The organisation uses Debian and Ubuntu as the first choice distribution on Linux systems, and they are used in several areas:
- We have about 150 desktop machines, running Debian or Ubuntu, for the use of laboratory staff for mail, web browsing, DNA sequence analysis and so on.
- We have around 900 Debian/Ubuntu machines in HPC clusters. These run a variety of HPC applications, including the IT for the largest DNA sequencing facility in Europe, the building of the public Ensembl database of genome information, epidemiological genetic research and many others. Most of the software used for these studies are either standard bioinformatics and statistical applications, or in-house research applications, many of which are available for download mostly under open source licences.
- Debian and Ubuntu are also used for many internal infrastructure services; mail, LDAP etc. Our entire web site runs on Debian or Ubuntu, most of it on virtual machines.
- Many internal data servers are also larger machines running Debian for running MySQL servers.
- As of 15/02/2012: 1470 Debian machines, 381 Ubuntu machines.
There were a number of factors which led to our adoption of Debian (and later Ubuntu)
- Firstly, the Debian and open source philosophy in general fits very well with the Wellcome Trust's policies to open access data to improve human and animal health worldwide.
- Secondly, there are three Debian Developers on the Systems team, so we had lots of in-house experience and expertise.
- At the time we made the initial decision, the commercialised alternative distributions were weaker than Debian in some areas (notably multipath SAN access and 64-bit file offsets), although that's no longer the case.