First year’s batch of Linux distro’s released

Just a few weeks ago Ubuntu launched Ubuntu 10.4 codenamed Lucid Lynx. Now, the Fedora team has launched Fedora 13.

If you run and experiment with Red Hat type software, Fedora a is a good platform to play around with. It is the experimental playground of Red Hat and most of the guts of Red Hat are in Fedora. Fedora is just a bit more ‘cutting edge’.  WebSphere App Server runs on it nicely with a few tricks I’ve mentioned before. This one is a fast distro. Don’t let the number 13 scare you (after all 13 is a good luck number in some cultures). This is the distro we run for some of our internal web sites.

Next on deck in the release cycle is OpenSUSE, scheduled to be released in July. OpenSuse is my favorite server based distro. What works in the enterprise version (SLES) will probably work in OpenSuse. In version 11.2 I have Lotus Domino 8.5.1 with no patches, a Rational Team Concert server, along with the RTC build engine. I’ve not done a single special patch other than regular software updates from the standard repositories. I think this is the ideal version if you want to run a lean, agile, collaborative ALM environment (i.e. Team Concert), or if you need a quick and easy test environment setup. Many of the IBM Rational desktop development and testing tools run on OpenSuse Linux also. Functional Tester is a good candidate here.

One recommendation that I have is that if you run production, test, and development environments, some configurations are very operating system specific. For example, DB2 on Linux is a different creature than DB2 on Windows. Don’t mix and match here. You can get away with it ONLY if you keep everything either all 64 bit, or all 32 bit. Dont’ expect to backup a 64 bit DB2/Linux database and restore on a 32 bit DB2/Windows server. It ain’t happening.

My preferred desktop distro is Ubuntu, although I have several software packages that are Windoze only . The latest version of Ubuntu is truly a great great great platform. It is a good candidate for replacement of enterprise desktops in places like customer service centers, where there is limited commercial software needed other than a web browser and email client. This version runs Lotus Notes 8.5.1 like a dream, and is supported by IBM out of the box. If you are on an Exchange environment you can run the native application Evolution and connect to your back end Exchange server. Firefox is the default browser, and an excellent one at that. For office productivity there is Open Office, which is also included. I am a BIG advocate of Open Office. As a business owner, I use Open Office exclusively. Yes, I can read/write/create MS Office file types and have only an occasional issue with Powerpoint files (mainly if they are too large).  This tour of Ubuntu is a good layman’s overview. Ubuntu 10.4 is their long term support version, and receives support for 3 full years on the desktop, and 5 years on the server (for paid subscriptions of course).

I have a few other Linux distributions to mention. First is Mandriva. Now I’ve only installed and played around with it once, but did not care much for their enhancements. That said, there is quite a following out there.  Puppy Linux is a neat little distrubution that is great to install on a USB thumb drive and boot up an otherwise dead, old pc. It runs entirely from RAM, and thus is surprisingly fast. It uses several packages from the Ubuntu stream, so expect a release sometime later this year. I’ve managed to save some data from old drives using this distro. This is not a server class distro.
Slackware 13.1 was released yesterday. This is the Linux expert’s distro is not for the uninitiated. It must be compiled from source prior to using. That said, it makes for a great firewall, proxy server, or HTTP server, as well as a hacker’s desktop. Once up and running, its fast, secure, and well.. fast.

On the pure Unix side, OpenBSD (which is not Linux), released their latest on 5/19.  BSD is the time tested standard for Internet servers. Yahoo runs BSD for their Internet site. At one point, Microsoft’s Hotmail ran BSD (not Windows).

My apologies to any other distro’s I’ve not mentioned. The ones above are the big players in this space and the ones I work with the most (or ever as the case may be). Anyone have any favorites that I’ve left off?

2 Responses to “First year’s batch of Linux distro’s released

  • Your old Solaris/OpenSolaris buddy can't leave these operating systems unmentioned, even despite the uncertainty of the Oracle purchase they will continue. FreeBSD is also a great candidate.

    To each his/her own, as there is likely a great OS to match just about anyone's personality and requirements.

  • Touche my friend! While OpenSolaris is a great and certainly valuable OS, my focus was on recent revisions. OpenSolaris is still at 2009.06. Its downstream equivalents are not much mentioned. Korona, a KDE port, was recently released last week on the 22nd, but still not a mature candidate. Nexenta, the most popular downstream port of OpenSolaris did have a January 2010 release.

    That said, OpenSolaris, is not quite as "open" as linux or BSD. This little article was eye opening, and given the turmoil with the Oracle assumption, I would gather that the future of Solaris/OpenSolaris is murkey indeed.

    Regarding FreeBSD, we can expect a new release of 8.1 in July of this year, about the same time that OpenSuse 11.3 goes GA. FreeBSD is another very worthy OS, and is the one that was running HotMail as I mentioned in the article.