Chapter 2. Linux Distributions and Certifications

Table of Contents

Licensing and availability details for Debian, Red Hat and SuSE
SUSE Linux
Red Hat
Debian GNU/Linux
On Line Classmates Information and Registration
Linux Professional Institute Certification
SAIR Linux and GNU Certification
Red Hat Certification

Licensing and availability details for Debian, Red Hat and SuSE

There are literally hundreds of Linux Distributions available. Size-wise they extend from versions that fit onto one 3.5 inch disk to those that are a few gigabytes big.

Although there are differences from one version of this operating system to another, they all use the Linux Kernel (albeit different versions of the kernel

We will discuss three of the Linux distributions that are most widely used, namely: SuSE, Red Hat, and Debian

SUSE Linux

Novell announced[1] on November the 4th 2003, that they have made an agreement to acquire SUSE Linux[2], this purchase is subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to be allowed and finalized by the first quarter of 2004.

Home Users

This is how SUSE™ describes SUSE Linux 9.0, which is the family of products aimed at the home user:[3]

Migrating from Windows has never been easier: SUSE Linux 9.0 is secure and stable. In addition to a powerful operating system, SUSE Linux 9.0 delivers all the applications you need for Internet, Office, Multimedia, and Home networking. Its installation routine is now almost fully automated, so you'll be up and running with little effort. And, of course, you are assured all the advantages of using Open Source software.

System Requirements for SUSE Linux 9.0

  • Processor

    • Intel: Celeron, Pentium to Pentium 4, Xeon

    • AMD: K6/II/III, Duron™, Athlon™, Athlon™ XP/MP, Athlon 64

    • IBM

    • 286, 386, 486 and Cyrix processors are not supported

  • Main Memory

    • At least 64 MB are required for the installation with YaST2 in graphical mode; 128 MB recommended

  • Hard disk

    • 400 MB to more than 3 GB (Personal Edition) or 6 GB (Professional Edition) for the installation of all packages; 2 GB or more recommended

    • LBA48 hard disks are supported

SUSE Linux™ 9.0 can be downloaded via FTP for free. You can choose to download the complete installation directory, a CD image, from which you can create a bootable CD that will download and install SUSE from the FTP server. It is not possible to create the installation CD's for SUSE™ from the directories on the FTP server. You can also download a demonstration version of SUSE™ that runs from a bootable CD[4]

Enterprise Users

SUSE™ currently has three products that businesses are suggested to use, these are SUSE Linux Standard Sever 8™, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8™ and SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1

SUSE Linux Standard Server 8™:

This is how SUSE describes SUSE Linux Standard Server 8

With its comprehensive graphical administration, SUSE Linux Standard Server was designed for small organizations and departments that want to implement their Internet access as well as e-mail, print, and file services in a reliable, secure way. Standard Server is available for 32-bit processors (x86) from AMD and Intel and supports up to two CPUs[5]

System Requirements for SuSE Linux Standard Server 8™:

  • Reccomended CPU: 700 Mhz

  • Minmum RAM: 256 MB

  • Hard Disk Space Required for Installation: 1 GB

Features of SuSE Linux Standard Server 8™:

  • File and print services for Linux and Windows

  • Primary Domain Controller (PDC) for Windows

  • Central user administration with directory service (LDAP)

  • E-mail server (IMAP) for all e-mail clients including:

    • Definition of the mailbox quota

    • SPAM filter

    • Dial on demand

    • Fetching mail from other providers

  • Internet gateway server including web cache, web content filter, and firewall

  • Automatic assignment of IP addresses via DHCP server

  • Administration of host names with Dynamic Name Service (DNS)

  • Secure access for clients, i.e. for external staff via Virtual Private Network (VPN)

  • Application server

SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8

This is how SUSE describes SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 is a leading server operating system for professional deployment in heterogeneous IT environment of all sizes and sectors. It is available for all relevant hardware platforms, ranging from AMD/Intel 32-bit and 64-bit processors to the entire IBM eServer series including mainframes - one single server operating system with a uniform code basis![6]

System Requirements for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8™:

  • Recommended CPU: 800 MHz

  • Minimum RAM: 256 MB

  • Hard Disk Space required for installation: 1.2 GB

For a full list of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8™ Features, visit this page

A comparison of SUSE Linux Standard Server 8™ and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8™ can be found here.

SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1

This is how SUSE describes SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1

SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1 is the trend-setting groupware and communication solution that helps your company to progress - with superior technical features, far-reaching hardware independence, smooth migration, and a wide range of supported clients including Outlook clients from Outlook 98 and various web browsers.For All Requirements

On the basis of standardized protocols and Open Source components, SUSE Linux Openexchange Server offers everything modern enterprises and organizations need for communication: e-mail server, web server, groupware, collaboration, and messaging.[7]

System Requirements for SUSE Linux Openexchange Server 4.1

  • CPU(s): AMD Athlon™ /Duron™, Intel Pentium III/4 or compatible AMD K6 is not supported!

  • RAM: 256 MB

  • Hard disk space: 9 GB

Red Hat

Red Hat Linux is probably the most well known Linux distribution. The first version of Red hat was released in October 1994.

Its success can be attributed to the commitment to support and the development of the RHCE certification. For this reason, many of the corporate companies choosing to use Open Source Software have selected Red Hat Products. They knew that with Red Hat they would be able to have reliable updates to the products and that there was a pool of trained Red Hat Support Engineers.

Red Hat for Home Users: Fedora

Late in 2003 Red Hat announced that they would stop supporting Red hat Linux 9 and instead release two new product lines, aimed at very different markets.

Up until that time Red Hat Linux 9 and the earlier versions, were used in the corporate environment and by home users.

The version now meant for home users is called "the Fedora Project"

This is how Red Hat describes the Fedora Project: "The Fedora Project is a Red-Hat-sponsored and community-supported open source project. It is also a proving ground for new technology that may eventually make its way into Red Hat products. It is not a supported product of Red Hat, Inc." [8]

A more open development process is used for Fedora, than is for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The Red Hat Developers are still taking part in the development of Fedora but more community driven development is encouraged.

Fedora License

In my understanding, a user may make and distribute unmodified copies of Fedora's source code and binary code. If the product is modified you may only redistribute these files if all images that contain the Fedora trademark is changed.

Fedora's binary and source files may be downloaded, for free, via FTP.

Please see this page, for exact instructions on how to download Fedora's installation files.

Fedora System Requirements
  • CPU: Note: The following CPU specifications are stated in terms of Intel processors. Other processors (notably, offerings from AMD, Cyrix, and VIA) that are compatible with and equivalent to the following Intel processors may also be used with Fedora Core.

    • Pentium-class Note: Fedora Core 1 is optimised for Pentium PRO (and later) CPUs, but also supports Pentium-class CPUs. This approach has been taken because Pentium-class optimisations actually result in reduced performance for non-Pentium-class processors.

    • Recommended for text-mode: 200 MHz Pentium-class or better

    • Recommended for graphical: 400 MHz Pentium II or better

  • Hard Disk Space (NOTE: Additional space will be required for user data):

    • Custom Installation (Minimal): 520MB

    • Server: 870MB

    • Personal Desktop: 1.9GB

    • Workstation: 2.4GB

    • Custom Installation (Everything): 5.3GB

  • Memory:

    • Minimum for text-mode: 64MB

    • Minimum for graphical: 192MB

    • Recommended for graphical: 256MB

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Red Hat has four products that are aimed for use in the corporate environment:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux ws

Designed for desktop/client systems, therefore it does not include the server applications found in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES or AS. (see below).

Red Hat Enterprise Linux ws capabilities and System Requirements

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  • Capabilities:

    • Mail

    • Document Processing

    • Browsing

    • Instant Messaging

  • Supported hardware:

    • Intel X86

    • Intel Itanium

    • AMD

    • AMD64

Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES

Designed for small/midrange servers. Has the same capabilities as Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS, but its hardware support is less extensive. It supports x-86 based systems, with up to 2 CPU's and 8 GB of memory.

It is ideally suited for network, file, print, mail, Web, and custom or packaged business applications.

