Forum OpenACS Q&A: RedHat and OpenACS - Wake Up Call

Posted by Alfred Essa on
If you are running a production instance of OpenACS/.LRN on RedHat you should be aware that RedHat is phasing out support for all versions except for their Enterprise line. While we don't rely on Linux technical support from Red Hat, we are very dependent on the automated patch and maintenance releases. Support for v. 7.x to 8.x will terminate on Dec 31, 2003 and for v. 9.x on April 30, 2004.

To make matters worse, there is no "upgrade" path from 7.x - 9.x to the Enterprise version. "This means that migration to any Red Hat Enterprise Linux product requires a fresh installation."

If you are running a production site on RedHat Linux are you planning to migrate to the Enterprise version?

Posted by Benjamin Bytheway on
While I'm not a huge RedHat fan, I would like to point out that there is an upgrade path available from RedHat to Fedora, which just released it's first version today. The Fedora project, while not providing service contracts to purchase, is planning to do maintenance and security releases, along with full releases 2-3 times a year. They are attempting to be more of a community supported project much like debian (although debian does have quite a head start). Even so, Fedora will be the basis for RedHat Enterprise in the future, so RedHat will be a contributor to the Fedora project.

I don't necessarily like what RedHat has done for it's non-enterprise users, but they have provided another path for users to follow.

Posted by Mike Sisk on
Yeah, and I like how just last month Red Hat charged my credit card for annual renewal entitlements for the Red Hat Network for all my servers  that they won't be supporting that long.

While the Fedora project looks interesting and the new up2date utility can get updated RPMs from sites besides the Red Hat Network, I don't think I'm going to be using Red Hat going foward. I'm seriously considering FreeBSD for non-Oracle sites and Solaris or Mac OS X for those on Oracle.

Posted by Jonathan Ellis on
is FreeBSD smp support decent these days, then?
Posted by Carl Robert Blesius on
Since Mike brought it up, I would like to see stronger support for OS X. It has quickly swept  into the geek space, Oracle will be officially supported soon (if it isn't already), single click packages for things like Postgresql are around, it makes a lot of sense for .LRN (especially in k-12 where the "system-admin" may also teach the fifth grade), and we can get a 2-3 click install process going for our component parts (that shouldn't be that hard to maintain).

The ease of use and familiarity of Apple would be a nice touch, we would at least triple our prospective users base, and I bet we could even get some interesting press out of it if we make running .LRN on X-Serves a snap.

Posted by bill kellerman on
i'm running freebsd 4.9rc -- smp is supported and runs, but i haven't tested whether or not it performs to full advantage.  it is supposed to be improved in 5x.

to anyone researching os alternatives, i'd suggest at least trying freebsd.  i've been very pleased so far.  package management is nice (similar to debian from what i understand).  you don't have to worry about all the sco lawsuit stuff going on right now, nor the novell/suse or redhat/enterprise wierdness.  from various benchmarks i read, freebsd ranks near linux's 2.6 kernel -- but freebsd has already been out for a long, long time.  it's established, and isn't likely to change it's "business model " down the line...

which leads to os x.  i'd also love to see more support for os x as it is my other favorite os.  it would be my prime candidate for server, but it's so new and so expensive that it's not an option for me...  but it is freebsd based.

incidentally, my boss was told by oracle's tech support that the latest version of oracle will only run under redhat advanced server (which is licensed for somewhere in the ballpark of $4k) -- not any other distributions.  this is news to me.  maybe redhat's support guy is nuts...  has anyone heard this, and if it's true, does it also have any affect on oacs or the community?

Posted by Dirk Gomez on
I doubt that: Oracle would e.g. give up the whole Oracle-on-Linux market in Germany. Also there was no such assertion on the suse-oracle mailing list.

Here's what Metalink says about supported Linuxes: Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES and UnitedLinux.

Posted by Malte Sussdorff on
OS X makes the world a better place to live in. Especially when it comes down to panther. I could install .LRN one minute faster than on Linux. But maybe this is just to the convenience of me knowing how to make most use of the user friendliness of OS X.

But that does not help the RedHat people. For them I'd suggest to assume that RH is going to provide an upgrade path (everything else would not make a lot of business sense for them). If they fail to do so in due time, I'd switch to SuSE Enterprise (if you need this extra feeling of good support, now with Novell enhancement) or start with Debian.

Posted by Alfred Essa on
Carl, We are having the same thought. We are going to try to see if we can develop ".LRN in a box" running on Mac OS, targeted particularly for K-12 and Community Colleges.
Posted by Mike Sisk on
Re: FreeBSD on SMP

Seems to work. Until I sold the machine to a customer that needed Oracle (and Linux), I had a Dell 2550 with dual cpu running on FreeBSD 4.9 and it ran fine, including support for the RAID controller and gigabit Ethernet.

