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Linux Business

Linux Vendors to Standardize on Single Distribution 497

Posted by Hemos
from the one-ring-to-bind-them dept.
Jon James writes "eWeek is reporting that a number of Linux vendors will announce on Thursday that they have agreed to standardize on a single Linux distribution to try and take on Red Hat's dominance in the industry. " The vendors in question are SuSe, Caldera, Conectiva, and Turbolinux. However, as the article also points out - Red Hat has a very well established lead in the corporate market - and Sun's decision to create Yet Another Linux Distribution (Sun Linux! Now With McNealy Vision!) will make the waters even more muddy.
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Linux Vendors to Standardize on Single Distribution

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  • by delphi125 (544730) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:04AM (#3601141)
    Lucky for Red Hat there are no bigger OS companies around!
    • I agree with the moderation; quite amusing!

      But the post (unintentionally?) brings up a good point. If RedHat were to gain a relatively large desktop environment market share, and consequently earn more profits, will Microsoft be alone atop the Evil Empire pedestal?

      I hope that these vendors will compete by trying to create a superior product that can take some share away from Windows, not just from RedHat.

      Infighting among the open-source community is one of those things, I believe, that is keeping Windows atop the OS market. Until the distributions stop fighting each other, MS isn't going to lose an inch to Linux.

      • by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:38AM (#3601525) Homepage
        Why would RedHat be considered evil? Aren't they doing what we want them to (i.e. release a free (as in beer and speech) operating system based on the tools we love)?

        How can that be considered evil? Because they take a loss on every ISO download? SuSE would probably have more market share if they gave away their YaST2 enabled distribution, but it's not in their business plan. In the copycat IT industry it's refreshing to see someone take a different approach.

        Personally I think there are better distributions than RedHat (Mandrake and SuSE come to mind), but RedHat has more exposure, marketability, and history. They were in the game first, and they're on the tip of every newbie tongue. And apparently they're doing something right on the business side, or they wouldn't be viable.

        If other distributions are to survive they are going to have to provide something new and different, create strategic partnerships, and establish credibility. In other words, compete. There's little intellectual property disputes, and everyone has the same resources to pull from. This is the free market, and it's far from evil.
        • by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:03PM (#3602352) Homepage
          they take a loss on every ISO download? SuSE would probably have more market share if they gave away their YaST2 enabled distribution, but it's not in their business plan.

          That's why SuSE Pro is $80 and Red Hat Pro is $200. To be fair, though, SuSE does give their distro away for free, just not as ISOs. Anyone can install it over FTP, and they provide instructions [sdb.suse.de] for doing so on their website. IIRC, it was also an option on the boot disk install menu (my Mother-in-Law's computer mourns the demise of the boot disk in 8.0), at least from 6.3 to 7.2.

          I haven't tried it, so I don't know how easy/difficult it really is, but it's an available option, and certainly a viable one for anyone who has the bandwidth to download ISOs, especially since (at least in theory) you'd only be downloading the packages you were actually installing. There's certainly nothing stopping anyone from simply burning their FTP directories to CD. Hell, they even let you mount their FTP directory as an NFS partition if that floats your boat...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @10:38AM (#3601868)
        I agree. There seems to be some creepy groupthink going on around here.

        capitalism = evil
        profitablity = evil
        success = evil
        North American = evil

        therefore...
        Red Hat = evil

        The fact of the matter is that Red Hat said, early on in this game, that Free software can be the basis for a legitimate business model. With the exception of some technical issues (LSB, gcc, blah, blah, blah), they've put their money where their mouths are. And, they haven't wavered from the "Free" part, either. In addition, they haven't shut the door on free ISOs like SuSE has ("live evalution" CD, anyone?), they don't panhandle like Mandrake (incidentally, I use Mandrake on a couple of boxes but I find their "business model" quite disconcerting -- I'd never recommend them for use in a business environment), and Red Hat isn't proprietary like Caldera, Turbo, or even (please correct me if I'm wrong) SuSE. All they've asked (although it was handled a bit heavy handed, if you ask me) is that businesses redistributing Red Hat disks make it clear that downloaded ISOs are not Red Hat supported. That doesn't seem too much to ask.

        Finally, ask yourself this question: If it were SuSE or Mandrake that was the dominant distro, what would be your reaction? If you'd feel the same as you do about Red Hat's dominance, then we're fighting a losing battle. It's unreasonable, counterproductive, and just plain idiotic to punish / censure /sanction those who've succeeded in distributing, promoting, and profiting from Linux.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          There seems to be a lot of meta-creepy groupthink going on around here - seems some people think that "Slashdot" is some unified, collective entity and not an aggregation of individuals, many of whom do *not* have the view that "____ is evil" where ____ is any entity or concept.

          Well, it isn't.

          Also, many individuals who might call Microsoft "evil" do not base this evaluation on Microsoft's profitability, or its large market share, or the fact that it is based in North America, or because they believe that capitalism is evil. Rather, some people believe that Microsoft's predatory behavior within the capitalist system adversely impacts things that said individuals might value - e.g., the benefits of improved products at lower prices that have traditionally result from competitive markets.

          I personally believe that where a market is not competitive, and as a result, the products are not getting cheaper (consider the static absolute cost of Windows) or are increasing in price (consider the cost of Windows relative to the cost of a computer today, vs. even 2 years ago), then either the structure or operation of the market is flawed (e.g. lax or non-existent antitrust enforcement), not that the monopolist is "evil."

          Of course, this belief is predicated on the concept of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" - i.e. markets should be structured and regulated such that participating entities (producers and consumers) operating in a totally avaricious way will advance a given end. The question is, ultimately, "is the given end good or bad," not "is Microsoft good or evil." (The question of who gets to chose the given end is a good one - I believe some recent attempts to regulate the system of legalized bribery known as our current campaign finance system are germane to this issue.)

          If our society believes that an appropriate social policy goal is that Bill Gates should get richer, then we have a system today that works well. If others believe, as I do, that the benefits of competition (e.g. lower costs and improved products) should accrue to consumers (not necessarily end users, though end users would ultimately benefit), then the market for desktop operating systems is not optimally structured or regulated.

          This has nothing to do with whether Microsoft is good or evil, or the question as to whether Red Hat would behave as Microsoft does, were it in a similar position (IMO - Red Hat management would be rational to do so).
  • by dinotrac (18304) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:05AM (#3601145) Journal
    I've used SuSE for some time, and been happy.
    However, many is the time that I wanted a newer version of software than was available from SuSE. An "uber" distribution, compatible with the assorted branded distros catches my interest because it may increase the likelihood of finding new software in rpm form that may actually work on my system.

