[K12OSN] What are the "K12LTSP EL" releases?

"Terrell Prudé Jr." microman at cmosnetworks.com
Fri Jan 4 06:08:19 UTC 2008

Brandon Kovach wrote:
> Pardon me for being dumb, but what is the k12ltsp EL?  More to the point,
> what is different between it and k12ltsp?  Is it still fedora based?  I
> think I read a post that said CentOS, but I can't find it now.  We've used
> the k12 project stuff for 4 years now and have had no trouble, but this
> year hasn't been the case.  I've had quite some trouble with it.  I was
> looking at maybe switching to something else ... Edubuntu or maybe doing a
> debian build myself.
> BK

There are two "kinds" of K12LTSP.  The first, called simply "K12LTSP",
is based on Fedora.  The second, called "K12LTSP EL" is based on
CentOS.  Now, the question is, why two versions?  Why not just one? 
That'll take some explanation.

Hold on tight, because you're about to go for a little history tour.  :-)

K12LTSP, back in the day, was based on Red Hat Linux, until Red Hat did
what's known as the "Big Split" in order to actually start making money
(this is a Very Good Thing; we want this to happen!).  That split means
that Red Hat Linux became two distributions. 

One's a bleeding-edge, "download for free" version that's on a fast
update cycle, where Red Hat tries out new stuff (e. g. SELinux, new eye
candy, and so on).  Development is fast and furious.  For that reason,
release cycles are short, as are support cycles.  You want a cool,
"uber-l33t" new feature?  You want truly beautiful eye candy, bordering
on a work of art?  You want something that is specifically and overtly
designed to be tweaked as heavily as your little heart desires?  This
version likely has all that and much more.  That's Fedora.

The other one's much more concerned with stability over the long haul,
and it's intended to be certified for use with Big, Expensive Enterprise
Apps (e. g. HP OpenView Network Node Manager or Oracle).  It's also
explicitly designed for support intervals that corporations like (read:
"long").  As a result, you get support for a loooong time, but you don't
necessarily get the latest, greatest eye candy or apps.  Each version of
this distribution will be supported with security updates for seven
years from the date of its release.  Oh, and it costs a lot of money and
comes with an official support contract.  That's Red Hat Enterprise
Linux (RHEL).

Well, we all know that the GPL requires you to provide source with your
binaries when you distribute any GPL'd software.  Red Hat has a long
history of not only GPL compliance, but also outright GPL promotion. 
Just about everything Red Hat has ever written or released has been
GPL'd (e. g. Red Hat Directory Server or Anaconda).  Thus, even though
getting RHEL costs a lot of money, Red Hat posts all of its source code
for it up on its Web site.  They're on record as saying that anyone can
download that source code and re-create RHEL if they wish.

A few groups of hackers decided to do just that.  They downloaded that
source code, recompiled it, and came up with rather faithful clones of
RHEL, and these groupsl let us download it free of charge.  The GPL
explicitly permits this.  The most successful and famous of these RHEL
clones is called CentOS, for "Community ENTerprise OS."  Since CentOS is
made of exactly the same source code as RHEL is, CentOS is on the same
*support cycle* as RHEL.  That means SEVEN YEARS OF SECURITY
UPDATES...just like RHEL. 

What does this have to do with K12LTSP EL? 

Well, it turned out there was quite large demand for a "Long-Term
Support" release of K12LTSP.  Therefore, Eric "Mr. K12LTSP" Harrison
made a version based on CentOS.  The first one was K12LTSP 4.2EL, based
on CentOS 4.  It will be supported with security fixes until the year
2012.  The latest one, K12LTSP 5.0EL, is based on CentOS 5 and will be
supported until the year 2014.  The "EL", of course, stands for
"Enterprise Linux" release.

So, if you want the latest-greatest, and you don't mind updating your OS
every year or so, then go for the "regular" K12LTSP, based on Fedora. 
For years, I used "regular" K12LTSP for demos because of the extra eye
candy.  On the other hand, if you need long-term support and don't mind
not living on the bleeding edge, then go for the "EL" K12LTSP, based on

NOTE!!  Unfortunately, the latest version of "regular" K12LTSP, namely
K12LTSP 6, is based on Fedora Core 6, which just got End-Of-Lifed.  That
means no more security updates.  That's why K12LTSP 5.0EL is the better
choice at this point.  This is *no* slam on Eric Harrison, BTW.  Given
his schedule, the fact that he finds time to breathe amazes most of us.

And now you know what the "K12LTSP EL" releases are.  :-)

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