My Personal Favorites

This is a place to discuss the pros and cons of various distributions, to share problems and solutions specific to a distribution, etc.

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My Personal Favorites

Post by Nanook » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:18 am

I use quite a few distros in my business (Eskimo North), among them are Redhat 4.1, 4.2, Redhat 6.2, Centos 6, Centos7, Debian, Fedora, Mint, MxLinux, OpenSuse, Scientific Linux 6, Scientific Linux 7, Ubuntu, and Zorin, and I am tinkering with a few others.

Eskimo Started as a single line BBS running on a Tandy model III, later model IV. It was written in a modified version of BASIC that I wrote which I called ComBASIC. It was written in Z-80 assembly and was probably the first Trs-80 model III ever that multi-tasked. It had two processes, the main process that interpreted the modified BASIC, and a small process that was given CPU via the clock interrupt, which monitored modem carrier and either ended a session when carrier was lost or started one when it received carrier. It also had a watchdog function in case the ComBASIC code hung it would reset the computer. The modified BASIC code was a combination of my BBS functions which had upload / download (multiple directories in spite of Tandy's flat file system), e-mail, and game section, and Glen Gormans Minibin which primarily I adapted his room based message system to my language and modem driver and replaced the BASIC screen formatting routines with Z-80 routines which did some trick things including spin up the floppy drives before the buffer was empty so there would not be a delay for the next read.

Then I moved to a Tandy 16B Xenix based system, originally Microsoft Xenix and then later moved to SCO Xenix. This rapidly grew into a Tandy 6000, and then something Tandy never intended, a machine with 4MB of memory (Tandy 6000 at the time maxes out at 1MB but after I made the mod and a friend in I think it was Wisconson, disassembled the Xenix memory management routines, we had 4MB machines before Tandy did, and their machine officially maxed out at 8 ports, mine had 11. Anyway, hardware was easier to hack back then when you didn't have 26 layer PC boards and gigahertz speeds.

When that maxed out I bought a Sun 3/180 with 16 ports, added two more muxes for a total of 48 ports, and that was all the machine could support, so then went to using external Ethernet connected MUXes for a total of 256 ports and modems. Went from a 3/180 to a 3/280 and then a 4/280. The 3/180 and 3/280 ran SunOS 3.5 but I had to upgrade to SunOS 4.1 to go to the 4/280, not an upgrade I liked because 3.5 was rock solid, where was 4.1.x was finicky and crashed occasionally, also ports would hang, it was just generally problematic but we still run one machine with 4.1.4 here ( so you can see what that was like. It crashes from time to time but not frequently as it is not used heavily.

Then I added a 4/330 to handle Usenet News because the volume was becoming too much for the old machine, and then latter 4/670MP's which after a bit I upgraded
to SS-10's. The SS-10's were much smaller, drew much less electricity, but otherwise used the same CPUs and the 4/670MPs. I had high end Ross Hypersparc CPUs in those,
$20k a piece new. They were not cheap but nothing else could touch them in terms of performance back then.

When Linux came out we played around with a home built kernel, user-land, and stuff but did not really get very good performance, a 300 Mhz Intel chip was out performed by 40 Mhz Sparc (later upgraded to 120Mhz Sparc). But over time Linux improved and gradually I phased on the Suns (save for old shell server and two Ultra2s that are Radius servers. The first Linux distro I used was Redhat 4.1 and 4.2, later moved to 6.2. The Intel machines the first "distro" I used was CentOS6 and then in 2012, I moved most of the servers to Ubuntu 12.04, and upgraded with each release until present day they are 18.04.

I run shell servers with all of the post Redhat 6.2 distros mentioned at the beginning of this article for customers. They are all accessible via ssh or for full graphics
and sound, via x2go which tunnels everything over ssh so it is secure. Because I've run all these different distros I've had lots of experience with them and formed some
pretty solid opinions. I prefer debian based to redhat based for three reasons. 1st, Debian distros can be updated in place across major releases, Redhat forces you to
re-install, not cool when you have a lot of customers depending on various apps. 2nd, Debian has about 5x as much software ported to it as does Redhat. Lastly, in the case of Ubuntu, it's FAR more up to date than Redhat. When the meltdown exploit came out, Ubuntu was the first distro with a fix, Centos6 the last.

Right now I like Ubuntu and MxLinux the best based upon functionality and aesthetics but I have not taken MxLinux across a major upgrade yet so I am not using it for server infrastructure until I know it will behave in that event.

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