    Worth watching.
    • I've been very happy with SuSE as well - it's very beginner friendly.

      Unfortunately, once you start looking at installing stuff that *didn't* come with the distro, it gets ver ugly very fast. Apparently, they've got a non-standard layout that many ./configure scripts choke on.

      Hopefully this standardization effort (which I've yet to read the details about - it's /.-ed) will put an end to this.

      Although I must say it's too late for me - I'm downloading Red Hat ISOs now, hopefully Red Hat will be a bit more usable.
      • by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:58AM (#3601354) Homepage
        Unfortunately, once you start looking at installing stuff that *didn't* come with the distro, it gets ver ugly very fast. Apparently, they've got a non-standard layout that many ./configure scripts choke on.

        SuSE follows the Linux Standard Base (LSB) specification, which is an impartial specification that outlines where certain binaries and libraries should be put. If the ./configure scripts don't work, it's because they were created with some kind of dependency on a nonstandard (non LSB) platform such as RedHat.

        Granted, automake and autoconf really shouldn't be subject to this. The only other explanation is that the libraries aren't misplaced, they are missing (not installed). Personally I've never had a problem compiling stuff on SuSE. mplayer, xine, gnupg, and gaim all compiled without much ado.
        • Yeah, I know SuSE is *supposed* to be standards compliant in some way, and for lots of things ./configure scripts work just fine. However, I'm trying to get the audio production thing going on it, and that means installing all sorts of non-standards compliant applications.

          mplayer, xine, gnupg and gaim, popular apps such as these present no problem at all. It's things like SpiralSynthModular, PD, Canoscan drivers that take an inordinate amount of fiddling to get working.

          If Red Hat proves not to be the solution to the 'nothing compiles the way it should' problem, I'll at least have gained some experience working with a distro I have very little experience with.
      • Apparently, they've got a non-standard layout that many ./configure scripts choke on.

        Actually, it is Red Hat that has a non-standard layout, and I've read a number of complaints about their choices (or, rather, apparent lack thereof), particularly with regards to directory structure.

        SuSE, being the wierd Germans that they are, actually follow the two relevant standards very closely. The main one is the LSB (Linux Standards Base), which is supposed to fix the problems you describe. The other one I can't remember the name of right now, but it has to do with directory structure.

        The problem you are having, as I understand it, is that you are trying to install rpms targeted at the hideous RH directory structure, as opposed to one that makes sense (and there are a few, remember that Linux builds on Unix traditions).

        Sorry if that sounds like a flame to you Red Hat fans out there, but really, for what they charged for a boxed version, you'd think they could put some thought into organizing their files better than just mashing them all into one directory.

    • I've used Debian and have been fairly happy.

      Things we would like from this new and improved distro:
      - Debians packaging format but with signatures from day one and perhaps some other things. (I don't care if it's not going to be debian compatible, if it's good enough Debian will adapt it too.)
      - LSB compliant
      - A fingerprint database like Sun's for all files/binaries.
      - An overall maintainer for the format of this packaging standard.

      ---

      Others have said it before but now that they are going for a change they better make it a big change for the better...
  • If they actually come through on LSB compliance, that'd be awesome. I added Linux support to a product I work on, but the install script had me stumped. There are too many different ways of setting up something to run at boot. I finally had to punt and just tell the user "you've got to read the docs and do it yourself."

    The number of distributions needed soe pruning anyway. In theory, you could have as many dists as there are Linux users, but in practice it seems the "supportable number" is far less.

  • Hmm, I wonder which distribution these four will standardize on.
    • Hopefully none of the above, as such. It seems like an ideal moment to build a fully LSB compliant distro to me - anything else is a missed opportunity. I'm guessing it'll be primarily Connectiva's purdy icons and SuSE's customised config tools though.
      • LSB (Score:4, Informative)

        by rmstar (114746) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:24AM (#3601212)
        If somebody is wondering what LSB is, well no, its not the pre-precursor of LSD; it is the Linux Standard Base [linuxbase.org]

        cheers

        rmstar
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Good point. But, TurboLinux, which lagged in producing a GUI installer for its distribution, now has the most logical and easy to use GUI installer. Doubt it? Give it a try, it's pretty cool. Too bad the finished product leaves much to be desired.

        The point really, is this: Each of these four, with perhaps the exception of Caldera, has some areas in which it excels. And, even Caldera forms the base for Lycoris, which seems to be the darling of many a reviewer, these days. It would be really nice to see them pick and choose to build a better mousetrap... or Linux distro...

        However, even if they do build a better distro, there's something else worthwhile to point out: Except possibly for Connectiva, this group has a less than stellar devotion to free software. Check out some of Ransom Love's quotes on the matter. Although Red Hat has strayed from LSB and has made some less-than-gracious efforts to protect its brand name, it has never backed off from making its software free or freely available. ("Now, where did I put my "Live Evaluation" copy of SuSE? I need to get some work done...") Personally, for this reason, I can endorse (with appropriate caveats) Red Hat, Mandrake, Debian, or Slackware (or countless minor distros), but none from this group. Maybe this will change things...

  • by loply (571615) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:07AM (#3601156) Homepage
    /Me prays its Debian inspired. Perhaps this will put more momentum behind the campaign for destroying the useless (read: Surpassed long ago) RPM standard.
  • Sounds good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kvn299 (472563)
    If they can pool the strengths of each distribution into the new one, that will make it stronger.

    I think some major consolidation is way overdue for Linux. Of course, new distributions will always appears to fill in the empty spaces.

  • Correction .... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evil_roy (241455) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:09AM (#3601165)
    It should read .."cash in on redhat's dominance"

    These companies came in on the wave of redhat

    So they wont use rpm then ?
  • by Bnonn (553709) <bnonny@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:10AM (#3601169) Homepage Journal
    ...I didn't realise Red Hat had much dominance. I'd always thought of it as the "crappy Linux distro" (which I know is unfair). I run Windows 2000 at the moment, and have been looking into which distro would be best for my needs. Essentially, Mandrake and SuSE were the two that seemed most useful. RedHat never featured.

    However, when I think about it, perhaps that makes sense; I'm looking to run a desktop (mostly), whereas I'm presuming that when Linux is used in the corporate environment it is basically only on servers.

