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July 24, 2003

Linux Discussion with Tufts USG

Today I made the trip from Boston to Medford for a meeting with folks at Tufts USG (University System Group). The primary purpose was to explore existing options for a new service, the meeting ended up on a delightful tangent.

I've long wanted to broach the subject of Linux with the USG folks, but didn't have a sense of the climate. Most of what I've heard and seen indicates there could be little tolerance for options outside of Sun.

To my delight, as our conversation turned to the possibility of running the new service on Linux, the USG director indicated that there was some existing support, and that movement was being made toward offering support similar to USG support for Solaris. Existing Linux support includes tapping into the nagios alert system, backups with legato, and cfengine maintenance of core config files. The primary service not offered for Linux is machine builds, currently done over a private network with Jumpstart. Sounds like in the next year USG will make Linux builds available.

On my most recent visit to the data center I had seen a cluster of Dell machines, come to find out they are USG-maintained Linux boxes. Upon some further questioning the USG director indicated they were leaning to Gentoo as the distribution of choice, simply for complete control over what is going on the machines (as opposed to other distributations which install everything by default). That got some of our folks excited . . . 2 of 3 developers swear by Gentoo, and I anticipate soon enough it will be 3 of 3.

I was envigorated by this conversation. On the way back my manager asked "Why are you so hot for Lnux?" Will try to tone it down a little, want to make sure we weigh all options and make the right choice.

Posted by mike at July 24, 2003 11:05 AM