Linux servers battle for enterprise recognition
Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE, and Turbolinux demonstrate Linux advancements
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Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES 2.1, priced at $799, is one of two enterprise-oriented Linux distributions from Red Hat. The other, Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 2.1, is priced from $1,499 and includes SMP (Symmetric Multiprocessing) support for more than two CPUs, support for more than 4GB of RAM, clustering capabilities, Web farm load-balancing capability, and Itanium compatibility.
The ES installer provides a choice of three levels of security during setup. You can select a server installation that installs all the server packages, or a custom package selection that allows you to select which servers you want to enable.
When the system is started, Red Hat provides the Kpackage Manager to see what packages are installed. After the software is registered, the Red Hat Network provides access to updates of both system software and applications. One odd quirk: The standard installation of the Mozilla browser will not work on the Red Hat site to access the registration area. You have to force a reinstall of the browser to add all the necessary SSL capabilities.
Red Hat includes old versions of KDE and Gnome; in fact, it’s the only distribution that still features Gnome 1.4, which is much buggier than the 2.0 release. It is also the only distribution that defaults to Gnome as the GUI.
Both also support asynchronous I/O so that applications don’t need to pause after issuing read I/Os, increased SMP granularity (especially in the SCSI I/O subsystem for better disk performance), SMP scheduler enhancements, enhanced support for more than one gigabyte of memory, and enhancements to improve database performance.
The Standard Edition provides a full year of support and a one year subscription to Red Hat Enterprise Network for updates and security patches. It also includes a full boxed set of CDs and printed documentation. The AS version includes a one-day response time on Web support and one hour on phone support. A full year of updates is also included.
SuSE Linux Enterprise Server
SuSE provided much of the installer base code for all the United Linux variations, and the installer works well. It automatically detected all the hardware in our systems, with the exception of one Samsung LCD monitor.
The YaST2 installer, shared with the Turbolinux distribution, doesn’t provide as many choices for preconfiguring security or selecting which servers will be installed as do the other two distributions. But it certainly does an adequate job, and the YaST2 configuration manager provides a nice monolithic program for determining which products are installed, for adding additional services, and for updating products.
After installation, only basic services run by default; this is to keep the system secure. The Services control utility makes it easy to start and stop servers and to determine whether they start upon booting or are started manually.