[CentOS-devel] Balancing the needs around the RHEL platform

Tue Dec 29 09:06:10 UTC 2020
Laurențiu Păncescu <lpancescu at centosproject.org>

On 12/29/20 8:33 AM, Simon Matter wrote:
> For me the characteristics of RedHat EL/CentOS have always been:
> * It's stable, and stable for 10 years minus the first ~1-2.
> * It's old and outdated, nothing to make developers happy.
> * It provides a quite limited package set with high stability and quality.
> A lot of interesting stuff (things like Tomcat) have to be installed from
> elsewhere without stability and high quality or easy management.
> * It has a lot of competitors but the long support is unique.
> * As an admin, if you have a lot developers around you, you ALWAYS have to
> defend the usage of RHEL/CentOS because ALMOST EVERY developer would like
> to use something else.

For me it makes more sense to pick a distro based on application needs, 
it saves a lot of trouble if what you need isn't directly supported by 
RHEL base repos:

* if your organization or customers mandate RHEL, or you need 
third-party hardware drivers or expensive applications (CAD, medical 
imaging, FEA, physics simulations) only certified on RHEL, then RHEL it is
* if you're developing upstream software like the kernel, or for 
statically-linked microservices or utilities in Go, Fedora has the 
latest upstream releases and is very stable considering how fast it changes
* if you develop application with lots of dependencies, like Java 
enterprise apps or apps in Rails or Django, the huge selection of 
packages in Debian or Ubuntu LTS will provide you stable versions with 
security updates handled by the Debian or Canonical security teams, so 
your application keeps running without fighting Maven or having to 
choose between a security vulnerability and a newer version in a 
third-party repo breaking your application (Debian almost never breaks 
something with security updates or point releases, because they don't 
backport new features to old versions, proprietary hardware drivers are 
not an issue with Ubuntu or Debian if running on AWS, and HP and Dell 
offer physical servers with Ubuntu LTS support[0])
* if you need DTrace, ZFS or the best network throughput, FreeBSD can do 
that very well (but FreeBSD Ports is similar to Gentoo, no stable 
versions that only get security updates)

Backpack, formerly 37signals, wrote in 2006 that they run RHEL 6 on the 
database servers while their application servers use Ubuntu LTS, so I 
guess I'm not the only one looking at this pragmatically.[1]

I only used Debian and CentOS until now, but I think Ubuntu got so 
popular because they hit the sweet spot: 5 years of support and you get 
the same binaries and timely security updates even if you don't pay 
anything (10 years of support with Ubuntu Advantage, paid), big 
selection of packages, reasonably new versions of packages, third-party 
driver support from some OEMs, PPAs from Nginx and others, many 
developers you would hire are already familiar with it from home (I only 
used Debian and CentOS, not Ubuntu, though).

[0] https://linux.dell.com/files/supportmatrix/Ubuntu_Support_Matrix.pdf