[CentOS-docs] What's an Enterprise class OS

Sat Nov 15 21:34:55 UTC 2008
Ned Slider <ned at unixmail.co.uk>

Akemi Yagi wrote:
> While we are still discussing the subject (or are we?), *yet another*
> new person posted a question in the forums [1]:
> "I was wondering, is majority of the software in the repositories
> outdated or is it something on my side (and how could I fix it)?  For
> example, the newest version of PHP that I'm being offered is 5.1.6 and
> gnome 2.16.0."
> [1] http://www.centos.org/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=17299&forum=38
> A link to the "planned" what-is-an-enterprise-class-OS article/FAQ
> would have been handy.

Well, I answered that one this time. Perhaps we could use my answer 
(below) as a starting point/draft for a FAQ entry. Feel free to comment 
or offer edits as appropriate:

CentOS is an Enterprise-class operating system (built from the freely 
available source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and as such is more 
about stability and long-term support than cutting edge. Major package 
versions are retained throughout the life cycle of the product, so when 
RHEL 5 (and hence CentOS 5) originally shipped with php 5.1.6 you can 
reasonable expect that php will stay at that version for the 7 year life 
cycle of the product. This is generally what Enterprise wants and 
affords developers a stable base on which to develop without fear that 
bespoke applications will break every time something gets upgraded to 
the latest and greatest, but ultimately buggy version or the API changes 
breaking backwards compatibility.

So no, you will generally NOT find the very latest versions of various 
packages included in an Enterprise-class operating system such as 
CentOS. It's a feature not a deficiency

Security fixes are backported into the shipped version. See here for 
details: http://www.redhat.com/advice/speaks_backport.html

If you absolutely need the very latest versions then CentOS is probably 
not the right choice for you and you may be better off with a more 
bleeding edge distro such as Fedora or Ubuntu together with all the 
disadvantages that those bring. Generally it's extremely hard to combine 
stability and long term support with the latest and greatest bleeding 
edge package selection. You make the choice which is more important to you.