    Is RedHat really such a good distro for corporate needs, or is it merely that it has a big name so everyone buys it? I always think of RedHat as the distro that's been around forever, even though no one seems to use it (here come the RedHat users to set me straight...) Guess I've been talking to the wrong people.

    Corporations never did make good friends to talk to though.

    • Re:To be honest... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by say (191220) <sigve@@@wolfraidah...no> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:38AM (#3601273) Homepage
      " Is RedHat really such a good distro for corporate needs, or is it merely that it has a big name so everyone buys it? I always think of RedHat as the distro that's been around forever, even though no one seems to use it (here come the RedHat users to set me straight...) Guess I've been talking to the wrong people."

      Well, most die-hard linux hackers do not say they use RedHat (Notable exception: Linus Torvalds). Most have used RedHat, though. Why don't they admit it? Because there is not very much to hack on RedHat. Red Hat's strength is that the stuff they throw in actually works. More or less out of the box.

      However, I don't use RedHat today. I used RedHat up to 6.2. Then I started looking at other distributions. At that time, I did not know much about how GNU/Linux _really_ works. I never made my own startup scripts. I did'nt compile programs. Heck, I didn't know where my libraries were or how I inserted a kernel module from the command line!

      I started testing different distros. Mandrake. TurboLinux. SuSE. Many others. I tried at least seven or eight distros before I met Slackware. At first, the entire Slackware system seemed awkward. But after a while, I experienced a lot and learnt even more.

      Now, I'm most productive on Slackware. Because I know the system so well that doing stuff from scratch is _easier_ and _faster_ than using tools like rpm and linuxconf. (overall, of course, some things are still faster with linuxconf).

      RedHat is a distro for those that want a GNU/Linux that works - not for those that want to get a GNU/Linux to work. It is a good distro, but not what I want from a GNU/Linux system.

      As a last addition: It is not a funny OS either. Mandrake is. Cute little penguins and round, purple install buttons. Colors and fun. RedHat is grey and red. Only a few, boring games. A corporate-type webpage. RedHat has lost the childishness of linux jokes and internal humour. It has grown up.

      Grown-ups are easy to communicate with - but children are much more fun and can be adjusted and tweaked more easily.

      • RedHat still has some silliness in its installer.
        The 7.3 installer has singing, dancing hotdogs advising you to get a snack while the packages are copied!
      • As a last addition: It is not a funny OS either. Mandrake is. Cute little penguins and round, purple install buttons.

        Cute!? The Mandrake penguin is frickin' scary. Duuubee dubee duuuu.....
      • by Interrobang (245315) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @10:53AM (#3601957) Journal
        Here's a slightly different perspective: I am still relatively new to Linux (>2 years), and I'm just a rank beginner when it comes to programming. I sit in front of a Windows box all day at work because I have to, and I have a Windows box at home, too, mostly for (in)convenience.

        Why do I use Red Hat? Why do I use Linux at all? Well, frankly, the more I use Windows, the more I like Linux. It's stable, powerful, non-stupid, (don't even get me started about Stupid Automagical Windoze Tricks) and it does exactly what I need in a way that works well for me. Also, I think the interfaces are fascinating, so I'm writing a paper about them (for the arts/social sciences community) now.

        On the other hand, I neither have the skills nor the inclination (yet) to spend hours tweaking and reprogramming config files so that I can get something up and running. I like that it works. I like that I can do what I want with it, and I don't have to tinker with it incessantly.

        Sorry if that sounds kind of anti-hackerish (it's not meant so), but I'm still trying to master the basics, and I wouldn't try to drive a Formula 1 racer while on my learner's permit, either.
      • Re:To be honest... (Score:3, Informative)

        by irix (22687)

        I use various Linux Distros at home (Debian, RedHat, Mandrake) on several machines and I enjoy hacking around with them. Not to mention Free/OpenBSD.

        However, here at work, I need to get stuff done, and not spend my whole day playing with by setup. I have been using RedHat + Ximain Gnome. The system is stable and easy to keep up to date, and it Just Works(TM).

        As more people start using Linux at work, you'll see more of this. That is why RedHat is getting popular.

    • Re:To be honest... (Score:2, Informative)

      by FreeUser (11483)
      ...I didn't realise Red Hat had much dominance. I'd always thought of it as the "crappy Linux distro" (which I know is unfair). I run Windows 2000 at the moment, and have been looking into which distro would be best for my needs. Essentially, Mandrake and SuSE were the two that seemed most useful. RedHat never featured.

      If you are not afraid to get your hands dirty, and don't mind compiling stuff, you should give Source Mage [sourcemage.org] or Gentoo [gentoo.org] a gander. Both are "source-based" distros, meaning their packaging systems have been designed to automate the download-compile-install procedure. The result are packages that are compiled against the libraries already on your system (read: no subtle binary compatability issues between library versions, etc. as crop up with binary distros from time to time, and is the reason redhat RPMs often don't work with Suse and visa versa), and which are optimized for your hardware. Systems so constructed are typically 20-30% faster (based on anecdotal benchmarks people on the mailing lists have run. It matches my own experience ... my video capture, editing, and playback tools run much more smoothly on a Source Mage or Gentoo system than any other binary distro I've tried, and I've tried a bunch of them).

      cons:
      * installation takes time
      - time to download sourcecode packages
      - time to compile said packages
      * you have to get your hands dirty
      - no easy X config a la Mandrake/Suse/RH
      - no hardware autodetection a la Mandrake

      pros:

      * stable, rock solid system
      * fast, optimized system
      * very current versions of the software
      * ability to keep current fairly easilly (no waiting for months, perhaps even a year, before getting the current version of xfree or KDE)
      * utter flexibility as to what you choose to include or exclude from your installation ... little to no cruft
      * package system takes most of the pain out of compiling and installing packages by hand
      • Re:To be honest... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jilles (20976) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:03AM (#3601373) Homepage
        The one reason I have not yet downloaded this is recompilation. I mean, compiling is pretty much a deterministic activity. Given similar compiler settings you'd expect the result to be the same each time. Apart from being deterministic it is also time consuming. Just compiling a pretty bare bones installation with gnome, kde, open office, mozilla would likely take me weeks by which time most of the packages would need recompilation because of updates!!! I'm all in favour of optionally compiling a few key things but I'm even more in favour of using pre-packaged binaries. Most of us probably would go for the 686 type code, so create binaries for all popular variants of X86 and distribute those (and maybe also other processors).

