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I need help with picking a linux distro. And I can't seem to pick. The issue being, I need a distro I can install throughout an entire company. Normally I'd ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer RobinVossen's Avatar
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    Enterprise Linux Distro Picking..


    I need help with picking a linux distro. And I can't seem to pick.
    The issue being, I need a distro I can install throughout an entire company.
    Normally I'd go for Arch Linux or Gentoo anyday but this issue feels different, since these will be taken for example to customers and if the owners of those systems have an X that doesn't start. He won't be able to fix it. Besides this, I want to keep all the Linux/unix systems the same configuration (for maintenance sake) and thus I want to have the systems for the developers the same as for the sales team. So there is a technical imbalance. Some users write Kernel Modules during there daily routine.
    I thought about using Ubuntu or Fedora but I don't want to have so much clutter problems on there by default. (Although I haven't checked how easy it is to make a personalized livecd)

    Well to raffle a long story short, is there a Stable Linux distro. That does always pass Security patches really quick. That comes as quite a barebone system (eg Slackware, Gentoo or Arch) but allows a easy installation way of various applications like GnuCash, GnuEnterprise but also gcc, gdb, strace, ltrace, python2.7, python3.2 etc ?

    Also I have looked a LOT to Debian. But it uses the SysVinit system. And that is just something that is really bugging me.

    Any advice around? Eg a *BSD-style init version of debian. (hehe)

    Cheers,
    Robin
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  2. #2
    Trusted Penguin Irithori's Avatar
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    Granted, there are fancier things around than SysVinit, but is that really a show stopper?
    And given the maturity and stability of debian, it might be your best bet if you go for a "one size fits all" .


    Another approach is to group your users.
    Give the devs gentoo, so that they can play.
    And the sales team.. ubuntu/fedora/SL/etc., as the package based approach offers quick updates/downgrades.
    Imho: As long as their email/word processor/spreadsheet/etc application comes up, they wont care at all what OS is under it.

    It might get tricky, if the devs should provide software for the sales team, though


    How to manage multiple OS and groups of machines?
    puppet. cfengine.
    It doesnt matter which one you pick, but pick one
    I honestly wouldnt know how to handle my hundreds of CentOS, solaris, *BSDs otherwise.
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.

  3. #3
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
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    You have obviously looked at various systems.
    Stable, modern software, easy to manage.
    How about a happy medium?

    Debian Testing sounds about right for you.
    Jay

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  4. #4
    Blackfooted Penguin daark.child's Avatar
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    My suggestion would be RHEL or one of its rebuilds like Scientific Linux, ClearOS and CentOS. You can use kickstart to automate installation on multiple machines using the same template.

  5. #5
    oz
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    I need help with picking a linux distro. And I can't seem to pick.
    If it were me... I'd probably go with Scientific at this point for doing what you want to do. In the end, trying them is still probably the best way of determining which one works best for you and your chosen hardware. Let us know what you end up choosing.
    oz

  6. #6
    Linux Engineer RobinVossen's Avatar
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    Hello thanks for the advice.

    I am considering doing the following after running Debian Testing on a Virtual Box. [ jayd512 ]
    Running Debian Testing on all Systems with all the tools installed on every box.
    Locking every user (even the tech) out of there root account. Setting up a default DE for every user and making these files read only.
    After this is done, porting it to a installable medium using live-magic.
    Then installing a system would just be inserting the cd. [ To emulate the suggestion of daark.child ]
    The problem this gives is that this cd should be made every month since of updates.

    Then for the developers I am considering setting up a VMwareESX server with the distro of there pickings. Where they can roam and play with there little root accounts and fiddle around all they like. If they create a problem, they fix it them selfs. This server can have there source code repos etc so they can just 'work' on those while using the prebuild system but they can also work on the prebuild systems. And commit to the servers for testing. With hg, ssh and full root access they should be happy enough.

    Since I don't trust the sales to work on the laptops when they take them home and that they want to use there windows systems at home while working I can't use a Linux-Bound ERP System. (As I already pointed out I was about to use gnue)
    But if I'll give this the Curses layout I can make a little shellscript that will automatically connect to a server using ssh. I can handle it to hand out USB-Drives with PuTTY on them. [ http://www.gnuenterprise.org/gallery/forms10.png ]

    For the SysVinit show stopper I have found bum (and I bet you all already know about this).

    Puppet and CfEngine I still will have to take a look at. But they sound interesting [ Thanks Irithori ].

    As this first will roll on a test team for a couple of months I'll surely will try more distros if the first one is not acceptable. [ ozar ]
    I am also considering to write/search/install a PAM-Module to get server based authentication so they can sync there home folders with a server to get a bit of the ActiveDirectory[ thats windows language ] feel.
    Although I never really worked with PAMs before.

    Thanks for the advice. I'll post the results of this after its been implemented.
    I'd still love to hear more responses / feedback

    Cheers,
    Robin
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  7. #7
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    I have to concur with Ozar - go with Scintific or Centos if you want a free linux. RHEL or SUSE Enterprise if you are prepared to pay.
    These have the advantage of a long support cycle as against a new release every 6 months or so.
    Remember, being Enterprise systems, they don't give all the bleeding edge bits that say Fedora does, but they are stable and as secure as you want to make them.

  8. #8
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    If there're developers, they'll usually expect updated kernel, this means they update the system themselves with time. For this purpose I think Debian experimental is the best (although the least stable, but the latest).

    If you just want for normal users to use it (i.e. update doesn't matter for workstations with simple work), then a Gentoo build will be good. It'll be fast and actually a lot more stable cause it'll be missing a lot of components and daemons which will not be needed. Without updates, non-Microsoft systems cant break, thus that Gentoo install will never break.

    If the PCs you're installing in have same hardware configuration, then install Gentoo with native CFLAGS, otherwise generic, then copy over the install to all systems.

    A hybrid of Gentoo and Debian experimental will be Debian unstable or testing (either one). They ain't that unstable, but ain't that updated too.

  9. #9
    Linux Enthusiast Mudgen's Avatar
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    If the budget will support it, RHEL with a Satellite Server will give you the standardization and control you seek without your having to reinvent wheels or do complex integrations of management packages on your own.

  10. #10
    Linux Engineer RobinVossen's Avatar
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    Ok, I tried debian and it wasn't a success...

    Scintific will probably the next in line to be tried.

    For dE_logics idea to use gentoo for the 'normal users' it won't be a good idea since (as you already said) they don't all have the same hardware config. We use about 3~4 different types.

    The idea of Mudgen looks really promising. But I doubt I get the financial support. Managers don't like to hear 'opensource' and 'need money' in the same sentence. But I'll give it a whirl.

    So, next stop. Scintific Linux for the 'normal users' and pick yourself and configure yourself for the development team.
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