back to article RHEL 6 - your sensible but lovable friend

The first major update for Red Hat Enterprise Linux in more than three years hit last month, and judging by the traffic that took down Red Hat's download servers, it's long over due. RHEL 5 came out in March 2007 with the Linux 2.6.18 kernel and while incremental updates have added kernel updates and new features, it's showing …


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  1. James Butler

    Comparable Articles?

    Are there El Reg articles that describe MacOSX/iPad/iPhone in an even remotely similar fashion? Are Mac reviewers capable of writing such an article? I'm looking for a decent review of the technical underpinnings, not the "features". While this article doesn't go very deep, it does touch on what I think are some of the most important aspects of the OS, missing from every MacOS article I have ever read.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @James Butler

      More in depth technical articles are coming, I promise you this. I can't promise you much in the way of OSX, but I swear to you on a stack of DBAN cds that technical articles are coming as fast as they can be written.

      If you have suggestions, or items you would like looked into specifically, I would love to hear them.

      Anonymous because...I can’t really have this discussion in an official capacity quite yet...

  2. Stephan

    Enterprise distributions

    > "Of course, the whole point of running an enterprise distro like RHEL is that it isn't Ubuntu or Fedora, and it doesn't completely change all the rules every six months."

    Can you clarify that? Are you saying that Ubuntu isn't an enterprise distribution?

    Ubuntu Server LTS is an enterprise distro with (optional) commercial support and is supported for 5 years. Definitely not a 6 month rule changer. If you want a less stable distro, you can go for the non-LTS releases.

    Fedora on the other hand is totally different and I'm not sure the two should be compared like that. I think the section of the article above is misleading.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Enterprise distributions

      While Ubuntu's LTS releases do offer 5 years of support, this is sufficient to make it good enterprise release. Enterprises also want security, stability, reliablity and other such things out of the box.

      At release time, an Ubuntu LTS release is no different from a regular Ubuntu release. The benefits of the LTS plan only really surface after the release would normally be unsupported. The difference with RHEL is that they don't use the latest software just because it works most of the time and has cool new features. They've deliberately held back from including the bleeding edge stuff that tends to be included in the average Linux distro. This means that everything in RHEL has already had a good amount of time to be debugged to suit the enterprise concerns, though it won't have all the latest features.

      Given a year or two then this latest Ubuntu LTS release may be good for enterprises, but my experience with Ubuntu is that they still want to upgrade you to the latest features, not the latest stability and security, except when they're bundled together.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Double-edged sword

        When I switched from Red Hat (original, not RHEL) to Ubuntu as my main distro, it was exactly this dilemma that bothered me. I was not looking for an Enterprise release specifically, merely one that I would not have to upgrade every 6-9 months, but which would remain current enough that I could still get packages to compile.

        Fedora became too volatile, and (I'm afraid), I was not in the market for paid support, which made RHEL unattractive to me.

        I selected Ubuntu (then fairly new, I jumped on at Dapper), and have mainly stayed on LTS releases although I did put Jaunty on a netbook.

        My experiences are that Enterprise or LTS releases have good and bad points.

        If you remain too far behind the curve, it actually becomes quite difficult to add compile-from-source applications, but you do get good availability and stability. As my day-to-day system is a laptop which I used to plug in all sorts of miscellaneous hardware to try to get working (I was ahead of the releases for WiFi, 3G broadband, TV adapters, HomePlug adapters), I needed to be able to take what was currently being worked on, and try it. This became impossible if you fell too far behind the mainstream.

        If, however, you follow the curve too closely, then for a period of time after an initial upgrade, you may have stability and functionality issues. Like many users, I had quite a challenging time when PulseAudio became the preferred sound system.

        My answer is to remain on the previous LTS release until the new one is 3-6 months old. This allows you to remain fairly current, but avoid many of the teething troubles. I'm looking at Lucid on one of my systems, but will not switch from Hardy yet.

        Of course, many enterprise systems will be installed for specific applications, rather than for general purpose use. For these, upgrade the system in line with the application. Once you have it stable, leave it for as long as you can (security updates excepted), and only consider an OS upgrade if the application requires it, or the OS drops out of support.

        To all of the people who are complaining about major applications changing with upgrades, what the heck! Just put your favorite on *in addition* to the new one. They are likely to still be in the repository in most cases, and work as before, unless the package owner upgrades it significantly (I still rue the day that xmms became xmms2).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Ubuntu is OK, but still has a long way to go

      Well, Ubuntu LTS is to be considered an interesting option for some point in the future, but not now. With the APAC region exception (Turbo Linux, RedFlag...), there are only two enterprise distributions that are really "enterprise" and even big companies consider them as such: SUSE and Redhat.

      Canonical has a long way to go to be at the same level of enterprise acceptance, with big vendors fully supporting it. But things do change, albeit slowly. BTW, RHEL is supported ca 7 yrs./ release standard with additional few years of extended support availability.

    3. Kal

      Hardly RHEL...

      Ubuntu LTS is a stab at making an 'Enterprise' product, and from what I can tell though they aren't really taking it seriously,

      Regardless of that though, I think the author was probably talking about your run of the mill Ubuntu in the first place.

  3. ozmark
    IT Angle

    RHEL Empathy v Pidgin?

    I may have to rethink my server strategy if I don't have the right IM client on it. Same goes for OO, FF, Nvidia support. What about games, or apps to keep my recipes on? Damn it, Red Hat, where's my Twatter/Faceplant client???

