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Old 01-20-2003, 12:57 PM   #1
griffman
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OS X vs. Redhat Linux

OK, not really a "battle of the sexes" or a performance battle, but more a comment on the general usability of the two systems, as I now have some direct Redhat experience.

This weekend, I added a new video card to my existing PC (don't worry, it's not involved in the production or management of the site in any way!). From that project came an additional PC (see, the new video card needed an 8x AGP slot and a bigger power supply than my existing PC had, and then the RAM was too slow, and at that point, you might as well buy a new CPU, too ... and then you find you've got nearly everything required to build another PC from the leftovers except a new case and hard drive ... well, you know how it goes!). I decided to make this my first true UNIX machine, and bought Redhat Linux 8.0 for it (for $39 in a box set, to save the download and burn time).

I've been wanting to do this for a while, primarily to take the MySQL/PHP load off my desktop G4 while developing the new site and updating the current site. Until this weekend, the desktop box was running the dev site, a copy of the main site for posting the day's articles, as well as about 10 to 12 other major PHP apps that I keep my eye on ... in addition to the 25-30 apps that I usually have running at any one time. As such, it was a bit slow waiting on Apache to update the pages at times, and I figured a cheap Redhat box would let me do that with ease.

After a weekend's use of both operating systems, I can clearly state that Apple has by far the easiest to use UNIX on the planet. Although the Redhat installer was very professional and straightforward, it's still not for the faint of heart (especially the section on partitioning drives!). Once installed and booted, you operate in a GUI (if you chose the option during install), but the command line is never far away. After two years with OS X, I felt comfortable with the command line, of course, but still ran into a few things that required some calls to real wizards. I would clearly not recommend Linux to my mother or any other user who wasn't prepared to tackle the command line.

The overall process, from assembling the machine, installing the OS, and running the required patches and upgrades, took about four hours. Parts that I feared (network card config, video card and monitor config) were fully automatic and trouble free. About the only thing that snagged me was the drive partitioning and a couple of questions on which packages to install.

I then spent a couple more hours futzing with Apache, Geeklog, and Samba shares, but everything's cruising now. I posted today's stories using the Redhat box, and the speed of page loading helped me get through the day's hints much more quickly than I had been able to do previously. I can't see using Redhat on a daily basis (the UNIX layer is just a bit too close for my liking), but they've clearly made great strides in usability over the last few years.

OS X, on the other hand, is now basically capable of completely hiding the UNIX layer from those that don't wish to use it, and I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone who uses a Mac (or PC). In fact, my mother is a happy and productive 10.2.3 user who is now hooked on iPhoto and Safari, and she and her husband love the true multi-user environment. Yes, they would clearly get this in Redhat, but the amount of technical knowledge required would be too great for them to put the system to use on a daily basis.

From my seat, it's a fun machine to play around with, and it does a great job serving my sites to the G4 ... but the OS X user experience still (my opinion, remember) beats Redhat by a wide margin...

-rob.
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Old 01-20-2003, 02:49 PM   #2
nkuvu
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Re: OS X vs. Redhat Linux

Quote:
Originally posted by griffman
the UNIX layer is just a bit too close for my liking



Silly rabbit, the only thing on there is the Unix layer. Of course it's too close.

I haven't run a Linux install program for many many years, so I am not sure how the partitioning scheme works. But I do know that the FreeBSD install program will allow you to use auto settings for the partitioning, which makes it a no-brainer. I can't say that the rest of the installation is as easy (I wouldn't classify it as hard, but computers are my life so I am not really in a position to talk) but the partitioning bit is easy.

I've also determined that different window managers drastically change the impression that people get about the OS. Unix is the only OS that I know of (I haven't played with NeXTStep or BeOS or OS/2 or....) that will let you change the GUI layer so completely. So I'm curious to see which window manager you decided on, and why.
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Old 01-20-2003, 02:55 PM   #3
griffman
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They offered Gnome and KDE during install, and I picked Gnome on the basis of a friend's comment that it seemed that Redhat put a bit more work into Gnome than they did KDE. Since the machine is primarily a server, it should probably be running in command line mode anyway, but when I do need to work on it, I prefer the GUI (even the X11 GUI).

