Enterprise Linux by any other name

I’ve been doing a fair bit or reading and writing and talking about different versions of “Enterprise Linux”, and the more I talk and think about it, the more I come to realize that I’m not as comfortable with the definition of that phrase as I would like.

The current working definition of “Enterprise Linux” is a Linux distribution based off of the Source RPMs and build methods of RedHat Enterprise Linux. Essentially a group of people get together, put together a build infrastructure, and make a distribution using RedHat’s released sources. However, there are interpretations and changes made that make each of these distributions unique in their own right. CentOS has its issues, of course, but tries to stay as faithful as it can to the RedHat product. Scientific Linux seems to be a livelier group right now, but they’re truly making their distribution their own.

For example, SL doesn’t install the RedHat/Fedora Auto Bug Reporting Tool by default. While this is perfectly fine, it does make me wonder how if SL wants to push any bugs their community finds upstream or if they want to patch them within their own community. I was instructed by of the moderators at the SL forum site to contact one of the primary SL contributors about this, and I will. I’ll of course report back what I hear. I look forward to it.

I don’t know much about PISA’s philosophy, really. If someone knows more about the project team and their goals, I’d love to know.

AscendOS is just now getting off the ground, and their vision of building out an Enterprise Linux distribution without all of the baggage of the older communities. Noble, sure, but they’re still doing one thing like all the rest that may be worth examining. They’re all based off of what RedHat decides to do in their distribution.

I get the conventional wisdom, that if you follow RedHat’s lead, it’s easier to be compatible with RedHat. But it also piegon holes a distribution in to making mistakes that RedHat makes.

Now if you know me or have ever worked with me or talked to me for more than 3 minutes or been to a Richmond LUG meeting,  you’ll know that I’m a huge RedHat fanboy. I love how Shadowman goes about his business, and think they’re an admirable example of how to be a really good open source company. The RedHat product that really moved them into the limelight was RHEL 5. After coming out in 2007, it became the Linux standard in the Enterprise. But it had some serious shortcomings that proved at least annoying, and sometimes painful, for admins running it on a daily basis. The decisions that pop into my head are

  • holding on to Python 2.4 for so long
  • not including syslog-ng
  • not moving up to openldap 2.4
These are some of the first changes that happen to most any RHEL/CentOS 5.x installation that I control. I know RedHat had a good reason to maintain the older versions of python and ldap, and not including syslog-ng. But is it the best for an enterprise?
Should their be a distribution out there that relies more on sound principles than a specific company to guide their product? A community that tried to make the best distro available to run in a corporate environment.
Should we change how we define “Enterprise Linux” from “a RHEL-derived Linux distribution” to “A downstream Linux distribution that is optimized and hardened to work best in a corporate environment”. I guess that’s a pretty open-ended question, but I think it’s worth thinking.

3 thoughts on “Enterprise Linux by any other name

  1. Hi
    Very interesting your posts. I think you are forgetting the BuLinux: a clone of Centos based in Boston University.
    Best Wishes

  2. If you want syslog-ng (though, you should know better to install rsyslog, which is greatly superior) or other packages . . then just do what everyone else does, install them!

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