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Linux Software

LinuxPPC Inc Becomes Non-Profit 41

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-thats-an-easier-business-plan-allright dept.
LWN has an interview with Jason Haas where he talks about LinuxPPC and going non-profit. He raises some good points and says some interesting things. Good luck to ya Jason! Someday I shall acquire a titanium powerbook, I shall bask in the glory of your toil. I hope LinuxPPC stays around for a long time.
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LinuxPPC Inc Becomes Non-Profit

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  • Actually, there are many profitable Linux-based companies. Although the numbers aren't publicly available, I imagine RH was pofitable at some point before IPO. CheapBytes has been around quite some time. So has LinuxCentral. Walnut Creek is apparently making a profit off of Slackware, and my guess is Macmillian is making a profit off of Mandrake. There are more to Linux companies than just the overzealous corporations. To think that profits can only be made in corporations is short-sighted. There are many companies doing great things with Linux, and making money.
  • by AArthur (6230) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @01:34PM (#481453) Homepage
    Linus' 2.4 doesn't even compile on the PowerPC. Even PowerPC trees that have 2.4 are quite on unstable. HFS is buggy, and HFS writes will cause kernel panics. Some iMacs randomly crash with Linux 2.4. And there are lots of other problems...

    So waiting on 2.4 is probably the safest, and smartest thing to do. Linux 2.2.18 is still a better choice for the majority of users.
  • The nice thing about for profit is that they have the cash to spend on style. Apple's titium powerbook is a styln' machine and Apple does not sell computers they sell style. Like the kind of style that Sara Jescia Parker has when she is typing her sex in the city coloum on a powerbook. And when you are going to spend money on looks you cant be seen with a cdr with a black marker label. You need something pimpin like the yellow dog linux case. and as most people know nonprofit is not know for good looks but i have to give credit to the linuxdoc.org site.

    Travis
  • I think your misunderstanding - He wants to retain control over his work on LinuxPPC. What's wrong with that? He's not saying he wants to force other people to do anything, just that

    a) he wants to do LinuxPPC for a living

    and

    b) he doesn't want greedy stockholders telling him what to do

    Free Software is about both control and no control. You control everything, but you don't control anything of anyone else. So, I don't see the inconsistency.
  • Uh, there dabbling to the extent of modifing there primary OS [ibm.com] and associating Linux with it, making sure the words Linux compatibility exist with almost every line of computer that they make. (S/390^H^H^H^H^HZ90's, AS400's, RS/6000's, PC's, laptops, etc)...

    To change nearly every line of computer, and much of your software (VAJ, Homesite, et al.) sounds like a bit more then dabbling.

  • Linux/PPC: The port of the Linux kernel to PPC
    LinuxPPC: RedHat based distro for Linux/PPC
    Debian powerpc port: You guess ;)

    Most people mean Linux/PPC when they say LinuxPPC (this article is correct though :)

    And oh, there are other distros for Linux/PPC...

    --

  • PLEASE!!!!(grin)

    Are you TRYING to prove my point. IBM may dabble in Linux, but it is far from a Linux centered company. That MAY change, but I would be very surprised if their Linux ventures are not highly subsidized welfare cases at this point.

  • You dont need a mouse to run linux.
    I mean you can, but you don't have to.
  • Pardon the cynicism, but I have to question the logic in this. I think the type of people who would work for a technology non-profit would be less motivated, less driven, than those at a for-profit. The urge to get extremely wealthy, regardless of what you personally think of that urge, has been a major driving force in innovation since the beginning of the computer "revolution".

    I just think it's a bit silly...but they can do whatever they want with it, it's theirs. If it results in LinuxPPC actually being easy to install one day, more power to them;)

  • You've obviously have never worked at places like the National Resource Defense Council or at a PIRG. You've got people there working long hours for pay that's barely above minimum wage. They do it because they believe in the cause as much as when they were bright-eyed bushy-tailed college students hanging on every word of Ralph Nader, Green Peace, and the Sierra Club.

    There actually was a time once not so very long ago that a good part of the reaon that people did good jobs was the pride in doing so.
  • by Rombuu (22914) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @09:33AM (#481462)
    I mean Red Hat, Caldera, VA Linux and all those guys have been non-profitable for a long time now...
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @09:38AM (#481463) Journal
    I'm just waiting for Amazon to announce the same thing.