The partitioning is automatic, but it's also not really bright. It gave me a 40gb partition for /usr and a 15gb partition for /home ... and I wanted to change it to add a third. It's intimidating in the sense that you're looking at a partition map with raw mount points (/dev/hpa2, etc. or somesuch) and it's not entirely clear exactly how to set a new partition ... and then there were questions about mount points, which were completely foreign to me ;-).

-rob.
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Old 01-20-2003, 04:39 PM   #4
nkuvu
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I'd choose Gnome over KDE also, but that's primarily due to personal preference, not because I know if Gnome is better developed on Linux than KDE.

You can always have the server running in command-line mode for the majority of the time, and when you do need to work on it start up a window manager. It'd take a little work on your part to learn exactly how to do that, but I don't think it would be difficult. For most Unix systems that I am familiar with it's just a matter of calling a startx command after configuring the window manager. But it may be different for Linux...

I can see how the /dev nomenclature may be more than a little daunting to the new user. I was already familiar with that when I installed, so it didn't faze me. *shrug* Not saying that I'm an expert by any stretch of the imagination...
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Old 01-20-2003, 07:20 PM   #5
macubergeek
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hmmm

Honestly my two fave oses are macos x and openbsd.
I hasten to add openbsd + windowmaker as a window manager.
Yes its not as easy as macos x. BUT its very secure, very very fast on older hardware. Incidentally openbsd comes in a ppc and 68k versions that will run nicely on older mac hardware.
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Old 01-20-2003, 07:54 PM   #6
griffeymac
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Thumbs up Great topic!

...and one very relevant to my current situation.

I just finally took the plunge (after months of nudging on Phil's part) to run OS X full time on my G4 at home. While it is still alien to me (compared to 8.1, 8.6, 9.x, etc.), I'm starting to catch on, I think.

At work I just built a server--much the same way Griffman did. I had a leftover PII processor, "acquired" a motherboard and a NIC and a monitor from a network admin friend, bought a case, the cheapest AGP video card I could find, a hard drive, and a floppy. I had a CD drive from an upgrade to a DVD on my PC at home. I had been running Mandrake Linux on it, but at the behest of the network admin for our department, switched to RedHat 8. Between the time I got to work one day and the time I took lunch, I had gotten rid of Mandrake, installed RedHat (let it pick the partitions, installed just about every package), and even installed and had Apache 2.0.43 up and running.

I thought the gui installation was good--although it made me nervous at points because I think there were some quirks with the Mandrake install (neither liked the cheap video card that I bought). All in all, it was rather easy.

As far as the gui goes, I am using Gnome on the Linux box. I think the icons look nice, though they seem similar to something that would be in XP. Windows opening and closing, and menus appearing takes much longer than X, but of course, the machine itself is slower.

I think one major difference presents itself in my expectations: I guess I expect problems from Linux, but expect things in OS X to work perfectly. So far both have been realized, it seems. I've installed RedHat 3 times (?) now at work, and I'm on my second installation on my old Dell at home--and that installation is hosed (might actually be a hard drive problem). If OS X goes south, I don't know that I'll take it quite as well.

Sorry to ramble.

I'm having a blast with both OS X and RedHat. I think that OS X is more foolproof at this point, and that RedHat sure is a lot less frightening than I ever expected Linux to be when I started messing with Mandrake about a year ago.

I will say that it certainly seems a lot easier to track down information about OS X on the internet than it is to find out about obscure Linux problems.

G.--
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Old 01-21-2003, 10:38 AM   #7
Phil St. Romain
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Re: Great topic!

Hey G., glad to hear I've had such a good influence on you re. OS X!

Nevertheless, I don't thing you'll find that everything in OS X works perfectly. But I don't think that was the case with OS < 9 either, at least not in my experience.

I ordered Yellow Dog Linux v.2.3 to run on a partition of a 20 G firewire drive I have. OS X runs decently on it, so why not Linux, I thought? That way I can mess around with it when I just want to learn more about it, and not have it take up room on my Pismo.
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Old 01-21-2003, 10:49 AM   #8
Craig R. Arko
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I've got two customers using RedHat servers; I figure it's time to go take the plunge myself. With IBM and Sun pushing Linux systems, there's gold in them thar' bits.

This will be yet another good reason to have an X11 server running on the OS X systems. RedHat 8 and Jaguar look like they should get along quite well together.
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Old 01-21-2003, 10:57 AM   #9
griffeymac
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Yeah, I'd be lying if I said that learning how to work with and administer *nix based systems had nothing to do with my financial future....