Re: OS X

I'm waiting to see what the G5 Xserve brings to the table. I already have one OS X Server for testing purposes and I'm impressed with it. If the G5 Xserve has ECC RAM (or some other method to account for single-bit memory errors) I'll be very happy. And the Apple fiber-channel Xserve Raid disk array is the bargin of the IT industry at only $11k for 2.5 TB of storage. If they update that to serial ATA drives and keep the price down it'll be even better.

Posted by Carl Coryell-Martin on
I would love to see us move towards Debian as a community.  My sysadmin friends all run debian and roll their eyes when I ask them questions about redhat.  😊

The install process for MacOSX is quite reasonable, only OpenFTS gave me any pain and that was fixed by editing the make files.  A packaged install on MacOSX or even Fink would make me cry with happyness as would debian packages, though I am not currently qualified to undertake either task.



Posted by Don Baccus on
Heh ... I've been having the same thoughts regarding Mac OS X, too ... you don't need Mac OS X server to run OpenACS, whether you're using Oracle or PostgreSQL, both run fine on Mac OS X "consumer".

The reason to get server is to get the server admin tools but for a K-12 ".LRN in a box" Mac distro there's no reason to require it.

Now a Knoppix CD with OpenACS pre-installed and running on port 80 would be tres cool, too ... as well as one with .LRN, I guess ... would get us past the hump of "this is so hard to try out most people never get there" ...

RedHat's moves have astonished me.  Just a personal comment.

Posted by Alfred Essa on
I should say that IMHO RedHat's move is a good one although I don't like the way they are doing this, i.e. not providing an upgrade path.  This is an indication that Linux | OpenSource is going mainstream. CIOs and CTOs want predictability and that's what the Enterprise versions of RedHat promise. Paying $350 - $1,500 annually is not a bad deal if overall it lowers administrative costs.
Posted by Torben Brosten on
Perhaps the base OS X installation should only assume installing on darwin[1] for a wider trial base?

comment: Maybe Redhat likes the MacOS business model? Free, open-source based OS (and community support) with proprietary/licensed GUI built on it?


Posted by Don Baccus on
Oh, concentrating on their enterprise version makes perfect sense, it's the way they're managing the transition that seems unbelievable.  I find it hard to believe that they're not going to lose a bunch of folks to SuSe and other distributions that also provide commercial support.
Posted by Mike Sisk on
More on Red Hat and their migration policy. Here's what they did for me:

In October I noticed a $ 2,000 charge on my credit card statement from Red Hat. They had automatically renewed *all* my Red Hat Network Entitlements for another year -- even those that weren't due for some months.

All this without any notification or notice. When I complained they said it was all done at once for my benefit.

Now they tell me the upgrade path when the RHN on all my production servers expire at the end of the year is a free ISO image of Enterprise WS and I'll get access to the Red Hat Network for the remainder of my entitlements, but only if I update all the servers to WS.

I guess they don't figure it'd be much of a hardship for me to take down dozens of customer sites while I upgrade....

Now, it's not like these servers won't function after offical support ends. But -- for me anyway -- the one reason I stuck with Red Hat is the ease of admining dozens of machines with RHN.

Oh, I'll be upgrading my servers at some point, but after the above it sure as hell isn't going to be a Red Hat distro...

Posted by Talli Somekh on
Woohoo! He's back! And with trademark aplomb!


Posted by C. R. Oldham on
<blockquote> Webcasts:
Unleashing the Price/Performance Benefits of Oracle and
Red Hat Enterprise Linux: VeriSign

Hm.  Associating themselves with VeriSign is a *huge* mistake in my opinion.  Red Hat should know better than most companies that VeriSign is all about everything Red Hat is not...

Posted by Walter McGinnis on
Re: OS X vs Darwin

Does the Oracle install for OS X rely on the native GUI, an additional install of X11 (Apple's version is included with Panther, I believe), or anything else that might tie it to the full OS X?

Applescript's ability to drive applications and command line scripts all tied together with a GUI is pretty impressive.  Its clear to me that the "out of the box" project will benefit from it.  I would prioritize an OS X based doc over a Darwin doc.

As a side note, several months ago I was contacted by email by a person who said they had Applescript developers working on a mostly automated install.  I'm a bit tired at the moment to dig through old email, but I'll look into soon.


Posted by Rocael Hernández Rizzardini on
Maybe is my lack of knowledge of the K-12 U.S. market, but why does it makes sense the .lrn OS X support for them?
Does a lot of k-12 schools uses OS X servers?

