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SuSE Businesses

SuSE Denies UnitedLinux Per-Seat License Model 193

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the plot-thickens dept.
m0RpHeus writes "According to Linux Today, SuSE is denying per seat licensing for United Linux. `We really don't plan any per-seat licensing for UnitedLinux,' said SuSE's US Director of Sales Holger Dyroff. UnitedLinux, it seems is divided on this issue."
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SuSE Denies UnitedLinux Per-Seat License Model

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  • This doesn't seem to be going very well. Is it me, or does any sort of combined Linux effort seem doomed to die on the rocks of licensing issues? When you have gangs of people obsessed with ephemeral issues, it's easy to get stuck on them forever.
    • Re:Doom... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by robburt (139183) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:04AM (#3637796)
      This really reminds me of the "Green Day" special that I watched the other night. The band had it's roots in "Real" punk rock, with the street kids an whatnot coming to the Berkley shows (Gilman St), but as soon as they decided to bank on their talent (which was becming apparent), the community turned it's back on them.

      I see a similar situation here, and I have to say that I really do feel for the decision makers in this area. I mean, everyone has come to see RedHat as "bad" b/c they decided to make a profit on "free" software. It's got to be tough to decide where to draw the line. Do you really want to alienate an entire user group?

      • So, they gave up trying to please a vocal but miniscule clique of snot-nosed whiners in order to reach a much wider, and more appreciative ($$$) audience. Sounds like a good plan to me!
      • Re:Doom... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by lunenburg (37393)
        This may be cynical, but this is how I look at most of the "Wah wah, Red Hat is Microsoft" talk.

        A sizable portion of the "computer elite" get a great deal of self-worth from how obscure the software they use is. So back several years ago when your choices were Microsoft and Apple, they could crow about "You're using those toy operating systems? Hah - I'm using Linux." And it really didn't matter what distro you were using (even thought most people were on Red Hat or Slackware), because Linux was so small and off-the-radar that Linux was Linux.

        Now, however, with Linux becoming mainstream (preinstalled on servers, available in Wal-Mart, etc.), you can't be "cool" just by using Linux any more. If you run Red Hat, there's the chance that you might (gasp!) be running the same OS as the neophyte computer kid down the street. Can't have that happen and keep the cool-points. So you see the kiddies running to the other Red Hat-like distributions (can't be too complicated or different) such as Mandrake and SuSE, so they can still keep that air of superiority on Slashdot ("You use Red Hat? Hah - I'm using Mandrake. They're not sellouts.")

        Red Hat may not do the right thing 100% of the time, but they come as close as anyone. From the way some of the kids talk around here, though, you'd think they were skewering babies and switching the gas at the local BP with sugar. So I chalk most of it up to insecurity. But that may just be the cynic in me.
      • Having been a Green Day fan since 1991, I have to say that Dookie was a definate departure in sound and feel from their earlier albums. I think that people turning their backs on the band had much less to do with the fact that they were making money than the fact that they just didn't sound like the old Green Day that they knew and loved. The same thing happened to Metallica with Load, Iron Maiden with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and Chumbawumba with Tubthumper. The band changed their sound, and the old fans didn't like it.

        I do have to say, though, that I was irked that the Circus Tents sticker on his guitar was blurred out in the Longview video. The Circus Tents were from my town, and picked the other path of the "get famous or break up" debate.

        I don't think Green Day sold out, I think they just grew up. It was unhappy coincidence for them that their sound change coincided with their release on a major label. As a musician, I know the change of sound was innevitable. You can't play the same thing over and over for your whole life (well, maybe if you're a Ramone you can, but I think they've spent a little to much time sedated). I'm certainly playing a lot more Jazz and Classical and a lot less Punk and Metal than I was 10 years ago. It happens to everybody.

        • I don't think Green Day sold out

          Yes they did. :) Its okay. So did U2 and Goo Goo Dolls.

          you can't play the same thing over and over for your whole life

          I have actually been nauseated by just about anything released after 1990. I still listen to 17 year old Big Black and Alien Sex Fiend stuff every freaking day. But that's just me.

          I love the smell of burning karma in the morning..
    • Re:Doom... (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Clue4All (580842)
      I think you almost hit the nail on the head with this one. Four Linux companies that haven't done anything in a long time (Caldera, TurboLinux? Are they kidding??) are ganging up to try to take on RedHat, but the fact remains that they're still four dying companies. I'm really not sure what they're trying to accomplish with this initiative, but it looks like a last-ditch effort on the way out, which is really a shame because SuSE was almost sustaining a business and I had high hopes for it, even if I'm a Mandrake fan, myself.
      • Wrong nail.

        They're not competing, they're cooperating. Granted Caldera's Ransom Love doesn't play nice and probably won't ever understand open source software. But they're doing exactly what they should do, what open source is designed to do: cooperate and work on successful standards rather than duplicate work. These distros are finally picking up the LSB and implimenting. They're saving time and energy buy working together. It'll help standardize Linux which will help ISVs and marketing. RedHat is welcome to join. People blow this whole little distros vs. Red Hat thing WAY out of proportion.

