Would you recommend the product? no | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 7
Free version of Red Hat: very stable and reliable
but CentOS is better
If I rate this at 7/10, why donít I recommend it? Scientific Linux is an in-house project from CERN and Fermilab: what you get is what they want. CentOS is a community project, and the most widely-used distro for web-servers: what you get is what a lot of users want. The SL web-site has little useful information, while the CentOS one has a great deal, plus links to Red Hatís documentation. If you intend to enable any third-party repositories, for example, you must read the advice about setting priorities on the CentOS site.
SL comes in 5 formats.
Firstly, the 2 DVD set, like CentOS or Red Hat itself, with the entire repository and customisation available, including a choice of Gnome, KDE, or Icewm.
Secondly, a single DVD: slightly reduced (3.5GB rather than 5GB), but with the same customisation options.
Thirdly, a live DVD (2GB). If you install from this, Gnome, KDE, and Icewm will all be installed, with a lot of duplication and very confusing menus.
Fourthly, a live CD with Gnome desktop and very little software, even for a CD: Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, Cheese, and Totem.
Fifthly, a CD with Icewm and no software, suggested as a rescue disk.
Icewm was included so that older computers at CERN could continue to be used. The problem is that if a computer is too small for Gnome or KDE, it's too small to run the Anaconda installer! The DVD installer lacks a text-based option and the live CD lacks Icewm. The live DVD has a text-based installer, but that will install KDE and Gnome as well as Icewm. The best option would seem to be to use the Mini CD and add your own software. A better option for a stable, long-term-support distro on a small computer would be Salix with Fluxbox.
Note that SL is not so-named because it is intended for scientists. It has no extra scientific programs, and actually lacks some that are in CentOS: e.g. gromacs, Macaulay, and qucs.