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dashnu
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:55 pm    Post subject: Company looking to sell, is Gentoo a BLOCKER? Reply with quote

Hey folks, I use to be pretty active on this forum not so much anymore.

I have been running Gentoo for ~5 years in a business ENV. We are up to 12 or so Gentoo Servers.

The company is looking to sell and Gentoo seems to big a big issue to the people interested in buying. Has anyone else experienced this? If so what was your approach to dealing with the Tech Staff from the interested buyers? I have always been behind the scenes kinda guy and do not deal with these type of people well. My short answer to them would be "My networks have been rock solid for ~5 years so f*%k off" Clearly I can't take this approach. However this is the case I have have never had any down time on the account of using Gentoo. My Firewalls are gentoo, my production servers are gentoo, My VPNs are gentoo, my dev environments are gentoo you get the idea...

I guess in short, how would you sell gentoo?
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bastibasti
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can imagine that it could be,
all these suse and redhat certified "engineers" that dont know how to use configfiles cos they use yast or whatever... its very sad.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tell them to RTFM.
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fangorn
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Gen-What?"

If they know Linux they know Suse Linux Enterprise or Redhat Enterprise. Maybe their Tech Guys have heard of Debian. If they ask, say the configuration is like Debian. Not true in all cases (network for instance) but close enough.
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alex.blackbit
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i would argue that gentoo is really easy to maintain.
version upgrades are a piece of cake. emerge, edit config files, start.
on, let's say (omg) a windows machine: figure out where to get the software, install and pray the installer knows what it does, which is not the case in 90% of all cases.

but unfortunately the people you are dealing with will not understand you, because they are scarred of that black window with the title "PuTTY".
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nativemad
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got blamed several times in the company... Just tell them that you are doing something like rocket-science on these machines without any hassle and you would spend days or weeks to do such things with any other distro, where you would have to download the source, some patches, configure it manually, compile it and then most imprtantly, keep it up to date!

Good luck! :P
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dashnu
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think for the most part they are Microsoft guys. The fact that I use a "software" firewall and not Cisco is another big issue. They seem to be "Old School" if you will, running only "proven" software.

For me I take this issue personally, I built the network from the ground up its kinda my baby.. Just looking for thoughts on how to deal with these people professionally.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd simply tell them the facts - no 'colorful wording' or alike, just the plain facts.
Either they'll decide to change everything after they are 'masters of everything' - then they have to have a bit of money available or they don't.
If they plan to change probably they also are aware that they might need a new admin - depending on your plans.

Beeing blamed for each and everything is pretty much normal in security business - as long as you can argue with good facts that's no issue.
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alex.blackbit
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

are they serious that iptables is not "proven"? at least you know what your firewall is doing. and AFAIK there are no documented holes for a very, very long time.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is not a problem of existing leaks, it is a problem of "who to blame if shit happens".

If you buy a solution from a company, this company is responsible for the solution to work as advertised.

Managers like that feeling that they can sue the hell out of the "responsible service provider". So if you want to build something on your own, you are pretty much that, on your own. :roll:
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most accounts I have worked for use a Unix flavour instead of some sort of Linux distro. Personally I don't believe in using Gentoo in a PRD environment. Limited testing on enterprise scaled hardware, lack of support, etc.
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alex.blackbit
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i can sue cisco for bugs in IOS? at least in the country where i live (austria, europe) that's not possible.
is it in the u.s.a.? if yes, i wonder why companies like cisco, microsoft, etc. still exist.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dashnu wrote:
I think for the most part they are Microsoft guys. The fact that I use a "software" firewall and not Cisco is another big issue. They seem to be "Old School" if you will, running only "proven" software.

For me I take this issue personally, I built the network from the ground up its kinda my baby.. Just looking for thoughts on how to deal with these people professionally.



Step 1: Understand that by selling, the network it is no longer "your baby" and it is not a personal issue.

Step 2: Understand that for most of the world relying on a community project that can barely attract enough developers to maintain itself is not a solution.

Accepting these will allow you to deal with these people professionally.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Company looking to sell, is Gentoo a BLOCKER? Reply with quote

dashnu wrote:
I guess in short, how would you sell gentoo?
I would first try to understand what really the concerns are of the buying company. Ask (a lot of) questions and do not judge. When you understand the real problem, and only then, you tell them how their concerns can be taken away. You should be able to do that be cause you probably already dealt with these issues before yourself. Again, most important, do not try to judge. Only try to let them see that there (major) concerns are no real concerns.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sell them your support services. Figure out how much its worth to you, how much time you think you might be looking at (or charge by the hour). All they want is support from someone. Show them how your setups are superior, your uptime, they're more efficient due to a more streamlined setup and custom kernel. Everything was compiled for the system, not with generic defaults, blah blah blah. Give them a class (say you'll throw it in for free) on basic maintenance. Throw them a line of BS, tell them Gentoo is a system used heavily by embedded systems engineers because of the ease of creating small systems.

