Ask Shadowman

August 2004

August is upon us. Like an opressive wet blanket of humidity and the looming shadow of summer's end. Time for the last picnics of the year, tax free back to school shopping. Time too for he who goes by but one name like Aurobindo and Berio. He is ... the Shadowman and he's back to face your toughest questions.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.

Istvan from Hungary was thirsty for:

I've been using RH Linux since version 4.0 First I started to use it just to learn the basics than -- when I already had enough knowledge -- as servers on our company's hardware. Then I changed Windows NTs to Red Hat Linux on the boxes of some small businesses.

But now I'm feeling that Red Hat has left me alone. I will never use Fedora, because it's a desktop product but I need some reliable, updated solution. Paying for RHEL is not an option because I never got any payment for using/installing/managing Red Hat Linux. However some of those companies where I installed the free version have already bought the new RHEL license.

Now, I'm desperately seeking any solution to stay with Red Hat, becase I just can't afford to buy the new distributions to learn the new features. Is there any chance to get an educational or any version to learn the new features in the systems?

Or how do you think that new guys can get the RHCE certification in the future if there's no educational/study version to try? Buy the system first and just to learn to use after that?

Or your advice just to change distribution, because you don't have any plan to support the old, faithful users who were stupid enough to belive that you will allow them access to your newest technologies?

Shadowman says:

Shadowman hears you and feels your pain. You have lots of questions and concerns, so let's try and get them all.

First some clarification. Fedora Core is neither a desktop, nor a product. It's a project and has servers just as the Red Hat Linux of yore. It does not have support, or errata and management through RHN.

You state that you can't pay for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (which has support, errata and management) because those businesses on which you deployed Red Hat Linux never paid you for your work. But now, some of them have purchased Enterprise Linux. Since you apparently volunteer, and they apparently owe you one for getting them started, why not learn in their environment? If they're not paying you, they can hardly expect RHCE level competence.

As for learning the newest features, they actually debut in Fedora Core first. So, to your point about RHCEs, it's important to note that among the pre-requisites for the RHCE exam is years of live experience, not playing around with a free version on your own. That said, if you planned on getting your RHCE next year, and had relevant experience but wanted to be ready for the new features, you could be toying with Fedora in a lab. Schools can get Enterprise Linux on the mad cheap, as can developers (free for 30 days). You can download the source and compile it yourself. You can try Whitebox or TAO Linux, if all you want is the bits.

Switching distributions will not help you get your RHCE, or help you support those customers of your already migrating to Enterprise Linux. And if all it will get you is a free, community supported distribution, Shadowman would recommend Fedora. It's at least consistent with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and if you start playing with it now, by the time you are ready for RHCE training and testing, you will have already seen most (if not all) of the features that will be present in Enterprise Linux by then.

Steve S. dared the answer to:

This isn't a technical question, but what the heck, you're still sending me email so I'll return the favor.

Since "hobbyist" Linux users have no access to Redhat, I'm curious where your management thinks the next generation of Redhat admins/evangelists are going to come from? Surely not schools; for that kinda money they prefer to keep paying Redmond - besides, schools can't "give it away" these days without bringing a plague of copyright enforcers down on them.

The only reason RH is on my network is because I was able to download, learn about it, then bring up servers. It appears, imho, that your bean counters ate all the seed corn (burned your bridges, and then pissed on your most loyal friends). Meanwhile, SUSE/Novell is learning to fill the void RH left.

I'm curious if RH will ever be available to us proles again, even at a realistic price? If you were going to suggest Fedora, save the effort. It's a perma-beta joke, and I don't like spewing coffee out my nose at the thought of replacing "Redhat" with that crap. -- "Redhat" would, for example, function smoothly with up2date. Fedora can't even struggle through it's first post-install attempt.

I know I'm wasting my time writing to RH so I'll stop now. You have new friends with lots of money, and I've got a campus to run.

Shadowman says:

Believe it or don't, Shadowman *loves* non-technical questions. And Shadowman is a sucker for colloquialisms like "ate the feed corn". And a double sucker for "you'll never anwser this" taunts. So here goes.

First things first. Schools are a special case and Red Hat treats them accordingly. They can purchase Red Hat Enterprise Linux for as little as $25 per WS and $50 per AS. If you get it on the tried and true FTE (proportional) it's $7. Not too shabby. Cheaper than the boxed set ever was.(And cheaper than Redmond, BTW).

As for training the next generation of admins, if the school wants to add a formal curriculum around that, there is the Red Hat Academy. This enables the school to deliver coursework geared toward creating RHCT competency, and setting the stage for work toward the RHCE. Again, not at all shabby.

And don't discount Fedora Core too fast. It's not meant for production, so our focus is not on making up2date work out of the "box". It's in making it easy for *you* to make up2date (or yum or apt) work for you. This is where hobbyists get access to our technology. Hobbyists do not need metrics around keeping 24/7 uptime. Proles and Bourgeois alike. Free to all. Ain't that something? It is, actually.

As in the last post, there's always the Enterprise Linux source. If you're a hobbyist, sweat equity is the name of the game.

FWIW, it's never a waste of time to write Red Hat with legitimate concerns such as yours. Our rich friends don't mind.