Thank goodness it's fun as well. Although, I've got a couple of stumpers today that are making my head hurt a bit....

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Old 01-21-2003, 01:30 PM   #10
macubergeek
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suggestions anyone?

1. don't run x11 on a server. Its somewhat vulnerable and since most important stuff is done on command line it's superfluous.
2. use built in host firewalling: ip-tables with linux or pf with OpenBSD or ipfw with FreeBSD.
3. Consider using Webmin to admin the box. It provides a convenient gui to access the box and configure the services you have running via a web browser. Again see point 2 above.

Consider BSD. Open or FreeBSD. You'll find it is more similar to Macos X than Linux (which is System V ish) in the way services are started, configured, enabled and disabled.

always remember "real men use command line" ;-)
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Old 02-19-2003, 03:28 PM   #11
Isky
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Linux and OSX

It's not a vs for me. It's what I am doing. I'm a linux geek from the beginning, well, mostly. I started on a trs80, then a tandy 1000, then went to VMS then linux. In between, I tried Windows and OS2 and all the others, but I kept ending up back at Linux. I like Debian the best, myself, but I also use Slackware on my webserver.
i bought this iBook 600 because I wanted the hardware and the look, I was just going to install linux on it, really. My friend Spike convinced me to try OSX just for a week and see if I liked it. I was pretty skeptical, I hate GUI based OSes because they never let me do what *I* want to do. But, I tried it anyways.
For a desktop OS, I've never looked back. I still love linux on my servers, but there's nothing out there that beats Aqua for me. It's easy to use, it's clean, and it's so pretty! very slick. PLUS, the big bonus, it's UNIX, so I can make it do whatever I want, tweak it in any way I like, and I can always use a command line when I'm feeling too surrounded by GUI.
AND I can edit the gui itself from the command line without having to know some weird language that might as well be Greek for me. It's simple XML. I love it!
I may never switch the servers over, as I really don't need a gui on them at all. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a gui on my webserver. I also can't afford all new Mac hardware for all of them.
So, don't think of "vs." That's not what it's about. =)
And yes, I love OSX!

-Isky
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Old 02-20-2003, 02:40 PM   #12
macubergeek
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totally with you dude ;-)

Oh yeh totally with you!

I too like debian...particularly its package manager, really lowers the hassle of keeping yer stuff up to date. I don't use straight debian tho, because I find the install to be a royal pain. Instead I use a debian-distro called Libranet...very nice install. BTW I've found OpenBSD to be even faster on older hardware than Linux if you can believe that;-)

I've recently come to like OpenBSD lately because I find it a bit simpler organizationally wise. You can install over the net and its a quick 60 meg base install.

I admin solaris based firewalls for a living, so I'm coming from a system 5 background...anyway OpenBSD comes with Bind, Apache, and Sendmail all already chrooted for you.
saves me alot of time right there ;-)

Also I like the way the start up files work...I find the whole is the config in /etc/rc2.d or /etc/rc3.d juggling act annoying...BSD puts everything in fewer files...believe Slack is like that too.

I'm totally with you, we're in a new and and world...don't have to make either or choices anymore...can use linux, macos x or openbsd and the stuff just interoperates seamlessly....
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Old 02-21-2003, 11:59 AM   #13
sighup9
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To appease the stuffy/militant O'Reilly types, Linux and OS X are 'Unix-like' OSes.

I setup my first production Linux machine on .92 kernel in ~1994 and I have worked with Solaris since before then. OS X is by far the best Unix-like desktop OS I have ever encountered.

I've not played with OS X server much thus far and my only concern would be what Apple's long term commitment is to enterprise customers. From all that I see now, they are serious about it. Sun has never been known as a storage player so Apple should have no trouble selling oodles of Xserves.

RH has made many inprovements for Linux though I still believe Linux is a bit rough for the average joe to use as a desktop OS. Linux has been a wonderful server platform for many years.

I hope Apple continues making inroads on the wintel hardware front in addition to casting Microsoft as foolish/greedy with all their nasty and sneaky licensing tactics.

--Evan
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Old 02-23-2003, 10:12 AM   #14
macubergeek
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OSX<--->Windows admins

I can already see Macos X server appealing to Windows shops.
My local mac reseller tells me they are selling 5-10 per week to local Wintel only shops.
I think macosx might very well bridge the gap between the world of windows and Unix.
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