CentOS, Fedora or RHEL for Workstation PC

Hi all !

Well, here it goes : I'm bored of Windows and I'm seriously beginning to like the Linux environment. I have a MacBook Pro since 7 months and I'm really enjoying UNIX and UNIX-Like systems.

Here the hardware configuration of my workstation :

Asus Technologies Motherboard: Asus P8P67 WS Revolution / Intel P67 Express Chipset + nVIDIA NForce 200 Chipset / Workstation Series Motherboard

Intel Core i7 Central Processing Unit : 2700K / Intel's LGA1155 Flagship CPU / 4 Cores, 8 Threads / 3.50 GHz Stock Core Clock / 3.9 GHz Turbo Frequency / 8 MB L3 Cache / LGA1155 Socket / 32nm Transistor Architecture / 4.50 GHz Overclocked

Noctua Technologies CPU Cooler : NH-D14

Kingston Technologies RAM: Genesis Edition / KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX / PC3-12800 / 16384 MB / Dual-Channel Enabled / 1600 MHz RAM Clock / Timings 9-9-9-27 @ 1.65v

Pioneer Optical Drive: 212D / Serial ATA Physical Interface

Seagate Hard-Disk Drive: Barracuda Series / 2000 GB / 7200.14 / 64 MB Cache / 7200 RPM / 200 MB/s Sustained Data Rate / RAID 1 Configuration With P67 On-Board RAID Controller

Western Digital Hard-Disk Drive: Caviar Blue Series / 500 GB / 16 MB Cache / 7200 RPM / 120 MB/s Sustained Data Rate / RAID 1 Configuration With P67 On-Board RAID Controller

Crucial Technologies SSD : M4 C400 / 2.5" / 128 GB Samsung MLC Memory / 520 MB/s Read / 450 MB/s Write / 0.01 ms Response Time / RAID 0 Configuration With P67 On-Board RAID Controller

Fractal Design Enclosure : Define XL / 1 Front Noctua NF-P12 Fan / 2 x 140 MM Front Noctua NF-P14 FLX Fan / 1 Rear Noctua NF-P14 FLX / 1 Top Fractal Design Silent Series 180 MM Fan

Seasonic Technologies Power Supply : X-850 / 70A Single 12v Rail / 80+ Gold Certified Electrical Efficiency

Asus Technologies GPU : GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP

Asus Technologies : Xonar Essence STX

Microsoft Operating System: Windows 7 / Professional Edition / Service Pack 1 / 64-bit / English

Virtualization Platform : VMWare Workstation 9

I'm currently running Linux in VMs, but I wish to install it has a host. The best way to learn a system is to work 100 % of the time on it ! I will keep Windows 8 for casual gaming purpose (got a GTX 680 at its official launch and I don't even know if I gamed for 20h on it XD)

So I've looked for drivers. The only thing thatbugs me is my sound card, one of the most usefull component of my rig. The worst thing would be to lose sound quality. But I've found the Alsa project ( http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Main_Page ) that seems to have a driver that support my Asus STX and offer really decent performances. So I think it's going to be good.

Since my workstation is also a home server, I've a Samba share, VPN, and printer sharing, but everything must be available on Linux too.

I also do GPGPU Computing (BOINC) but all projets that I contribute are Linux compatible. Other usages are distant tech support, programming, and of course, virtualization (VMWare, which I also have the Linux version).

So the deadly question :p : Which Linux distribution would be better for me ?

One thing is sure, my hearth is balancing toward Red Hat based distributions. I'm bored of Ubuntu and other like that. I find Mint ugly.... Nah I definitively think it's going to be a Red Hat based, not a debian one. Since I'm a student, my computer is also a learning tool. So since I'm installing Linux on it, better to be a distribution that I can find later on servers/business when I'll be on the job market !

So, three possibilities :

CentOS : RHEL clone with delayed updates. Not really cutting edge, truely workstation OS.

Fedora : RHEL testbed, cutting edge, less stable.

