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RedHat ES 3.0 vs. SuSE Server 8.0: Battle for the Enterprise

Even at the enterprise server level, there are wide differences between Linux distributions, not only in price, but in ease of installation, included features and software, and particularly in ease of administration. See how the two most popular Linux enterprise server distributions match up.


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y company, Command Prompt, has traditionally been a Red Hat house. All our managed servers run Red Hat 7.3 or above. We do not support Debian, Gentoo, or any other "hobby" Linux. This is not to say those distributions are not worthy (I use Gentoo and SuSE at home), it's that they are not what most customers consider "commercial" Linux distributions. Unfortunately, Red Hat's recent announcement that it was dropping support for all versions of Red Hat Linux and moving to a paid support model for Red Hat WS (WorkStation) and ES (Enterprise Server) left us in the lurch. Like other Linux-focused companies, we have to be able to support our customers in a cost efficient and reasonable manner. When we sell our managed services, we have to sell via a name that people recognize.

Managers know Linux—Red Hat Linux. SuSE is also a contender, but doesn't have nearly the market share in the United States that Red Hat does. SuSE's primary stronghold has been in Europe; however, due to its recent acquisition by Novell, SuSE is now a U.S. company, and that change may improve the brand's support and increase deployment among other U.S. companies. Given these new Linux marketplace dynamics I felt it was only fair to compare how the Gecko holds up against the Red Hat.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've run all variants of Red Hat, from 7.3 all the way up to Fedora Core 1 (FC1). In my home office, I run SuSE 8.2 and Gentoo. I am comfortable with both major distributions and can effectively administer either of them, although I do have many more years of experience with Red Hat than SuSE. The machine used for testing has the following specifications:



  • Dual Athlon MP 2800 (Barton)
  • 2 GB of Registered ECC RAM
  • 3Ware IDE hardware RAID
  • (4) 80 Gig WD in a RAID 0+1 array


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