What versions of Red Hat Linux, Fedora, or CentOS is BU Linux based on?

(Red Hat and Fedora are trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat does not sponsor or endorse BU Linux.)

BU Linux 5.x (Monde) is based on CentOS 5.x (derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.x)
BU Linux 6 (Neo) is based on Centos 6 (derived from Red Hat Enterprise 6)

No longer supported:

  • BU Linux 1.0 (Come on Pilgrim) was based on Red Hat Linux 6.2.
  • BU Linux 1.1 (Caribou) was also based on Red Hat Linux 6.2, with enhancements.
  • BU Linux 2.0 (Surfer Rosa) was based on Red Hat Linux 7.1.
  • BU Linux 2.5 (Gigantic) was based on Red Hat Linux 7.2.
  • BU Linux 3.0 (Doolittle) was based on Red Hat Linux 9.
  • BU Linux 4.0 (Bossanova) was based on Fedora Core 2.
  • BU Linux 4.5 (Velouria) was based on Fedora Core 3. .
  • BU Linux 4.6 (Stormy) was based on Fedora Core 4.
  • BU Linux 4.5s (Zodiac) was based on CentOS 4.8 ( derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.8).

What releases are currently supported?

We aim for a two-year lifecycle for the desktop versions of BU Linux. Server releases will have a longer lifetime (generally five or six years). Please plan to upgrade systems during (or before) the last summer in which they are supported, not after the dates below have passed.

Currently supported BU Linux releases

  • 5.x Desktop Edition (Monde): supported through August 2013
  • 6.x (Neo): supported beyond August 2012

Previous BU Linux releases (Stormy, Velouria, Bossanova, Doolittle, Surfer Rosa, Gigantic, and earlier) are no longer supported.

Why should I use BU Linux instead of one of the many other Linux distributions?

When you install BU Linux, your machine will be configured to work with the computing environment here right away — no tweaking to get things to go. We’ve added security fixes and a bunch of applications we think you might find helpful. Our goal is to make BU Linux the best choice for any system connected to the BU network.

Furthermore, the install process is simple and easy — the install program has been tailored for BU as well. (But we’ve also retained the ability for expert users to control what happens more directly, if they choose.)

And of course, it’s completely free.

What is BU Linux?

Linux is a powerful open source Unix-like operating system. These pages aren’t intended as a general guide (for that, check out our list of resources) but rather information specific to using Linux here at Boston University, and particularly to using our custom distribution, BU Linux.

BU Linux is based on CentOS , but specifically tailored for the BU environment. We’ve added security updates, made modifications to make software work better with the way things are set up here, and added some applications that we think you might like to have. For details, see the FAQ.

Will you have root on my box?

If you’re a department we support, or if you want IT Operations to do backups for you, then yes. But otherwise, no — you’re still in control.

Can I install BU Linux entirely from CD?

Only network-based installations are supported. Since the distribution is highly network-oriented, this shouldn’t be a problem in most cases.

What platforms does BU Linux run on?

Currently, we support i686-processor based systems — anything from a Pentium Pro with 128MB of RAM up to a latest-model Athlon, Athlon64, and Opteron boxes. We do not support PowerPC, Sparc, MIPS, Alpha, or Itanium systems, and probably won’t unless something surprising happens in the market. We even have BU Linux running on Mac Intel. If you have a question about a particular platform, ask us…

How does BU Linux differ from Red Hat Linux / CentOS / Fedora?

Although the core of BU Linux is very similar to that of CentOs or Fedora (any packages written specifically for CentOs/Fedora or Red Hat Linux should work fine), there are many key differences. Among them:

  • Network install tailored for the BU environment. The install program asks fewer questions, because it already knows many of the answers.
  • Works with centralized BU login names and Kerberos authentication. Users don’t need to have local passwords. (Local passwords and NIS will still work if desired.) The new add-bu-user program (or the useradd -K option in previous releases) automatically configures Global UID compliant accounts.And, the system-config-users graphical tool also does automatic lookup of BU login names. You can access this program by logging into X as root using the default session, or by logging in as a regular user and choosing it from the System Settings menu.
  • Tighter default security, making BU Linux systems safe to run in labs out of the box (when appropriate physical/hardware-access security is in place).
  • Essential updates are automatically installed via bulinux-autoupdate. This makes it simple to keep your system up-to-date with the latest security fixes.You can also yum to install packages which you don’t have on your system.
  • OpenSSH configured for BU network. This is the preferred method for connecting between systems, replacing the older and much less secure telnet and rsh.
  • Easy access to campus-licensed programs such as Matlab, Mathematica, SPlus, and Maple.  (Please check with us for licensing and access details).
  • Local system administrators (in the group wheel) have sudo privileges, allowing secure and logged access to administrative functions.Members of wheel will also have sudo-like access to the graphical configuration tools.
  • Automatic root alias management system attempts to insure that important system messages are delivered to a human being.
  • Configured to automatically sync system clocks with our time servers.
  • Many small usability tweaks and improvements to programs like less and joe. Several other packages have been updated to their latest versions.

Will you add my favorite package to the distribution?

It may already be there. BU Linux 6 already has access to the full complement of EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux), a standard Redhat/Centos repository of over 7000 packages. A lot of the packages that we added to BULinux 5 came from this repository.

If your package is not already in BU Linux 6 please contact us to figure out what solution will meet your needs. It may be available from a different repository (collection of packages) that you can add to your system. If not, we have a steering committee that meets periodically to discuss the ongoing development of BU Linux, including adding packages to the base distribution.

How can I help out with this project?

Since BU Linux is based on Fedora and CentOS, contributing to those projects certainly helps us. Of course, we’re always in need of testers and guinea pigs for our experiments. In addition, you can contact us to report any issues.