24 Mar 2013, 17:17

Ubuntu vs Redhat

I prefer Redhat. My work colleagues prefer Ubuntu. At work we have a mix of both distros, with perhaps a little more Ubuntu. This leads to some inevitable friction - nothing major, just little niggles from time to time. One of my colleagues, in addition to being a Ubuntu fan, is also a bit of a Redhat hater in that he likes to verbalise to me why Redhat sucks and Ubuntu is superior. This set me thinking.

My attitude to the whole thing is one of use whichever tool lets you get the job done. The truth is, for most scenarios either distro is fine and so it usually just comes down to reaching for ‘old faithful’ - it’s a comfort thing. I started out with Redhat, and have never had a good reason to stop using it. By ‘it’ I mean Redhat based distros: RHEL, Centos, Scientific Linux, Fedora. I’m used to the Redhat way of doing things. If my boss told me tomorrow that I could not use Redhat anymore, I’d be a little sad but I’d quickly get over it I’m sure.


What follows are some (very subjective) pros/cons of each:

Redhat Pros

  • Redhat, the company, have been there since the beginning and have lasted until now - they must be doing something right.
  • All the resources of a large corporate behind the distro
  • Known for long-term support, and stable release cycles
  • Innovative cutting edge distro Fedora, on which ideas can be tested and successes fed back to the mainline distro

Redhat Cons

  • Big corporate image which, for some, is a turn off
  • Pure speculation, but like any big corporate, Redhat (as a company) are going to be more inefficient, slower to move and respond than their competition. Being corporate focused could see them getting out of touch with their grassroots

Ubuntu Pros

  • tends to have a sexy ‘hacker’ image: young, fresh, innovative
  • different: comes from different origins, and does things differently to Redhat.  Variety and competition is good

Ubuntu Cons

  • just who is steering the ship there at Canonical? The company has made some odd moves over the years (Amazon ads on the dash anyone?)
    What follows are some specific implementation gripes I have with each distro:



  • Systemd - starting/stopping/configuring daemons and services on Fedora just got a whole lot harder with Systemd. I understand the architecture is better, but useability sucks balls! Please sort this out before pushing to RHEL
  • Selinux: Nice idea, but fails horribly in practice and causes no end of frustration for most mortals. This should be switched off by default


  • Installation process: stray off the beaten path and things break . What’s the deal with horrible curses interface? This needs some serious work
  • command-line apt : when installing many packages, I often haven’t a clue where it’s up to. Redhat yum is far superior at providing feedback on what’s going on
  • split config files: for example, Apache: Ubuntu ships Apache with it’s config file split into a million pieces linked back to the main file. DO NOT WANT! Give me a monolithic config file any day.
  • root password reset: I had to do this the other day - what a bunch of faffing about! Several of the howto guides simply didn’t work. I don’t recall ever having trouble with Redhat