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I'm not interested in a flame war of Ubuntu vs Fedora vs Debian vs whatever. What I am interested in is whether or not I should move my current Ubuntu server to Fedora or Debian. I have been able to get Subversion setup and hosted via Apache over https and it works quite well (I'm a .NET guy so this was all new to me). I'm having trouble though with installing Bugszilla - have run into some issues getting all the perl scripts to run successfully so my questions are:

1) Will Bugszilla will install easier on Fedora or Debian? Can I just install a package instead of having to download the tar.gz file and untar it, run perl scripts, etc.

2) Is Fedora or Debian considered to be a better production server system? I have no desire for a GUI, just need it to host Subversion, Bugzilla over Apache2, and act as a file and print server for my home network.

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Use the tool supported by your local sysadmin. If you will be maintaining the box, use whatever you feel more comfortable with. –  Lester Cheung Apr 6 '10 at 3:08
I am the local sysadmin - this is for a machine I'll be hosting out of my house. I feel comfortable with Ubuntu thus far, but have no quams (and a bit of interest) with learning another distro. –  Tone Apr 6 '10 at 3:18
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Both Ubuntu and Fedora started out as Desktop-centric linux distros. Since then, Ubuntu has started releasing server distributions as well as its "LTS" (Long Term Support) server version. At this point, I don't believe Fedora has a server version, though I could be wrong.

I'd recommend you stay away from Fedora for server purposes. The upgrade cycle is just too quick. The Ubuntu LTS version is a decent candidate, though.

Ideally, I try and stick with either CentOS or Debian for servers. You ought to give Debian a try - Ubuntu was originally based off of Debian and nearly all of the tools (package management, service control, etc) are identical between Ubuntu and Debian, so you'll feel very at home. I feel that the Debian package maintainers do a little better job testing/fixing packages before they get promoted to the "stable" branch. As such, there's less of a chance that an upgrade will break something.

With regards to the ease of installing Bugzilla and Subversion...subversion is easy, of course: $ apt-get install subversion. If you're going to use svn+ssh, that's really all you'll need. If you'll be using apache and DAV, then there are a few more bits to configure, all of which are well-documented in various places on the web. With regards to Bugzilla, it really depends on how recent a version you need to run. The current debian stable package for bugzilla is v3.0.4. Contrast that with the most recent tarball releases, which are in the 3.6 release candidate phase.

Speaking personally, I prefer to use the distro's package management for what I call "base" services - things like apache, mysql, userland tools, libraries, compilers, etc. For applications, I usually install from the official tarball. I find that the packaged versions of applications sometimes put things in odd or unexpected places and as such, you sometimes run up against resistance when trying to get help in that application's support forums, mailing lists, etc. Also, I find that upgrades are generally much easier when applications are installed from tarball, as you can just follow that application's upgrade guide. All of that to say that I'd recommend that you consider installing bugzilla from it's official stable tarball.

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ah ok great. i just edited my original post to say i'm also considering Debian, mainly for its longer release cycles and better stability. thanks for the feedback. –  Tone Apr 6 '10 at 3:45
You're welcome. I edited my answer to include some info on installing packages/applications/etc. –  EEAA Apr 6 '10 at 3:56
Tools-wise and setup-wise, Fedora is a great server distro (which makes sense since it is the upstream for RHEL). The stumbling block is the quick upgrade cycle (which can be somewhat mitigated by the Preupgrade tool, but is still a lot of work) –  Ophidian Apr 8 '10 at 13:34
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Really, just use the distro you're used to. In general, Ubuntu and Fedora have more recent packages, but a faster release cycle, while Debian and Redhat (or Centos) have a slower rev cycle but consequently older software. Ubuntu uses the Debian system, while Fedora uses the Redhat system. Use whichever you're more comfortable with. It's all the same software underneath, anyway.

Ubuntu is a lot more popular with desktop users, while Redhat-based systems are significantly more common on servers. It'll probably be easier to find a lot more assistance with the day-to-day stuff on Ubuntu, while the RedHat connoisseurs tend to be fewer but have more in-depth knowledge (since they usually manage servers).

I find the RPM/yum system (used by Redhat derivatives) to be simpler and easier to learn than the dpkg/apt/synaptic system (used by Debian derivatives), though the Debian system I think is more capable.

I also think that the software on Redhat-like systems is a bit more consistent, while the same software on Debian-like systems tends to more closely follow the philosophy and intentions of the original developer. In other words, Redhat is more likely to modify the way things are arranged to try to make it easier on you. You may or may not like that.

In the end, it's all a matter of style and what you're used to. Someone trying to claim that one is definitively better than the other is just trolling on their own bias.

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A small nit: Debian is the upstream for Ubuntu, but Fedora is actually the upstream for RHEL/Centos. –  Ophidian Apr 8 '10 at 13:38
Right, but debian and rhel/centos are more server-centric than fedora and ubuntu. Hence the grouping. –  tylerl Apr 8 '10 at 23:59
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I run some Ubuntu servers, and it works quite well for me. From what I gather, you're trying to install bugzilla from source? There's a packaged version in the repositories, bugzilla3 ( The absolute latest stable release series is 3.4, and it looks like that's blocked on a new libdatetime-timezone-perl package. I bet that's the same problem your having. One of the benefits of packaged programs is versioned dependencies; they make these sorts of problems explicit.

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yes i was trying to install from the source, ran into issues when trying to install the package - "E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)" –  Tone Apr 6 '10 at 11:42
Then there's two choices if you want to stick with Debian / Ubuntu: install the packaged 3.2 source, or find a way to upgrade libdatetime-timezone-perl. Or better yet, do both and share the fixes with Debian (it'll trickle down to Ubuntu). –  jldugger Apr 6 '10 at 17:25
I'll look into it, but i'm working against time at the moment. I'll probably just go with the packaged 3.2. –  Tone Apr 6 '10 at 22:55
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