    "Now that's a joke, son!"

  • Free Tux [was: Free Willie]
    Welcome to the club. LinuxPPC has some really good people and a nice product. I wish them well.
  • I'll admit to a little Schadenfreude* when other Linux companies run into trouble but I was really rooting for LinuxPPC. They've been the engine behind PowerPC Linux for a few years now -- building the distro the others lean on, giving tons of support to the PPC developers (who, by the way, are tremendous hackers who don't get a fraction of the credit they deserve) and creating the lion's share of the publicity for non-x86 Linux. And they've been much more interested in doing cool stuff than in playing the Linux celebrity clique game.

    Their quality control could stand some improvement but, hey. ;-)

    * Boy, those Germans have a word for everything!

  • Go to 2.2.18 or later today and get your USB lovin. It is the main reason I went to it and it is very sweet compilied with no problems. Of course I'm using Debian which has the easiest (better or not could be argued) way to go to a new kernel.
  • Um.. Red Hat and VA are both for-profit organizations. They sell stock. :) Redhat is RHAT and VA is LNUX, both on the NASDAQ.

    I'm not sure about Caldera, but I think it is owned by a for-profit organization. Don't quote me on it though.
  • Yes, but he is intending to be a non-profit.
  • I second this comment. LMAO is right.

    1, off-topic? Please.
    It should be (Score: 5, Hall of Fame Funny.)
  • Well I can definatly say that is suprised me a bit. The fact that they are going to be non-profit would seem to me to be a little strange. I currently run LinuxPPC 2000 on my iBook rev2, it runs pretty well. I mean there are a few problems.. if you put it to sleep it never wakes up. Getting X4 installed was a pain, sound doesn't work very well. But really.. other than that I like using linux on my iBook more than my x86. I think the Linux on PPC architechture is alot easier to use in some senses, than on the intel plat form, but definatly behind in the same functionality that the intel platform has ( under linux ). I can only hope that LinuxPPC going non-profit will help to advance the state of the PPC port under linux. It makes me wonder though... what made them do it ? Linux on the PPC is definatly a *small* market, too much competition from yellowdog? regardless i'm excited, i'm up for donating to them!
  • What if "ownership" is defined as a "nontransferable right to participate" within an idea-trading community?

    [chaordic.org]
    http://www.chaordic.org/chaordic/what_des.html
    http://www.partnershipway.org/unesco.html [partnershipway.org]
    http://technocrat.net/947223068/index_html [technocrat.net]

    Huh? Believe it or not, a *shared ownership* model organizes the most successful global enterprise on earth: VISA International.

    http://www.chaordic.org/chaordic/res_choasgood.htm l [chaordic.org]
    http://www.fastcompany.com/online/05/deehock.html [fastcompany.com]
    http://visa.com/av/who/main.html [visa.com]

    Dee Hock, who founded VISA, tells a bit of the story like this:

    "In the strict legal sense, VISA was a non-stock, for-profit membership corporation. In another sense, it was an inside-out holding company in that it did not hold, but was held by its functioning parts. The financial institutions that create its products were, at one and the same time, its owners, its members, its suppliers, its customers, its subjects, and its superiors.

    "It could not be bought, raided, traded, or sold, since ownership was in the form of perpetual, nontransferable rights of participation.

    "VISA espoused no political, economic, social, or legal theory, thus transcending language, race, custom, and culture to successfully bring together people and institutions of every political, social, and religious persuasion.

    "It went through a number of wars and revolutions, the belligerents continuing to share common ownership and never ceasing reciprocal acceptance of products, even though they were killing one another."

    ! Dee Hock estimates that if equitable ownership had been extended to merchants and card-holders, (all users), Visa would today be *four times* more successful today. !

    Something to consider when deciding whether "for profit" or "non profit".. Neither And Both =)
  • Forgive my clubieness on this topic, but are any other distros organized as NPOs? Is this an innovation?

    Debian is and has always been non-profit, so it's not a new idea, but most (all?) other linux distribution producers are organized as for-profit enterprises.