        What's more, these companies are far from 'dying.' Struggling at times? Yes, but they have a global market that you may not be aware of.
      • Re:Doom... (Score:5, Informative)

        by thesolo (131008) <slap@fighttheriaa.org> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @11:42AM (#3638389) Homepage
        Four Linux companies that haven't done anything in a long time (Caldera, TurboLinux? Are they kidding??)

        SuSE hasn't done anything in a long time??! Nonsense. On top of being the first distro with KDE3 and Alsa .99 drivers, SuSE 8 also has an extremely customized version of YaST2 which is amazing. (I couldn't care less that it's not free). Also, Caldera & TurboLinux both have a very loyal userbase in their respective locales.

        re ganging up to try to take on RedHat

        If you read the original press release, you'd see that the companies involved in United Linux extended an offer to Redhat (as well as any other distro that is interested) to join the effort. This is not a direct assault on Redhat, it's an effort to get a standard, easily supportable distribution.

        but the fact remains that they're still four dying companies

        SuSE is dying?? Really? You might want to tell that to IBM and the German Government. [slashdot.org]

        In my opinion, UnitedLinux is an effort to focus on the LSB, to make an easily-supportable version of Linux that works the same regardless of the localized vendor you pick. If they do it right, I think it will definitely be a Good Thing (TM).
      • Re:Doom... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Izeickl (529058)
        SuSE is the distro the German government are using with this new IBM deal apparently, according to the BBC Here [bbc.co.uk]
        • SuSE is the distro the German government are using
          ...as well as about everybody else in Germany. SuSE is pretty much the "default distro" here, and the only one you see in the window of about every bigger bookstore (where Linux distros usually are sold) when a new release comes out. Not to mention that a lot of books on advanced Linux topics are from SuSEPress, and I'd say they even have a better stand in the consulting market than their competitors. Sure, RedHat is well-known too, and Debian has it's share among both hackers and ISPs, but they are nowhere as big as SuSE.

          Given that Germany is one of the more Linux-friendly countries, and hence an attractive market, SuSE is not likely to go anywhere - even if they fail badly in, say, the US market (IIRC they did - didn't they have to close their US dependency recently because it fucked up, even so that Dirk(?) Hohndel (of XFree86 fame, one of the founders) had to quit?), they still have the german one as a comfortable home-ground.

    • Look at the contributors-- Caldera, Conectiva, Turbolinux, and SuSE. Of these contributors, Caldera seems to see per seat licensing currently as part of its revenue plan, while the other companies are ones that live off OEM contracts and consulting fees.

      It is not at all surprising that Caldera would want per-seat licensing while the other ones would not. But look at it this way-- if UnitedLinux is to do well, it must be able to compete on the low and high ends and this means that per-seat licensing is a bad idea (but per-seat support contracts, OTOH, are a really good idea).

      My suspicion is that per-seat licensing will not happen with United Linux, and that Caldera will either drop out, go out of business, or change their business model.
      • "My suspicion is that per-seat licensing will not happen with United Linux, and that Caldera will either drop out, go out of business, or change their business model."

        I sure hope you're right. Then again, someone out there really likes per-seat licensing. Maybe it was just a trial baloon, to see if the defense is awake.
  • Hmmm (Score:2, Redundant)

    by cdrudge (68377)
    Seems that UnitedLinux is already divided.
    • Re:Hmmm Get serious (Score:2, Interesting)

      by justsomebody (525308)
      Divided, yes. LSB standard is not standard for Complete Linux distribution, it's more a set of needs to be LSB compliant >> gcc, kernel, xfree.
      Have a lower layer defined and upper layer will get more uniform as it was. Every

      Any company can extend LSB to its own potential, main thing is that basic layer defined by LSB stays the same.

      Same as puting gnome in LSB, YES you can. Being LSB compatible means being LSB compatible.

      Read LSB specs and then after that you'll see where you got it wrong. Also read pdf on UL site, you'll realize that they already inteded to make separated distributions. LSB does never defines per-seat licensing. Per-seat licensing is company choice. example Lindows

      It should be useful for people to realise that united linux (all 4 companys) is just the first one to accept LSB standard. They don't define what LSB standard is. So instead of "United Linux compatible", "LSB v.X.x compatible" would be more preffered and acceptable.
    • by jsse (254124)
      Seems that UnitedLinux is already divided.

      No, there'll be UnitedLinux-Caldera, UnitedLinux-Conectiva, UnitedLinux-SuSE, and UnitedLinux-TurboLinux; each with per-seat, per-processor, per-user, and free-as-in-beer-but-only-come-with-source license.
  • by alapalaya (561911) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @09:52AM (#3637720)
    per-seat licensing

    Don't sit down while using it, remove the seats from the pc room, and you're done! :)


  • I'm serious.

    SuSE, with UnitedLinux, had an innovative idea for selling Linux. They are within their legal bounds, and I see nothing wrong with a company taking full advantage of the GPL.

    I guess this is just one more Linux company that's headed for the scrap heap. If they could have gained some respectability among business (which seemed to be their plan) they might have been able to earn money and succeed.

    And really, who better than SuSE to lead the next wave of the revolution? Ah well... *sigh*
  • So many jokes to make and I can't seem to think of a great one.

    So make your own...