Make them feel that even though they might not understand these setups, they will always have someone available that can fix ANYTHING. And make them feel like they are getting a deal on all this. You're selling something, its business. Its up to them to verify the truth of what you say. You feed them a line of BS and they buy, its their own fault for not looking deeper.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gentoo has a bad reputation if it comes to productive environments. It is not certified, no business support is available, it's a time killer (updating/compiling) and special knowledge is required. All these facts are a no go for business environments.

They basically are only afraid of the costs that they'll face if they buy your company. They probably have to hire a new gentoo admin, just for that purpose.

You have to make yourself clear that they intent to make a steal and not to invest money for things that they not really need.

Try to argument with reliability if it is well administrated and with features like GLSA. Security is a focus of the distribution! As well as uptodate software, comparing to suse and debian (stable branch) ...

Good luck! :wink:
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with anello.

One of the biggest things a company needs for any software or hardware(especially anything considered a mission critical app) is the ability to either have a 1-800 number or easy to find consultants/specialists to maintain the environment.

I may sound harsh hear but if you deployed these servers/systems without keeping this in mind you have done your company a disservice.

What happens if you leave?

Is every critical part of the infrastructure documented such that anyone with basic linux skills (a standard Red Hat admin) can just pickup where you left off without a hitch?

Gentoo as a whole has done a fantastic job of documenting most aspects of the OS as well as it's usage. I have found articles on how to do pretty much everything I needed to do with the OS with no problems.

But you CANNOT point to the documentation and say that is enough to nullify the skepticism of the professionals you are working with.

With Redhat, Microsoft, Sun, Cisco, etc. I can CALL someone (day or night) and ask them to fix my problem. Sure, we can point to a million things wrong with the applications but at the end of the day it is about:


  • Deferred Liability. I can give the responsibility to a vendor to maintain the application. Yes, you can say this is childish cover my a$$ here but think: do YOU want to be responsible if an emerge f*cks up a dependency that caused MySQL to start spewing errors? With Gentoo, you will need to. Redhat/Microsoft/Sun, you can point to the company.
  • Productivity. Standard applications mean you have many people familiar with them. I can get a Redhat/Cisco/Microsoft engineer in my office the next day and within a few days to a week have him/her work on my network with little training. Gentoo, I'll have to hope that I can find someone competent (as there is yet to be any true certification for it) and it will take me longer to get that person up to speed. More downtime, less productivity, you get the picture.
  • ROI. Look at the problem your company is facing now. Totally custom apps (indeed they are open source) means more time researching and documenting. This equals lost investments (as we have to put resources into figuring everything out) and this scares investors away.


There are plenty more items I can name.

I love Gentoo which is why I am trying to put it on the map through virtual appliances/virtual machines that can be deployed throughout. But what your company is facing is a REAL problem; custom environments to muck through. More lost money...
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ckoeber wrote:

I may sound harsh hear but if you deployed these servers/systems without keeping this in mind you have done your company a disservice.

What happens if you leave?



Thats what you call job security. Nothing wrong with that at all in my mind, so long as you give them enough notice before you leave. Business is business, your employer is not your friend, he's not looking out for you first.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

speeddemon wrote:
ckoeber wrote:

I may sound harsh hear but if you deployed these servers/systems without keeping this in mind you have done your company a disservice.

What happens if you leave?



Thats what you call job security. Nothing wrong with that at all in my mind, so long as you give them enough notice before you leave. Business is business, your employer is not your friend, he's not looking out for you first.


Being cut throat is a two-edge sword. References are needed to move up.

Besides; it is much better to build a network the RIGHT way; regardless if the employer is good or not. Respect shouldn't just come from the person handing you the paycheck (although that is often what we would like the most).

With practice you will never have to worry about job security once you perform your job to the fullest.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had many similar situations. I would tend to agree that the new technicians are limited in their choices. They can either accept the current setup and learn Gentoo (which shouldn't be that difficult if they are skilled technicians), or they can try their best to rebuild the whole system setup. I would tell them your reasons for establishing the network and server setup, and that if you are paid you could act as a consultant to aid them in their decision.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ckoeber wrote:


With practice you will never have to worry about job security once you perform your job to the fullest.

Unless some foreigner comes in, and offers to do your job for half the price. Or they simply outsource your job.

People get layed off everyday for reasons that have nothing to do with their performance, especially in the IT industry.

Job security in the IT industry is and has been disappearing fast, to think that all you need to do is good work and you will keep your job is extremely naive.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

speeddemon wrote:

Unless some foreigner comes in, and offers to do your job for half the price. Or they simply outsource your job.

People get layed off everyday for reasons that have nothing to do with their performance, especially in the IT industry.

Job security in the IT industry is and has been disappearing fast, to think that all you need to do is good work and you will keep your job is extremely naive.


