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SuSE grabs Best-Business-Linux gong

Big Three almost too close to call

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SuSE has been crowned as the most functional Linux distro by DH Brown Associates, whose exhaustive surveys have over the years become the bible of enterprise Unix capabilities.

It's the first time DHBA has given Linux the full treatment, using the time-honoured categories that are surely tattooed on every big-iron Unix marketing manager's forearm: RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability), Scalability, System Management and Internet/Web services and Directory Services.

In the end, SuSE narrowly beats Red Hat for the prize, with both beating Caldera's Unix into third place. But all three are rated ''above average', and not one has stand-out features, says author Tony Iams.

SuSE wins in the scalability, the system management and the directory/security services categories. Red Hat scoops the scalability and Internet/web services prizes. Red Hat gets a black mark for not including a journaled file system by default - but that's a conclusion we suspect will be rapidly outdated, with ext3 in the wings.

TurboLinux and Debian are also included, and are found wanting, the report concludes, largely because they're still based on the 2.2 kernel. That's perhaps a bit harsh on Debian, as the survey looked at the stable release, while the experimental Debian distro can be pretty much relied on to be bleeding-edge.

For control purposes the five are rated alongside the leading proprietary Unix-on-Intel, UnixWare 7.1.1 (now renamed OpenUnix), and Red Hat is judged to be a shade ahead. This could surprise a few, but then UnixWare has lost its vast scalability and systems management lead as a result of its new owner severing the relationship with Compaq that gave it access to the NonStopClusters and SSI (single system image) capabilities.

Its new owner is of course Caldera, which decided that maintaining two UnixWare kernels - one with NSC and one without - was too expensive.

Then again, as Compaq has bravely decided to open source the code behind NSC UnixWare, it's a net gain to Linux. If that gambit pays off, next year's scalability rankings could look very different indeed - providing the move survives the SirCam merger between Compaq and HP.

If you're not a DHBA subscriber, Tony Iams' full 74-page report won't leave you much change from $1,500. But DHBA makes a seven page executive summary available if you are prepared to give them an email address. If not, LWN pretty much has the entire executive summary paraphrased here

Related Link

DH Brown's 2001 Linux Function Review

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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