    UnitedLinux ______divided_______________!
    • It seems that Sham 69 (famous sarf Lahndan punk band) were wrong when they said "If the distros are United / They will never be divided".
      Also, it seems strange that SuSE want in on a UnitedLinux project...it means removing rc.config
    • Re:Damn... (Score:1, Funny)

      by HiQ (159108)

      cat unitedlinux > /div/null
      • cat unitedlinux > /div/null

        I don't get it. Is this some joke about The LSB and having a directory called /div? Are you playing stupid? Are you trying to repeat a Unix joke you once heard, while knowing nothing about Unix? Have I just been trolled? I just don't get it.

        • Lighten up, t'was only a small joke, but it doesn't get any better if I explain it. And no, I'm not stupid (and certainly don't like being called that); I do know a thing or two about Unix.
          The abbriviation of 'divide' is 'div', which looks a bit like 'dev'. It also looks like UnitedLinux is already on destruction course. These things combined...get it?
    • UntiedLinux!
  • I wonder if SuSe obtained the permission of the UL team members to issue this statement. If not, sounds like the UnitedLinux project has some communication problems at the least, and possibly some larger problems looming on the horizon.

    I know if I had issued a statement like this without consulting my team members first that there would be hell to pay, but we'll see.
    • Re:Communications (Score:4, Informative)

      by ctid (449118) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:19AM (#3637874) Homepage
      Judging from what the United Linux partners have said, there wouldn't be any restriction on SuSE saying this. As far as I understand, SuSE, Caldera and the rest will sell distros which are "powered" by United Linux. The idea being, presumably, that software updates/packages for one UL-based distro will be compatible with all UL-based distros. However, the companies will all have independent contents, pricing, marketing etc. Therefore, SuSE is just saying what their pricing approach will be. What SuSE chooses to say about selling their UL-powered distro is no business of the other partners.

  • He said he didn't "Plan" to do per seat licencing, but he didn't say he DIDN'T plan to. Basically he's just saying what we want to hear now.
    • He said he didn't "Plan" to do per seat licencing, but he didn't say he DIDN'T plan to

      Is there something in this sentence that doesn't make sense?

      He said he didn't plan but he didn't say he didn't plan? What did he plan to say that they didn't want to do, but didn't?
  • Out in the competitive market and company who places major restrictions on their products which their competitors don't won't last long.

    UnitedLinux is a group of companies commoditising a shared distro. Some of them will add stuff requiring per-seat licensing. Some won't. Buy the one you want, don't buy the one you don't want. They'll get the message pretty quickly. Remember none of these guys have a monopoly, they can't just change licensing terms and have eneryone swallow it like Microsoft (come to think of it, even they can't do that all the time!)
  • by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly AT ix DOT netcom DOT com> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:02AM (#3637779)
    As I said in a post to the previous related slashdot discussion; Ransom Love doesn't understand Open Source PR. His mouth gets the Open Source community to hate him each time he opens it in public. Different spin on his previous "no binaries!" comment and nobody would be upset.

    Ransom Love does not understand Open Source PR, and it would be better for everyone if he were not so press-hungry. SUSE has a much better spin on essentially the same facts, and understand the Open Source community is not just a place to leech code from in order to turn a buck. SUSE understands to give/take relationship, Calera, specifically Rasom Love doesn't get it.

    Next time you read a quote from Ransom love, understand two things:
    1. He doesn't speak for his partners (SUSE/Turbo Linux in this case), even though he will make is sound like he is.
    2. He doesn't understand Open Source PR and will be needlessly sticking his foot in his mouth...that's just what he does.

    -Pete
  • Just kidding...
  • by pointwood (14018) <jramskov@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:07AM (#3637808) Homepage

    UnitedLinux is the base distro. Suse, Caldera, etc. are going to be *basing* their distro on that. They are not going to release a UnitedLinux distro. They will release a distro, "Powered by UnitedLinux. Each company can decide their licensing terms themselves.

    If Caldera wants to put some extra propritary software in their distro and use per seat licensing, then they are free to do that. Suse has just said that they will not be doing that.

    UnitedLinux is IMHO a good thing! They are using and selling free software - they aren't breaking any licenses or anything like that. They are *the good guys* trying to earn a bit of money to stay in business. Is that such a bad thing?

    • Someone Mod this parent up!
      Someone is finally talking with some sense, instead of waving their arms and shouting without reading any of the facts. Again, mod the parent up!
    • But is UnitedLinux itself based solely on free software? Can I make my own United Linux compliant distro, or is that protected by trademark? It's all unclear to me.
      • Yes, you could make your own United Linux compliant distro, however, unless you we willing to fork out the cash for the United Linux 'brand' name, you couldn't advertize under the name of or use the logo of United Linux. Does that help?
      • You can make your own UL-based distro, but you can NOT use the trademarked "Powered by United Linux" or probably anything similar.

        "Compatible with United Linux-based distros" would probably be fine.

        Think of UL as a formalized LSB implementation. The addons might be proprietary (like an MS Exchange client, Lotus Notes client) or it might be bundled with something like Oracle, SAP or UniCenter.
    • Please read http://news.com.com/2008-1082-929697.html

      CNET:
      So UnitedLinux will remain an open-source project?

