw
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Actually I think that many of these responses are missing the point of the original posting - perhaps I phrased it badly. Our hardware vendor is saying "No support unless you install Red Hat or SuSe" and both RH and SuSe are saying $$$$'s to me. I think that our hardware vendor is taking the piss because they basically don't say which version we should install and are being indiscriminately restrictive. If Trustix or CentOS work, should they not support their hardware still?
 
Old 08-17-2005, 08:18 AM   #8
PDock
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Quote:
I look after, apparently, one of the bigger enterprise Linux server farms in the UK. Our big name server manufacturer provides a list of Linux distro's that they have checked out and approved.
In that case one would expect you to have some leverage with your 'big name server manufacturer' but be careful of what you seek.
Can you reconfigure your raid, add a drive to an existing lvm, determine if a drive might be failing? The basic question is what questions/help have you been asking the manufacturer. If the answer is just OS related questions and you are capable of doing your own security upgrades as they are released then sure pick your own distribution. Keep in mind that both RH and Suse are not 100% open source. Also if you are reselling part of your 'farm' will any clients object to the move away from the big name distributions?

From the perspective of the big name manufacturers, recognize their business model is moving towards that used by printer manufactures. The money is not in the printer/server it in the ink/support(tie ins).
Quote:
If Trustix or CentOS work, should they not support their hardware still?
I would expect if you send them a failed part still under warranty they would replace it. But they will not help you determine what the hardware problem is unless your using an approved OS.

The net/net is if you own the boxes, can fully support the boxes, and don't have to answer to anyone else; then make the change.
 
Old 08-17-2005, 07:56 PM   #9
Diablo3d
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I'll offer the hardware vendor's (possible) perspective....

If you try to install, for example, BeOS and it doesn't work, they will be stuck with swapping out the hardware, restocking it, selling it as refurbished, etc, etc. By saying "Only RH or Suse" they can test their hardware for driver issues, etc, on those two OS's and minimize support issues from their end.

I agree with everyone else here, CentOS is the way to go. I don't have the 186,000 servers that you seem to, but I do have a lot and I have to say that CentOS is rock solid.

I do use SuSE for some applications (anyone remember UnitedLinux?) but I'm slowly, and sometimes painfully migrating over to RH.

If I had to compare the two, I would say that Yast owns for ease of configuration, but RH seems to be cleaner, have better industry support (everyone makes an RPM/driver for a RH kernel build) and stick to the LSB a bit better. If only they had a tool like Yast, honestly it spoiled me and my RH migration has been quite a learning curve .

Give CentOS a good look. I have yet to see or hear of a single instance where it differred from RH in any way but cost. I run it on production, high volume servers and it has yet to miss a beat.

If they give you any crap when you try to have a unit replaced, you can always keep a copy of RH 7.3 around to install on the server to verify the hardware still doesn't work... and if your vendor places this much burden on someone of your size, there are plenty of others that will be eager to earn your business...
 
Old 08-18-2005, 09:48 AM   #10
Builder
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Quote:
Originally posted by abrooks29
Maybe you should go back and compare the two again instead of trolling. I give you a 2/10 for the effort though.
To be honest, when I was looking into this, SuSE _could_ be a lot cheaper than Red Hat. Because you can buy an enterprise site support, you have a fixed cost regardless of the number of servers that you want to support. With Red Hat, your cost is tied to the number of servers that you want supported at various levels.

If I remember right, I was looking at about GBP350,000.00 per year for unlimited support incidents with a dedicated engineer from Novell. This was a pre-negotiation price, so I'm sure it could have come down In Red Hat terms that's 350 servers running RHEL AS on standard support (again, pre-negotiation prices). On that basis, if I'm running more than 360 servers, novell becomes cheaper. If I'm running 3500 servers, Novell is 1/10th of the price of Red Hat. Allowing for volume discounts for Red Hat, maybe Novell is only 1/5th the price, but that's still a big difference.

Of course, the big catch with Novell is that is per site. So all 3500 of those servers would need to be in a single location, whereas with Red Hat I can put my servers anywhere I like.

Of course, Novell don't quite provide an equivalent to Satellite. Sure, you can cobble stuff, but if you absolutely need that single point of information about your systems, to be able to build, patch and maintain configuration in one place, repeatedly slipped release dates, broken features and certificates that expire only days after you have them, then Satellite is the only way to go Seriously though, Satellite is a great set of tools, it would just be nice if RH got their act together on that one.
 
  


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