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Old 05-14-2008, 02:22 AM   #1
Tony 1979
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Need advice for choosing distribution for servers


I'm working in IT department of the company with 500+ employees/PCs (all Windows XP Pro, with Vistas in the management). All (15) servers are Windows 2003. For a year I'm trying to convince my boss to put Linux on some servers. I believe that hype around Ubuntu helped me, and few days ago he agreed to put Linux on few PCs with public access, and on two servers (from 1999) that will host our intranet, few minor websites, and our public FTP server (and maybe more servers in the future, if these will do well). Now I have a task to do that job.

My intention was to recommend Ubuntu for PCs (ease of use, newest applications, eye-candy...) and Debian for the server (tested, stable...). But, now I have a problem...

As I said, I believe that it was Ubuntu hype that helped me, and now my boss leans toward Ubuntu as a solution for server too. Especially after dozens of articles during March and April which claimed that Ubuntu Server 8.04 LTS will be "enterprise-ready", this article that concludes that it is normal that Debian doesn't have strong corporate support (and that it will never have), and this survey which claims that servers with Debian had 5 hours of annual downtime during 2007 while servers with Ubuntu had only 1.1 hour.

It's *very* important that those servers do well, because I've a feeling that Linux will not get a second chance in my company. What I need to know is can I trust Ubuntu Server Edition? I see that, as in desktop edition, it uses newest versions of all applications, and that frightens me. How stable and secure is it? How does it cope with high load? How does it compare to Debian in those terms? What to think about that survey? Should I dump both Debian and Ubuntu and go with CentOS for servers?

Thank you in advance.

Tony
 
Old 05-14-2008, 07:17 AM   #2
unSpawn
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The article is an opinion piece. The "survey" doesn't list anything tangible. IMNSHO opinions and polls only serve a purpose if they explain (accompanied by trustworthy data) why X is qualitatively better compared to Y. Worse, the survey appeared to have been a voluntary web-based one. Even worse, if you used your favourite searchengine to check street cred you'd have found some "interesting" facts about the Yankee Group and especially Laura DiDio. Most of it is about her bashing GNU/Linux and her pro-SCO stance. So if you use the links you supplied as starting point for a discussion then I'm starting to wonder exactly what arguments you used to convince your boss to switch Operating Systems?..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony 1979
It's *very* important that those servers do well, because I've a feeling that Linux will not get a second chance in my company. What I need to know is can I trust Ubuntu Server Edition? I see that, as in desktop edition, it uses newest versions of all applications, and that frightens me. How stable and secure is it? How does it cope with high load? How does it compare to Debian in those terms? What to think about that survey? Should I dump both Debian and Ubuntu and go with CentOS for servers?
"Doing well" breaks down into a few things IMHO. You only told us you work in an IT dept. and nothing about your skills. If you're basically a Windows admin then you should ask for assistence, preferably well-versed in all things GNU/Linux. If you're comfortable with GNU/Linux yourself then you want an assistent too for reasons of efficiency, redundancy, second opinion, sharing knowledge, etc, etc. If you're not an admin then you should at least be allocated one in terms of workload, knowledge and insurance (or as scapegoat if you've got a weird sense of humour). Half of "doing well" means taking care of perception, the other half is in proper preparation. You need to plan things because sh*t will happen and you're working in a heterogenous environment. Don't try to do everything at once. Don't aim for the most high profile or prestiguous service as your first target. Use a staging area / test machine(s) to set up your infrastructure and do a phased roll-out when you are convinced everything is in working order. (Apologies for the perception/planning stuff, prolly the PM in me speaking.) Distribution strengths/weaknesses analysis is simple IMNSHO because you have business requirements. Doing business simply means a single focus on enabling people to do their work. To accomplish that you must be in control of things valuing the same keywords as you would associate them with servers: performance, reliability, integrity. You don't want to be denied access to certain packages because of the sole maintainer mimicking an authoritarian system of government under absolute control of a single person. You don't want to be forced to accept a distro's break-neck speed of releases. You don't want to wait for days to roll out security fixes only to find there's no quality assurance done breaking your machines. Let's make it clear I'm not trying to promote some distribution or be pro-whatever, just looking for qualitatively good criteria on which to base a decision. Each distribution vendor (or committee or person or whatever) has its own ideas about how to update, modify, test, package and ship things. But IMNSHO only few see (guarantee) doing business as their core business. The two or three that do are easy to spot because they've been around for years and have the knowledge and professional marketshare to prove it. They work with ISVs for acceptance, invest in getting the widely recognised certifications and support their releases for four or more years. If that doesn't spell performance, reliability and integrity I don't know what will.
 
