Linux does what it's meant to.

Jason Powers powers.jason at
Mon Feb 14 08:48:43 UTC 2005

The Harvard sysadmin community had a big fight over this last year. 
Basically you could see in their conversation that there were two 
different philosophies of running a computing environment, and they have 
nothing to do with Microsoft or Linux. Microsoft lost here a long time 
ago, these are people who fight over which UNIX to use. Again they were 
talking about linux and which philosophy they wanted:

There are people (like myself) who see hardware and software as two 
different animals, who need to be dealt with differently and selected 
based on different criteria. The criteria, and therefore the choices, 
are expected to change with the environment, and to do so rapidly. That 
way of thinking leads to finding value in doing it yourself (DIY). We 
want hardware that is functional and durable and software we can alter 
or replace as we need to. We expect the machine to far outlive its 
warranty, though we expect to have to tweak the entire suite of software 
annually if not more frequently. The main drawback here is the time 
required for that tweaking. Doing it right requires a lot of planning, 
doing it wrong costs a lot of man hours after the fact.

Then there were shops who see hardware and software as effectively being 
the same thing: an appliance, or if you prefer, two cars in the same 
garage. These people didn't see the difference between hardware and 
software, or their warranties: Cisco's Service Agreements and Sun's SLAs 
for hardware and software were all the same, in their opinion. If you 
buy something and it breaks, call Sun up to fix it, since it's covered. 
The drawback here is that you never get what you want out of the systems 
in question: you get a warranty, but only if you use what you bought in 
the exact fashion it was designed. There is no flexibility if your 
company has special needs (Harvard Professors have a LOT of special 
needs). Kibo help you if you choose this route and then have to tweak 
the software later, because now you've lost the advantages of this 
method and gained all the disadvantages of DIY, which is where a lot of 
companies without a good grasp of computing end up.

So Harvard and Boston University both had to make this decision, and 
Harvard chose to go with Novell/SuSE and SLAs (which is the equivalent 
of going with RHEL) and BU chose to support its own 'standard' Fedora 
distro. I think it's still too soon to tell who made the right choice, 
since the two universities are in different positions and either way 
lots of people at each location went their own way, so clearly this is 
still a shop-by-shop war.

Again, though, Microsoft never entered into it, but it doesn't need to 
be excluded, either. You can DIY a Win2k shop pretty easily, just stop 
paying for MS support and stick with that older version of the OS and 
software. Our windows desktops haven't touched any MS Software post-2k 
and I find myself doing a lot of the same things I do with the Fedora 
machines. We could go with MS Datacenter and get updated licenses and 
SLA and whatnot and not have to worry about any of it, but I don't like 
how many things you get tied to - you lose the ability to adapt later. 
This is no different than Sun or HPUX or AIX in my opinion.

Jason Powers

Kunal Shah wrote:
> I agree with you and recently we kicked off the same old debate with my
> higher management. I may use your comments. I truly agreed with you :-)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul [mailto:subsolar at] 
> Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2005 6:51 PM
> To: Kunal Shah; For users of Fedora Core releases
> Subject: Re: Linux sucks?
> On Sun, 2005-02-13 at 18:21 -0500, Kunal Shah wrote:
>>I am not trying to be biased but i was quit impress with the tools and 
>>SLA Microsoft has. And they solved our problem.
>>When initially the did not find what is going wrong, they went to 
>>kernel level and solved it. I personally talked with a person who 
>>contributed in designing some part of windows 2000 server kernels.
> You obviously are not Joe random user unless you whipped out your credit
> card and gave them the number as part of the call, or the company you work
> for has a contract that pays MS yearly fees for support.
>>I know people having same skill set with Linux are there. If i get the 
>>same problem in Linux, some one from Kernel mailing list or bug 
>>tracker will help me to resolve the issue. But as i mentioned, what 
>>about SLA. do i have any SLA for this ? when the problem is going to 
>>get resolved ?
> It's been resolved for years ... go with a commercial distro and pay the
> annual support or per incident support.  You have your SLA it's not a
> "linux" issue, it's s distro issue and if you use fedora or one of the
> community distros you are going down a "non enterprise" path and if you want
> a SLA it gets a bit more tricky and you have to find a 3rd party that you
> can pay support to.
>>We are in infrastructure support for one of the bigest financial 
>>institutes in world and we need SLA and that is the main reason we are 
>>not going for Linux. that is the main show stoper.
> Use a commercial enterprise distro pay the annual support fee ... SLA done
> just like in MS land.
>>Is linux community working to come over this weakness?
> It's not a weekeness it's a feature. :^)
> Paul.

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