  • by Christopher B. Brown (1267) <cbbrowne@gmail.com> on Thursday January 25, 2001 @12:44PM (#481473) Homepage
    The "publish or perish" cycle whereby SuSE and RHAT and friends regularly produce new releases in order to get some cash flow from CD sales still applies here.

    After all, if the paychecks of the LinuxPPC folk depend, to great extent, on CD sales, then it is in their interests for there to be some degree of "churn." Frankly, your phrasing of:

    They have to sell distros and support to pay the workers, so they need to get a product out the door.
    applies pretty much just as much to LinuxPPC, "the nonprofit" as it does to RHAT et al.

    Consider it stipulated that the factor of third party shareholders deciding they want an extra million in sales goes away; that doesn't make the factor go away altogether.

    In contrast, the would-be counterexample you cite, Debian, can "afford" to have rare new releases because a new release doesn't affect their finances at all because they don't directly sell CDs. That's not the same scenario that LinuxPPC has.

  • Such a shame that LinuxPPC is not _that_ great (imho).. Linux is GREAT on PPC processors, I love it.. but what you will find is that I run debian :) Sure, even unstable is a bit outdated on there, but the fact that you have even an outdated apt is SO nice! I could never imagine going to a redhat based install again. Debian has already been, an will remain free.

    LinuxPPC had commercial backing though, i still don't see a helixcode/ximian release for ppcDebian.. oh well, perhaps now LinuxPPC will lose their support too ? ;)

    If only LinuxPPC had been wise and used debs :)
  • by milgram (104453)
    But the paperwork can be a hassel. Who will be on the board?
  • by PopeAlien (164869) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @08:59AM (#481476) Homepage Journal
    But it has been enough to cover the costs of eight staff members.

    And the internet connection, and, oh, beer. An essential part of Linux development.


    You mean the beer's not free?

  • LinuxPPC will get a major boost from the acceptance of the 2.4 kernel. PC users aren't the major ones crying for better USB support and other various sundries.

    The plan should be:
    1. Wait til 2.4.1 gets out
    2. Test it a month or two
    3. Release next version of LinuxPPC

    This chain of events would make many PPC Linux users very happy.
  • Going the way of most Linux centered companies, no profit! (Yeah, yeah, I know IkkyIkkyPitangNiWoo Corp made ten bucks last year...)

  • by holzp (87423)
    and my copy of the new release was just mailed yesterday.
  • by acaben (80896) <bstanfield AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 25, 2001 @09:07AM (#481480)
    There's also an extensive article and interview [macslash.com] on MacSlash today, which talks about the non-profit set up and a the fact that LinuxPPC will be using their own INIT scripts now instead of porting Red Hat's.

    I think the move to a non-profit organization is more fitting with the ideals of the Free Software movement, and it's going to let LinuxPPC find capital through donations and grants, but still be able to control the distribution instead of giving power to VC's. A very nice move.

    Jason's a great guy to talk to, and really a lot of fun to work with. I think we'll be seeing good things from the LinuxPPC gang for a long time.

    (And Taco, check out last night's episode of The Mac Show [macshowlive.com]. They talked to a guy from the Int'l Titanium Assoc. and he talked about how to anodize the TiBook's case to create some a cool custom looking PowerBook.)

  • I noticed in the last few months that Macintoshes, PPC's, LinuxPPC and all are in the road of becoming nerds machine.

    Being myself a big fan of this stuff, I'm quite happy to see geeks realize there's life after Intel/AMD.

    Now, what is the reason of this move (in the right direction) ? Is it because of Apple producing damn good hardware (God knows my iBook rules)? Or because of MacOS X being built on a sane basis? Or something else?

    And... Congrats to Jason for all he has been achieving these last months.

    Stéphane
  • > > And the internet connection, and, oh, beer. An essential part of Linux development.

    > You mean the beer's not free?

    LMAO.

    Things like this demand a Slashdot Hall of Fame.

    --
  • LWN: "Why did you originally intend to be a non-profit?"

    Haas: "Control. A non-profit organization has no owners. A for-profit corporation is partially owned by the stockholders, who may be people that may not have the best interests of Linux in mind. They may not even know what Linux is."

