[nSLUG] A method of selecting best fit Linux distro

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Dec 3 10:03:20 AST 2006

On 12/3/06, D G Teed <donald.teed at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> [...]

There are other considerations:

+1) Can the task be performed using the most common distro you already have?

It is often better to keep the number of distros to a minimum, even it
means extra work to support some applications.  Pick your main distro
and add others only if there are compelling arguments against your main distro.

+2) Do you need access to the latest version of the application?

Some applications are experiencing rapid development and may need
current versions of various toolkits (Gnome, KDE).  In such cases you
may want to use Debian unstable, Fedora Core, etc. where other people
are porting current toolkits.

Virtual machines can help meet the need for a specialized environment
without the investment in sys. admin. needed to get a distro up to
your standards (firewall, logging, mail, etc.).

+3) Do you need to provide application-specific formats to 3rd parties?

For some specialized apps, the best of category may only be available
for a specific platform.    If you have to send application-specific
files to a 3rd party, you will want to have access to the application.
 In dealing with publishers/print shops, "EPS" (encapsulated PS) means
a file that can opened in Adobe apps.  This type of "EPS" file is just
one instance of the "EPS" defined in the PostScript Language Reference
Manual.  "EPS" you can produce on Linux may not work well on the print
shop's prepress system.

If you need a small number of specialized systems, COTS tools may be
much easier to get working and use than trying to overcome with the
differences between linux tools and "industry standard" applications.

+4) Do you have a balanced set of distros?

The distros you use should be considered like an investment portfolio.
You want a base of stable, reliable earners, but you also need to have
some investment in the future so you will be ready to move ahead when
the need arises.  Some sites run RHEL version N on their servers and
Fedora Core on desktops, with the idea that exposure to FC will help
prepare admins for RHEL version N+1.

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia


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