      CEO of Caldera:
      Absolutely. The only difference is that the UnitedLinux binaries will not be freely distributed. People will be able to download the source code and compile their own binaries, but they will not be able to use the UnitedLinux brand.

      Merging free-software and proprietary software is already a shame, but here we are a step higher!
      • You don't get it at all. That's okay, since most people don't get it.

        The software that will make up the United Linux base is and will be FREE software. That's free as in speech. United Linux will provide the source code. You can compile it. You can get your binaries.

        What United Linux doesn't want people doing is taking the binaries (which may or may not compise a fully working distro), slapping them on a CD and market them as "United Linux". First off, that infringes on their trademark. Secondly, it causes confusion about support and service. If you want the free as in beer binaries, then download the .iso of one of the member distros. I'm sure eventually at least one UnitedLinux distro will provide free .iso's.

        Remember, United Linux is not ONE distro, currently, it's FOUR all using the same base.
      • Merging free-software and proprietary software is already a shame, but here we are a step higher!

        You may be confusing "proprietary" software and "commercial" software. There's nothing wrong with selling free software. Just look at the fsf's category list [gnu.org].
        • Maybe the categories set up by the FSF are not those relevant to all people.

          IMHO, freedom is not all about licenses. The GPL is basically all about granting rights for consumers, and doesn't care a bit about programmers rights. One of the major reasons for the "geek pride" going with the success of Free Software before the hype came over us was the feeling of "See, we actually can build cooler stuff without marketing drones telling us what to do". That is about freedom as in freedom to do the Right Thing, without caring about marketability, deadlines, or shareholder value.

          In that sense, it doesn't really matter if you code for Microsoft or SuSE or Ximian. Maybe the attitude towards nerf guns is different, but still you have to shit out potentially sucky software because some clueless moron tells you so. And all experience shows that this software will suck, as well as the life of it's programmers.

          Then again, the companies engaged in United Linux do produce proprietary software, even in the GNU sense, and any other imaginable. Try forking Yast (whyever one would want to), I'm confident SuSEs lawyers will explain.

  • by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:07AM (#3637809) Homepage
    Okay, maybe someone pointed this out already, but how is this divided? UnitedLinux is NOT ONE distribution. It's a standard base that several distros will be based on. Just because Caldera doesn't understand the market and wants to compete with Red Hat using per seat licenses doesn't mean that SuSE, TurboLinux, Conectiva, and any others who join in the future have to follow this madness. They will STILL be SEPERATE distributions each with their own licenses and quirks. They'll just have some common components that will allow interoperability. This wouldn't be news if so many people would just quit jumping to conclusions about this project before much information is available.
  • Doesn't per-seat licensing seem to go against the whole of the GNU/Linux spirit.

    I mean its one thing to charge for support, thats fine by me. But, why should support cost more if your mail server supports 5 users or 5000 users?

    From what I understand UnitedLinux is just a standardization of where things are located and the init style, and possibly a different installer for each distriubtion. So, it essence they would be charging for support, and not development.

    Per-seat licensing seems silly to me. It makes me think of email support for Exchange, where the email you send to Microsoft for support actually counts against your daily licensed limit for Emails sent through the MTA.
    • But, why should support cost more if your mail server supports 5 users or 5000 users

      Because having support for a 5000 user system is more valuable, so people will pay more.
      Because a 5000 user system is more complicated, or at least larger. More to go wrong, higher likliehood, not as easy to recover.

      I believe the per seat licensing refers to computers with UL installed, not the number of clients connected to a server.
  • Well it looks like everyone is looking at this as the beginning of the end for UL. But to me it looks like they are actually working on this. Ive seen plenty of Open Source project announced and nothing is really done with them. Its good to see they seem fiarly serious about this. There is going to be problems. My only worry is that becuase Suse is the biggest of the distros they will try to throw their wieght around.

    Feel free to mod me down
  • If anyone, Caldear should know that a per seat license model cannot work. SCO Unix used that model and Caldera ended up buying them on the cheap.
  • It's funny to see the different approaches of Linux distributors to solve the issue "how to make money with a free product".

    Red Hat bases everything on their strong image and the fact that they are #1. They base most their business on services while remaining very open-source-spirit oriented.

    MandrakeSoft, which more and more appears to be now #2 in term of installed user base, is the biggest defender of Free Software after Debian. They sell boxes, and start to offer business-orieted services such as Red Hat does, but they also had a great idea: they offer extra services to their users (individuals & enterprises) with the Mandrake Club which provides them many subscriptions and a good income.

    SuSE, Caldera, TurboLinux... Their deep wish would actually be sell their products "a la Microsoft" with one license per seat, without providing ISO images and so on. They actually have a very "proprietary" ideal, so they try to offer a not too bad image to the Linux community while acting against its ideals in reality.

    In my opinion, Red Hat is lucky because they can stay open and make real business, MandrakeSoft is *extremely* innovative in inventing a real business model for Free Software while being a fervent defender of its rules. And SuSE, Caldera... didn't understand anything to Linux/Free Software and are going to be banned by the Linux community, and see their revenues decrease.
    • im geniuenlyl asking, not claiming your wrong, how do you KNOW mandrake is making money, we can take a guess with redhat, but mandrake?
    • MandrakeSoft, which more and more appears to be now #2 in term of installed user base, is the biggest defender of Free Software after Debian.

