Linux provides a vast array of distributions that can be bewildering to choose from especially if the user has little information about operating systems. Knowledge of the various operating systems will give a user the required capacity to choose the desired operating system based on the needs of the company.
This paper will compile three major Linux distributions for the server and the desktop.
These include Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Debian and SuSE distributions. The comparison will be based on Linux distribution for the server and the workstations. These three distributions have been taken as a result of their suitability for server use and long term security support.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux is an enterprise platform favorable for a wide range of applications across the IT environment. Linux released the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to become the latest standard for Red Hat. It offers great flexibility, efficiency, as well as control while providing a wider range of hardware architectures, hypervisors, and clouds. This gives organizations standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux a competitive edge over their competitors in building their businesses with a platform that offers more than they promise.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 is the sixth generation of a long-term, predictable and stabled operating system. It essentially forms the foundation for the next-generation data-centre allowing long-term stability while continuing to innovate and deliver enhancements. This delivers the optional combination of innovation and stability.
Debian is a free operating system which comes with more than 15490 packages, precompiled software contained in a nice format for easy installation on any machine. Debain carries the General Public License and its development was as a result of internet collaboration of volunteers under the umbrella of the Debian Project.
Debain systems can utilize either the Linux Kernel, FreeBSD Kernel as the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD distribution or the GNU Hurd kernel also known as the Debian GNU/Hurd distribution.
Debian qualifies as the most popular Linux distribution for internet server machines and as such, as been used as base for other distributions due to its solid nature. The voital component of Debian project that makes it favorable is its continued advancement of development and security patches demonstrated by the strong participation in the CVE compatibility efforts.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a Linux-based OS developed by SUSE and designed for servers, mainframes and workstations. The current release of the SLES is 11 SP3 developed with a common codebase with Linux Enterprise Desktop. SLED is a desktop-oriented program targeted at the corporate and business market.
Traditionally, desktop Linux has been less opted in the business community. Most distributions have been centered on server side of Linux. However, with SLED 10, Novell has concentrated on a broader range of corporate users keen on executing daily needs such as office operations. SUSE Linux provides a wealth of features for stability and efficient security management to protect users against unauthorized access. It qualifies as the best comprehensive and stable, secure operating system on the market. New and experienced users are accorded the benefit of operating on a simple and easy Linux product.
Red Hat and SUSE have common features in that they have vendor support. There package format is also the same, the RPM format. Red Hart is the oldest and well known distribution in the Linux community. It has contributed a number of applications to the Open Source community. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is a distribution base on Red Hat in terms of package management, configuration file layout and business model.
DIFFERENCES ON WORKSTATION AND SERVERS
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Linux being open source software is cost effective. The total cost of Linux boxes is significantly lower than the other popular OS. This qualifies Linux as a favorable infrastructure for scaling out clusters or nodes where hundred or thousand of nodes need to be deployed.
For desktop users, the cost is really affordable. It cost only $49 a year making it competitively cheap. RHEL 6 Desktop includes all the tools a modern office with require such as Firefox, OpenOffice 3 and Evolution/Thunderbird. For a workstation, RHEL 6 cost $179 annually for a standard 9X5 business support contract while it cost $299 annually for a 24/7 contract.
Red Hat EEnterprise Linux Server standard subscription with 2 sockets, 1 physical or 2 virtual nodes cost $799 annually while the premium version cost $1299 per year. For smart management versions there is an additional cost of $200 dollars for each. Red Hat enterprise Linux Server Entry Level 2 socket cost $349 while smart management version with self support goes for $541. RHEL for virtual data centers cost between $2000 and $3825 depending on the availability of physical, unlimited virtual or smart management both for standard and premium versions. Other high end products for IBM Power and IBM System Z cost between $3,000 and $18,000 depending on the version.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription for x86 and x86-64 , physical two sockets cost between 290 Euros and 3370 Euros annually. The basic version is the cheapest while the priority version is the most expensive. Basic version includes software upgrades and updates but excludes technical support, thus the need for self support. Services such as training, response and access are excluded in the basic version but included in standard and priority versions with better services in the later.
Debian distribution is produced by Debian Company started in 1993. Its unique among the varieties because its distribution is controlled by volunteers under the Debian Social Contract umbrella.
Debian is absolutely free since vendor support is not available. Rather support is available via public forums in the wed. This makes it absolutely free. The current version Debian Wheezy is absolutely free for server and desktop editions.
Debian is supported via Web-based forums and mailing lists. As a server platform, Debian provides a stable environment. The developers do not plug in every new technology into Debian. However, through series of series of tests, stability is achieved. In the current release, they include the 2.2 kernel rather than the 2.4. 2.4 kernel has a lot of new features and while most system administrators desire stability in their server environments, Debian provides that. The inclusion of 2.2 kernel together with the non-friendly disk distribution utility is the main drawback in Debian
Red Hat is vendor supported. In addition, it offers support through forums, lists, via telephone communication with the company itself or the web making it attractive to corporate clients requiring a higher level of vendor support.
SuSE is supported via web forums, telephone and SuSE itself. Support is mostly aligned to advanced database and eMail network applications.
