Ask The Expert: Red Hat Network Questions Answered

Greg DeKoenigsberg
Web Engineering Manager, Red Hat Network

Recently, we spoke with Greg DeKoenigsberg. As much as he might downplay his role, Greg is an integral part of the Red Hat Network team. Here are some of Greg's thoughts on Red Hat Network and its latest features.

Q:  Tell me a little bit about yourself (what you do on the RHN team, what you did before coming to Red Hat, your favorite color, etc.)

My name is Greg DeKoenigsberg -- I'm the web engineering manager, which means that everyone else does the clever things, and I try to turn them into something that people will use and pay for.

Before coming to Red Hat, I was the global webmaster for IBM's Personal System Group ( for a while. I also played a bit of startup roulette as well.

Q:  How would you describe Red Hat Network's basic service to someone that's never heard of it before?

Basic Service keeps you well-advised of all of the latest and greatest versions of everything that you already have, making it easy to keep your system updated and secure. (You *do* want to keep your systems secure, don't you? Of course you do. Good.)

It also is the best way of getting the latest version of your favorite package without having to scour the entire internet for the correct RPM. And if this package happens to require 20 RPMs that you've never heard of before, we'll give you those, too.

If you've ever tried to maintain software packages by hand on a Red Hat Linux system, you'll appreciate how easy Basic Service is to use. And for one system, everybody gets it for free!

Q:  Recently some pretty big changes were announced for Red Hat Network; I'm referring to the Workgroup Service. What does this give you over and above Basic Service?

Basic Service is great for keeping one or two systems up-to-date, but for sysadmins who are charged with the duty of keeping multiple systems up and running, Basic Service just isn't helpful enough. Workgroup Service helps a lot here. The basic premise is that whatever you can do for one system with Basic Service, you can do simultaneously for 100 systems with Workgroup Service.

Q:  But not all organizations have 100 identical systems.

Of course, all 100 systems won't be exactly alike. The Workgroup interface provides a lot of helpful tools for figuring out the differences, applying updates where it makes sense, and keeping an effective audit trail of what's changed and what hasn't. You can also group systems together for effective administration by multiple sysadmins, compare system to another, and the like. You can find a comparision between Red Hat Network's Basic and Workgroup services here:
Q:  I've also heard about something called "Proxy Server" and "Red Hat Network Satellite"; what are those, and why should I care?
A:  You should care about Proxy Server if you:
  • have a lot of systems that could consume a bunch of bandwidth receiving updates, or
  • if you have customized packages that you'd like to redistribute within your organization.

The Proxy Server is a local package repository that serves both of these purposes. You can read more about the RHN Proxy Server in a whitepaper entitled "Deploying RHN Proxy Server in the Enterprise".

Q:  And what about RHN Satellite?

You should care about Satellite if you want all of the functionality of Red Hat Network, but don't want Red Hat Network maintaining your data directly. Like if you're a government agency, for instance.:-) You can read more about the RHN Satellite Server is a whitepaper entitled "Deploying RHN Satellite Server in the Enterprise".

Q:  What does the future hold for RHN?

Well, if a preponderance of our users think that something's a good idea and would fit into RHN, then we've probably considered it. Monitoring seems like a pretty natural extension of RHN, doesn't it? And upgrading from one version of the OS to another on the fly? And setting up system profiles to be immediately reproduced? All good ideas.

Q:  You probably thought you were going to get away with passing over a certain question. What's your favorite color?

Blue. No, green....oughaaaaaah!

(As we can see, Greg's a Monty Python fan...)

Red Hat Network Team: March 21, 2002 - RHN Chat log