      May I say bulls**t... I'd like to remind you of how Mandrake came to be.. They where RedHat+KDE ans why didnt RH already integrate KDE? Because it was based on non-free software.

      There are in my opinion only two major distribution that are true defenders of Free Software, RedHat and Debian. (Well, there's also Gentoo, but its in a class of its own).

      Mandrake is just like TurboLinux, Suse and Caldera... They are doing nothing innovative, they are just trying to survive because they didnt move fast enough out of the "sell boxes" market.. Which was also rh's market a few years back (but they moved to offer much more because its a fairly limited market.

      In my opinion, Red Hat is lucky because they can stay open and make real business, MandrakeSoft is *extremely* innovative in inventing a real business model for Free Software while being a fervent defender of its rules.

      RedHat is not lucky, they are very very good. They have gone from one profitable business model to another when the market changed. They have been very well managed since the beginning and that's the reason they are #1. As for Mandrake, they tried to follow in RedHat footsteps, but following is never a good idea... So at least after a few years, out of desesparation they tried that Club thing.. Its corporate charity, its not a business model!

      Caldera and TurboLinux are already almost dead... And Suse, if they dont play well, they will follow. Here at work, we had a bunch of Suse fans who just said "Suse 8.0 sucks, its the worst linux distro that I have seen in years"...

      Now for innovation, see Gentoo and Debian
      For good business, see Redhat
      The rest is crap
      • Add Slackware to the list of "defenders" of Free Software. Slackware is one of the oldest and most secure distros around, and still going strong.
      • >May I say bulls**t... I'd like to remind you of how Mandrake >came to be.. They where RedHat+KDE ans why didnt RH >already integrate KDE? Because it was based on non-free >software.

        It was because Red Hat has started to finance GNOME before, and they wanted to kill KDE/Qt at the time. And can I remind you that Red Hat included KDE/Qt early in 1999 _long time before Qt became GPLed?

        >There are in my opinion only two major distribution that are >true defenders of Free Software, RedHat and Debian.

        Red Hat patents...

        >Mandrake is just like TurboLinux, Suse and Caldera... They >are doing nothing innovative, they are just trying to survive >because they didnt move fast enough out of the "sell boxes" >market.. Which was also rh's market a few years back (but >they moved to offer much more because its a fairly limited >market.

        Mandrake is the most innovative Linux distribution for a long time: they have introduced many new great tools such as remote updates, the best Linux installer available, security levels, automatic hardware configurator, and so many things. Most those things have been introduced in Linux distros after Mandrake started to introduce them.

        I want to remind you that Mandrake started from nothing (not even a company) three years ago, long time after SuSE and Red Hat, and now they are #2, with more users than SuSE + Caldera + Turbo Linux. It's not financial power to market their product, they don't have.
        • Mandrake is the most innovative Linux distribution for a long time: they have introduced many new great tools such as remote updates, the best Linux installer available, security levels

          I would just like to point out that Caldera (!) was actually the first linux company to come out with the clicky-touchy GUI installer (Lizard?). Actually that's the last innovative thing I can remember them doing. Redhat soon copied them, and Mandrake after that. I've used both the RH and Mandrake installers and I couldn't say that one is really better than the other.

      • The rest is crap

        Nice attitude.
        If you've got any wonderful ideas on how to improve the products, or the business models, feel free to offer it up. Comments like that are detremental to the linux community as a whole. Try being part of the solution instead of part of the problem. I find it amusing how people are saying that UnitedLinux is divided already. Well, the community is as well and you're demonstrating that.

        Saying Mandrake is doing nothing inovative is complete ignorance. Just because you don't need the features that Mandrake has brought to the community doesn't make them a crap distro. It has brought in many people to the linux community thanks to it's installer and ease of use. Hardware detection is second to none. And quite frankly, I think the 'Club thing' is a very good idea and I hope it works out well for them.

    • Others have solved the issue "how to make money with a free product" even better: Not to try to make money at all, but to spread the distribution freely just as the kernel itself is developed: as volunteers that give it away. For example Slackware, Gentoo etc.
    • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:52AM (#3638080) Homepage Journal
      SuSE, Caldera, TurboLinux... Their deep wish would actually be sell their products "a la Microsoft" with one license per seat, without providing ISO images and so on. They actually have a very "proprietary" ideal, so they try to offer a not too bad image to the Linux community while acting against its ideals in reality.

      I don't work for SuSe but consider it rather slanderous (or is that libelous) for you to claim that they are trying to get a free ride out of the Linux community and usurp the GPL by being proprietary when they have explicitly stated that this is not the case. I can believe that Caldera would be in support of per seat licensing since this doesn't differ much from how Ransom Love has described his business plans but to simply paint other companies that contribute to the Open Source community with the same brush because they want to provide a Linux Standard is extremely unkind.

      In my opinion, Red Hat is lucky because they can stay open and make real business, MandrakeSoft is *extremely* innovative in inventing a real business model for Free Software while being a fervent defender of its rules. And SuSE, Caldera... didn't understand anything to Linux/Free Software and are going to be banned by the Linux community, and see their revenues decrease.

