Red Hat Linux (RHEL) Review

Allows us to offer our customers an easier way to get a WordPress site or to have POSTGRES or Tomcat installations


What is our primary use case?

We use it for 

  • some of our websites
  • one of our main applications for the City of Gothenburg
  • automation 
  • the underlying operating system for our GitLab server.

How has it helped my organization?

We have many different databases running on RHEL. Among them we have MySQL and POSTGRES and they all run great on RHEL 7 and on RHEL 8.

Using this solution, we can offer our customers an easier way to get a WordPress site, and they can have POSTGRES and Tomcat installations, and these run smoother on Linux than they do on Windows.

We also use both Ansible and Satellite from Red Hat. They are integrated with RHEL and they work like a charm. The integration works great. We use Satellite for patching our RHEL servers and we use Ansible to automate the patching and deployment of config files. That means we don't have to worry that much about the patching. If we want to deploy the same config file to 100 systems, we just run the playbook with Ansible and it's done. We don't have to run it on 100 servers.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable thing for us is the support that we get from Red Hat for the product. One of our most important applications here in the City of Gothenburg runs on RHEL, so if something happens, we have a partner to get support from.

The solution has features that simplify adoption for non-Linux users. There is an interface that you can activate on RHEL systems, and on other Linux systems as well, so that you will get a graphical user interface instead of just a shell. It's easier for an administrator who is used to only working on Windows.

In terms of the deployment and management interfaces for non-Linux users and Linux beginners, for me it was quite easy to get on with Linux and RHEL. And if you're not using the Cockpit, or graphical interface, then it's a bit harder because then you have to type in everything and you don't get any visual guides. On the RHEL systems that we have, we haven't been using the desktop environment; we only just use the shell environment. But using Cockpit is much easier because then you get a visual, graphical interface.

What needs improvement?

Sometimes they don't have new versions for applications like Apache or PHP. I understand it's because they have to have support for them, so they can't have the latest version all the time, but that's the main thing I see that could be improved.

So when you use RHEL and you want to install, let's say, Apache or PHP, you do a "dnf install php" and you get a specific version that Red Hat releases. But that isn't the latest version that PHP has released, because Red Hat has to make sure that they can support it. The compatibility with the latest version of Apache or PHP lags because RHEL does not release updates of the latest versions.

It's the same with the kernel. Sometimes they are a bit behind in the kernel version. That's the same issue. They have to test it and support it for so many years so that's why they are a bit behind on the kernel as well.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Red Hat Linux (RHEL) for more than 10 years. We are using versions 6, 7, and 8.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a really stable operating system. It has a lifetime of about ten years per version. It's not like other Linux systems where the lifetime is about five years. It's stable and it runs for a long time so you don't have to change the operating system that often.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's easy to scale up and scale out.

Of the people using our RHEL systems, some are system administrators and some of them are just consuming power or memory or CPU from the server. They only have websites and they don't come into contact with the underlying operating system.

RHEL accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of our servers. Our usage increases all the time.

The solution also enables you to deploy current applications and emerging workloads across bare-metal, virtualized, hybrid cloud, and multi cloud environments. We only use on-premise in our infrastructure, but you can have it on bare-metal or on cloud or multi cloud. For us, it's been running great. It's reliable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Red Hat's technical support has been quite good. Sometimes the lead times are a bit long because most of the support is in India, it seems, so there is a time difference. But if we need to get a higher level of support, we can just bump up the priority. So that's really good. We will get help faster.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I don't think our company had a similar solution before RHEL, although that was back before I started with the company. The company started with RHEL because they wanted to have support.

Red Hat, as a company, is a big contributor to the open-source community. That's another one of the reasons that we want to use RHEL the product.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was quite straightforward. It was a bit harder with the latest version, but that was because of our VMware version.

For us, deployment takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Most of the time we get someone who orders it. They want to have a website and they need a server and we will spin up a RHEL server for them in our VMware infrastructure.

For deployment and maintenance there are two of us in the company. I'm one of them, in my role as a systems analyst, and my colleague is an IT strategist, although he mainly works as a system admin as well.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In terms of the solution’s single subscription and install repository for all types of systems, we can have as many RHEL installations as we want because we have a specific subscription that entitles us to have as many RHEL services as we want. We pay for a subscription and with that we get RHEL and Satellite as well.

The best thing to do is to go to developers.redhat.com and get free subscriptions for RHEL products, so you can try them out and see how they work before you go ahead and purchase or subscribe.

As far as I know, there are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fees.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have Ubuntu, CentOS, and other types of Linux versions. The main difference between these products and RHEL is the support that we get from Red Hat. RHEL is also more capable and more stable and it is more of a well-tested operating system before it gets released.

What other advice do I have?

Try the product out. If you decide to purchase a subscription, don't be afraid to submit a ticket or a support case to Red Hat, because that's why you pay for a subscription. It took us a  long time before we started to open support cases, because we thought, "Ah, we can fix this ourselves." But now we use the support system quite often and it works quite well.

One of the things I've learned from using RHEL is that there are applications that work so much better on Linux than they do on Windows.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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