RedHat vs Debian : Administrative Point of View

There are hundreds of Linux distributions available, for free (in the other sense). Every Linux Enthusiast has a special taste for certain distribution, at some point of time. The taste for specific distribution largely depends upon the intended area of application. Some the famous Linux distributions and its area of application are listed below.

RedHat vs Debian

RedHat vs Debian: Administrative Point of View

  1. Fedora: Cutting Edge Technology Implementation
  2. RedHat and Debian Server
  3. Ubuntu: one of the Introductory distro for Newbies
  4. Kali and Backtrack: Penetration Testing, etc.

Well this article aims to compare RedHat (Fedora, CentOS) and Debian (Ubuntu) from an administrator point of view. RedHat is a commercial Linux Distribution, which is most widely used on a number of servers, across the world. Fedora is the testing laboratory of RedHat which is well known for its bleeding edge technology implementation, which is released every six month.

Here the question is when there are hundreds of Linux distribution available for free (in either sense, open-source and economic), why would someone invest hundreds of bucks in buying a Linux Distribution, making RedHat so much successful. Well the answer is RedHat is very much stable.

The life cycle is of about ten years and after all there is someone to be blamed if something doesn’t work, the corporate culture. CentOS is another distribution which is RedHat minus Non-Free packages. CentOs is a stable distribution hence latest version of all packages is pushed into its RPM after testing, the focus remains on stability of distribution.

Debian on the other hand is a Linux distribution which is very much stable and contains very large number of packages into its repository. Any other distribution that comes close to Debian at this point is Gentoo. On my Debian server (Squeeze), which is a bit outdated.

[email protected]:/home/avi# apt-cache stats 

Total package names: 37544 (751 k) 
Total package structures: 37544 (1,802 k)

You see packages more than 37.5K! Everything you need is present in the repository itself. The package manager Apt is too smart to resolve all the dependency problem itself. Very rarely a Debian user requires to download and install dependency manually. Debian is built with a number of package manager which makes package management a cake walk.

Ubuntu which is a Linux distribution for newbies. A newbie Linux Enthusiast is suggested to start with Ubuntu in most of the Linux forum. Ubuntu maintains a simple and user-friendly interface, which gives a feeling of Windows like OS to a new user.

Debian is the base of Ubuntu, but their repository varies. Ubuntu contains newer updated packages and is still stable. In-fact Ubuntu is highly appreciated by newbies as well as advanced users.

Taking the above description into the next stage by presenting them in a point-wise fashion for better understanding and reference, here we go.

1. RedHat is Most Widely used Distribution for servers.
Debian is widely used Distribution next to RedHat.

2. RedHat is Commercial Linux Distribution.
Debian is Non-commercial Linux Distribution.

3. RedHat contains roughly 3000 packages.
Latest Debian Release (Wheezy) contains well over 38000 packages.

It means Debian contains nearly 80% more packages than RedHat and this is the reason Debian contains packages like openoffice, Transmission bittorrent client, mp3 codecs, etc which a RedHat like distribution lacks and is required to be installed manually or from 3rd party repository.

4. RedHat bug fixing takes considerable time, since it is controlled by a small group of people-RedHat Employee.
Bug fixing in Debian is very much quick as people all around the globe from Debian community, working from different geographical location simultaneously fixes it.

5. RedHat don’t release package updates, till next release, means you have to wait for the next release be it minor.
Debian community believes – software is a continuous evolution process, hence updates are released on Daily Basis.

6. RedHat releases major updates every six month and nothing in between. Installing new updates in RedHat based System is a tuff task, where you need to reinstall everything.
Installing the Debian updates being released everyday is a pretty easy task barely 3-4 clicks away.

7. RedHat is rock solid stable distribution released after continuous testing.
Debian contains packages from stable, unstable and testing Repository. Stable contains rock solid stable release packages. Unstable contains more updated packages ready to be pushed into stable repository. Testing contains packages already tested and marked safe.

8. RedHat package manager Yum is less mature and is not able to solve dependencies automatically, many a times.
Debian package manager Apt is very mature and solve dependency automatically, most of the times.

9. Installing VLC in RedHat Beta Release 6.1, is a very difficult task which requires installing tens of packages manually.
In Debian it is as simple as apt-get install vlc*

10. Debian is intelligent in differentiating Configuration files with other files. This makes upgradation easy. The virgin (untouched) configuration files are updated automatically and the one modified, requires users interaction as the package manager ask what to do, but this is not the case with RedHat.

11. RedHat uses the rpm packages.
Debian uses the deb packages.

12. RedHat uses the RPM package manager.
Debian uses the dpkg package manager.

13. RedHat uses the yum dependency resolver.
Debian uses the apt-get dependency resolver.

14. Fedora uses single global repository which contains free software’s only.
Debian contains contribute and Non-free repository along with free software repository.

15. According to Wikipedia, Ubuntu is a based on the unstable branch of Debian but Fedora is not a derivative and has a more direct relationship and stays close to many upstream projects.

16. Fedora uses ‘su‘ whereas Ubuntu uses ‘sudo‘ by default.

17. Fedora ships with SELinux installed and enabled by default along with some other ‘hardening’ software to make things more secure by default, unlike Debian.