      It is rather sad that such a glorified troll is currently rated +5. All the companies you mention are trying to make money while giving you Free Software. Quite frankly, people like you are the ones that give Slashdot a bad name and make it seem like the Open Source community is a bunch of unfriendly freeloaders.

      By the way, most reckonings indicate that MandrakeSoft is just barely doing well [slashdot.org] and although Red Hat's financials are good, they are one of the few software-based company to be able to make a living off of Free Software. Even then they've been on the ropes a bit, I don't see why people should begrudge others for trying to find a way to provide Free Software and still make a living or is it that you'd prefer that all the companies you just besmirched created proprietary software?

      How to create a profitable business from Free Software is still a black art and in many cases may be impossible but while we are still trying to figure that out I don't think that it is fair to malign the people who are simply trying to make a living while contributing to Free Software.
      • How to create a profitable business from Free Software is still a black art

        Isn't offering support and configuring the way to make money off free software? I was under the impression that a lot of RedHat's income came from support contracts.
      • "How to create a profitable business from Free Software is still a black art and in many cases may be impossible[...]"

        Humm? Red Hat is doing fairly well, and by all means seem to be getting profitable. Doesn't that prove that a business on Free Software is NOT black art, and is viable?

        The reason why noone else seem to be able to, is just because the Linux market currently isn't big enough for more than a few players. Either the Linux market grows a lot, or most of the players will die, while Red Hat will probably survive anyway. Just natural selection.
      • It is rather sad that such a glorified troll is currently rated +5. All the companies you mention are trying to make money while giving you Free Software.
        Um, so they are trying to make money of me by selling me stuff they got for free. How exactly does that make them heroic?
    • by CynicTheHedgehog (261139) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @11:42AM (#3638390) Homepage
      SuSE wrote the (first? only?) USB kernel drivers.

      SuSE contributes heavily to ALSA.

      SuSE wrote many XFree86 servers for some of the less popular cards from S3 and trident.

      SuSE creates integrated E-mail server, collaboration, and database products that are more than just some slapped-together GPL code with an installer.

      You talk about innovative? Free ride my ass. Do a little research.
    • "MandrakeSoft, which more and more appears to be now #2 in term of installed user base, is the biggest defender of Free Software after Debian."

      What makes MandrakeSoft a bigger defender of Free Software than Red Hat? I'm just curious. Red Hat has AFAIK open-sourced all of their tools, and they are a huge contributor to different free software projects.

      "In my opinion, Red Hat is lucky because they can stay open and make real business, MandrakeSoft is *extremely* innovative in inventing a real business model for Free Software while being a fervent defender of its rules."

      So you're saying that Red Hat is just lucky for being where they are? I'm curious about this one as well. Mandrake would never even be where they are if it weren't for Red Hat. In fact, Mandrake owes Red Hat its life.

      Red Hat got a lot of shit for doing the 2.96-gcc release.. but Mandrake does the exact same thing.

  • by jaaron (551839) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:12AM (#3637835) Homepage
    This has nothing to do with the UnitedLinux Group being 'divided.' If you would actually READ their website, you'd understand that they are still SEPERATE companies and will still have SEPERATE products each with their own licenses and 'added value' content. The amount of FUD being spread about this project before it even really starts simply amazes me. Can we at least wait until there is actually a product out before passing judgement? Most of the bad press has nothing to do with SuSE, TurboLinux, or Conectiva, but is instead based on Caldera's plans. Don't mix up Ransom Love's messed up business ideas for the UnitedLinux business plan. They're seperate.
  • Per-seat licensing of a Linux product seems like an obvious marketing suicide attempt. As an admin, one of the big attractions of Linux is freedom from licensing worries. Given the easy licensing optiona available from Red Hat, Debian, et al., I think a United Linux-based distro would have to offer some unbelievable added value in their distro to get me to buy it.
    • Didn't you read the article? The point is that the United Linux partners are free to choose their own pricing model. Caldera want to do per-seat licensing. This article says that SuSE don't want to do that. There's nothing about United Linux that requires per-seat licensing. It's the decision of each partner how they want to charge.

  • OK, I took a week or so off for a vacation and seem to have walked into a new firestorm of information here. I have read most of the UnitedLinux articles referenced at Slashdot and am still somewhat in the dark here.

    Can someone tell me what the *intended*aim* of UnitedLinux:
    1. To provide a standard "base Linux" to compete with RedHat?
    2. To provide a single Linux to be distributed by all members?
    3. To provide a single group for all communication/development outside of sales?
    4. To provide a single face for customers (i.e. only marketting)?

    It sounds like others in this thread are similarly confused. Course, that may be because the members of "United Linux" are a little confused on the aim themselves.

