[NCLUG] Suggestions for a distro change

Sean Reifschneider jafo at tummy.com
Tue Apr 7 13:08:04 MDT 2009

Shelley, Robert - Fort Collins, CO wrote:
> Linux distros, let me be the first to suggest Debian Long Term Stable.
> http://www.debian.org/doc/FAQ/ch-choosing.en.html#s3.1  It is intended

Debian stable is *NOT* a "long term" release, certainly not in the family
of the "LT" in Ubuntu LTS or CentOS.  Debian only provides security
updates for a release for 1 year after the following release, so it's
fairly heavily driven by the Debian schedule.  Which means that right now
we don't know how much longer Debian Lenny is going to be supported, and
Etch is only supported for 10 months now.

This is why I think that Debian is not a good choice for production

Of course, it really depends on what you mean by "server".  If you mean
something like "My music server at home", it's probably fine.  If you mean
"The server at my data center that runs all these public-facing services,"
in my experience Debian has not been a good choice.

Neither is Fedora or Ubuntu non-LTS or OpenSUSE.

If you are currently running Fedora, CentOS is probably what you want to
look at.  It has 7 years of support, so CentOS 4 is supported until 2012,
and CentOS 5 until 2014.  CentOS 3 even is supported for another 18 months.

Red Hat Enterprise is also an option, if you would like to pay the (modest
IMHO) price for support.

Ubuntu LTS (8.04 currently) is another good choice.  The nice thing about
Ubuntu LTS is that it's the same thing as the general release, there's not
a Fedora/CentOS split like there is with RHEL.

However, *NOT* all Ubuntu releases are LTS, so you don't just go grab the
latest Ubuntu you need to make sure to get the LTS if you want the longer
package cycle.  This confusion is the down side of there being no split like

SUSE is really only an option if you are willing to pay for it.  There is
no CentOS equivalent of SLES -- OpenSUSE is *NOT* an LTS release.  This is
IMHO one of the major weaknesses of SUSE.

One thing to realize is that you pay a price for these longer term
releases.  The packages on them will be older, so if you really rely on
having recent packages you are likely to be disappointed.  If that's the
case you either need to look at back-porting the packages you need (which
can range in pain from "little" to "sticking your face in a fan", depending
on how invasive that package is).

If you really need more recent packages, you will have to carefully think
about whether you should go with a non-LTS release that has the packages
you need, and take the pain of updating, deciding if you can live with the
older versions, or deal with back-porting and checking for updates of the

I realize that a lot of this is just echoing what others have said in this
thread, but I think it also expands a bit on some of what was said.

Sean Reifschneider, Member of Technical Staff <jafo at tummy.com>
tummy.com, ltd. - Linux Consulting since 1995: Ask me about High Availability

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