[Wolves] Red Hat Enterprise Server

James Turner james at turnersoft.co.uk
Sun Nov 21 01:30:37 GMT 2004

On Saturday 20 Nov 2004 16:07, sparkes wrote:
> Andy Wootton wrote:
> > It isn't fair to compare the resource use of Debian with RHE. The
> > comparison should be with Fedora Core.
> Why not?

I suspect that a full install of Debian would take up far more space than 
either RHEL or Fedora. Going by number of packages in a full install as a 
very rough and ready guide to disc usage, Debian is about 8700, Fedora is 
about 2000 and RHEL about 1500 depending on edition (cue Aq taking the Mickey 
out of the "Enterprise Enterprise Edition", etc, etc).

IMHO, size on disc or number of packages in a full install isn't a 
particularly useful indication of "bloat". Debian's massive package 
repository provides a wealth of software that you can pick and choose to 
build Open Source solutions - ie "bloat" according to his measure is a Good 

Though it can be useful to do a full install when evaluating a distro (so you 
can see the full range of features available), a production configuration 
would normally (or should normally) consist of the minimum install plus any 
specific additional packages needed to fulfil the machine's role.

Both Fedora and RHEL have minimal installs that include all sorts of 
unnecessary junk which Red Hat think you might like to have, but you actually 
don't - sendmail being installed and running springs to mind immediately. If, 
say, you are a novice administrator who wants to install X and use the fabled 
graphical admin tools, the inter-package dependancies are such that a 
ridiculous amount of junk ends up being installed as well - Nautilus CD 
burning support anyone? Audio playback libraries? Gnome panel applets? That's 

Debian and Fedora are both designed as general purpose operating systems, 
aimed at a broadly similar type of user, and have a strong emphasis on 
providing Open Source software and solutions (cue flames). In comparison, 
RHEL is aimed more towards running commercial applications such as Oracle, 
purchased by suits who are comforted by having everything "certified" as 
being compatible, standardised, etc, and enjoy the thought of spending lots 
of money in the process. (After all, power is measured by the size of your 
budget isn't it?) RHEL is optimised towards running on the "big" machines 
that these sorts of application need - hence Andy's suggestion that a 
comparision of Debian and Fedora may be more appropriate.

> you can compare Debian to any linux distro in any market and it compares
> well.

No doubt Debian is a great technical accomplishment, but I suspect there are 
specialised areas (e.g. embedded applications) where other distros may have 
the edge. The key element is choice - you can pick the best tool to do the 
job rather than going for "one size fits all". That said, Debian can be 
configured for a very wide range of tasks and can do them well. Probably more 
than most (or all?) other distros.

> It probably runs more servers than RHE and more desktops than Fedora and
> it does it all by being free.

Well, Red Hat based distros are still the most popular for public facing web 
sites - for example, see 
which refers to counts based on number of hostnames per distribition. The Red 
Hat ones must all be running either RHEL, Fedora or an out of date version - 
and the total adds up to quite a lot compared to Debian. I doubt many are 
running RHEL due to its high cost, but there you go. You know what they say 
about statistics...

> If decision makers can't learn the difference between free and free then
> they are obvously not in a position to be making business decisions.

Well unfortunately many still are and do. Some are learning. Slowly.

> oh and the current stable version 3.0(r3) is a month old and has
> thousands of supported packages with the next version (sarge) having
> lots more in the pipline ;-)

As I said, RHEL is aimed more at people who are interested in supported 
_commercial_ packages, where "supported" correlates as much to a legalistic 
certification of approval as the availability of practical help. Basically, 
they think they will be able to shift the blame onto the supplier more easily 
if everything should go horribly wrong (and hence not get passed over for 
promotion, demoted, fired etc).

Arguably, a preferable method of deciding which software to use would be to 
always default considering Open Source solutions first, but still feel free 
to use individual commercial applications where they can be shown to have a 
specific and long term advantage.

IMHO, this commercial advantage is limited mainly to preserving 
interoperability with other "legacy" commercial software that can't be 
jettisoned for business reasons, and there is very little in the way of 
functional requirements that Open Source can't provide for - and most of the 
most important stuff is already packaged and supported on Debian. This legacy 
of proprietary software (and staff lacking in Open Source-related skills) is 
very great at the moment (esp. Microsoft), but can only diminish over time as 
common sense kicks in.

Rant over. :)


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