    The reviewer is indicative of why Red Hat has to provide some semblance of a desktop; Windows Server ships with a fancy desktop, media player and all, so where's RHEL's version?

    Anybody heard of init 3, anyone, Bueller, anyone? It's a bloody server! Please, Red Hat, drop the stupid desktop asap to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge


      "... Same goes for OO, FF, Nvidia support. ..."

      Newer versions and additions are easy to install yourself. Eg. I use CentOS 5.x (~RHEL 5) but not the original OOo. Installing the latest is easypeasy. Same for FF. As someone using Linux desktop at work, I appreciate the conservative approach to the base system. The should rename it "Borix", as in " so stable it is boring".

    2. BigRedS

      enterprise != server

      It's an enterprise OS, not just a server OS. It is for enterprise desktops as well as enterprise servers.

    3. GazElm

      Windows server desktop

      > Windows Server ships with a fancy desktop, media player and all, so where's RHEL's version?

      No it doesn't, you have to install the 'Desktop Experience' to get a media player.

  4. Richard 33

    Ubuntu LTS ... let's not joke

    RHEL is properly supported for 7-10 years, Ubuntu LTS maybe for 5 years if they've not got better things to do. Red Hat employs many key developers, Ubuntu hardly any. Red Hat actively backports new features into older releases, while keeping the same ABI guarantee for OEM software, Ubuntu doesn't do any of that.

  5. James Cooke
    Paris Hilton

    apples to oranges

    Its not exactly a fair comparison comparing RHEL to the 6 monthly Ubuntu releases is it? Ubuntu LTS releases are a much better comparison and they come every two years and have 5 years of server support. Who in enterprise would chose a non LTS release unless they had to?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Xen to KVM

    this COULD be painful...but once you live in the VM world and are used to how it works then its really just a case of getting your old VMs into the new regime...hopefully there will be a swathe of conversion/migration tools to let the base be swapped out trivially.

    myself? I wish I'd invested more time with KVM a couple of years back now ;-)

  7. zenkaon

    @AC who's doing a review

    Hi AC,

    my organisation has just gone through a lot of pain going from RHEL4 to RHEL5, the majority of the difficulties came from changing gcc and the QT libraries.

    We have a lot of code, with many many developers. I''m interested in how easy it would be to migrate from RHEL5 to RHEL6. Will my existing code (c++, java, python) be easy to port?

    Is it possible to upgrade a RHEL5 machine to RHEL6 without a clean install? Like you can with ubuntu 9.10->10.04

    1. Joseph Haig

      RHEL 4 -> RHEL 5 -> RHEL 6

      "my organisation has just gone through a lot of pain going from RHEL4 to RHEL5, the majority of the difficulties came from changing gcc and the QT libraries."

      And that is why you have overlapping releases. You can still run RHEL 4 for another couple of years and, with RHEL 5 released two years ago, that is 4 years to resolve all the migration problems.

      "Is it possible to upgrade a RHEL5 machine to RHEL6 without a clean install?"

      Possible but not recommended and certainly not supported. It is assumed that you will keep at the same major release number until you plan to replace the hardware, at which time you can roll out replacements with the new major version. This is supported by having long support cycles and overlapping releases - when RHEL 6 is released there will be 3 versions all supported in parallel.

      I know people object to this and want to be able always to upgrade to the latest and greatest, but Redhat and Ubuntu have different policies. Not better or worse, just different.

  8. Paul 77


    Just go for CentOS - less hassle getting the updates - even if you have got the damn up-to-date code for RHEL.

  9. Trixr Bronze badge

    So who uses Xen anyway?

    Since it was a buggy PoS, we've been using VMWare for any VMs we've been running with RHEL. I'll think I'd rather wait for a couple of years to see how this new technology works out before trying any more horrible migration tasks.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: So who uses Xen anyway?

      Erm.... guilty! We had a project that sneaked by before we standardised on ESX and KVM, running Xen on RHEL4. I'm not looking forward to migrating it, and to be honest if we do it will probably be to ESX.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thin version

    a really thin, flash suitable (such as running mostly in ram) installation would be useful for running all those VMs on top of.

  11. foobie

    Re: RHEL Empathy v Pidgin?

    @ozmark: exactly. It'd be news if we could strip the fracking thing down to remove the rubbish. Ever tried to remove cups printing support from a web server? 'Sorry, cups is required by gnome, gnome is required by gui-netconfig, gui-netconfig is required by base'. FFS.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Have the file system tools caught up with the file system yet?

    Also, agree with others that even the small amount of effort that RHEL puts into it's desktop environment is too much. If you've got a problem, script it so you don't have to do it again next time. Desktops are for desktops.

    1. fishman

      Enterprise OS

      Once again, someone doesn't seem to understand that RHEL is an enterprise operating system and not just a server operating system. It is used by quite a few engineers where I work as their desktop OS, and I use it on my desktop and servers at work, and use CentOS at home. It would not surprise me at all if RHEL is installed on more desktops than servers.

      1. ozmark
        IT Angle

        Hey, desktop-ers

        Red Hat has an OS version for desktops - it's called, surprise, surprise, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux x Desktop", eg. . Does this review say anything about "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Desktop"?? If desktop users choose to run the server version instead of "Desktop", good luck to 'em.

        If RH is only releasing one bundling of 6 for both server and desktop, that'd be good to know.

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