CentOS vs Scientific Linux 6 – Part 2

In my last writeup on this subject, I left off talking about my feelings with the CentOS project and that I was slowly going to test Scientific Linux 6 (hereafter known as SL) and see how that works out. Well, here is my review of SL 6 and what my thoughts are and the current condition of CentOS.

Let me preface everything with the following disclaimer: I’m not passing judgment but providing my opinion and view on this situation. Take it for what it’s worth. Same rules apply as the first article in this series.

Let’s start with the current condition of the CentOS project. As of July 10th, Centos 6 is now in the wild. I have not had a chance to download/install/test Centos 6 but the buglist for it appears to be sizable. I am sure allot of this will be fixed soon, if not already but the list doesn’t give me a good feeling per say. That being said, you can’t exactly say CentOS is guilty of rushing this out the door either….so again, the buglist does give me a little apprehension. Of course the CentOS 6 release forum has been shut down in favor of moving to a fresh new forum, admittedly, in part because of the ilk that tainted this long rolling forum. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly believe that the CentOS team, with their poor responses and broken time lines/extensions/excuses/arguments/etc brought allot of this on themselves. People can only take you for your word, written or otherwise, and when your word is devalued by arguments, bitter responses and constant replies that only indicate that you could care less, well, the result is in the forum. Go read it for yourself and pass your own judgement.

Okay, that’s enough about CentOS. Again, I don’t want people to think I am completely down on CentOS or the team; that’s not the case. That being said, I will give my final thoughts and such on this matter at the end of this article; the results will probably not be surprising.

Now, let’s talk about SL6. As I stated in my previous article, I had downloaded and installed and was in the process of testing SL6. Thus far, I am happy to report that SL6 is a great OS and excellent clone/substitute for Redhat Linux/CentOS. The installation is a little different, as is the case with each OS, in that the menus and options are a little shifted about. Documentation on their website is great, offering allot of good answers and solutions to different issues. I would like to see a few more walk-through documentation/how to documentation but isn’t that the case with everything these days? Pretty much, other then the installation menus and some modifications that the SL team has made, I would say that if you really need a binary compatible distro of Redhat, SL is the way to go.

A couple of features that really stand out to me:

  • SL: Security – SL has gone out of the way to add features, packages, etc…. to the install menu focusing on security. I’m glad to see it.
  • Monitoring – SL has also added monitoring tool options, web based and otherwise, that are refreshing to see in a linux distro (and least those that are Redhat based)
  • Storage support – Right from the get-go SL wants to know about your storage (iscsi, attached/local, etc…) which is pretty nice. I haven’t played with it yet but it’s there and that’s nice to have right from installation
  • Community support – I’ve seen a few flame threads but for the most part, their team seems much more welcoming and interested in fixing problems/answering questions more then anything; refreshing from what the CentOS team has become

So how have I used SL6? Well, that’s a good question. I’ve used it mostly as a DB server and web server at this point. I’ve setup some Mysql and Oracle database servers (works fine, pretty much like any other linux distro), I’ve setup a couple of apache servers, a couple of SVN repositories and a couple of RoR/passenger servers. I’ve also used it as a lab server to test software deployments such as SNORT, some HIDS products, code (of course) and a few other pieces of software. So far, no complaints. Installs, package additions, repositories, all of it seems to work very well with SL6. Upgrades to the OS, patching, etc…. seem very much on schedule at this point. Check out their road map here.

So with that said, let’s bring this article to a close with a summary and what this means to me and my customers. To bring this full circle, I am very happy with SL6, the team and community and right now, as it stands, I plan to begin a migration to SL6 (I’ve already migrated a Nagios server to it from 32bit CentOS and the migration was very smooth; very promising) from every CentOS box I have (a little under 100 at my last count, not including labs). Believe it or not, this is actually a fairly sad decision for me, since I’ve been using CentOS for quite some time. While I’ve enjoyed my time with CentOS and the community, I have to admit that I have been unhappy with the team for awhile. Their constant bickering and lack of “team player” attitude, not to mention their one off stance with regards to assistance and allowing others into the sacred circle of development really is allot of the driving point behind this. The final straw was the late release of security patches and of version 6. Regardless of what I could have done to patch and move on myself from CentOS 5.x to a safer, closer to 6 version, is irrelevant in my opinion. If you are a community supporting a project then you have a responsibility to support that project in it’s entirety and not a your whim. You have a responsibility to communicate issues/delays/etc….to the community, not belittle and complain at the community. It does not work that way. Certainly you don’t throw your weight around with statements such as “we have the largest release pool”,etc….(I’m paraphrasing there; I saw that quote on the forum but don’t remember where so you will have to do a little fact checking for the exact wording).

At any rate, that is enough on this subject for now. In the future, I’ll be writing up some articles on SL and some of the things I have done with this OS. Let me know what you think! Take care and thanks for reading!

About Matthew

I'm the owner of impromptu-it, an IT engineer and enthusiast!
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