    To me it's quite hard to accept as an answer just because it's _free_software_ ! Free-Software doesn't allow much control by nature because as soon as you are not happy with a free-software project, you can start another f.s. project on the top of the other one with your own ideas. Secondly - for instance - imagine that Red Hat or Mandrakesoft, which are pure example of pure free-software companies with profit interest (they release all their code as GPL),imagine they die: their work wouldn't be lost, everything could survive. My feeling is hard to explain, but I don't believe in Haas' argument here, just because it's free-software. Anyway, LinuxPPC going non-profit is ok to me - there are different ways of life! :-)

  • ...the linuxppc-user list has plenty of discussion on making it work. it'd be nice to see "official" prebuilt kernels for the Mac models though - i know a lot of newbies with the flavored boxes rely on this as they don't build their own kernel.
  • Uh, I think IBM [ibm.com] made a bit more then $10 last year....

  • No, it's not terribly ambiguous.

    The point he makes is that a non-profit organization isn't attractive as an 'investment' to people interested in speculating on changes in price of the stock.

    There is no "stock," no opportunity for those kinds of gains, and hence a whole host of things that occur in "public" corporations have no reason to occur:

    • The incentive to gleefully over-sell the upcoming products because the market will price up the stock isn't there.
    • The incentive to gratuitously increase sales in order to get stock price to shoot up isn't there.
    • The notion of "buying them up" in order to strip out crucial assets isn't there.

    A non-profit that isn't purchasable just isn't an attractive target for a number of such strategies that are generally oriented to for-profit public corporations.

    That's not to say that the move to non-profit is an unalloyed benefit; a different set of "political" issues raise their ugly heads in non-profit organizations. :-(

  • Supposedly SuSE is profitable. Now this is not known for certain because they are not publicly traded, but this is what they claim.

    Supreme Lord High Commander of the Interstellar Task Force for the Eradication of Stupidity

  • by rho (6063) on Thursday January 25, 2001 @09:27AM (#481488) Homepage Journal

    Taco hath said:

    Good luck to ya Jason! Someday I shall acquire a titanium powerbook, I shall bask in the glory of your toil. I hope LinuxPPC stays around for a long time.

    Why? That Titanium PB is made for OS X -- try some BSD-lovin, and you'll never go back to the Dark Side of the Source, Linux.

    (gentlemen, start your flamethrowers!)

  • > A very nice move.

    Forgive my clubieness on this topic, but are any other distros organized as NPOs? Is this an innovation?

    Regardless of the answer, I agree with your sentiments -- NPO based distros might be a very good thing for OSS over the long haul.

    --
  • I really don't think it's ambigous. Since it's free software he doesn't have total control, but he does have control over what is released. RedHat, Mandrake, Cladera, and other comercial distrobutions have to protect their shareholder's investment, and may be pressured into going a more profitable directionw in the their distro rather than what they see as the being the way to go in terms of quality. Take RedHat's release schedule. They have to sell distros and support to pay the workers, so they need to get a product out the door. And in some cases it may mean it's released than it really should be. RedHat 7 is the perfect example. It's a very nice distrobution, but it was released sooner than it should be.

    Non Profit distrobution like Debian have more free dom to do what they want. Debian has a much longer development cycle, which shows in the end product, but they couldnt do it if they were being pressured by the need to pay raise shareholder value. The only thing that decides how Debian develops is the wishes of the developers and the users.

    The pressure of trying to sell a distribution for a profit does have one upside that doesn't seem as apparent in the non-profit side is the flash of distributions like RedHat and Mandrake. They both have a little touch that makes them look more like comercial products. The packaging, manuals, the nice installers. Thhese are missing in Debian(although I think woody is getting a new installer) and Slackware and the like.

    Commercial distributions have their place, mainly in making the public more aware of Linux by getting it on store shelves next to the copies of Windows, but it's harder for them to control how development is going to need to proceed.

    e
    treke

  • by Anonymous Coward
    whats all that about?

    PPC means PowerPC, an RISC chip technology developed jointly by Motorola and IBM, mostly used in Apple Macintoshes. Everything from the 601 to the 750 (Is that G3 or G4? I forget) uses "PowerPC" technology.

  • Compile hfs support into the kernel. I know that Kernel 2.2.13 had this support... I have done it and was able to access a Mac CD mouted as HFS... (resource forks were in special . directories).



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