[Arm-dev] Enterprise distros and the two faces of 'reliability'

Fred Gleason fredg at paravelsystems.com
Fri Oct 26 16:19:24 UTC 2018


Howdy Folks:

Our discussion of the distinctive elements of CentOS’s Aarch64 variant has gotten me pondering. What does an ‘enterprise’ distro bring to the table that makes it desirable over the alternatives available? (By ‘enterprise distro’, I here mean the stream of data originated by the Upstream Provider, as well as those modified and distributed by all the various downstream projects, including CentOS). To my mind, I see two basic categories that are relevant here:

1) ‘Enterprise’ features, by which I mean things like: supports ‘big iron’ systems, supports fault tolerance and scalability, interoperates well with all of the common ‘non-native’ protocols and features found in a typical large computing environment.

2) ‘Stability’ features, by which I mean: has a well-defined infrastructure for distributing code fixes and security updates, has a long support lifetime, manages the ABI carefully so as to ensure that system updates can be applied with good confidence that they will not break existing locally-installed applications.

These two categories are largely orthogonal. I say ‘largely’ because there is a hidden implicit commonality: reliability. Yet the presence of one need not necessarily imply the presence (or even desirability) of the other. For example, a project that uses an ‘embedded’ board (BeagleBoard, etc) to make small, autonomous ‘widget’ type devices really does not care about about the presence of 1), while 2) can be a highly desirable attribute. Category 1) is essentially an *operational* attribute, desirable in certain use cases but superfluous (or even counterproductive) in others, while category 2) addresses *maintenance* issues, critical for long-term service and support of a system but largely irrelevant to the typical day-to-day operation of applications.

All of this to pose the question: is an ‘enterprise’ distro (in the specific sense meant here) an appropriate long-term choice for an ‘embedded’ project? Given the stated intention of the Upstream Provider to support only ARM systems that integrate APCI and comply with SBSA  [Server Base System Architecture] standards in future major releases (see https://lists.centos.org/pipermail/arm-dev/2017-October/003120.html), is such a distro an appropriate long-term choice for an ‘embedded’ project?

Cheers!


|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Frederick F. Gleason, Jr. |              Chief Developer             |
|                           |              Paravel Systems             |
|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
|       A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.      |
|                                        -- General George Patton      |
|----------------------------------------------------------------------|

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