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Re: CNET News Article

Jeff Lasman wrote:

You make some great points, Bill. But as a small business man I can't take the time update or to back out updates daily. Or even weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or annually. I need a server platform I can leave (with only security updates) for at least four years.

Perhaps Linux won't fill my needs. But I'd like it to.


I read some of your other posts, and I understand where you are coming from.
I am a manager in a company that run's mission critical UNIX systems for financial institutions.
Any downtime could cost thousands of dollars a minute.

Anyway, we have been VERY happy with RHEL. Uptime is measured in hundreds of days.
The OS has a three year release cycle, and patches are "back-ported" whenever possible,
so compatability over time is not a problem. The quality of RHEL is very fine.

We buy official RHN subscriptions for boxes where we are running Netcool or Oracle or Remedy or Hideal.
I mean heck, if you are spending tens of thousands of dollars for a commercial software license
and the software is "certified" for support on an OS that costs less than $1K/year to get that
stamp of "official" support why not?

However, I wanted to have a "standard" in my data center, one flavor to centralize on.
Even for boxes that are just "devel" or intranet print servers and such.
For these other systems I have created a "custom" distro. I use the word "Custom" loosely,
because it was very simple and easy for me to do. This custom distro is /almost/
exactly the same thing as RHEL (but not quite).

I set up a cronjob to mirror the Source RPMS for RHEL. (it fetches updates every few hours)
I rebuild the RPM's on one of the genuine RHEL Licensed boxes we have and
put all the RPM's in a directory. I set up a CURRENT server
(kind of like a replacement for RHN, but free and open source).

The only packages I don't copy are the IBM-java related ones.

I spent some time comparing 7.2 to RHEL, out of about 1200 RPM's that constitute the
distribution, almost all of them were identical (name of RPM and md5sum) to 7.2 anyway.
Only a handfull were any different.
The few that weren't were licensed in such a way that they are freely distributable also.
(GPL'd, BSD, Apache, X .... licenses)

I searched for some reason that it wouldn't be acceptable to do this,
I couldn't find anything other than the issue about the RedHat logo's and trademarks in
the packages. (IANAL), but I read the RedHat trademark use policy and found that
as long as you are using the trademarks and logos that are in the packages in order
to work with the software that RedHat is distributing, it seems to be acceptable.

The thing that would be WRONG
is to call my hacked setup "RedHat" because that would violate the trademark's,
it would also be WRONG to distribute my hacked version to someone else with those
logos and trademarks in there. But since I am only using it internally for my own use,
and my systems don't utilize ANYTHING from RHN at all, I don't use their logo's or
trademarks for any other purpose than package compatability (dependencies)
I *think* I am within my rights.

Look on this web-page and search for "GPL License"

BTW, for the systems where it is financially justifiable (for the support needed on 7x24 systems)
from Dell/HP/Compaq/IBM/Oracle/BEA... I think RedHat Enterprise is a great product.

The only thing I wish is that RedHat would sell me a "graduated" price model so that
the more servers I deployed the less expensive it was per server. If they would do that
I would definitely buy many more RHN-ES subscriptions.


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