Thu May 22 16:43:55 UTC 2008
James B. Byrne <byrnejb at harte-lyne.ca>

On : Wed, 21 May 2008 16:57:37 -0400, "Ross S. W. Walker" <rwalker at medallion.com>

> I would just buy the RH licenses for the project. CentOS may work well
> for development and testing platform, but the production code should
> be on fully supported RHEL.

Having been on RHEL support, and having had occasion to use that support quite
extensively, I have formed an opinion to the contrary.

My experience did not lead me to the conclusion that licensed RHEL
distributions, together with the highest available level of support offered by
RedHat, provided any measurable benefit over CentOS and community support.  In
fact, my experiences with RedHat Support, which were not in the least bit
negative, led me to abandon RedHat, first to WhiteBox and thence to CentOS.

The practical matter is that RedHat Support is provided in layers, with
minimally experienced person filtering support calls. This was, and I expect
still is, the case regardless of what level of support is purchased.  By the
time a serious problem got to a person in RedHat who possessed anywhere near
my own experience with the systems under consideration either I had already
solved the issue (usually with help from Goole or project specific mailing
lists), identified a satisfactory workaround, or had determined that the
problem was unsolvable in the timeframe required with the resources available.

RedHat support people were unfailingly polite and helpful, but the fact
remains that the value for fee was not evident.

Immediate support (which is really the only kind that matters to an
organization, anything else is really a development project of some sort)  for
open source systems comes in two basic flavors, enlightenment and custom
consulations.  Enlightenment is provided by informed individuals who are
willing to share their knowledge and experience with others who problems are
products of their own ignorance.  Members of this mailing list have provided
enlightenment to me on many, many occasions.

Custom work is either provided from ones own resources or is contracted out to
people who really know the system you need fixed/enhanced within a minimal
amount of time.   I have engaged open source software authors to enhance their
products with features that our firm desired on many occasions and in fact am
doing so with one at the present time.

I cannot perceive any measurable advantage to having a support contract for
OSS, other than perhaps with the actual core team of the exact product you are
using.  RH is a packager, which is not to denigrate either the value of the
integration work that they do, or its technical merit.  Nonetheless, most OSS
support problems are either resolved by re-reading the specific package
documentation, having an obscure feature identified and explained by someone
that knows about it, bypassing the impediment, or when all else fails writing
and submitting your own patch.

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