        An alternative, admittedly far fetched, idea would (imagination going beserk here) be p2p compilation. Compilation can be distributed over computers and there likely is a small subset of all possible compiler settings that is most frequently used. Simply cache the results for such compilations and given a match in source code version processor architecture and compiler settings, reuse the result (and offer the replicated binary for download). If there is no match, compile yourself and offer the result. This should quickly eliminate redundant compilations and offer most of the advantages of compiling everything yourself.
        • Re:To be honest... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by FreeUser (11483) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:21AM (#3601448)
          The one reason I have not yet downloaded this is recompilation. I mean, compiling is pretty much a deterministic activity. Given similar compiler settings you'd expect the result to be the same each time.

          What isn't deterministic is what packages (and what versions of those packages, and what compile-time options for those packages you've selected) you've chosen to install. If you're using somelib.so.1.0.1 and someone else is using somelib.so.1.0.2, there is a small (but real) chance that a minor incompatability will result in a binary compiled against one displaying some occasional flackeyness when run against the other. This isn't terribly common (and it represents a mistake on the library maintainer's part when it does happen ... incomopatabilities should mean major revision number changes, not minor), but it does happen. When borrowing packages and binaries from other distros this becomes more acute.

          Compiling on your own machine eliminates this.

          There is also the problem of binaries compiled with different versions of the GCC compiler behaving is subtly different ways ... again, this is very acute when moving from GCC 2.9.x to 3.x, and again, compiling everything yourself fixes that problem.

          If you have a decent processor, compiling isn't really that burdensome (the initial installation excepted of course). Most people start their daily or weekly upgrades in the evening before going to bed, making the burden effectively zero. In any event, the advantages are well worth the trouble, and the speed improvements are dramatic.

          Your P2P idea is interesting (sort of a shared cpu cycle approach a la Seti@home). Again, the problem with having others compile for you (rather than sharing cpu cycles you use yourself) is that they will likely have slightly different libraries than you do, for some things at least, possibly compiled with different optimizations, so you cannot be 100% certain that what you are getting is exactly what you want. With Gentoo and Source Mage's approach you can be 100% certain that you are getting precisely what you want, and that it is compiled against precisely what is on your system.

  • This is great. What would be even greater would be if all the Linux vendors could standardize as far as possible on the core distribution. They should compete on the nature of their services.
    • Agree. This would take some pretty sophisticated management from all players - and probably force the minnows to spend a lot of time just bending over - but if it could be made to work would have great benefits.

      It won't happen if these companies behave too traditionally - but it might if they think outside the normal parameters for a bit. A commonly funded core - surrounded by each company individually producing 'their own bits'.

      Nah - not going to happen!
  • by HiQ (159108) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:13AM (#3601181)
    They will announce ... on thursday. But to take the pleasure out of their announcement, Slashdot pre-announces it on wednesday. There goes their 5 minutes in the spotlight. How inconsiderate!
    • I'm assuming this is just a joke, but every joke hides a little insight right?

      Slashdot and eWEEK are insider sites, information that is published here is not really published in the general / popular media sense. Likewise, you can get advanced info on the music industry from Spin magazine, or about the crazy people culture from the New York Post.

      Say, that makes us the Linerati - does that give us cachet? Does this mean we can get behind the velvet rope and watch the losers who read Variety trying to chat up the bouncer? Alas, no more, but what fond memories from the late 90's.
      • Slashdot and eWEEK are insider sites, information that is published here is not really published in the general / popular media sense. Likewise, you can get advanced info on the music industry from Spin magazine, or about the crazy people culture from the New York Post.

        You won't see this announcement on CNN tommorow ... Slashdot (sadly) is about as mainsteam as it gets in Linux news.

      • by hawk (1151)
        >Slashdot and eWEEK are insider sites, information
        >that is published here is not really published in
        >the general / popular media sense.


        Once upon a time that was true.


        As of a couple of years ago, it's rare to find technical announcements on slashdot that were not in that morning or the prior day's Wall Street Journal.


        Of course, here in my exile, the WSJ doesn't usually make it until the afternoon, so I can't tell you if this one is in it today or not . . .


        hawk

  • RedHat's success with businesses is not that their distribution is better than others; - although it's a fine distribution tailored for businesses - it's that they give manager's what they want - support contracts, courses and certificates for employees etc.
    Businesses don't like to take risks, they want to see a shiny reliable company selling them a reliable product, instead of "some freeware distribution written by no good hippies in their spare time". RedHat gives them the comfort of that illusion.
    • Perhaps the ability to support the product like a real vendor makes Red Hat the best distribution. By what qualitative analysis do you judge which distribution is better than others?

      It can't be ease of use, that is not the point of UNIX-like operating systems. Some distros may get close to the ease of use of Windows, but is that really the primary goal of any distribution?

      It can't be the prettiness of the desktop. Window managers are not tied to the distributions, although some prefer prefer certain desktop suites. However you look at it, there is a UNIX that takes the desktop beauty pageant hands down: Mac OS X.

      Maybe you judge "best" by how much control you have over the operating system... does that require working with source in all cases, or is fine-grained package management good enough? They all give you incredibly control over the operating system, differences in the layout of /etc aside.

      I could keep on going, but I'm sure you get the point. How much "better" a distribution is has to be looked at very subjectively and therefore the judgement lacks meaning. As long as a distro works, installs, is reliable, and essentially does what it claims to do, you have to give it the stamp of approval as a good distribution. Past that, everything is a matter of opinion.

      Perhaps, for business, Red Hat simple is the best. Personally, that is the conclusion I've come to. I love Mandrake, prefer it, more or less, to Red Hat, however I've chosen Red Hat for the servers I build (and I build servers both for personal projects and for use by the large telecommunications company I work for) and for workstations. My workstation at the office is Red Hat, while at home I use Mandrake.

      Each has their benefits. I've played with Debian, Storm Linux, Progeny (i.e., Debian+), Gentoo, and so on. Every distribution has something of value, some only as learning tools.

      If we want to get very Darwin about the whole thing, then Red Hat is obviously the fittest distro. Its not the first, but it is the largest, most widely used, and has all but wiped out older "species" like Slackware, IMO.

  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeUnique (187) <hetz-home@@@cobol2java...com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:15AM (#3601186) Homepage
    There are few details that I don't see being resolved yet..

    All those companies mentioned don't give free ISO's just like RedHat (and Debian for that matter, as well as Mandrake) which kind of makes sense - a customer who downloads and uses the downloaded ISO's is one less customer who would like to pay for the distribution (not all of them - but most of them)..

