Linux vs FreeBSD clusters (was: how are the Redhat product changes affecting existing and future plans?)

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon Nov 10 07:30:13 EST 2003

On Sun, 9 Nov 2003, Arthur H. Edwards wrote:

> It is interesting because one of the initial attractions for Debian
> was its organization of libraries and configuration files. Afer RH, it
> seemed totally transparent. I guess this is just a matter of personal
> taste. I would be surprised, though, if after trying apt-get, you
> could ever go back to the rpm model.
> Art

It isn't "the rpm model" -- in both cases the packaging and metadata are
adequate. Comparing apt to rpm is apples to oranges -- apt-get is a
toplevel toolset to extract and resolve dependencies from the debian
packages and use them to retrieve and install package(s) and their
entire consistent dependency trees, by revision.

The problem is that in the past there has been no comparable toolset for
RPM packages and all the distributions that rely on them.  For the last
two or three years, there has been (first yup, now yum).  It, too, is
"totally transparent" and has, arguably features that some
administrators might prefer (including considerable and increasingly
fine-grained control over their own, local, repository images).

Whether or not you've looked at yum and tried yum and compared yum's
operation and features to apt, the existence of choices appears to be a
good thing, as does "competition" of sorts (the friendly, slightly
religious sort that tends to exist in the open source world:-).  I know
yum's primary developers quite well (since they work about fifty meters
away from my office in the same building:-) and they are very, very
dedicated and not at all religiously inclined towards Red Hat per se.
Yum has been successfully used to make RPM-based repositories for just
about all the primary RPM linux distributions, and I believe that people
have even used it to distribute/maintain RPMs on Solaris boxes.  At this
particular moment, I think that yum makes RH (or if you prefer, Fedora)
slightly preferrable to Debian in a scaled/automated LAN installation
because both effectively automaintain after installation, but RH/Fedora
permits the easy use of PXE/kickstart.  Kickstart, after all, is (IMO)
the reason RH maintained its dominance in spite of the otherwise pain of
manipulating RPMs compared to Debian, and the reason it remained
dominant among RPM-based distros as well.

In part because of its existence, there is actually some talk of coming
up with a rational unification of linux packaging schemes, reviewing and
getting rid of package features that have proven to be more Evil than
Good over the years, developing an XML schema, and lots of other good
things that might actually reduce the "us and them" barriers for linux
in general.  I personally think that this would be a good thing.  As
Mark has been saying -- most of us are religious about open source,
stability, functionality, but at best we are "used" to particular
distributions and could be convinced to change fairly easily if
advantages associated with the change outweighed the hassle of learning
something new.


Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

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