Topic: Some quick Linux thoughts
I've tried to write this several times but it keeps getting too long.
Using CentOS, based heavily on RedHat Enterprise Linux 5, my general impressions are:
The LVM stuff is good. I think ZFS will be better when it's ironed out, but at present, LVM allows you to easily span disks for more disk space and grow and shrink partitions.
The binary upgrading is good. If it was necessary to customize a config file, it's relatively simple, dealing with the source rpm, in the same way one can customize a port's makefile. Most of the time, they choose sane defaults, and I haven't had any problems with the programs that we use.
The big downsides are the bloat--it becomes quite time consuming to go through a default install and remove things that they want to install by default, many of them GUI server configuration tools. This is a bit surprising in a way, as RH EL is aimed at administrators, as far as I know. Sometimes, their docs say use the GUI tools and it will be difficult to figure out how to do it by editing text files.
The RH deployment guide is pretty good. However, Linux docs in general are rather poor. One starts with a man page--if that doesn't help, some programs have this Gnu thing, info pages, which are supposed to be more complete. The problem is that it seems that Gnu folks only got around to writing 10 percent of them--the other 90 percent are these obscure or incomplete Linux man pages in a different format.
Finding documentation can be a chore. RH runs a bunch of what I would consider, especially on a server, unneeded services at startup. Yet, finding docs on what each program does can be a challenge. For instance, ConsoleKit. No man page, no info page. Finally, in /usr/share/doc there's a one paragraph README that doesn't give too much information. That is perhaps the most frustrating thing.
On CentOS, which is enterprise oriented, the binary updates work quite well. The only downside is that sometimes, there are dependencies which escape me. Of course, this can be true for FreeBSD too--I saw someone on the X11 list asking, why is this pulling in CD record as a dependency?
Fedora is more like running CURRENT and things break. That can be another post. The biggest difference though, is that these breakages often don't get officially documented as they do in the BSD's. Perhaps that's one of the advantages of a smaller core group.
So, biggest advantages, easy to use LVM and binary upgrades. Biggest downsides are bloat, seemingly absurd dependencies and fragmented, often inadequate, docs.
(The bloat seems to be in all Gnome centric distributions. A developer friend said, "Well, with Gnome, it seems to be that he who can pull in the most dependencies, wins.)