    I can understand RedHat point - they don't give a shit about people using Linux on the desktop - their eyes are focused only on the enterprise - thats why you won't see RedHat Advanced server available for free download, and you'll need to pay $800 for it (with the bare 30 days support - installation support) so how they're going to compete with RedHat??

    This reminds me the LPI exams (which everyone but RedHat stands behind it) VS. RHCE training/exam - how many people here passed the LPI? how many passed the RHCE? somehow I got the feeling that RHCE is WAY more preffered then LPI..
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:02AM (#3601370) Homepage
      It's curious that this announcement comes from the three most closed and proprietary (relatively speaking) Linux vendors. Caldera has always been a semi-proprietary distribution, with per-seat licensing and other unpleasantness, and both SuSE and TurboLinux keep some of their own software (such as SuSE's YaST installer) non-free. Say what you like about Red Hat, at least they release all of their code as free software (AFAIK). Yes of course the companies need to make money blah blah blah, I just think it is odd that it should be these three all coming together.

      Conectiva appears to be the odd one out; they're a fully free distribution as far as I know.

      It's possible that this deal will mean the end of SuSE's and Caldera's and TurboLinux's proprietary installers, since none of the four companies will want the others to get control over the distribution.
  • by Greger47 (516305) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:17AM (#3601192)

    Is it just me, or is this article just deranged marketing hype munged by a so called journalist?

    My guess is that what we will see is a simple announcement that the named vendors will adhere to the LSB.

    • SuSE already does. And as a SuSE user, I'm curious to see what exactly they do mean. To me SuSE is way ahead of the other distributions mentioned, in terms of exposure, partnership, market share, and functionality. Just what do they stand to gain by unifying their distribution with the others?

      But you could be right. This might be a move to 1) provide strong industry support for LSB and/or 2) put pressure on RedHat to adhere to standards. Either way it's a good thing.
    • United Linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by _|()|\| (159991) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @10:22AM (#3601775)
      My guess is that what we will see is a simple announcement that the named vendors will adhere to the LSB.

      I think that would be great. However, LinuxGram [linuxgram.com] is reporting that there may be more to it. Check this out:

      Domain Name: UNITEDLINUX.COM
      Registrar: DOMAINDISCOVER
      Whois Server: whois.domaindiscover.com
      Referral URL: http://www.domaindiscover.com
      Name Server: NS.SUSE.DE
      Name Server: NS.CALDERASYSTEMS.COM
      Name Server: NS2.CALDERASYSTEMS.COM
      Name Server: NS.SUSE.CZ
      Updated Date: 24-may-2002
      More details at NewsForge [newsforge.com].
      • Re:United Linux (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jebediah21 (145272)
        A little more checking revealed the hostname and server distro:
        [jebediah@Manger jebediah] $chkwww www.unitedlinux.com
        IP address: 213.95.15.200
        Hostname: www.unitedlinux.com
        Official hostname: Turing.suse.de
        Server can resume: Yes
        Server running: Apache/1.3.12 (Unix) (SuSE/Linux) mod_ssl/2.6.5 OpenSSL/0.9.5a
    • Confused journalists (Score:3, Interesting)

      by osolemirnix (107029)
      Yeah exactly. I think they had to conjure some kind of competition that doesn't exist.
      Besides the fact that the Red Hat dominance is a myth that won't become any more true by repeating it even more often. It's bullshit, check out the latest sales figures [linuxplanet.com].
      I guess the only reason incompetent market analysts still believe this "Red Hat market dominance" hype, is because Red Hat is much better at marketing, so they are ever more "present" in peoples minds as the linux distribution. And SuSE (being mostly Germans) are unfortunately notoriously bad at this kind of new economy marketing.

      From a technical point of view they are already so similar that it's a piece of cake to support them both with a product. It takes a lot less than supporting other different Unices for sure.

  • I'm not RedHat's biggest fan... espically after their stunt at adding the equivilant of a clickwrap license on their product... (Open this package to agree to everything in our User License agreement.. Guess what ... NO I dont agree! only because of the forced acceptance.)

    But, all the other distros have a really long way to go, up2date is braindead to use, redhat 7.3 is braindead to install and operate.. Even a windows user could install+use it ... (Although it may be too difficult for MCSE's.. requiring a small amount of thought... sorry, I couldn't help myself)

    Mandrake is on it's way, but it isnt there.. I know I tried, I tried really hard to find a new distro for my Linux newbies/converts...

    Redhat has it locked down not by market-share... but by the pure fact that they have acceptance in the workplace, and they have refined the install/maintaince aspects to the point that it's simpler than a microsoft product to maintain.

    • I'm not RedHat's biggest fan...

      [...]

      But, all the other distros have a really long way to go, up2date is braindead to use, redhat 7.3 is braindead to install and operate.

      You know, there are some people who would disagree with you... try these for starters:
      1. YOU (Yast Online Update) is extremely simple to use. You do have to press three buttons, as opposed to up2dates one, but it is not more difficult.
      2. SuSE 8.0, KDE 3.0 first look [theregister.co.uk]
        [Installation] was a delightfully boring affair which went off without a hitch.
      3. Mandrake 8.2 first look [theregister.co.uk]
        The installation is about as easy as it's humanly possible to make it.
      4. SuSE 8.0 beta 3 Review [linuxjournal.com]
        SuSE 8.0 represents an excellent choice for a typical Linux user, and especially for a new user.
      And YOU (Yast Online Update) updates SuSE quickly, easily and painlessly. It is a point and click operation and I am not sure how to run it in automatic mode (ie. from a cron job) but it is simple for an end user to run it.

      I really think that your comments indicate that you have not used the other distributions in some time...

  • Turbosusecalderativix?
    CaSuTuCo?
  • To form another RedHat? All of these distributions surely have something good in it, but it does not mean that stuffing them together makes something cumulatively better.

    I don't think there's anything good in this, I think it's just the fact that these little players noticed that they have to do something or otherwise they are out of business. They are struggling against time. Instead they should continue what they are doing and specialize in something in which they can be better than RH. If they want to be serious, then their decisions have to last.
    • Diversity good. Monopoly bad.

      I'm not trying to be funny or to sound oblivious, so in other words the LSB is an excellent idea that all vendors/distros should abide by, but there is nothing wrong about implementing alternative solutions for diversity sake.

