[nSLUG] A method of selecting best fit Linux distro

D G Teed donald.teed at gmail.com
Sun Dec 3 08:13:47 AST 2006

In an environment where there are dozens of  *nix servers, there
are choices to be made in selecting a Linux distribution.
I am of the belief that one cannot do everything well with one
type of screwdriver.  Debian might come close to being
the most multipurpose distro, but there are still times where
a single purpose machine might be better served with
something like Redhat where commercial product
support and maintenance are issues.

Here is what I've come up with for a set of questions
that can help to decide.

1. Is the server to run commercial products or other projects which are
provided as RPMs, QA'ed against Redhat or Suse and should
be maintained with package updates?  Then Redhat or equivalent is
a good match.

2. Is the server to run packages which come as tar'ed source which we
make and install?  Then Debian or equivalent (Gentoo, Ubuntu, Slackware)
is a good match.  (Redhat support won't help anyway.)

3. Is the server to run packages which come as Debian packages?  Then
Debian (or Ubuntu if you wanted newest rather than conservative) is
a good match.

4. Is the server running packages which have a lot perl modules we will be
installing directly from CPAN and then requiring to update same?
Then something other than Redhat provides the best compatibility
(again, this is an area Redhat would not support).

Some examples of cases matching the above...

Oracle, WebCT, LON-CAPA: rule 1
Majordomo2: rule 2, 4
Inn: rule 3
Postfix with amavisd-new and spamassassin: rule 3, 4
Apache with tomcat, or modperl: rule 2,3,4

Does this seem like a sane approach to picking the best fit Linux distro?
I'd be interested in any comments on CPAN and Redhat.  My opinion there
is mainly based on experiences with Redhat 9.  I'm interested in the
long term evaluation as well - not only could something be installed,
but was it possible to maintain with updates for the next 3 years?


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