RHEL + clones vs. Debian/Ubuntu market share in professional context


I’ve been working as a Linux trainer since 2007. My very first training sessions were based on Debian, but after 2009 I switched to CentOS and other RHEL clones like Oracle Linux. Currently my Linux courses are based on Rocky Linux.

A training company here in France has contacted me to do a Linux System Administration course for them. Their system administrator uses Ubuntu LTS in his daily work, and it looks like he wishes I base all my courses on this distribution. Apparently he’s not a big fan of Red Hat and clones. Go figure.

The first reason I’m choosing RHEL clones for my daily work and for my teaching is perennity. I like to have ten years of support with low risk updates per release. Now I’d like to persuade the guys that I can very well show all the various Debian/Ubuntu-specific aspects to my students, which is what I usually do. But my main teaching is and will always be based on RHEL and clones, because it’s also what I use in my daily work as an admin.

One argument I could come forward with is market share. As I understand it, RHEL and clones have the biggest market share in a professional context. The last Linux training I took as a student some three years ago was based exclusively on CentOS 7. Not a word about Debian or Ubuntu, and no one seemed to care.

What’s your take on this ?

(Fun fact: back in 2009 I even wrote and published a book about Ubuntu, with a foreword by Mark Shuttleworth himself.)



You might have a debate on your hands there :
RHEL = update every 6 months unless you’re on the last of the last Major release where you get 5 yrs (?)
Ubuntu LTS = new stable LTS every 2 yrs each of which has 5 yrs support
(std optons / both have longer paid support)
Bottom line RHEL want you updating every 6 months. Ubuntu push a 5 yr LTS.

8.5 broke KDE so unless you’re sticking to the formally supported sw list “low-risk” updates during the first 5 yrs is debatable.

On the other hand:
Selinux - more secure than AppArmour ? (whatever Ubuntu uses) … though more complicated.
RHEL - Server orientated - you want it for your servers so learn to use it day-to-day as a dektop. (reduce stack / hiring requirements etc )

You might appeal to linux users’ inherent dislike of corporate surveilance : https://www.howtogeek.com/349844/how-to-stop-ubuntu-from-collecting-data-about-your-pc/ - use their emotions to trap their minds …

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The market share I would doubt RHEL based Distro’s are more than Debian/Ubuntu. I think Ubuntu has a larger Market than RHEL based distro’s as it is more Home User oriented with ease of use & also more updated software, which such users would prefer. Besides that the LTS releases offer long time support, which is also something the Server area likes.

It also has an easy upgrade process from release to release, which normally works fine unless you have done some heavy adaptions.

The other thing is that it is free, which appeals to many. RHEL is not free, & Rocky, Oracle etc., which depend on RHEL, are always late with updates, as they first have to wait for them from RH.

There are also many Commercial Projects that use Ubuntu/Debian, but it is hard to keep count, & many might not make it clear that they are based on Ubuntu/Debian.

Maybe you also need to look at M$ Windoze. Their OS has this “Windoze Subsystem for Linux” feature. The First option you get there is Ubuntu, & I am sure that is a big market.

Personally I use Debian rather than Ubuntu, & I have no problems with it. It also has a long support for a release, & upgrades to a newer release usually also work fine too.

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I am (among other things) a Linux (server) system administrator, administering quite many (lets say dozens upon dozens) Linux servers for our clients. Almost all of them are either RHEL (mostly Oracle Linux now, some older ones are CentOS) and Ubuntu, maybe a couple Debians and even one OpenSUSE.

From my limited anecdotal experience, in the server world RHEL may have a slight edge, but in our case it is almost fifty-fifty. I presume it is mainly just that some of our clients are more familiar with RHEL while others with Ubuntu, and that is the reason they keep asking only for either, not both.

I am unsure if in server use either one has definite advantages or their own niches over the other. I personally like RHEL family servers a bit more as they seem to be supported longer, ie. the EOL deadline doesn’t come quite as soon. Clients still ask for new Ubuntu 20.04 servers, whose end of life is less than two years away…

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One “pro” market are the TOP500. Alas, about half of them are listed “Linux” without better details and even for the rest you need to crunch some numbers: List Statistics | TOP500
(All 500 systems do run some Linux distro.)

Familiarity is a strong motivator.

Some “pro” fields do use proprietary applications and then the willingness of the vendors of those products to offer support for particular platform can be the deciding factor.
An example: Supported Platforms | Schrödinger
(Alas, that does not tell about the RHEL/Ubuntu shares.)

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RHEL major releases (RHEL 7, RHEL 8 and so on) are supported for 10 years.

RHEL odd minor releases (RHEL 8.1, 8.3 and so on) are supported for 6 months.