      Darwin's law somewhat applies to Linux distros: the strong will grow and survive, the weak will either adapt or disappear.

  • by Brown Line (542536) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:25AM (#3601220)
    This reminds me of the time in the late 1980s, when hardware manufacturers tried to unify UNIX. They just screwed matters worse. Fragmentation is a sign of a healthy market, after all: if we wanted unity, we could all just bare our throats to Microsoft.
  • by reaper20 (23396) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:28AM (#3601230) Homepage
    Linux Magazine [linux-mag.com] has an article on why Debian would fill in a good role as 'arbitrator' amongst the distributions and why HP chose to use Debian as their standard distro.

    A distro free from vendor squabbling and influence, that's exactly what the Linux 'standard' should be. Now all we need to do is get some LSB action going.

    Why are they bothering to come up with a single uber-distro when Debian provides a solid foundation for this kind of work? If I were a Linux distributor, and was starting to realize that I can make money selling services and a name, why would I waste all this money making up yet another installer - hell, I'd hire 10 guys, slap a commercial release on top of Debian every 6 months, and let the community do the heavy lifting - all the while earning open source karma for supporting Debian.
    • You wouldn't earn goodwill - you'd earn scorn from people because you'd be seen as a leech. No doubt in my mind about it. And it wouldn't really be 'debian' if you included any 'non free' stuff, which you'd have to do to make something commercially viable.
      • Nah, not if done right. Progeny failed as a distribution, but I would argue that they (more than Corel and others), not only made a Debian based distro, but proved to be a good member of the open source community.

        Hell, I'm pretty sure some of them are still contributing to Debian.
    • Debian has been running on my main machine for a few years, and Slackware on other PCs for even longer. After reading the article and the announcements I am wondering what are going to happen to those. And to some degree, to the lesser known distributions packed with good ideas (Sorcerer among others).

      I am afraid that these unique distributions will eventually be singled out because there will be either RH and followers, or the members this new alliance and their common distro. Of course, this has no influence on how good Debian and other smaller distros actually are, but these will become smaller in terms of `market share' because of this.

      Did I mention how dpkg, apt-get and dselect rule ? :)

  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:30AM (#3601237) Homepage
    I read about this last night, and had mixed feelings. It's certainly overdue in the market - there definitely needs to be simpler 'cross-distribution' compatibility for installing packages. Yes compiling from source is generally compatible, but not everyone wants to do that, nor should they have to. It's a waste of someone's time to do that in many cases.

    I think it may be too little, too late, however. This should have been done over a year ago, and there still seems to be too little information on the specifics of the deal(s). Figure it'll take *months* before this has any impact on the installed base out there, it'll be a miracle if this actually 'saves' any of these distros from further marginalization.

    Someone else mentioned Redhat feeds into an 'illusion' that businesses want - 'shiny support', etc. It's no illusion. It may cost money, but damn it - if someone in a business needs support for something (driver doesn't work, upgrade broke, whatever) having a *real person* to call who's been trained on that particular distro is invaluable. Yes, it may cost $200. Yes, you 1337 geeks out there could hang around in IRC for a few hours waiting to get an answer. *Businesses* can't afford to do that. Furthermore, they shouldn't have to put up with those channels of support (not reliable enough - quality of support is hit and miss, and they can't afford to wait for the 'hit' all the time). Whether or not they ever need it ('linux is so stable!') the fact that it's there is more than comfort enough to persuade people to go the Redhat route.

    Furthermore, the Redhat certification and training and all the other secondary services simply help to bolster their lead in the mindshare of the business market. Maybe it's just that they had more cash to play with after their IPO - if so, they've put it to good use.
    • by _|()|\| (159991)
      Someone else mentioned Redhat feeds into an 'illusion' that businesses want - 'shiny support', etc. It's no illusion. ... having a *real person* to call who's been trained on that particular distro is invaluable.

      The other aspect of Red Hat (and, perhaps, all significant distributions) is the work that goes into developing a stable combination of packages. kernel-2.4.18-4.src.rpm is a long way from the generic 2.4.18 kernel: it has over 100 patches, including a 20 MB whopper from Alan Cox. GCC 2.96 is the most visible fork, but hardly the only one.

      It's all free software, the majority of which makes it back to the original project, but Red Hat is the first to take advantage of its own hard work. That's an advantage.

  • This should make companies like IBM that officially support 3 or 4 different Linux versions happy. This should consolidate things and make life a little easier.

    OTOH, is this going to be like the OPEC of Linux? They "standardize" on one distribution in public, claiming to fight the common enemy but in private they still stab each other in the back and snipe at each other?
  • SEC approval? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hampo (576776)

    So, will the SEC have to step in an approve this?

    Seriously, though. Would any of us be happy if Volvo, Volkswagon, Ford, Hyundai, and Chrysler decided to "standardize" their automobiles to compete with one big vendor? I for one would say no. It would make some innovative new idea, like say a zero emmissions fuel cell car, that much more unlike the standard. New ideas will seem more outrageous if there's such a baseline from which to deviate.

    • Re:SEC approval? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Car analogies are often flawed - remember that cars already ARE standardised in that they all are roughly the same width, height etc. They all have similar turning circles: basically they all work on our roads in the same way. In computers we have a situation where some cars can only go down some roads and it's a mess. Roll on LSB.
  • by MichaeLuke (50412) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:36AM (#3601263)
    If they're going to standardardise on one distribution, why don't they standardise on Redhat? No, Seriously.
  • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:38AM (#3601272) Homepage Journal
    Something needs to be done, because the Linux community is allowing itself to get slipped into the Microsoft mindset. With the LSB in place, there should be none of this business of "targetting a distribution" or other Microsoft-like lock-in nonsense.

    1: The LSB needs to be in place.
    2: All major distributions need to adhere to it, and the minor ones should too, for that matter.
    3: Education is key, that LSB-compliance is the real crux of the matter, not some specific distribution.
    4: Packaged software should state its requirements relative to the LSB. LSB+foolib+barlib, etc. Some distributions may choose to distinguish themselves by including foolib and/or barlib out of the box. The ISV should also have copies/pointers for foolib and barlib on their web site.
    5: Distributions are good. More are better, as long as LSB can solve the interoperability and installation problems.

    I'm disappointed to see LSB mentioned only once as of my writing this post.
    • Unfortunately there are some distros that simply cannot face the large effort required to make themselves LSB compatible. For instance the LSB says you must use RPM - how likely is it that Debian will listen to that and drop apt/dpkg: it's primary selling point?

