Saturday, November 13, 2010

RHEL 6 has Nothing Noteworthy for Home Desktops

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Final shows up on 10th November 2010, almost 44 months after its previous major release (RHEL 5 was released on 14th March 2007). But at the time it came, it's already bit obsolete for desktop use. Of course, desktop has never been a sweetpot for Red Hat. But was it really tarnishing it's rock-stability by riding a few versions up on some packages? What was holding RH back from appropriating KDE 4.5 series, or for that matter jumping to GNOME 2.32? Sure, it must have backported some goodies from Fedora 13 and 14, but they work underneath, the worry is that it'll put on these DEs till, say, 7 to 10 years. Moreover, KDE has undergone many improvements from its 4.3 to 4.5 versions. Same can be said of GNOME. Debian Squeeze's desktop-readyness (if you consider the DE, system utilities and application software) is more modern compared to Red Hat. Red Hat yet again, indirectly proved that it's not for desktops.

Some enterprise stuff are also bit obsolete. For example, the perl and python versions of this major release are at least a year old. The rock solid redhat stability also leans more towards servers. Though it aims at customers who don't care the version increments but a lot of bug fixes, it still cherry picks bug-fixes. So moving to a later point-release doesn't always solve a problem. For example the boot-delay bug (very important if you value desktops) that crept into RHEL 5.3 is still there in the latest 5.6 beta and it will probably remain in 5.8 (if it ever comes). You can expect similar glitches in RHEL 6.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I Prefer Debian to RHEL: Top 5 Reasons


RHEL still remains the fodder for all those academicians and enterprises. For example, if you want pursue a course in Linux you are advised to do RHEL cos that's what enterprises care. Gradually they advise others to learn/use RHEL even for home desktops. Perhaps, that's why RHEL was synonymous with Linux some years back till Ubuntu made inroads with a bang.

Given desktop usage, I'd choose Debian over RHEL (I'd play dumb if you ask me about servers, I'm still learning), anytime. Why?

#1 Debian does not have those enterprise crap

Install any version of RHEL and it's contemporary Debian counterpart on dual-booted desktop. Maintain a comparable set of applications. Compare both the installations. You will wonder why RHEL includes those enterprise crap on a desktop installation.

#2 Debian cares for desktop users

Server people once make an installation and forget for years. But the story is different on desktops. It shows RHEL never really cared for desktops. It never makes any significant work to improve boot and performance of a desktop system. Generally, the bugs that matters to a home desktop is pushed down the priority list for years and years. Here is one such case.

#3 Debian though cares stability pushes updates more quickly than Red Hat

Most often Debian and RHEL will end up in a tie if they battle for stability. But Debian is very prompt when it comes to major releases. Look back, RHEL 5 was released in March 2007 around the same time of Debian 4 (Etch). Meanwhile, Debian has released Debian 5 (Lenny) and frozen Debian 6 (Squeeze) which may go gold later this year. Any answer from RHEL? It may take almost 4 years for RHEL to release the next major version. Though RHEL frequently churns point releases it shows enough aging compared to Debian.

#4 Package management is lot easier on Debian

Compare yum, pirut or yumex with aptitude, apt-get or synaptic, you will always find *apt* a lot faster/simpler and superior to the *yum*y stuff. Besides, kernel recompiling and compiling packages from source are a lot easier in Debian than in RHEL, though, with 30000 packages in debian repo you will probably never require it. RHEL is more of a closed source OS in an opensource ecosystem. Taming it to make desktop-friendly will force you to an error-land.

#5 Debian is definitely less of a resource-hog and much snappier than RHEL

I've tested the 2nd Beta of RHEL6 and compared it with the Debian testing (squeeze). Those looking for a proof can compare RHEL with Mintified Debian Squeeze. Needless to say, Debian revolves circles around RHEL when it comes to boot speed and system responsiveness, with less memory footprint.

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