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Re: Debian's Future in the Coporate World

also sprach Atwal, Steve <steve.atwal@ubc.ca> [2005.03.09.1847 +0100]:
> - I've been using versions of Debian (namely Libranet) on 5-6 Linux servers at
> work for years. I'm facing increasing opposition from senior management to
> justify using Debian as opposed to RedHat due to the fact that most major
> hardware and software vendors do not list Debian as being supported by their
> product, e.g. Plone, IBM hardware, etc.

Plone lists Debian as the first supported Linux distribution.

Apart from that, you are in for a hard fight. The corporate world
has no understanding for reality, they only see blinking lights, low
prices, and snazzy slogans. The best and probably most truthful
response to their claims is probably the stability of Debian,
because it is the only large Linux distribution whose packages all
adhere by a strict set of standards which has not changed
substantially in years. The policy ensures that you can install
Debian once, keep it up to date wrt security fixes, and stay on top
of the system for years. The corporate world would call this
a "future-proof investment". Moreover, Debian is pretty much
standard across all installations, which means that no matter whom
they'll have to fix a problem, if s/he understands Debian, s/he can

Have them look at RedHat and others, and at reports by their users,
who have to continuously fear the next release for unwarranted and
unexpected changes, which break their setups and cause everything
from grey hair to raving fits of madness, and where every system is
unique (and a nightmare to manage after a while).

Also, tell them about "feature bloat" and how it affects stability.
Tell them that Windows crashes not only because it's badly designed,
but mostly because it tries to cater for everything under the sun,
and with sheer volume of drivers, the chance of bugs increases.
RedHat have in the order of several thousand patches in their RHE
kernels. Debian has a hundred, if at all.

And next, tell them that RedHat is cooking with water, just like we
are. Most of the drivers they use are available for Debian as well,
even though they cannot be installed with APT just like that.
However, Debian has an excellent kernel patch and kernel compilation
management system, which allows anyone to build kernels with
non-standard patches with little effort or knowledge. Thus, instead
of having 1000 drivers for every possible combination of hardware,
Debian makes sure to stay lean and mean, but make it easy to
selectively add those features that are needed.

> - I'm also facing increasing opposition since Debian doesn't seem
> to have "as nice a GUI interface" as RedHat for performing major
> functions such as Samba setup, clusters, networking, etc. And yes,
> we are using WebMin.

One thing you might want to try is figure out a hobby of one of the
executives and create an analogy. For instance, a corporative dude
who recently joined one of my courses enjoys music and good stereo
systems. Thus, I asked him whether he preferred to have access to 10
knobs to fine-tune the equalizer, or whether a switch between Rock,
Jazz, and Classic, which would configure the equalizer in the way
the manufacturers like to listen to the three genres, would do. Then
I told him that he can still get access to the knobs (because it's
Linux after all), and can still fine-tune... but when his wife then
decides to listen to Jazz, all the fine-tunings are gone and he will
have no idea how the presents have changed the individual knobs.
This helped.

Also, make sure they get the message that you are the one to have to
deal with the system, not them (subtly, not directly). Tell them
that you are way more confident to be able to meet their
requirements in terms of the services the machines offer when you
actually know the machines and know what's going on where and when.
Tell them that if you try to keep a meticulously organised workplace
desk for optimal efficiency, it does not help when every now and
then someone comes in to reorganise your desk a little, without
leaving a description of the actual changes made. This is how GUIs
invade administrator spaces at times. Eventually, the use of GUIs
causes a system administrator to lose the grasp of the system, which
can lead to anything between usability problems to security hazards
to the need to reinstall and start ffrom scratch, because cannot
keep track of the system anymore.

Hope this helps.

Please do not send copies of list mail to me; I read the list!
 .''`.     martin f. krafft <madduck@debian.org>
: :'  :    proud Debian developer, admin, user, and author
`. `'`
  `-  Debian - when you have better things to do than fixing a system
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