      RedHat derived distros like Mandrake are also seeing problems with stuff like file paths and so on.

  • I have bad feelings when I read about the infighting between the various distributions. While it's certainly positive that SuSE, Caldera etc are standardizing their distribution, RedHat's recent competitive upgrades move and the bickering amongst the vendors reminds me only too well of the Unix infighting and splitting in the 70's and 80's. I worry that in the end the winner will once again be Microsoft.
  • Quoting the original article:
    • "It is clear that Red Hat is the 300-pound gorilla in this market, and the other vendors are all struggling from a revenue and shipment perspective to remain relevant on a worldwide basis"

    I don't see technical reasons behind this. In fact, most of the article goes on about market share, revenue, strategy etc., but it remains unclear to me how the vendors are going to tackle the technical issues and what pieces from which distributions will be retained to make this patched-up Linux distro.

  • standardize on a single Linux distribution to try and take on Red Hat's dominance

    So instead of taking market share from Windows, the idea is to take it from Red Hat?

    Doesn't this strike anyone else as just a wee bit stupid? After all, the strenght of linux is choice and now the goal is to limit that choice.

    /me shakes head
  • by riggwelter (84180)
    I heard about this a few weeks ago from a friend within one of these companies, who also asked me not to post it until it was announced (ahem!)

    Apparently, the initiative has come from IBM here, they're going to call in Universal Business Linux (UBL - quite unfortunate) Word is that SuSE will produce the distro for the other three companies, although at the time, Connectiva weren't in on it.

    Basically, what's in it for IBM is this: It reduces the number of distros they have to support to two: Red Hat and UBL
  • by Arethan (223197) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:14AM (#3601419) Journal
    You know, I could care less if there are 5 or 5000 Linux distributions out there. But I'm really getting tired of the lack of binary compatability between distributions. And when I say that, I mean lack of binary compatability all the way from libc up to the desktop environment. I can compile simple command line apps and have it run on most distributions, but the second I start using extra libraries (like GTK+) I start running into compatability problems between distros.

    Distro A has the library, but it's a different filename since it's a newer version than the one in Distro B. Bah! The best tech that MS stole was COM objects. Just cram all the necessary versions into a single file, and let the runtime linker figure it out on the fly.

    Well, I'm not trying to say that we need that sort of extra functionality/overhead, but I do want to say that Linux will take off like a shot at soon as developers have a steady target to aim for. The sooner all the major distros decide on a list of libraries that make up a standard linux distribution, the sooner I'll be able to start telling my friends and family that they should switch.

    RPM, apt, deb, and even slack's TGZ all have the same problem. The application/library is compiled and packaged for a single version of a single distribution. Sometimes you can take them to another version or distro and it will work, but most often not. With a little fussing, you can usually put together some symlinks on a few libs that will at least get the app to run, but certain features won't work correctly, or the app will crash because a certain interface isn't exposed by this version of a lib. Even if it did run 100% correctly after you made the necessary symlinks, that still isn't good enough, since you had to manually manipulate the system in order to get the app to run. I don't tell my family to run regedit when they can't get an item out of the "Uninstall Application" menu (I fix it for them next time I'm over there), so I'm not going to tell them to "Just make a few symlinks in /usr/lib and you'll be okay" either!

    Man this continual problem pisses me off...
    It's so basic that I was sure that it would have been worked out by now. I've looked and looked and found nothing. The Linux Standard Base doesn't even come close to defining everything that is necessary for binary compatability between distros, and google hasn't given me any other good leads.

    If I'm missing the big red neon sign that points to the solution, then please do share it with me. But if I simply haven't found it because it doesn't exist, then we should defenitely evaluate the value that this would add to Linux, and seriously consider its immediate implementation.
    • Distro A has the library, but it's a different filename since it's a newer version than the one in Distro B. Bah! The best tech that MS stole was COM objects. Just cram all the necessary versions into a single file, and let the runtime linker figure it out on the fly.

      Actually, Linux also lets you install different versions of shared libraries. For example, check your system to see how many different versions of libstdc++ you have. I have 6. The main problem is that distributions often differ at the very core. For example, if the glibc versions are different, there's really not a whole lot of hope of any binary compatibility. And if the gcc versions are different, all of the C++ binaries will be incompatible.

      The problem with "base level" differences is that you typically need a parallel set of libraries-- for example, if you have a program that needs an old libc and libjpeg, then you actually need a special libjpeg version that is compiled against the old libc. In other words, you can't just install an old libc, you need to install an old libc subsystem. I do this a lot because I need to have a gcc 3 based development platform. For me, the subsystem means gcc + qt (thankfully, the default glibc is OK, otherwise I'd also need glibc, libpng, libz, libjpeg, and the X11 libraries) The reason your simple command line apps run on most distributions is that most distributions have a minimal (libc + X11 + libstdc++) compatibility subsystem, but that subsystem doesn't include GTK. If you want your GTK apps to run on any distribution, you'll need to link statically to GTK and any other graphics libraries (jpeg, etc)

      My suggestion as far as solutions are concerned is to forget about running anything that's built against the wrong version of libc, and avoid running anything that's not built on your distribution.

  • by BitMan (15055) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:44AM (#3601555) Homepage

    Anyone who has messed with Caldera, SuSE and Turbolinux knows that they do NOT produce a 100% redistributable version of their commercial offerings. In addition to now allow redistribution of their CDs, most either omit major packages, or limit usage to "personal." As of 8.0, SuSE has gotten even more restrictive no longer offering free downloads of many components. This alone has turned off this user from considering their software.

    Conectiva, on the otherhand, has gained a lot of notariety in their efforts. The two biggest being the use of Apt for RPM, and one of their lead developers managing a Linux kernel branch alongside Alan Cox and only one other. I have not used their distro, and DistroWatch.COM does not differentiate between "free download" and "100% redistributable" so I cannot tell if they maintain the same GPL-anal approach as RedHat. For now, I'll assume so (please let me know if otherwise?).

    So, for this strategy to work, assuming the rumor is true, I make the following 2 recommendations to the resulting conglomerate:

    1. Make a 100% Redistributable CD set, then value-add

      These vendors don't have to stop value-adding to their distros. In fact, this approach could still allow them to do so. But they really need to build some mindshare with those of us who like RedHat and Debian because of their 100% GPL-focus. Release a 100% Redistributable CD set which they all agree on. This has kept me from using Caldera, SuSE and Turbolinux over the years.

