• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Red Hat Linux

Jul 01, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinux

* The Reviewmeister tested to see how Red Hat Enterprise Linux and UnitedLinux fared as enterprise server platforms

The Reviewmeister has been a big Linux fan for quite a while, so we decided to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux and UnitedLinux to see how each fared as an enterprise server platform.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux comes in numerous flavors, ranging from a $179 desktop/workstation edition called Enterprise Linux WS Basic Edition to the Enterprise Linux AS Premium Edition we tested. The premium edition, which costs about $2,500, is distinguished from its siblings by clustering capabilities, additional hardware support and service options.

The custom-installation option on Red Hat offers a variety of choices relating to what software you want installed, disk partitioning, and boot loader selection. Alternatively, an installation wizard can make these choices for you. The wizard worked well and mostly made astute choices, although it divided our disk arrays into seemingly bite-sized devices with seven partitions.

Red Hat also let us enter a network address, but didn’t probe the network for other settings, such as a DNS  server or gateway, and incorrectly guessed what those were. It also identified sound devices that didn’t exist in our hardware. Red Hat easily understood the number of platforms we installed it on, including the symmetric multiprocessing boxes.

Red Hat’s wizard then let us select high, medium or low security settings, gradients that were customizable after installation but also have a strong bearing on initial functionality. The security setting choice is important because the installation program leaves the server in remarkably different conditions from a communications standpoint. Servers are used for many purposes: For example, the gradient of security needed to tailor a server for a Web server as opposed to an application server can be very different. Red Hat’s security choices let us easily position the server for gradients of service that otherwise take a long time to manually adjust settings in individual applications.

The default installation can place as little as 61M bytes or as much as 1.5-plus G-bytes if you install all software packages (full firewall, e-mail, Web services, development components and the like). The drivers that the operating system chose initially weren’t necessarily the most recent or stable versions, but Red Hat doesn’t do an Internet search to find up-to-date drivers such as Windows server platforms.

In performance tests, Red Hat topped its competitors in our transaction-per-second test, in which we tested static Web page transaction cycles – downloading 20 4K-byte files per connection as a transaction cycle and our maximum open TCP connections test.

In our second set of disk tests, performance numbers between Red Hat and UnitedLinux were within a 5% margin. With the journaled ext3 filing system kicked in for both Linux operating systems on the HP ProLiant DL580 platform, both copied large files 8% faster (after a 5% margin of error) than Win 2003. Red Hat consistently recovered from simulated outages more quickly than UnitedLinux/SuSE, but within the margin of error.

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