    I humbly await enlightenment. ;-)
    • I'm not part of UnitedLinux, but this is my take: UnitedLinux is a brand. It is a consortium of several companies, current Caldera, SuSE, Conectiva, and TurboLinux. These, and any other future member companies/organizations, will each produce their own distribution under the UnitedLinux brand, i.e.- there will be SuSE United Linux, and Conectiva United Linux, etc. All these UnitedLinux branded distros will adhere to a set of standards defined by United Linux (ie- the member distros). These standards will include the Linux Standard Base, kernel release, libraries, filesystem layout, etc. Each distro will then take this UnitedLinux base system and add their own specialties to it. The UnitedLinux base system alone (not SuSE United Linux, or Conectiva's United Linux, just the base) should be a properly working system, but without a lot of bells and whistles. Just the basic foundation for a distro. It will be distributed in source format at least. Because all these UnitedLinux member distros are based on the same core, applications should the same on any of them. This makes development easier since ISV's don't need to target four or five different distros. This is a good thing. The resulting "aim" of UnitedLinux is then to provide a standard base that is really implemented by several major distributions. It's not necessarily to target RedHat. RedHat can join UnitedLinux, and they may, who knows? But the real purpose is to provide some standards across distros so that it's easier to develop for and consquently market Linux. Sorry this is so long, but so many people seem to misunderstand UnitedLinux.
    • 1) Yes.

      2-4) Sort of. They won't release a UnitedLinux Distribution but the companies will distribute their products with a "powered by UnitedLinux". Packages from the different distros will be interchangeable. A package for e.g. Mandrake Linux will work on SuSE and Turbolinux too.
  • "SuSE denies attempting to turn a profit in an effort to save their dying business. Story at 11."

    Translation: Could anybody really blame them for trying if they were going to do that? They aren't going to be around much longer otherwise...

    J
  • by drew_kime (303965) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @10:44AM (#3638030) Homepage Journal

    [Bradley] Kuhn [Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation] stated that the FSF has long been concerned with the distribution companies' approach to free software. "Every one of these GNU/Linux companies have been including non-free software with their releases of GNU/Linux," he said, "It's a wrong-headed approach to mix free and non-free software."

    Citing SuSE's own YaST application as an example, Kuhn said that the inclusion of software such as this completely negated the value of distribution. He feels the market is bearing the FSF out, too. "Users don't want this non-free software in their distros."

    The official line from the FSF is that the "correct" way to make money off of free software is by charging for the services surrounding it. That used to include charging someone to install and configure systems. Isn't that what YaST does?

    It's starting to seem like all the "services" that can be profitably charged for can eventually be automated. Once these services become programs, suddenly it's no longer OK to charge for them.

    If the FSF got its wish and non-free software could never be shipped or used alongside Free software, the companies charging for services would have no incentive to automate these services. One of the selling points of Free software is that it doesn't require as much service. Barring non-free software from working with Free software provides a disincentive to automation.

    • It's starting to seem like all the "services" that can be profitably charged for can eventually be automated. Once these services become programs, suddenly it's no longer OK to charge for them.

      Er, no one has a problem with charging for them. The problem is when they're not Free(tm) Software. If the FSF had a problem with just charging, they wouldn't want to see commercial distros at all.

    • well, suse doesn't make .iso's of their latest distro available (i think 7.0 or 7.1 is the most recent that's available) but they do allow FTP installs and make individual programs/files/packages available for download. there's nothing preventing anyone from rolling their own distro out of suse parts (except the propriatery, "non-free" parts like YaST.) SuSE charges for being SuSE, not Bob's-SuSE-Based-Linux-Distrubution. YaST (and YaST2, et al) are part of what seperate SuSE from other distros.
  • While I understand that there is a multi-million-dollar market for Linux, why make such a competition out of it? The basis for the OS, the code, the meat - is open source, as we all know, and it's not "owned" by any one person or company, or anyone at all. IMO, these organizations that package distros do just that - they take something that already exists (Linux and thousands of other packages for individual peices of software), make it pretty (I'll continue on that in a moment), and put it on a store shelf. Good, I applaud this. I think, however, that some of these companies may have lost sight of what is being paid for -- not the actual OS or its accompanying software, but the printed documentation, the tech support (which seems to be becoming less and less these days), and the pretty installer that makes it all happen. Back to a per-seat license scheme -- this screams Microsoft at me, and I don't think that this is the way anyone intended Linux to be. If I get printed documentation for every license that I purchase, that's one way to go, but I think that kind of makes the per-seat scheme void. In a per-seat situation I'd just be licensing that pretty installer. For the moment, I think "Redhat vs. " is a bad idea. I think that effort could be better focused on development of software. Thoughts?
  • Here's an analogy for you: Linus, RMS, and the FSF purchase a field (think Woodstock). They decide to make this field freely available to the masses. It's a sort of park where you're free to come have parties, camp, throw festivals, improve it if you like. Entrance is free, though vendors are welcome to sell cokes, snacks, rent chairs etc. Soon groups from all over the world are coming to use the park. They each kind of congregate in their respective areas but mix and mingle to share ideas on occasion. Then along comes a biker group (sorry, I like bikers but I had to think of something somewhat daunting). They decide to carve out a chunk of the park and setup camp. Everyone is intrigued and at first the bikers mix and mingle and get good ideas and share good ideas. Everyone else is interested in the neat happenings in the biker area and some decide to go check it out. Ah! But the bikers have setup gate and are charging a cover for their festivities. Some pay the cover, but most decide it's not really worth it. Others protest that the spirit of the park has been broken. The bikers claim that the other users are just a bunch of freeloaders and they should expect that with all the money spent on beer, food, and the band that the users should expect to pay something. Sound familiar? What the bikers, we'll call them The Caldera Gang, don't understand is that THEY have freeloaded on the property to start with. They've taken advantage of this free concept and decided to carve out a proprietary niche there. Now they've created this consortium, in an effort to get the groups closest to them to band with them. This would make their section of the park larger without them having to really give up much. They send some of their people over to help these new members and vice versa. The bikers just assumed that the members of the consortium would all agree to this cover charge. Ah! But will they? Apparently not. Now it appears that at least one of the new member groups doesn't want a ticket booth on their section of the park. >
  • I doubt that enough distros could ever cooperate long enough to make something like this work, and it is needed badly, a common, **compatible** base to work off of.

