Fedora Makes a Terrible Server
… for me.
I am finally giving up on Fedora as a server. I find it just too unreliable. I have been using Fedora since FC1 (and been on Redhat since RH6.0), but for the most part I only used it as a desktop operating system.
When I was using FC3, I found it very helpful to mirror my website(s) on my local machine. This worked great, however with each new Fedora release I found more things breaking with my scripts and setup. For a while I put up with the struggle by doing things like re-compiling PHP4, but even that became quite tiring. I concluded that Fedora just moved too fast for my server development needs. I cannot fault Fedora, rather that it did not meet my needs. However I still used it.
As recently as FC6, I found the need to access my computer remotely. I started tweaking my desktop for some security and making it more “remote-access” friendly. This did work for a while. All I was doing was using SSH and working on my Apache mirrors. My frustration began with the security. I took a long hard attempt at trying to secure the system with SELinux, however for multiple reasons I abandoned it.
Later when moving to Fedora7 I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. The major problem arose when I updated my 2.6.21 kernel to 2.6.23. Some nasty bug was killing my SSH performance. Basically it left me dead in the water. I accepted to fall back on the older kernel, however soon enough I came to install Fedora8 which also had the bug. For the most part I didn’t use Fedora8 for 2 months since I was out of the country. However when I finally did, I got so frustrated that I ended up installing the old F7 kernel on F8. Of course I broke sound, PulseAudio, ACPI and the X-server, but I REALLY needed SSH to work. While this again is not Fedora’s fault, I find the following comment pretty helpful from the kernel mailing list: “Please note that 2.6.23 kernel has a lot of bugs and we don’t recommend using it…" - Regardless, it WAS a kernel that Fedora used.
I personally do not think that a given Fedora release is very stable and/or reliable. Until I started expanding my usage I really did not mind, however now I am finding it more difficult to handle. While some people may suggest I upgrade less frequently, that’s fine and all, but it does NOT change the quality of the release. Furthermore, as my desktop I like to have a new release. … And some people may tell me that I should have been more pro-active and filed bug-reports and other information. Well, I do agree with that, but unfortunately I just did not have the time.
So what’s the solution? Simple: don’t use Fedora as a server. For myself, I bought a brand new computer. I built a low powered file/web server and put CentOS 5.1 on it. In the next few weeks I will migrate all my development onto this machine. Hopefully I won’t need to upgrade it for a very long time.
Will I stop using Fedora? No. It will still be on my desktop. However I will have more realistic expectations from software considered totally “free”.
Sorry for the rant.
Brett on February 18, 2008 - 11:23 PM
I enjoyed reading your rant. I found you by way of http://www.mjmwired.net/resources/mjm-fedora-f8.html. I am getting ready to install Fedora 8 and was doing a little sniffing around using Google. I thought your Fedora 8 Installation guide to be very through and professionally written, both in its format and content. Nice work! Thanks for providing useful content on your websites. I have bookmarked a few to use as reference.
Arthur Pembeerton on March 24, 2008 - 03:15 PM
The general wisdom from fedora power users is:
- Fedora for the desktop / workstation
- CentOS for the home server or other unsupported server
- RedHat for a serious server or otherwise when support is needed
* by support I mean paid support
Also, SELinux isn’t nearly that hard. I would put a box on the open internet without SELinux.
Arthur Pembeerton on March 24, 2008 - 03:15 PM
typo: I WOULD NOT put a box on the open internet without SELinux.
Withy on January 8, 2011 - 03:15 PM
I have met Fedora about 4 years ago. It was bilt old Fedora 3 release and it was used as a router (with firewall), web server and email server. This server was really perfect (unfortunatelly it died last year). At the moment I plan to install it at my second job as a router (with firewall) and web server (without databases, those will run on the other server). I have tested Fedora 13 in my work (which is high school) with some more capabilities (including Samba, FTP, WWW - LAMP, Postgre, Moodle, Wordpress etc.) and I am really happy with that. The only issue I have to solve was breaking up NetworkManager during upgrade to Fedora 14. But I fixed it really fast. The minor problem is updating. Fedora updates are comming bit faster but I was able to upgrade from Fedora 3 to Fedora 8 in two days with solving all dependencies so I dont have problem with updating from nowadays Fedora. CentOS is perfect stable for the needs of long support but even with EPEL there are some things that has to be done manually which I dont like so much but it is just only my point of view. For using it for example as a firewall with vpn is probably better choice than Fedora but I am not so concerned about that.