Or directly Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation : support, books, real courses to learn it, not cutting edge but once again it's a true workstation OS

Another question :

Regarding the packages available, may I install as much programs on RHEL as on Fedora ?

I want a powerful distribution that can rivalize with Windows in term of performances.

I'm currently shopping for a LSI RAID card too for my RAID 0 of SSDs. But the model I'm targetting (LSI 9271-4i : http://www.lsi.com/channel/products/storagecomponents/Pages/MegaRAIDSAS9271-4i.aspx ) is Linux certified.

Thank you very much for your advice and personnal opinion !
6 answers Last reply
More about centos fedora rhel workstation
  1. The biggest drawback to RHEL/cent/scientific are the 2.6.32 kernel and less packages available in their repository.
    Fedora ships with kernel 3.6, and upgrade to 3.7.2 kernel. not bleeding edge, but contains new features and updates.

    For a home user with consumer grade hardware, fedora is probably a better choice. ALSA is the default audio server in most modern distributions, your sound card should work out of the box with fedora. If it doesnt, you may just need to configure a few things.

    Btw you are never stuck the the default interface, if you don't care for the default gnome 3 in fedora: check out other desktop/WM like XFCE, KDE, LXDE, OpenBox... so many i can't list everyone here. XFCE is more like the older gnome2 that ships with centos
    fedora even ships a few custom spins with different desktops preinstalled
  2. Since I'm a lot on Mac OSX which is kinda Gnome-Like interface, I'd like to stick with Gnome.

    I want a serious and stable distribution. That's why I ran into the Red Hat branch of Linux. Would Debian be better ? You seems to be a very experienced person regarding your profile. According to yourself, which distrib would fits my needs ?

    For a home user with consumer grade hardware, fedora is probably a better choice. ALSA is the default audio server in most modern distributions, your sound card should work out of the box with fedora. If it doesnt, you may just need to configure a few things.

    Oh nice ! Thanks for the info !
  3. As its name implies, debian 'stable' is rock solid, as much as RHEL is anyway. But again, my only issue is its older kernel as it uses the 2.6.32 branch as well.

    Especially considering you are using a SSD, newer sound card, newer video card... You would want kernel version 3.2.x or newer.

    Unfortunately debian 7/'testing'/wheezy with the 3.2 kernel, although feature frozen, still has bugs to fix before it can be released.

    I would either use ubuntu LTS, which is still a good choice. You can use the server install, then install your dekstop of choice after. No need to live with ugly unity!

    Or with your setup, take a page from crunchbang, and use debian 6/'stable'/squueze base and use backports from the testing branch for the kernel, browser,libreoffice or whatever other software you feel is outdated.
  4. Wouaafff.... Kind of bored of Ubuntu too :lol: I work with it at school. Don't very like it ... The latest version seems not very stable (half a dozen among my colleagues are reporting bugs, either in Host and VM installation, kernel panics, freeze, etc...) I don't have a very good experience with Ubuntu with this version. That's why I didn't consider it.

    I'll follow you and probably go with Fedora since it uses the Kernel 3.x

    Will see when the next Red Hat Enterprise 7 will be out. Maybe I'll buy my RAID card by these times so I would have to reinstall the whole thing...

    For the dual boot Win8/Fedora, do I have to worry about the partition alignment ?
  5. If you or your colleagues are receiving kernel panics in a 3.2 LTS kernel... then they should be reporting those bugs! A fully updated 12.04 install should be stable.

    Also yes you will need to pay attention to partition alignment, however both windows 8 and modern linux installers will automatically align your partition (optionally you can do it manually). After fedora is installed you may need to pass the ext4 mount argument '-o discard' in your /etc/fstab to enable TRIM support for your ssd.
  6. My SSDs are in RAID. I automatically lose the TRIM capability. So I'm not worried with TRIM, unless it can be activated even in RAID configurations under Linux, but I think this is more related to the ROM of the PCH instead of the OS.

    Thanks a lot !
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