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What are the benefits of a commercial distribution of Linux over a good sysadmin?

Some vendors provide commercial licenses of Linux, including support. What is the real benefit of these? Is it worth the money?

Considering the incredible amount of information and support available on the net, and considering that Ubuntu server is available for free (for example), why should one spend money on RHEL (for example)? What is the added value?

Shouldn't one spend money on a good system administrator instead of a commercial version of Linux? What is the tradeoff? Is it worth it?

Is this question pointless (i.e., taking it from a wrong perspective)?

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marked as duplicate by Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams, Scott Pack, jscott, EEAA, splattne May 12 '11 at 13:56

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

The one migrated here from SO is the dupe – Iain May 12 '11 at 13:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think of myself as a good sysadmin :) I actually use CentOS and Scientific Linux in many installations, keeping a token RHEL license every so often. I've rarely needed to call Red Hat for support (thrice in 8 years), but it was handy in order to confirm an odd compatibility or fringe issue.

The other factor may be vendor support. Perhaps you have an application that requires RHEL as a target platform. Maybe there's a hardware component (server or peripheral) that is only certified for Red Hat or SuSE. That's typically where the commercial distribution is important. When I've encountered those cases, however, CentOS was 99.9% of the way there. It's a good stand-in.

The most recent issue I had was needing to purchase Red Hat MRG for realtime kernel support. Since Scientific Linux now provides a proper recompile of the MRG source, I have very little use for the commercial product in my environment.

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Ok. So it seems you are voting for: get a good sys admin and buy commercial license if and only if specific applications require it or for very specific cases. If you had to delegate ALL your work to a sysadmin, would you go for that strategy? Or would you only use this strategy because you trust yourself? – JVerstry May 12 '11 at 13:21

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