  • Capabilities:

    • Mail

    • File (SMB/NFS)

    • Print

    • Accelerated Web (tux)

    • Advanced Firewall (arptables)

    • Extended Remote Shell Access/Mgmt

    • DHCP

    • DNS Nameserver

    • Network Authentication (Kerberos)

    • News

    • Backup

    • Dump Server (Netdump)

    • Directory Server (LDAP)

    • Remote Boot/Image Server

    • SSL

  • Supported Hardware:

    • x86 architectures, up to 2 CPU's

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS

Designed for high-end and mission-critical systems. This is Red Hat's top of the range distribution and is certified on systems provided by Dell, HP, IBM, and Sun. [9]

It supports the largest commodity-architecture servers with up to 16 CPUs and 64GB of main memory and is available with the highest levels of support.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS Capabilities and Supported Hardware
  • Capabilities:

    • Mail

    • File (SMB/NFS)

    • Print

    • Accelerated Web (tux)

    • Advanced Firewall (arptables)

    • Extended Remote Shell Access/Mgmt

    • DHCP

    • DNS Nameserver

    • Network Authentication (Kerberos)

    • News

    • Backup

    • Dump Server (Netdump)

    • Directory Server (LDAP)

    • Remote Boot/Image Server

    • SSL

  • Supported Hardware:

    • Intel X86

    • Intel Itanium

    • AMD AMD64

    • IBM zSeries

    • IBM iSeries

    • IBM pSeries

    • IBM S/390

Red Hat Professional Workstation

Enterprise Linux for use in the home. Supports up x86 hardware, with up to 2 CPU's. Meaning that other than Fedora, this distribution does have official support from Red Hat, this includes technical support as well as security updates.

Red Hat Professional Workstation capabilities and Supported Hardware
  • Capabilities:

    • Bluecurve, Ximian Evolution,, Mozilla

    • Samba, NFS, CUPS

    • GCC3.2

  • Supported Hardware:

    • x86 architectures

Red Hat Enterprise Family Licensing

As with the Fedora Project, you are allowed to make and distribute unmodified copies of the binary and source code. If you want to distribute modified copies of the software or source code, you need to modify those files which contain the trademark images of Red Hat.

The licenses may vary depending on the country and product, to view the specific license for the product you are interested in, visit this page.

Debian GNU/Linux

Debian GNU/Linux (to use the correct term, Debian used for short) is a completely free operating system, by this I mean that it contains no software that is released under a proprietary license. Some other Linux distributions contain code that is not free software. It currently uses the Linux kernel, but there are plans to use the GNU kernel in future releases. The latest stable release is 3.0r.1

Debian can be downloaded via FTP or HTTP from this page

Or purchased from vendors, see this page

There are three versions of Debian that are available: stable, testing and unstable. This describes the amount of development that has been done on the particular version, and what environment it is suited to. You would not want to run your company's servers with the unstable version of Debian!

  • Stable: current version is 3.0r.2, codenamed 'Woody'.

    • Debian suggests that end users use this version, Debian's security team supports it. Released in July 2002. Latest update to this version done on November 21st, 2003

  • Testing: Current version is codenamed 'Sarge'.

    • Contains packages (applications) that have not yet been released in the Stable version, but which are planned to be released in the Stable version in the future. It has more recent versions of the software than Woody, but has no support from the Debian security team.

  • Unstable: Codenamed 'Sid'.

    • This version of Debian is the one where new packages are actively being developed, generally this is only used by developers working on the packages for Sid.

  • Hardware Supported by Debian:

    • Alpha ARM

    • HP PA-RISC

    • Intel x86

    • Intel IA-64

    • MIPS

    • Motorola 680x0

    • MIPS (DEC)

    • PowerPC

    • IBM S/390

    • SPARC

Debian comes with more than 8700 packages, most of which are released under GPL licenses (or licenses that can be compared to the GPL). To view the list of packages that are available, visit this page.

The installation manuals for the different distributions and hardware architectures can be found on this page. The respective system requirements are found in the installation manuals.

When doing a minimal Debian installation, you need very little system resources. For example on the Intel x86 architecture you need 12 MB of memory and 250 MB hard drive space to install a console-based system. To install a system that includes the X Windows System, you need at least 400MB hard drive space.

[2] SUSE is a registered trademark of SUSE Linux

[4] A list of FTP mirror sites can be found here. From here you would be able to download the files you need to install SUSE Linux 9.0

[9] See this page for full specifications for Red Hat enterprise Linux AS