Red Hat Enterprise Server 6 was released a couple of months back (in November 2010, if memory serves). I liked the look of it (basically, Fedora 12 with a lot of Enterprise-class stability added), but was looking forward to trying it out for free when Centos 6 was released. Two months later, however, and there’s still no real sign of an actual Centos 6 (though this post on the developer’s list suggests that there should be a beta available Real Soon Now).
Not wanting to wait any further, therefore, I installed Scientific Linux 6 the other day. It’s only available as an Alpha version (number 8 or 9, I believe) and I got my cope here. Alpha or not, it seems pretty stable to me, and I recommend it.
Scientific Linux is another one of those distros which are built from the original Red Hat source code, once various trademarks and logos have been removed. It’s therefore practically binary-equivalent to the “real thing”, but is made available for zero cost, and updates are available from standard repositories without payment. If you care about such things, the distro gets its name from the fact that CERN and Fermilab (amongst others) use it: true geekdom indeed!
Oracle installs on it fine, incidentally.
Getting Flash working is a bit of a trial (nothing new there, then). Basically, the download from Adobe is a 32-bit library (called libflashplayer.so) which you unzip and then copy (to /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins). But you also have to issue (as root) the following command:
Once you re-start Firefox (version 3.6.13 after a yum update, if you’re wondering), you’ll be able to watch the videos on (for example) the BBC News website -my standard Flash test!- without a problem.
To install other packages to the thing which aren’t in the “standard” repositories, such as Stellarium, I simply followed the instructions here about adding the RPMForge repository. Binary compatibility is a wonderful thing -it means the instructions, though ostensibly meant for Centos, apply to Scientific Linux perfectly well, too.
Anyway: Scientific Linux. If you’re at all concerned that Centos seems to be losing a bit of its mojo, it’s a viable alternative!