The Journal Of A Linux Sysadmin

ThePlanet/EV1 and Debian...

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I have worked on many servers hosted on ThePlanet and EV1. As you probably know by now, I am a Debian fan, and would normally install Debian on any server I manage if I have the chance. In these cases, I was always forced to install Debian remotely as they would not provide such an option… By now I am used to do this, and become quite good to remotely switch from RHEL to Debian, but still my question remains: “Why would they not provide Debian installation on their dedicated servers?” Is the Debian installation process so much harder than RHEL? I don’t think so… Is it harder to automate the installation? Again no… Then?

Here is what will happen if you try to get you new dedicated server from EV1/ThePlanet installed with Debian:

  • EV1: no way. There is not even an option to install something else than RHEL4. Even if you ask them nicely they will not do it: “You can install any operating system you like after we deploy the server with rhel…”

  • ThePlanet: here things are a little different. A while ago they had an option to install Debian, but this was later removed. After a while they were offering only RHEL, and now they have added an option to install Debian, but wait.. It will cost you $25 setup: OS: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Version 4 [Included in price/mo, Included in setup] OS: CentOS Enterprise Linux, Version 4[Add $0/mo, Add $0 setup] OS: Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Version 3[Add $0/mo, Add $0 setup] _ OS: Debian (stable)[Add $0/mo, Add $25 setup]_ OS: Windows Server 2003, Standard[Add $15/mo, Add $0 setup]

So they install RHEL3/4 and Centos4 for free (and W2k3 also), but for Debian we have to pay an extra setup fee. Come on, what is this?

A while ago when ThePlanet didn’t have this option at all, I have called them and asked why they have removed Debian from the installation options. They answered they don’t have the peoples trained to offer support for Debian, but only for RHEL… Come on, are Linux distributions so different? Can we have someone with RHCE not know how to work on Debian? Anyway I didn’t need any support from them, only the installation. But this could not be done either.

The answer to all these questions is very simple: they have agreements with RedHat to push their products on all the Linux dedicated servers. Even though the RHEL license is not shown in any of the packages (for free, included, etc.) rest assured that you will pay for this hidden fee even if you reinstall the RHEL system and not use it at all.

On other hosting providers that don’t have such agreements with RedHat we will see them offering Centos or other free RHEL clones (and running RHEL will normally involve an extra monthly fee for the rhel license), but also offering other installation options like Debian/Ubuntu, etc. Anyway Debian is one of the easiest operating systems that can be installed remotely using different methods, but still you will need to have good experience in doing this if you want to not ‘loose’ the system ;).

What is your opinion on this? Did you encountered similar problems with other webhosting providers installing only RHEL?