RedHat sucks

So a customer of mine needs to use RedHat. It's not their choice, the choice was forced upon them by the people who wrote the tools they need to use.

The new version of this particular tool which they wanted to use requires RHEL5, and they're currently running RHEL4. So I had to upgrade their systems from RHEL4 to RHEL5. No sweat, right?

Yeah, right.

RedHat has this nice 'Red Hat Network', where you can manage your servers, and remotely mark packages for upgrade. You can also, by way of a command line tool, say that you want it to upgrade from one release to another. This can't be done remotely, which sortof makes sense; upgrading from one release to another might cause problems that you really really don't want if you don't have an immediate shell. So you should use 'up2date --upgrade-to-release=5' to upgrade from RHEL4 to RHEL5.

Except that that doesn't work. For some reason, RedHat chose not to support in-place upgrades from RedHat 4 to RedHat 5. Instead, you have to download installation media, boot from them (thereby inducing downtime) and select 'upgrade' in the installer. Which part of this distribution is "Enterprise", again?

Oh well. So I download the first ISO, and start the upgrade process. Surely that'll work, right?

Hah. No, I really need all six images. So I download them, and start again.

Some minutes into the installation, the HP iLO session that I'm using times out, and takes my Virtual CD device with it. As such, the installer-in-upgrade-mode obviously can't find the CD-ROM anymore, and produces a read error. This is totally normal. The system provides me with a 'retry' button. That button doesn't work.

That is to say, it works, but after two or so files, the installation goes to a grinding halt. I had to reboot, and start over.

So after rebooting, changing my iLO session settings so the timeout is at 120 minutes (the maximum) rather than 30 minutes (what appears to be the default), and I restart the upgrade process, making sure to click in the iLO interface every once in a while to keep it active. When it's somewhere at 80% and 3 hours into the upgrade process (god, why does that have to take so long?), it suddenly finds itself out of disk space.

Well, shit happens, of course; guess there's nothing to blame RedHat with that one. But the way this situation is handled, is beyond my comprehension:

The only 'recover' option is 'reboot'. There's no 'retry'. I don't mind diving to a second console, mucking about a bit on the mounted partition, and doing 'retry', but the installer doesn't even offer me that option. Instead, I have to choose 'reboot'. Never mind that the system is halfway through an installation process and might be totally and utterly broken, and not even bootable. Well, that's what rescue modes on installation media are for, I guess, but still.

After cleaning out some old files that aren't needed anymore and going back to the installer, you'd suppose that the system could figure out what it'd already done, and continue from there, right?

Well, no, it can't. It starts over from scratch, thereby forcing me to sit and wait for another three hours.

Times like these make me remember why I'm a Debian developer, and not a RedHat one. Why I chose not to finish that Linux From Scratch project that I'd started after using RedHat for three years and about six months before becoming a Debian Developer. Why I stopped hitting my computer screen around that time.

Stupid piece of shit.

disclaimer: this is all IMAO, and you don't have to agree with me. But what's a blog for, if not to rant? ;-)