That's not what I meant. Doing your job well ensures that:


  • You do not have to worry about anything negative haunting you after leaving a position. I am a believer in avoiding the need to burn bridges if there is not a need to because you never know who your next employer is. Sure, your supervisor may be an a$$hole or the company has restructured (leaving you in the dust) but that doesn't mean a co-worker (and a person you can potentially network with) will forget that you did an excellent job setting up the mail server.
  • Far easier to get a new position. As mentioned, your networking gets a big boost from doing your work positively. Also, your new potential employer will be looking for good habits. If you are up against a skilled recruiter, bad things tend to leak through to them.
  • Easier to become independent. For most of us (certainly for myself) this is where we want to be. Excelling at your job regardless of the circumstances lets potential business partners and clientele know how you do business.


I never said you must work your a$$ off for your employer. Just do the job you were paid to do. People will remember you for that.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ckoeber wrote:

I never said you must work your a$$ off for your employer. Just do the job you were paid to do. People will remember you for that.

Which is exactly what this guy did, and you were admonishing him for it. Boss said make a network, he did it the best he knew how, with Gentoo. Then you say he's wrong, he should have gone above and beyond by using a commercial linux distro that he would have to learn, and in all likelihood would cost him more time (the employer more money), meaning the quality of his work would go downhill and the network probably wouldn't be as stable.

How on earth would a future employer ever look down on him for using a distro of linux that most people can't even understand? Especially when they were in great service? Nobody would. If anything, the fact that this guy can deploy an enterprise level network completely on his own without using any support services would make this guy a shoe-in at a lot of places.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went through this two years ago and it was pretty straightforward.

Gentoo is Linux.
I can't imagine anything you're running that you can't move to any other Linux distro. Sure it might take some time, but you can do it. Keep in mind that these sorts of things can be used in negotiation as price bargaining. They say "well its not Redhat" and they'd say the same thing if it were Suse. They don't care about the OS, they just want to knock $50k off the top. It's a non issue and should be treated as such. I had to move to the new company image of Redhat across twenty odd servers. That was probably the least annoying part of the integration. Wait till you have to figure out how to get your RT ticket system to play with their customer DB. Or you have to migrate it into some poorly thought out unchangeable internal ticketing system.

Responding to other comments

Enterprise Software, aka the short bus of IT
Gentoo works which is more than I can say for most software I've used with support contracts. Either your admins are good and you have few problems and resolve those yourself or your admins are not good and you blame your vendors.

Gentoo in production
Has the exact same issues as everyone else and can be solved by remembering one simple thing. "Don't push anything into production you have not tested." Anyway who talks about Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, Redhat, Solaris, Debian, etc update "just working" hasn't been doing this long enough.

Gentoo is nice in new small companies
I can't imagine building a startup on anything, but Gentoo. The docs are good, gentoo-wiki is full of how-tos that actually work, and all versions of software are from this year. I tend to trust XYZ Gentoo packages built and tested with my options by a hundred users rather than my cobbled together homebuilt RPM tested by only me. In a small company or a fast moving one you can't wait for your vendor to spoon feed you software that has the features you need. Sometimes you need an event driven Apache 2.2 that actually works TODAY and not eight months from now... and you'd like to install it without having to reinstall the entire OS or build twenty packages yourself. Or Mysql 5.1. Or PHP 5.2.

If you leave, what happens
The OS doesn't matter that much. It really doesn't. I've inherited at least twelve different and screwed up networks and the OS has never been an issue. The issue has been the complete lack of documentation of the services, software, and any process in administrating both on top of the OS which is usually none. Nothing scares me more than coming into a situation and finding three different versions of Apache running across the same web farm. That's enough to know things are screwed up and all configs are one off unorganized crap. I'd have no problem inheriting a SCO system as long as the packages were exactly the same and configs were organized and commented.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... Tough one.

I'd say either tell them to RTFM or foot half the bill for a RedHat/Novell system. If they disagree to that, tell them you'll install another OS such as CentOS. If they disagree because it still lacks support, then I'm out of ideas.

If they are "skilled techs", they should be able to learn how to administer Gentoo pretty easily. I just started using Gentoo yesterday with the network CD. Took me around 3-4 hours to learn the basics. As of now I have a DE installed with all the proper USE and CFLAGS set. I'll get a file/print server and lighttpd server (separate box) setup tomorrow. It isn't that difficult.

Oh, and as for if you leave, somebody should be able to pick up behind you. Gentoo has an overwhelming amount of resources and documentation available to it, its just what I thought of as unheard of. Linux is Linux, it doesn't matter if you use RedHat or SUSE. They both inherit the same problems, and they will receive the same bug reports. As for who fixes/incorporates the fix first may be a slight issue, but Open Source being what it is, the fixes travel fast through the intertubes.

The only problem I could possibly think of is compile time. In a server environment, its a good thing to be able to custom-compile your kernels and programs to your companies specs. Also, as long as compiles run over DistCC, I cannot see a problem with long compile times.
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