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Re: Debian: abandon ship?

> I think everyone agrees that Debians package and security update systems
> are better. Red Hats installation procedure is userfriendlier, but that
> doesn't explain why professionals use it.

I can think of some reasons...

- Even being professionals, they want everything to be detected and
  configured automatically (and if not automatically, quite quickly
  and easily), because time == money. They can tell some unexperienced
  guy to install the system without worrying too much (the only time I
  tried this with Debian, the guy partitioned the disk exactly as I
  said. Then put all mount points under / -- which had 80Mb).
  Of course, after it's configured and running, Debian requires little
  attention... But then, the same is true for Red Hat (except for the
  security updates, of course!)
- Easy-to-use graphical configuration toole. Instead of managing all 
  possible machines, they can just help the user who asks for help on 
  the phone. ("Yes, click here, click there, now type this number")
  The professional may not have a problem with using vi/emacs/awhtever
  editor, but the usre who will need to actually have his hands on the
  keyboard would probably not be able to use them.
- Other similar features. "Allows me to focus on my work and forget as
  much as posible about the system internals", etc. Unfortunately, 
  many professionals can't afford to take into consideration if the 
  system is well-organized internally, or if it follows some strict 
  policy, or if it is tested for a long time... They feel ok if it's
  "tested enough", and just wait for the security updates.
- Marketing & related stuff. It's a big brand, and famous for being easy
  to use for people who don't want to know a lot about scripts & system
- The psychological effect of having new versions of their software
  every 6 months. Even professionals are affected, believe me! Also,
  (and this is my personal experience), the professional may not care,
  but there'll be a lot of pressure from the users to get new versions
  of things...

  I installed Debian on several boxes where I worked. In the beginning, 
  all was fine (we even had a local mirror, and a repository for our own 
  debs). After a while, some of the users (and those were developers -- 
  really not the "clueless" type) wanted to move to Red Hat or Conectiva.
  Easier to manage (so they'd focus more on developing the applications 
  they had to develop) and with newer software (docbook-xml,
  spamassassin, which needs new Perl, ssh [1], and other packages -- one 
  guy even complained about the version of Apache in potato).

> I question the claim that Red
> Hat provides better support (average helpdesk personel couldn't have
> helped me like (the archives of) this list have).

I think there's also some psychological thing that goes on here. People
think that with the help desk, they'll get an answer within a certain
time, while nobody guatrantees that they'll get an answer on a mailing
Also, you need to be careful when posting to a mailing list.. You're
talking to volunteers who may just not help at all if you forget about
etiquette. On the oher hand, help desk people already know that their
customers may be quite angry when they call (well, the system isn't

Some people will of course prefer support from a mailing list, and all
characteristics of Debian. Other just don't (or can't).

> I can't
> judge the system configuration system though. Consequently, I can't
> think of any reason for using Red Hat other than not knowing
> Debian (or fellow employees not knowing Debian).

Well, as I said above, my experience is the opposite... Diversity is
good. :-)


[1] Although the version of ssh v1 in Debian is secure (with lots of
patches), it would require other systems that talk to our system to
use protocol version 1. And we can't guarantee that the Red Hat sshv1 is
secure... But they needed to use it to access our network from home
(or from other networks there), where the distro wasn't Debian. So I 
had to backport the version from Woody -- and keep following the security
announces, and compiling it again every now and then.


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