    Then add all the bells and whistles that a distro is made of.. and charge for that part...

  • Somehow, it does not surprise me that some distros and in particular this newfangled "United Linux" is looking at a per seat licensing arrangement. I mean, I love linux, but I really do feel sorry for the distro companies. Per seat licensing, at a much lower price, may actually increase their revenue.

    Then again, the outrage from the linux community would probably make them stop in thier tracks, which seems to have already happened....
  • OSF, the Sequel.

    I started out meaning for this to be funny, but I was on the battlefield during the System-V versus OSF wars. It was an ugly war with massive civilian casualities. In the end, both sides annihilated each other and paved the way for a non-combatant to rule the world. I expect more of the same from this virtual replay. Too bad; it would have been better for everyone if this alliance had never happened.
  • by MrResistor (120588) <peterahoff&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @11:53AM (#3638469) Homepage
    Where has anyone acually involved in the UnitedLinux project actually said that there will be a per-seat license?!? All I've seen is a somewhat vague statement in the UnitedLinux FAQ which could be interpreted as allowing for the possibility that there might be a few UnitedLinux distros using a somewhat non-standard license. Somebody mentioned it on /. wondering what they meant by it, and the Chicken Littles around here latched on to it a cried that the sky is falling. RMS heard the screams and, without bothering to check if the sky was actually comming down, issued forth his opinion on the matter. Apparantly the /. editors haven't bothered to look up either, since they keep posting stories about this totally unsubstantiated rumor!

    The fact that not a single one of these stories or opinions has been able to find a quote which substantiates this rumor is quite telling.

    Sure, Ransom Love is an idiot, but come on people! He already got smacked down for per-seat licensing once, is he really dumb enough to try it again? Are the rest of UnitedLinux dumb enough to go along with such a stupid idea after seeing what happened to Caldera? I very much doubt that. Obviously SuSE isn't, and I'd be very surprised if Connectiva or TurboLinux where even giving the idea consideration.

  • What would a per-seat GPL look like, anyway?

    --Blair
  • I could not resist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SomeOtherGuy (179082) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @12:50PM (#3638856) Journal
    A sports analogy:

    United Linux is like the bottom 4 teams in a league combining forces to take on the champions. (Basically you have the best of the worst taking on the winners.)

    The last thing businesses want to do is continually reinstall new distributions all of the time in order to get the new versions of applications -- imagine in the MS world having (or perceivably having) to upgrade from Win98 to Windows 2000 to use Office2000 or the new Windows Media player --- etc, etc. I think the big winner (functionally) will be the distribution that ends the need (or perceived need) to constantly have to install new distributions every 6 months -- just to get the upgraded applications. I would like to see the ability to easily go from say KDE 2 to KDE 3 from within a distribution without having to upgrade to a new point release distribution. I know that you can go to KDE's site and go through RPM hell to manually upgrade the RPMS's one at a time -- or you can add a "special" line in your sources.lst file in some cases to get new versions in the Debian world -- or you can use the source and compile yourself, but we are talking about my Mom and Grandma here...

    The only time someone should have to go through a full reinstall of the whole ball of wax should be every few years. Not every 6 months. It should be easy to keep applications up to date or on the bleeding edge -- without compromising or reinstalling the base distribution.
    • by Enigma2175 (179646)
      I think the big winner (functionally) will be the distribution that ends the need (or perceived need) to constantly have to install new distributions every 6 months -- just to get the upgraded applications.

      The Red Hat Network [redhat.com] and up2date do just that. It allows you to keep all your applications current. It solves the dependancies and downloads the appropriate packages. You can schedule updates for all your machines from a central place. So far I have just used the free personal service, but I am getting my employer to buy subscriptions for all the Red Hat machines that we have. It helps to support Red Hat and it reduces the time I spend applying security updates. In addition, you get priority access to ISOs if you care to download the whole distro. To quote the marketing guys, "it's a win-win".

  • Has United Linux been developed?

    I understand they are trying to get momentum for this distro, before its released. However it seems that they are getting more negative press than they can chew. Hype can't carry a company's product as well as it could 2-4 years ago.
  • by bkuhn (41121) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @03:51PM (#3640282) Homepage

    I was quoted a bit out of context in this article. Here are the full statements that I recall making, that were quoted only in part:

    " [ For a distribution business, ] I think that it's a wrong-headed approach to mix free and non-Free Software, because it leaves corporate users in a dilemma: they don't know off-hand what parts of the distribution they can freely copy around the company and what parts they can't."
    and:
    "Many users care about freedom, and those users don't want this non-Free Software in their distributions."
    I just wanted to clarify the statements, because I don't believe they were as sensational as the article makes them out to be.

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