      Then each can include their own CD #1 binary, "alternate," non-redistributable boot CD in their commercial, boxed sets so the value-added stuff can be installed (in addition to other, non-redistributable CDs). The idea is that the install packages should be the same for both the freely redistributable and commercial non-redistributable versions, even if the default/base freely redistributable ones are replaced by those in the commercial, non-redistributable CD(s). Simple, no?

    2. Leverage Conectiva's Apt focus, build a Debian-like "universal" repository

      This will get the masses to join them. If the new conglomerate can build a new, 3rd party software repository for Apt like Debian has for Deb, this would get me to use this new distro. And they would quickly find that a number of 3rd party free software / open source projects would make sure their packages are built for and distributed in this new RPM-Apt repository. God knows I'd be sold in a heartbeat, assuming the distro quality is as good as RedHat. With SuSE in the mix, I don't see this being an issue, since I have used their kernels before (and trust them as much as RedHat).

      Right now I mix a custom distro (usually installed via NFS so I don't have to build CDs that are outdated quickly) use RedHat with Ximian and FreshRPMS added. Ximian is Ximian, and I don't forsee not using their Gnome set (this new "standard" distro will make it easy for them to support). FreshRPMS is RedHat-focused and uses RPM-Apt, but it is far from "comprehensive" with only about 50 packages or so. This is a far cry from Debian's 10,000+ Going to RPMfind or the older contribs is just not viable, and I don't bother much anymore. But I don't have nearly the package selection as Debian with RedHat and this frustrates me since I will not use Debian for other reasons (I'm not going to expand on them here, just note I said *I* will not use Debian -- not that Debian is "bad," not at all).

  • Linux (Score:3, Informative)

    by hdparm (575302) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @09:46AM (#3601562) Homepage
    It has become obvious that Linux is ready for big game. When big game is on, rules are different, players are tougher, stakes are bigger and, suddenly, Linux is much more than fun. People from said 4 companies have realised this but probably too late to make any serious damage to Red Hat, not to mention other players in this game.

    No doubt these guys have technical expertise comparable to Red Hat's. Product, even combined one, is also similar, based on the same components. And that's it. Not enough for a big game - can't be won on technical merrits alone.

    Red Hat is different. They (well, Bob Young may be more accurate) figured this long time ago and have been building the brand name, portfolio of products and services and awesome team of people. Red Hat now has all that. Their product kicks ass from Wall St. all the way down to my laptop, they've got name recognized all over the world, second ranked Linux authority and many more of the finest developers work for them, Red Hat's support is top of the shelf, their training program is ranked 1st in the world, their cash account is very healthy and they are still one of the greatest OSS contributors.

    Oh yes, almost forgot - they're some 7 years ahead.

    Hats down to them.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @10:54AM (#3601961) Journal
    I use Red Hat Linux for my servers. I'd not dream of anything else at the moment. Why?

    1) Excellent support - whatever software I want to install, I can be quite sure that there's a RH version - often in RPM form. This reduces the cost of maintanence dramatically.

    2) The RED HAT NETWORK is fantastic! I simply type "up2date -u" and 10 minutes later, I have all the relevant security patches installed! Just $5 per month, and their download servers are FAST. (I routinely see 15-20 Mbit connections - 10x-15x FASTER than an unfettered T1!)

    3) Reliability. My Red Hat systems are stable. They work today, tomorrow and next year.

    4) Stability of the distro. Red Hat has been around. They are profitable, or at least not burning capital very fast. I can feel good knowing that I'm investing my considerable time, money, and energy into a platform that will be there in the future, too.

    With the above, I can fulfill my support contracts easily and cheaply, and focus on the delvery of service rather than simple maintanence.

    Is Red Hat perfect? No. But it satisifies the above, and they are what I need to found my business upon.
  • slightly hypcritical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sixSecondsOfDefeat (580997) <user@garyCondit.com s/$RAPIST/aol/> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @10:55AM (#3601972)
    Let us not hate Red Hat just for finally being able to do what we have all wanted to do for years: turn OSS into a viable marketable tool.
  • Competition is good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toolz (2119) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @11:01AM (#3602005) Homepage Journal
    We all know that competition is good. It encourages innovation, progress and new directions. One of the reasons why there has been so little real innovation in the closed-source world has been the lack of competition to Microsoft's products (other than Windows Servers - which are seriously challenged by Linux).

    Over the years, Suse, Caldera et al have offered little serious competition to RedHat when it comes to *marketing* themselves (technically, RedHat is no way superior to any of these distributions).

    A "UnitedLinux" would actually be a good idea. It will encourage (spelled f-o-r-c-e) RedHat to improve their product (I am an RHL user, but I'll be the first to admit that RHL is about as exciting as a glass of water these days).

    At the same time this will give the players of UL a chance at a bigger market, which in the end is good for Linux and OpenSource.

    However, just like Linux chewed up the Unix market before it started spreading its wings, it is very likely that the initial gains UL would achieve would be at the cost of RedHat's share. There will probably be a bit of seesawing before things stabilize.

    And *that's* where the fun really begins. ;-)
  • by MagikSlinger (259969) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @12:19PM (#3602446) Homepage Journal

    It's nice to see Linux evolving into a healthy competitive ecosystem. An ecosystem of true competition vying for customers by offering better products at better prices.



    Contrast with Microsoft's vision of an ecosystem [microsoft.com] where they are the big predator and everyone kow-tows to them and their whims. Nothing really happens in this ecosystem without Microsoft doing it first.



    So far from being a disturbing development in Linux's history, I consider this a good sign that, contrary to Bill's opinion, the Marketplace works!


  • by kindbud (90044) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @01:59PM (#3603198) Homepage
    I'd love a Linux distro laid out like Solaris, with all the same things working as expected, and all the other things NOT working (also as expected!).

    Imagine a Linux distro with a functioning, but lamely configured SysV init, complete with run level changes that do NOTHING. Imagine a Linux distro with a SysV package system that makes it super easy to locate what file belongs to what package - so long as you are willing to write that tool (3 lines in awk, I swear!). Imagine a Linux distro with a syslogd configured out of the box to log all critical messages to the console, instead of some out-of-the-way log file. Imagine a Linux distro which included a completely broken BSD compatibility API, and plenty of warnings not to use it throughout 10 years' worth of OS documentation. Imagine a Linux distro every bit as half-assed as the one YOU would put together yourself, but with a Big Important Company's logo stuck to the box.

    Sign me up!

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