RHEL even minor releases (RHEL 8.2, 8.4 and so on) with EUS are supported for 24 months, RHEL 9 with Extended EUS is supported for 48 months. See Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9 Extended Update Support (EUS) and Enhanced Extended Update Support (Enhanced EUS) FAQ - Red Hat Customer Portal.

Red Hat doesn’t provide a KDE version of RHEL 8 or RHEL 9. If you install unsupported software, you’re on your own.

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I’m confused. At least Rocky Linux offers a KDE variant of RL9, so are you saying that is unsupported? Is the GNOME variant the only supported image, or what?

Yeah I notice they say this, is it what you are referring to?

The images provided on this page are produced by Rocky Linux special interest groups and may not be bug-for-bug compatible with upstream.

Red Hat does not support KDE in RHEL 8 and later. Rocky and other clones may have KDE spins, if there’s any support offered for KDE it is downstream from Red Hat.

Meaning if you run KDE (or any other software not supported by Red Hat), updates from Red Hat will not be tested/verified against that software, that testing has to be done (or not) by the downstream RHEL clones offering the software.

If you read the quote you quoted you’ll note I’ve noted “unless you’re sticking to the formally supported sw list

… which follows from what I said - updates every 6 months (supported at least during those 6 months - you would presume) for 5 yrs followed by 5 yrs of maintenance updates.

Rocky Linux does not ship KDE at all from our repositories. The live image you’re referring to does provide KDE, but it does not come from us, it comes from EPEL. The kickstart will hint at this. The same goes for XFCE, MATE, and Cinnamon. When folks talk about KDE being broken after some point release, this can happen when versions of some packages are rebased, thus breaking what’s in EPEL. EPEL maintainers then have to rebuild many packages against the new versions. This is a common occurrence and is out of our control.

With that being said, the live images (as a whole) that are provided are a value-add for our users, as not even RHEL provides them.

While there is no direct support for what comes from EPEL (since we do not directly maintain nor manage what is built and shipped there), most of us in the Enterprise Linux world are likely using EPEL, thus there will be community support in that regard. You’ll seldom find cases of us refusing to help users using EPEL packages or trying to find stuff that actually may be in EPEL because we don’t ship it. It’s on our list of community approved repositories.

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Red Hat has guidelines about the “compatibility”, i.e. how likely those “breaking changes” are:

That shows that some core libraries in RHEL 9 are ok even with applications that were linked against RHEL 7 versions of those libraries.

The Qt is not one of those libraries. An update in Qt libs (of RHEL 8 and 9) did force rebuild of every application that depends on those libs. The third parties (like EPEL) simply did act a bit later than Red Hat (and Rocky).

I did link earlier in this thread to proprietary application (from Schrödinger). That application actually has its own copy of Qt, Python (and even libstdc++), so it did not “break” nor have any need for rebuild. Not “pretty”, but gets a job done.

Which is correct for clones, for RHEL you also have the option of paying for EUS or Extended EUS, those releases are supported for 24 or 48 months.

I wanted to make it clear to others that might not be familiar with the differences between RHEL and clones, KDE is available on some clones but is not supported/tested/verified by Red Hat.

In short, RHEL =/= Rocky.

Replace all instances of “RHEL” with “Rocky Linux” in your first post and you are 100% correct. You have to update to a new minor release every 6 months if you want to continue to receive security (and other) updates, for the first 5 years.

KDE is available on EPEL for RHEL (and hence for clones).
Content of EPEL (and other third-party repositories) “is not supported/tested/verified by Red Hat”.

As said, the Rocky live images are not “the Rocky Linux” – they are just convenience value-add that uses Rocky Linux.

Alas, we digress. How is it with the Debian family?
They have multiple repositories? Who supports/tests/verifies each of those repos?

Well if we’re going there, I did say;

in the original post.

Ok, I misread that as a reference to Ubuntu LTS.

Getting back to OP’s original question, in my experience RHEL is more common in a professional context, where I work the distribution is about 200:1 (RHEL and clones vs others).

I see some SuSE and Ubuntu LTS use in appliances.

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you can find all sorts of claims. Here’s one which purports to demonstrate the leader is Ubuntu. There are lots of other claims, I think it is hard to change anyone’s mind. If your customers want Ubuntu, then you should strongly consider having an Ubuntu variant of your courseware. Not because its better, or more popular, but because paying customers are prepared to pay for it … and otherwise may well take their business elsewhere.

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My customer told me I was selected as the best candidate to do the job. So first thing I managed to persuade him to base all courses on Rocky Linux (with a few side notes on Debian and Ubuntu).