18. Debian is a community based distribution, unlike RedHat.

19. Security is one of the most important issue for both RedHat and Debian.

20. Fedora, CentOs, Oracle Linux are among those distribution developed around RedHat Linux and is a variant of RedHat Linux.
Ubuntu, Kali, etc are few of the variant of Debian. Debian truly is a mother distribution of a number of Linux Distro.

21. Installation, of RedHat is little easy to install as compared to Debian. Internet Connection during RedHat installation is option. Internet connection during Debian Installation is optional but recommended. Moreover till squeeze, one needs to acquire WEP key, to use wifi network (installation). WEP Is not used these days and this is painful during installation of Debian, before wheezy. Wheezy supports both WEP ans WPA.

My Prespective

I have used RedHat Enterprise Linux (Beta), Fedora, Centos, Debian and Ubuntu for years. Being a Linux professional Fedora’s unstability didn’t suit me. CentOs was a good option but resolving dependency manually and reinstalling everything after upgrade was a bad idea form me and my team’s point of view.

RedHat was very stable but afterall my company didn’t like the idea of spending thousands of bucks for RedHat Enterprise Edition and getting outdated software.

Ubuntu seems too much childish to me to be used in servers of the Organization handling critical data.

One of my colleague suggested me with slack, Mint, etc but after all how many server runs on slack and Mint in the world? Debian my favorite distribution suited my organization very well. Now most of my server are running Debian and I didn’t repent this, Indeed Implementing Debian at my workplace was a very cool idea.

You may disagree with my point of view but you can’t escape the truth, as stated above. This article aims to throw light on the fact and not controversy. Every distribution has it’s pros and cons. All the Linux distribution available today are surviving because they have a supportive community and user group, which we respect.

That’s all for now. We tried to provide you with the relevant information, in a nice format. Don’t forget to provide us with your valuable comments and suggestion, which is highly appreciated. I will soon be coming up with another Interesting article. Till then stay tuned and connected to TecMint.com for latest news on FOSS and Linux.

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108 Responses

  1. Chris Daniels says:

    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but “Ubuntu seems too much childish to me to be used in servers” just kills me. WTF? You don’t like the wallpaper or screensavers? It’s solid Debian underneath. The Linux kernel is the Linux kernel, and the choice of apps to do heavy lifting is up to you.

    Feel free to delete what you don’t like. Plus Mint is nearly identical in it’s approach, especially for the desktop, but the reasoning against it is that nobody else uses it? Slack too? It’s not popular for servers? Heaven forbid other sysadmins make fun of you for not being with the “cool crowd”.

    Really. Then “disagree with my point of view but you can’t escape the truth”. Are you kidding? Did you forget “what you say bounces back from me, back unto you?” For someone so interested in a mature, production distro, you use some of the most shallow reasoning.

    Your final choice is decent, you very definitely understate the importance of available software, and except for cost, you could have used exactly the same logic to pick Windows over Linux. Also no consideration of BSD. It has been a while, but for a long time admins chose BSD over Linux because it was more “serious”. So I’m surprised you didn’t go there.

  2. Alex says:

    38000 to 3000 is over 1166% more, not nearly 80% more.

  3. sean says:

    I could naturally had these kind of feelings from each distro after 2 months of usage each. (I’m from the ‘brew’)

    Centos = this one was solid on web applications. But I wouldn’t use this for other applications and waste time on resolving installation issues.

    Debian = debian was very easy with apt-get and stable. But for web applications Centos is slightly more stable. I chose Debian though. I like the name. and for me, Centos is a skinny looking geek. Debian is a normal american male who does work out regularly.

    Ubuntu = i was able to get what i wanted and my issues/supports were always on google. it’s like you can’t find things or support for your distro but Ubuntu version/trouble shooting is easy find and sometimes newbies have their own solution and it just works. and I love the Ubuntu desktop,
    is almost Retina I was surprised. Ubuntu is more likely OSX macbook which impressed ALOT to me.

    Fedora = i have not tried the server version but I’m currently using the desktop version and i like it. Ubuntu has better desk graphic but fedora is also good enough. if there is a solution for troubleshooting by googling, all the supports were proper and was able to resolve at a shot. I really liked dnf, less complex than apt-get also Ubuntu I had to try many of not working solutions that was replied by newbies at forums.

    I kind of understand why Fedora can finish the project/task more than others. It helped me focus on what I’m doing not much but more than any others.

    I like the Fedora’s name. imagine someone asking me, hey what kind of Linux are you using? ‘fedora’. or some would say ‘Ubuntu’. i liked to answer ‘fedora’. Ubuntu sound newbie. it is just my childish. but I also don’t like the Fedora crashes. not

    for me, Ubuntu is one chinese company. I bet many of people still think ‘made in china’ quality is like sh**, knock off & etc. You are totally wrong and out dated. we are not living in year 2000 anymore. it is 2016. chinese cellphone company law suit over samsung this year. chinese products are now stable at most and functional and now it is hard to find the better product than they make.

    guess i can’t throw away my mac as i did to windows. but i found out myself enjoying fedora much and having more time on than osx.