Anyway, this is something that we should improve on.

Posted by Sam Snow on
Rocael Hernandez said:
Do a lot of k-12 schools uses OS X servers?

I can only speak for one private K-12 school in Utah-- but we don't have any Macs because of their cost. We are in a unique (?) situation of having virtually no IT budget, but I am able to get PC donations from local businesses that have kept us well supplied with teacher and lab computers.

One of our three servers runs NT 4, another RH 7.3--- and a third (as of last weekend) is running Debian.

I chose to go with Debian on this new server because I need something easy to maintain and stable-- and looking at my options Debian seems to be the most promising. How long I will maintain the 7.3 box before either loading a replacement or moving its functions (email, calendar, personal webspace) to the debian box; I am not sure.

I'd love to take a gander at .LRN, but I don't have the resources to do so until it becomes close to a drop in and go install. OpenACS has been there before (3 years ago for example)… but I believe some of that focus has been lost over time.


Posted by Lamar Owen on
To answer Al's first post's last question, no I'm not planning on migrating to RHEL.  No need; Fedora does everything the old RHL did.  Errata are available for a few months after release (for free via yum), and then you migrate to the next release.  In my case this is the same-old-same-old.

As to other points:

There are significant discounts for .edu-land sites going to RHEL.

There IS a migration path from previous RHL to RHEL.  I took the time to register to download their migration whitepaper (after all, I'm interested in RHEL professionally for PARI ( anyway, might as well), and found out the scoop in their White Papers.  Their registration process is annoying!  But I got the papers.  Pretty good stuff.  They explain why there's no direct upgrade, and how to migrate.

Was I astonished when the Red Hat Linux Project was first announced?  No, there were tremors three releases ago about this; anyone watching closely enough saw it coming.  The merger with the fedora 3rd party repository likewise was telegraphed at low baud.

I continue to run Red Hat and now Fedora in production. It's stable, it's well supported by a large community (see about joining the community).  Much the same as the support structure behind OpenACS/dotLRN itself, just larger.  Where do .LRN and OACS users go for 'errata?'

Now, as to upgrading.  A server has to be taken down to upgrade regardless.  I typically do a fresh install after a backup anyway.  I then recompile my third party stuff (AOLserver, etc) and restore the data.  I plan it and execute it.  I always had problems using the 'upgrade' option (being an RPM packager I understand the reasons, too).  So I don't even bother at this point.

Frankly, I am astonished at the Chicken Little tenor of this thread.  You guys are OpenACS developers; creme de la creme of the developer pool.  You guys should know better.

Posted by Deds Castillo on
I just did an upgrade of my home system from RH9.0 to Fedora Core 1.0.  Upgrade went on smoothly.  Only hitch I've encountered was the installation of NVIDIA drivers barfing because the kernel was built using an older version of gcc than the ones included in the distro.  Simple fix editing the Makefile.  Tux Racer hangs though. :) I'm assuming due to the gcc version issue.  Should be solved when I recompile a custom kernel and stop using the stock.  I've tested software and everything seems to be working fine including Oracle.  This was an upgrade though so I'm not sure if LD_ASSUME_KERNEL stuff if doing a fresh Oracle install still holds true without changes.


I've noticed on the announcement page that they are not including Postgres RPMS.  Will you continue packaging them for the Fedora Project?

Posted by Lamar Owen on
Deds, what FC1 removes is the PostgreSQL 7.2 compatibility libraries package.  PostgreSQL itself is still included.

I typically package the 'Official' RPMset with whatever it is I am running.  That is currently Fedora Core 1 (aka Yarrow).

Speaking of, the 7.4 release candidate set has been significantly delayed, but I hope to get it done this week or next.

Posted by Rafael Calvo on
Apple Australia has expresed great interest in geting openACS on OSX. They even donated WEG some hardware! so we will be working more on this distribution.
Posted by Jun Yamog on
Wow Rafael that is a very good sign.
Posted by Walter McGinnis on
Sounds great Rafael.  I've been thinking about this sort of thing since writing the first OS X install doc.  I would like to take part in the work.

Here's a follow up to my earlier post about the person who said that they had some Applescript developers working on this.  I was unable to find the specific email.  So if the person is reading this, it would be great if you could step forward.

On another note, Mark Darymple has a doc or a draft of a doc on Apple's Package Manager that might be helpful and he said he could make it available.

Posted by Walter McGinnis on
Another follow up on Mac OS X install:

Here's an article from O'Reilly about designing a Unix app install on Mac OS X.  There are few specifics that may be helpful, but mainly its usefull for some of its points about what Mac users expect when they install an app.  There are, of course, some things that aren't relevant.