Switching to Scientific Linux 6.1


When I started using Linux very seriously in about 1993 or so. I converted my home system to Linux in 1993 using Yggdrasil and a bunch of floppies (Actually I remember Linus’ posting to comp.os.minix because I was looking for a *nix that I could run on my own system because I used it so much in graduate school and I read that mailing list in hopes I could figure out how to install minix on my home system). So I started using Yggdrasil and really liked it.

However, Yggrasil’s run pretty much ended in 1995 but I used it for a while longer because it was fun (ans easy). Around 1996 or 1997 I switched over to Red Hat Linux and found that I really liked it. Plus the world as settling on rpm as the application distribution format, so I headed down the Red Hat path.

I used Red Hat for quite a while on all kinds of systems. My personal desktop at home, at desktops at work (that was an interesting adventure because of SCO and the whole lawsuit threat, and HPC systems. I was very happy with it and I tried to purchase support when I could for production systems. Then Red Hat announced their change to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) so I decided to make a switch then.

At that time I switched over to CentOS for various reasons. For production systems I switched to RHEL but for my home systems I used CentOS. I liked CentOS very much – it was just like RHEL that I used at work but without the support costs which I couldn’t afford.


I used CentOS all over my home when ever I needed Linux. At one point I had 13 servers and desktops all using CentOS and I was happy as a clam. The security updates came out fairly quickly, the community was fairly good and they even tolerated non-CentOS questions such as general admin questions. I used CentOS in many HPC systems and wrote lots of articles using CentOS as the OS. Sorry Red Hat – I just couldn’t afford the support costs at the time and CentOS gave me everything I needed.

During this time I also tried SuSE because we used it as Linux Networx used it since it was cheaper for HPC than Red Hat. I even had SuSE on my laptop for a few years but didn’t use it too much.

I also tried CAOS Linux because my friend Greg Kurtzer, who developed Warewulf and Perceus, was developing it. I used it on a few small clusters and wrote a few article about it. It was close enough to Red Hat that I was comfortable with it but I still used CentOS on my desktop (old habots die hard).

I also tried Ubuntu during this time and it was nice and easy to use and worked well on laptops so I switched over my laptops to use it. However it did have a slight learning curve so I didn’t switch over any HPC systems to it nor did I switch over any production systems to it.

I still used CentOS until the great “whine” debacle of 2010-2011.

CentOS Community disintegrates

I don’t know the exact data but around 2010 or 2011, the whole CentOS project started to unravel. It didn’t track RHEL updates very quickly, particularly for RHEL 6.x and RHEL 5.6 (CentOS 5.5 was slow enough).

The mailing lists soon filled with users asking about the newer versions. Then the volume on the mailing lists turned up and the “developers” became belligerent, secretive, and amazingly rude. I know they were doing CentOS work on the side, but the fast disintegration of CentOS soon became apparent.

So I was stuck. I couldn’t afford to buy RHEL from Red Hat (maybe the Workstation version but I was looking for the server version) and CentOS was rapidly becoming a steaming pile. I wasn’t ready to jump with both feet into Ubuntu or SusE (worry guys) because I knew RHEL well enough that I could focus on what I wanted to do with it, rather than how to install it and admin it.

Scientific Linux

I had know about Scientific Linux for a while since I work in that field. I had heard some good things about it and I was impressed by the speed that they put out distributions and security updates. So I thought I would give it a try.

I grabbed the SL6.1 DVD install iso and put it on my main test system (I use it for all of my storage testing). The installation went very smoothly – exactly like I’m used to. I have a tendency to go a little heavy on the initial package selection so I restrained myself with this installation. However, I did chose the alternative yum repos so I could get some extra stuff. For example, I installed my all time favorites: gkrellm, nedit, and vlc. Easy as pie. But one of the cool things that comes with SL is all of the XFS extra goodies (got to love xfs!).


I suppose CentOS 6.1 would have been just as easy to install but installing SL6.1 was just as easy, it gave me a few more goodies than CentOS and I won’t be subjected to any of the drama surrounding CentOS. So I get the exact same behavior that I want (RHEL or CentOS), the easy installation (RHEL or CentOS), and I don’t get any of the drama of CentOS and I can afford the price on SL for now. Seems like a good deal and I will definitely be switching over to SL on all my production boxes at home but I’ll still use RHEL on production systems outside home (BTW – Red Hat is doing some great things around the HPC community and file systems and storage so they deserve our support in my opinion.


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