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linuxmaveric 10-14-2008 05:27 PM

Wikipedia dumps Red Hat for Ubuntu Linux
I read this online in Google finance today. Interesting story. Here's the link to the article. I wonder if Ubuntu server could be a hit in the making in the next several years. Ideas anyone?

Wikipedia dumps Red Hat for Ubuntu

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Unhappy with definition of 'management'

By Timothy Prickett Morgan • Get more from this author

Posted in Operating Systems, 13th October 2008 19:34 GMT

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit entity behind the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, has finished the porting of its IT infrastructure - including most servers and desktops - to the Ubuntu variant of Linux.

Wikimedia has been running on a mix of Red Hat development and commercial Linuxes since it was founded seven years ago, and while the number of machines that have been changed is relatively small in terms of the size of the Linux universe, it is a win nonetheless for Canonical, the commercial company behind the Ubuntu distribution.

Gerry Carr, marketing manager at Canonical, said Wikimedia began its transition to Ubuntu in earnest in April with the Ubuntu 8.04 Long Term Support (LTS) launch, although the organization had some Ubuntu 6.04 instances running on its servers alongside a mix of Fedora and Red Hat distributions starting back in 2006.
Servers dominate

Wikimedia has 350 servers today supporting its operations and fewer than 20 desktops, with the exception of a couple of servers still running a Red Hat Linux and a Windows desktop machine that is used to run QuickBooks to do the accounting for the foundation.

All remaining servers and many desktops are running Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. All future servers will be setup with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, and Wikimedia intends to push that LTS-only idea to the limit by not changing Linuxes unless it has to.

In a case study Canonical has put together, Wikimedia's chief technology officer Brion Vibber said the organization explored the possibility of sticking with Fedora. However: "Fedora moves a little too fast and we were not happy about some of the configuration management features."

Several Wikimedia system admins also liked Debian Linux, especially Ubuntu. This seems to have tipped the balance from Fedora to Ubuntu.

Wikimedia operates three data centers - one in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, another in South Korea (the city is unknown as we go to press), and the last one in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa data center is where most of the iron is actually located. The servers are x64 rack-mounted servers in 1U- and 2U-form factors, and Dell is the dominant supplier.

The machines run MySQL databases, the PHP programming language, the Apache Web server, Linux, and the custom applications created by Wikimedia to create Wikipedia. Wikimedia uses the Subversion code repository and the Bugzilla bug tracking software, too. And is obviously very keen on open-source software. The Wikipedia site has 2.5 million English articles and supports a peak of around 50,000 page requests per second.

With the LTS distribution, Canonical provides tech support and security patches for five years on servers and for three years on desktops, compared to the shorted development cycles for regular Ubuntu releases.

The LTS releases also have broader and deeper application certification for the stuff that rides atop the Linux distribution. The announcement of Wikipedia's use of Ubuntu comes just as Canonical is putting the finishing touches on its next regular release, Ubuntu 8.10, code-named Intrepid Ibex. Regular Ubuntu releases have 18 months of support for desktop and server variants.

Incidentally, while Wikimedia is using Ubuntu to run the company, and that might seem to imply commercial-grade support contracts from Canonical, this is not the case.
Support free

According to Carr, Wikimedia has not engaged Canonical for support contracts but there is some discussion about Wikimedia using Canonical's Landscape system management tool, announced in March, as well as doing some sort of custom support contract.

Right now, Wikimedia is using custom Ubuntu versions that have its own software configuration tools. Carr said Wikimedia has plenty of Linux expertise and a standard support contract doesn't make a lot of sense. Canonical is also hoping that Wikimedia becomes more involved with the Ubuntu support forums and with the process of deciding what needs to go into future Ubuntu releases, too.

unSpawn 10-15-2008 01:15 PM

I don't see any USPs or details that drive decisionmaking?..

linuxmaveric 10-15-2008 01:52 PM

reply: Unspawn
Good point Unspawn. Looks like the guys out at "Works With U" website had more detail and less news spin about this wikipedia development.
Here's the link.

Lsatenstein 10-16-2008 06:12 PM

Wikapaedia switch
I am more likely to believe that the issues were not technical, but financial.

Red Hat does not have a behind the scenes cash cow, so their price and support package was probably not as beneficial as Canonicals.

The bottom line is "Its the bottom line that counts".

unSpawn 10-17-2008 01:53 AM


Originally Posted by Lsatenstein (Post 3312756)
I am more likely to believe that the issues were not technical, but financial.
Red Hat does not have a behind the scenes cash cow, so their price and support package was probably not as beneficial as Canonicals.

If you read the last article you'd have seen comments about the owner is still supporting Canonical with cash and that Wikimedia isn't buying support Packages from Canonical anyway. Since we both don't have access to inside information wrt this "deal" it could equally well be that Red Hat just decided that it's not their core business to provide free support any longer for that kind of brand name but rather concentrate money and effort on developing Better Stuff. That would make sense from a business perspective. Wikipedia may be nice and all that, but it doesn't exactly look like a powerhouse of technical innovation type of setup to me that would somehow rub off on whatever distribution it uses.

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