Old 05-14-2008, 12:53 PM   #3
Tony 1979
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
So if you use the links you supplied as starting point for a discussion then I'm starting to wonder exactly what arguments you used to convince your boss to switch Operating Systems?..
My boss googled those articles, and I'm trying to do some damage control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
You only told us you work in an IT dept. and nothing about your skills. If you're basically a Windows admin
I'm network-equipment guy (CCNA). Since 2001 Linux is operating system of my choice (at home) - to be precise: Debian (2001-2006) and Ubuntu (2006-present).

Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
Use a staging area / test machine(s) to set up your infrastructure and do a phased roll-out when you are convinced everything is in working order.
I would love to do it that way but I was told that I, quote, "have 4 weeks to implement intranet, FTP server, and server for our minor web-projects" on junk hardware from the previous millennium (oh, and I should do it in my spare minutes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
You don't want to be denied access to certain packages because of the sole maintainer mimicking an authoritarian system of government under absolute control of a single person.
I guess this is Debian. (Is situation really that bad? I have a feeling that all important packages are maintained very good.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
You don't want to be forced to accept a distro's break-neck speed of releases. You don't want to wait for days to roll out security fixes only to find there's no quality assurance done breaking your machines.
And I guess this is Ubuntu. I use it on desktop, and it's fine. But I'm perfectly aware of its weak spots on servers. Unfortunately, it's possible that I will be forced to work with it, so I want to know will that make my life unbearable?

And concerning Red Hat (I guess that you were talking about it in your last paragraph), I have no experience with it, I only know (through media and acquaintances) that it's good. But I was told that, comparing to Debian/Ubuntu, it is substantially different (not harder, only different) to administrate, and unfortunately I don't have much time for preparations and testing.

Last edited by Tony 1979; 05-14-2008 at 01:05 PM.
 
Old 05-14-2008, 08:14 PM   #4
unSpawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony 1979 View Post
My boss googled those articles, and I'm trying to do some damage control.
Auch?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony 1979 View Post
I would love to do it that way but I was told that I, quote, "have 4 weeks to implement intranet, FTP server, and server for our minor web-projects" on junk hardware from the previous millennium (oh, and I should do it in my spare minutes).
Auch!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony 1979 View Post
I guess this is Debian. (Is situation really that bad? I have a feeling that all important packages are maintained very good.)
No, it definately is *not* Debian.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony 1979 View Post
it's possible that I will be forced to work with it, so I want to know will that make my life unbearable? (..) I don't have much time for preparations and testing.
Your strength is you're familiar with Debian and .*buntu. That's a good start, so unless you have doubts after all these years I'd definately build on that knowledge. So pulling it off more likely depends on what you can scavenge in terms of time and HW, and your inventory of what needs to be provided, especially with respect to Mcrsft-isms and other proprietary malarky that could stall your imminent World Domination.
 
Old 05-15-2008, 01:27 PM   #5
winklebe
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Hi,

I admin SuSe, Redhat, Ubuntu, Windows and OSx boxes. I'd say if you're familiar with Ubuntu stay with it. If support is a high priority Redhat is the big dog. Novell(SuSE) left me hanging with a Riser file system/Sendmail(commercial)problem. Redhat ain't cheap!

Man your in a bad work spot. Believe me I've been there. First of all don't let it affect you personally. Do your work to the best of your abilities and you'll never have to second guess yourself. Most bosses would not know a good job if it ran up and bit them in the ass. Polish up the old resume and start looking while your still with these jerks. Be professional. They obviously are not. Hope this helps.

Good Luck,
Bill
 
Old 05-18-2008, 01:42 PM   #6
Tony 1979
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unSpawn, winklebe - thank you for your responses! I've decided to stick with what I know, and that's Debian/Ubuntu.

And that leads me to this question: how big is the difference in stability and security between Debian and Ubuntu Server? Please, answers from people that have personal experience with both!

Tony
 
  


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