I think, today is a good day, to tell you something about my (indirect)
success as Fedora Ambassador. When I started working at my current employer
about 1.5 years ago, everything there was running SuSE Linux or SuSE Linux
Enterprise Server. And my workstation got the brand-new SuSE Linux 10.1 on
Then the time for new mailservers came as we're a webhosting provider also
offering e-mail services. In the end, CentOS 5.0 won the comparison of the
different Enterprise Linux distributions - mostly because of the financial
aspect. During the installation of these machines, it was a real progress
to see, that own repositories can be made and Fedora packages can be taken
and rebuilt for CentOS to use them there. As I'm a Fedora Packager as well,
I know how to do such things of course. I started maintaining many of the
packages in EPEL we first tried in our own repository. Some packages are
still not in EPEL, because they somehow conflict with the guidelines, but
that doesn't matter for us. Maybe the upcoming RPM Fusion (the sucessor of
Livna others) will solve these things then.
With the time, it was recognized, that CentOS is just good. It has packages
we need, it works, it has long term support and it has a nice price. On the
other hand, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server started sucking. Xen as delivered
with SLES 10 SP1 isn't that Enterprise ready as Novell told some years ago.
The biggest problem was, that the latest YaST Online Update brought "fixes"
which caused xen-vm-install, the command line utility to create new virtual
machines on SLES, to fail. Unfortunately we were not able to switch back,
because the updated package also contained other fixes, we really needed. I
tried to inform Novell about this programming bug (a typical python error);
but they just told me, that with the update subscription, we only have, we
can't report such things without opening a paid ticket. Wow! Paying money
for reporting bugs they introduced by a lack of QA? In the end, a very nice
guy from the Security Team took the issue and forwarded it internally to
the Xen team (if somebody is interested, it's Novell Bugzilla ID #336779).
The nearly 2 month old bug is still not fixed, because of the wrong support
level we bought. As far as I know, the price for extending the support for
this special case is more expensive rather buying two new SLES packages.
In the mean time, we tried CentOS at some customers and it worked like a
charme: EPEL, CentOS Plus and our own repository. In the end, I had to work
around that Xen bug by rebuilding python-virtinst from CentOS on the SLES
system to get the ability back to create virtual machines without X by an
easy way - it just works perfect. It was the first time, nobody answered my
e-mail on the SLES mailing list after describing the technical details for
this workaround. CentOS provides at least for us the same or better quality
as Novell does with SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, but for free. Of course,
CentOS is "only" a rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but if there will
be a heavy critical system, I'm sure, we'll buy a RHEL with subscription.
On the other hand, not buying always a RHEL package/subscription gives us
the possibility to donate the money we save in parts or in whole to the
CentOS or Fedora Project to improve their work and quality further on. And
this also possibly increases the quality of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (in
the case when the donation goes to the Fedora Project, CentOS mostly needs
money for their infrastructure, not for developing bleeding edge stuff).
Please notice, that we're a tiny company having a couple of customers, so
we don't talk about hundreds or thousands of CentOS installations. Let us
see, how many years we will need to achieve the (our) first hundred CentOS
installations at all.
Why I'm talking so much about CentOS here, even it's a Fedora list? Well...
CentOS comes from Red Hat Enterprise Linux and that comes from Fedora. But
to have some real Fedora success, too: My two managers installed their new
laptops with Fedora 8 with encrypted root and swap partitions. Setting this
up is a bit tricky, because it isn't supported by Fedora per default, but
the patches available in Red Hat Bugzilla are great work. The NVIDIA driver
comes from Livna, suspend to RAM and to disk works (even with the encrypted
partitions) and they seem to be happy - at least for now ;-)
Once we re-setup our workstations, Fedora will reach them as well, because
from my point of view, Fedora is more made for workstations, desktop and
development systems. The life cycle is just too short for systems needing
update support without changing the base and core of a operating system
such drastically as Fedora does. Bleeding edge is okay and needed, but for
example our Enterprise Ressource Planning system doesn't like it to get the
whole environment changed every 6 or 13 months.
Note, that I never did guerilla marketing. I lived silently with the non-
Fedora systems and in the end, CentOS really proved itself by fullfilling
the needs, we weren't completely aware of. And when saying (or writing)
that it proved itself, you've to mention, that such big decisions are made
by my managers and not by me. Showing what a Fedora (or CentOS) is able to
do the things was in our case the perfect way - of course it was helpful,
that I've got knowledge of Fedora Packaging for the special things...