  4. oli says:

    “RedHat was very stable but afterall my company didn’t like the idea of spending thousands of bucks for RedHat Enterprise Edition and getting outdated software.”
    Haha. Did you not notice the funny thing with debians fresh and up2date xscreensaver version and how they want to handle that? And then complain about “outdated software” ? Wtf is wrong :D
    If RH is too expensive, why not get CentOS? If Support is too expensive for your company, then they probably dont need it. Thats why there is CentOS.

  5. Naval Gupta says:

    I have been using RedHat since 2001 when it was available for free, then moved to Fedora and Ubuntu (Debian). I liked using Debian but this review looks biased.

    If you are an organisation then you need stability and support for any mishaps.. which only RHEL can give you. However if you are newbie or want to use for personal use or your requirement for server is limited then you should go for Ubuntu.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Extremely biased review, RedHat has CentOS as a free alternative, add to it epel and rpmfusion repositories and you have a huge collection of softwares. Dependency hell plagued Redhat back in the last decade, today its as easy to run apt-get as yum. Critical updates are also shipped quickly and with RedHat’s commitment to the corporate clients they do a better job of fixing security flaws than Debian. RedHat is the largest contributor upstream to the linux stack hence better equipped to handle kernel and system software glitches. Debian often ships the patches created by RedHat, which they’ve tested on their system first. RedHat comes with SELinux out of the box, hence greater security.
    I run both debian and centOS servers and have found centOS easier to manage and a tad bit stabler when it comes to non core packages.

  7. Amar says:

    Wow, Nice blog. I kept on reading till end without moving from my chair. I am a newbie to Linux I don’t know much, have been reading many articles all day to know what best suites me. On Conclusion: I stop here. It’s all UNIX like, but massive development making hard to determine what’s good for what. Again if a person get’s habituated to one thing, he see’s everything within it, where as if a person knows little about it he feel’s it’s useless compared to what he knows. That’s who we are. And after my unlimited browsing I finally find Debian is more of my type. So I will go on with Debian. ;)

    • Aaron Kili K says:

      I like your idea here, ” Again if a person get’s habituated to one thing, he see’s everything within it, where as if a person knows little about it he feel’s it’s useless compared to what he knows. That’s who we are.” .

      Sometimes i feel Linux having many distributions is a problem, especially for new Linux users.
      I personally sometimes hate Linux for these many distros and the comparisons, it sometimes makes me feel am missing something one the other side.

      Every side always tries to look at what is uses as the best, but i think it always gets to what really suites your needs, what you find convenient to use and many more.

      I like this article just because the writer gave his side of the story, many times when you read such comparisons, you do not get to know what the writer really feels about what he/she is comparing.

      Therefore i think when one gives the pros and cons from both sides and takes a stand, then it clearly shows what he/she has chosen to go with but it is not about bias here.

      • KarlisK says:

        I too am a pro-Debian (as in, Debian, not Debian-based like Ubuntu/Mint/etc) user when it comes to choosing a Linux Distro. Time over time again I’ve tried different distros for different personal purposes (mostly testing), only to end up going back to Debian. I’ve tried Ubuntu/Lubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, OpenSUSE, Mint, Peppermint, Arch, Mandriva, and some different minor derivatives of mayor distros. I will agree to you saying there might be a bit too many distros, while for the most part they are all simillar, they each have their pros and cons. From my point of view (as an advanced user, not a server or sys admin) I’d wish we had a distro which would be as solid as Debian with it’s ease-of-use dist-upgrade and package management, have openbuild tools like SUSE/OpenSUSE and SELinux built-in support as Fedora…

  8. Kunalsing says:

    But as compared To Debian except REDHAT , CEntos HAs more than 38000 packages more. If we add epel and remi repo.
    SO It is also non commercial. SO We want centos not debian… and more than 80%industry is using redhat not debian. SO In point of Administrative view i choose RPM based distributuion. and it is more secure.

  9. AA says:

    Debian is certainly my linux flavor of choice, I’ve been an admin since 1998 and started with slackware, then redhat when it was free.. but once I got introduced to Debian I never went back.. I have ONE server in our arsenal of systems running fedora but that was only because the raid controller in our 12tb array required it to work properly.. I could have set it up under debian but I wouldn’t have had the tools to manage it via console .. that’s changed now, but I don’t care to rebuild it any time soon.. it’s a backup server and that’s it’s only task so the underlying OS doesn’t really matter much to me so long as it’s performing :)

  10. Lonnie says:

    Debian is certainly my linux flavor of choice, I’ve been an admin since 1998 and started with slackware, then redhat when it was free.. but once I got introduced to Debian I never went back.. I have ONE server in our arsenal of systems running fedora but that was only because the raid controller in our 12tb array required it to work properly.. I could have set it up under debian but I wouldn’t have had the tools to manage it via console .. that’s changed now, but I don’t care to rebuild it any time soon.. it’s a backup server and that’s it’s only task so the underlying OS doesn’t really matter much to me so long as it’s performing :)

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