Training for open office software on Linux platform is cost effective. System administrators require a recommended a 2 week intensive training for any particular Linux product. Red Hat is the first Linux distro targeted for the commercial market. Red Hat Trains and certifies system administrators through RHCSA/RHCE courses. Training for security purposes in RHEL is achieved through the YUM Package Manager.
SUSE is getting famous among system administrators because of its Yast used for package management. Yast as well as other applications automate the task of system administrators and easy to learn. Other distros do not have this functionality thus, the need for training on system administration and general use.
SUSE offers training and certification through online and classroom structures. It also presents comprehensive training for server deployment and workstation operation from basic to advance levels through its varied training options such as On-demand and Custom Training.
Red Hat has been designed to deliver performance and scalability without compromising on data integrity. It allows scaling up to 4096 CPUs and 64 terabytes of RAM, thereby according an organization a solid foundation for supporting the next generation of hardware. Thus, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has support for varied networking infrastructures including Infiniband and Ethernet and storage infrastructures such as the traditional SAN, NAS, and DAS, as well as newer versions such as FCoE and ISCSI.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 is highly performing and scales from desktops to workstations, from single CPU systems to the largest SMP servers and mainframes, and from blades to rack environment.
Hardware upgrades are continually providing improved storage facilities and additional processing power. Red Hat Enterprise Linux allows customers to leverage those advancements by selecting that scale up and scale out strategies and platform architectures to meet their specific business requirements.
In developing collaborations with software and hardware partners, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has improved virtualization, performance and make practically possible to deploy any application workload and I/O-bound applications, and at the same time achieving reliability, availability, serviceability and scalability.
Red Hat is generally suitable for general-purpose distribution and works perfectly on servers and workstations. Its only noticeable drawback is the nonstandard kernel patches which renders customization difficult.
SuSE makes a strong server platform due to its friendly installation package, graphical management tools, and the ability to access Windows drives. SuSE is also easy for end users and administrators qualifying it as a favorable server platform utility.
Debian’s claim of famed is stability. The earlier release, however, had few problems as compared to the current release, Potato. This release utilizes pluggable authentication modules (PAM), making integration of software that require authentication much simpler to deal with.
The installation of Debian is completely text-based meaning that is not a complicated procedure. However, for new users, the disk partitioning process for the Debian installation is complicated because it makes use of the fdisk-like utility with no automatic partitioning features. Once the disks are configured, the package selection is conducted via dselect utility which also does not offer an easy set up functionality for users to install basic group items like development tools.
Red Hat installation process is quite painless and easy. The graphical installation contains all the information required to easily set up the server. Likewise, disk partitioning is done automatically or using GUI utility that makes it easy for new and experienced Linux users. Package selection is done via specific or category utilities. Package selection is done much like the other distributions except that it is simplified. Once the system is running, there is plenty of support to be found from Red Hat itself or the web.
SuSE 7.3, based on kernel 2.4.10 is extremely usable with as compared to various distributions. Installation is done via a GUI while disk partitioning is achieved simply with complete customization features.
Debian provides the much needed reliability and availability. It is a stable application that does not crash, has long uptimes, and provide a consistent level of service.
Debian Wheezy can be used to set up high-availability storage with multiple storage servers that utilize GlusterFS. Each storage server becomes the mirror of the other storage server, and files are replicated automatically across both servers. This allows the client system to access the storage as if it were a local file system. GlusterFS is a clustered file-system capable of scalimng to peta-bytes through aggregation of various storage bricks over Infiniband RDMA or IP/TCP into one large parallel file system. Storage bricks used in this procedure can be made of any commodity hardware such as a x86-64 servers with SATA-II RAID and Infiniband HBA.
SuSE has been in business for eight years and is making considerable progress to make its applications widely available. To make this happen, it has entered into partnerships with big industry players such as Oracle and IBM to make their products work easily on their distribution. It is working tirelessly to make their distribution used in conjunction with databases. It has also developed the SuSE Linux eMail Server III a solid email/groupware application for corporate and businesses.
With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 scalability, security and application performance is guaranteed. It presents the capability to deploy physical, virtual and cloud resources within the datacenter with minimal administrative overheads, minimal complexity and increased efficiency while at the same time leveraging on the available operational knowledge and technical skills. The deployments across physical and different virtual environments are predictable and safe. It comes with enhanced tools that accord system administrators an option to tailor the application environment to efficiently monitor and manage computer resources and security in an efficient manner.
This paper has compared three products from three Linux vendors: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 from Red Hat, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and OpenSUSE 11.0all from SUSE, and Debian Wheezy from Debian. The three products have been compared based on cost of ownership, training, support, reliability, application availability and performance considering the server and workstation products. It is apparent that the choice of an application is dependent on business needs of an organization. For instance, Red Hat is chosen because of their widespread distribution and excellent support. An organization that desires rock-solid stability bwill go for Debian while those who desire advanced database and email applications should probably consider SUSE. Linux are making considerable progress into the corporate environment in the servers and workstation environment due to their competitive cost and their ability to support a wide range of applications.
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