Testing the Enterprise Linux Load

By Tom Henderson, Network World |  Operating Systems

We found that installing the "server" selection (rather than a workstation selection) is more efficient in terms of resources -- it's stripped of unneeded workgroup X Window-based GUIs and daemons. Installing X Window after a server installation is time-consuming, but there are many Unix/Xenix/Linux-savvy installers that don't need a GUI for post-installation configuration.

The first GNOME screen that greeted us after installation was a GNOME/Red Hat help screen, but the installer doesn't install the Red Hat help files. Clicking the Red Hat help links spawned missing file errors. A subsequent installation from the documentation CD that was enclosed in the Deluxe Version allowed us to add these files and read them at this time.

Red Hat comes with tools that let an administrator perform the basics of system and user/group administration. User connection methods are plentiful, and Red Hat comes with Samba, a connectivity tool for computers and other devices that connect via Microsoft-oriented/NetBIOS authentication methods. Samba in the Red Hat release can also emulate a Windows NT authentication server, or connect to others, but appears as an NT server peer to a Windows 2000 server. We could not find a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol proxy method for peerage to Microsoft's Active Directory.

Red Hat's phone technical support answered one easy tech support question quickly and professionally. A much tougher and contrived scenario posed as a question took a bit more time and was also answered professionally, even though the toughness obviously jolted the support person.

Red Hat's Web site uses the Mozilla Bugzilla engine for bug tracking. The site is somewhat daunting as it lacks some basic query tools. Nonetheless, we found the site had answers to our first bug, and keys to the second one. The Red Hat site was judged to be most useful, even if it was crammed.

Red Hat's printed documentation consisted of a "getting started" guide and an installation guide. The installation guide was useful to us, but we found items weren't fully explained. Important concepts, such as implications of Disk Druid, the installer's disk partitioning tool, weren't explained to our satisfaction.

The getting started guide is just that. Its index isn't entirely useful, and the guide presumes that a successful installation has been made as the guide is for customizing a working existing installation.

Missing from the guides are troubleshooting information and detail -- these must be obtained from Red Hat, online Linux sources or books on the subject.

Production Red Hat 7.0 was released in late September but was not available in time for our testing.

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