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Re: support for RedHat distributions


I know nothing about Fedora Linux, but if the upgrade path 

RH 7.x and RH 9 -> Fedora Linux

for existing RH users is relatively painless, then this would be something
in favour Fedora Linux. SuSe or Debian or any other distribution would
probably mean reinstalling all new distributions from scratch. 

I would be happy to volunteer if you need testers for any of the proposed 


Duncan Napier
IT & Instrumentation Consultant
Dept of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Simon Fraser University

" ... if you get the funny feeling you're being watched, well, that's
going into your file." Dennis Miller - The End of Privacy. 

On Mon, 17 Nov 2003, Martin Siegert wrote:

> Dear Linux-security subscribers:
> ... there will be none (see subject).
> As most of you probably know by now RedHat has announced that it will
> not release another free Linux distribution, i.e., RH 9 will be the
> last. Support for RH 7.x will end at the end of this year, support
> for RH 9 will end at the end of April.
> What are the alternatives?
> Alternative 1: Fedora Linux
> There exists a product called Fedora Linux, which RedHat seems to promote
> as the successor of the free RedHat distributions. Currently, you can
> download "Fedora core 1". Fedora will be a "community supported"
> product whatever that means.
> While the transition from RedHat Linux to Fedora Linux will be easy
> - the two are very similar - there are uncertainties connected with
> Fedora Linux that make its suitability for production systems questionable:
> 1) it has been announced that there will be three core releases every
> year of Fedora Linux. This sounds as if using Fedora Linux will be like
> living on the edge: always the newest and greatest - not necessarily
> good for stability.
> 2) with three core releases every year, it is completely unclear how
> long older releases will be supported: support for 2 years would mean
> that at every point in time upto 6 distributions would have to be
> supported, 9 distributions, if the support lasts over 3 years. Very
> unlikely.
> 3) it is completely unclear how how fast the Fedora team will come up
> with security updates after the discovery of a severe security hole.
> Note a community based distribution not necessarily has to be slow
> with security updates - Debian is the best counter example, but
> Debian also has the opposite strategy than Fedora: stability is more
> important than new features every few months.
> Alternative 2: SuSE
> Despite recently being bought by Novell SuSE support for free distributions
> still seems to be strong (I receieved on email from SuSE.com confirming
> that). SuSE is definitely high quality, has fast releases for fixing
> security problems, is rpm based. Support for older releases seems to be
> at least 2 years (SuSE still support SuSE 7.2, which came out about
> 2 years ago). All of that make it the perfect candidate for production
> systems. However, it will be different and will take some time to
> get used to.
> Alternative 3: Debian
> Debian is a community based distribution. It is high quality. And it
> has reasonable support for older distributions. However, it is not
> rpm based. And more importantly, almost no support for Debian systems
> from commercial vendors exists. If you rely on commercial compilers,
> software libraries, etc. Debian is not for you.
> The most appealing plan (at least from my perspective) for the SFU
> distributions is the following:
> 1) support for RH 7.1 and 7.2 will disappear at the end of this year.
> 2) support for RH 9 will disappear at the end of April.
> 3) we will be supporting Fedora Linux, at least on a test basis.
> 4) I will try to start supporting SuSE Linux, probably starting with
>    version 9. This will require work - currently we have no experience
>    with building SuSE distributions.
> 5) ACS runs a large number of systems that run RH 7.3. These systems
>    rely on this particular version of the OS, because they use commercial
>    software packages that only work with this particular version of glibc.
>    For that reason we will be trying to support RH 7.3 (we probably have
>    to rename it to something else) beyond Dec. 31 by backporting security
>    updates to RH 7.3. Right now we cannot say how long we will be
>    able to continue that support, but alternatives to that approach would
>    be very expensive.
> I would like to hear your comments, suggestions, wishes, etc. with respect
> to these issues.
> In any case this will not be an easy transition.
> Cheers,
> Martin
> -- 
> Martin Siegert
> Manager, Research Services
> WestGrid Site Manager
> Academic Computing Services                        phone: (604) 291-4691
> Simon Fraser University                            fax:   (604) 291-4242
> Burnaby, British Columbia                          email: siegert@sfu.ca
> Canada  V5A 1S6