Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scientific Linux FTW!

Many people know that I'm an avid Linux user and supporter. I think pretty much everything about it is great. As a developer, I find it to be the most productive OS for me. I've tried many of the distributions out there and I really like some, but I've come to the realization that I'm not really happy with any of the current distributions. The interesting thing for me is how distributions start off good and then screw things up so badly. I think that deserves its own post later.

This has really become an issue lately because I decided I needed to set up a backup server at my home. For reasons I won't get in to, I've started using my MacBook as my main computer and realized how much trouble I would be in if it got stolen. I decided I wanted a backup server so I would at least have all my files if the laptop were misplaced. (I also use online backup, but don't want to think about how long it would take to pull everything back down from the internet.)

The problem is that I've set up servers at home with my regular distributions (Ubuntu, Mandriva, Fedora...) and I get tired of reinstalling them. These desktop distributions are only supported for around 18 months, but I've had servers running for much longer than that. I don't want to keep upgrading them. Some distributions also offer a server version, such as Ubuntu Server, but I wanted something I could imagine using at work. I wanted something more enterprise worthy that I could practice with.

My choice was narrowed down to Debian, or a Redhat rebuild. I like Debian, but Redhat seems to be more widely used and more in demand in the enterprise. I decided I would go with a rebuild. I've used CentOS quite a lot and actually run it on our servers at work. However, I've been a little disappointed with how slow they've been to release lately. It's been months since Redhat has released version 6.0 and 5.6, but CentOS hasn't caught up. In the meantime, they're getting further and further behind on updates. I've also spent time on their freenode IRC channel and the people there are actually pretty rude. So I thought I'd give something else a try.

I was surprised when I saw Scientific Linux beat CentOS to releasing a rebuild of Redhat 6.0. I'd never heard of them before, but they are a Redhat rebuild and can use all the same repositories. Not only that, but they've been beating CentOS as far as security patches and updates go for some time. I installed it and set it up to run backups and everything has been great. It definitely is a server distribution, not one that I'd recommend for a desktop, but this is exactly what I want for this machine.

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