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SuSE Businesses GNU is Not Unix

YaST to Become Open Source 478

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the changes-of-heart dept.
Space_Soldier writes "According to News.com, YaST is going open source: 'For years, SUSE has considered its YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) software for installing, configuring and managing Linux an advantage over its competitors and forbade them from incorporating it into the products they sold. But with the new plan, to be announced Monday at Novell's Brainshare conference, the company will release YAST under the GPL, sources familiar with the plan said.'" Several years ago, when I first used YaST, I found it to be superior to the rest of the all-in-one administation tools around at the time. It was generally regarded as a great program, save for the licensing. Today, that's no longer a concern.
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YaST to Become Open Source

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  • At Last! (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:25AM (#8607040)
    Just when I switched from Mandrake to SUSE Novell does the right thing and makes an honest Open Source distro out of it!

    Way to go!
  • by hawkeyeMI (412577) <brock.brocktice@com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:25AM (#8607049) Homepage
    While YaST may be great for people who know nothing about linux (and I'm happy to see that they're releasing it!) it annoys the hell out of me. Maybe I'm just not familiar with SuSE but it seems to me like any changes you make manually to configs will either (a) not take effect or (b) be overwritten by YaST next time you do something with it. Autoyast is very neat, btw. Apparently RedHat has something similar to that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:30AM (#8607072)
    Since I use SuSE at home, i have become quite accustomed to using YaST. Although sometimes it does not make changes, I find that that is very rare, and can be changed manualy. I have never seen YaST overwrite a config file in having used it for over a year. Overall I think YaST is amazing, and is supperior to most other linux managment tools that I have used.
  • by RLiegh (247921) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:30AM (#8607075) Homepage Journal
    aren't Novell giving away the store here? Just the same way that frustrated OpenBSD users distribute unauthorised OpenBSD iso's, now frustrated SuSE fans will be legally able to distribute home-rolled SuSE isos...or worse yet: Steal YaST lock stock and barrel and take away Novell's market.

    Is this really such a good thing, in the long run?
  • Novell's doing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:32AM (#8607091) Homepage Journal
    So is this a sign of the "We are really taking open source on board" that Novell has been trying to sell us, or is this just an internal SuSE decision? To be honest, I'm quietly hoping this was a Novel call, and that it's a sign that we have a big player really taking open source and GPL seriously. That, and hopefully it would be a sign that Novell might eventually start open sourcing some of their own applications, which would be a tremendous boost for FOSS.

    Jedidiah.
  • YaST vs. Anaconda? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xystance (660413) <my AT xystance DOT org> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:33AM (#8607095) Homepage
    So, alright...

    I purchase SuSE 9.0 Professional, DVD.

    I boot off the DVD, and I get a whopping five step process that takes me through everything from network configuration, partitioning, and hardware configuration AS WELL as choosing a password for root and another user.

    Incredible. Combined with hotplug even X configuration may not be necessary. This really could put the barriers to installing, configuring, and beginning to use Linux (for the general public of course) to rest.

    But, what about the Anaconda installer?
    Relatively simple install and relatively problem free. Not quite as "pretty" as SuSE has made YaST, but it does the job just as well. Then why hasn't Anaconda become a defacto standard? (Though, look at installing Gentoo from binary stages and GRP packages through Anaconda... looks damn good)

    So, why does Mandrake choose to make their own installer? Why do other "user-friendly" distributions choose to use other installers? What are the deficiencies in Anaconda that have not attracted others to this install process? Are those same deficiencies non-existent in YaST?

    Therefore, I pose the question :

    Anaconda vs. YaST : All other variables made equal, which is easier to use as a user, and which is easier to implement as a distro developer?
  • by kevcol (3467) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:35AM (#8607104) Homepage
    Ya know, I never once even thought about it when firing up yast but yeah- it's hilarious now that you point that out! A kitchen sink icon would have done nicely as well but that being sorta logical would perhaps make that less funny than a pineapple.
  • by Landaras (159892) <neil@wehnemaWELTYn.com minus author> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38AM (#8607113) Homepage
    I am a huge SUSE fan, in fact running 9.0 Professional as I type this.

    Before, SUSE kept individuals from reselling their ISO's by leveraging YaST. Specifically, the YaST license states that you can freely make copies of ISO's containing it, and give them away. However, no money could change hands in the process.

    Want to host SUSE ISO's containing YaST for all of your friends? The YaST license says 'go for it.' Want to charge them five dollars to download them (just to cover your hosting costs). The YaST license says you can't do that.

    You could still extract OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, and other GPL'd (or similar) software from the SUSE distro and distribute those as you wished, but it was YaST that you could only give away, never sell.

    Novell appears to be opening YaST up to try to get the market and other parties to standardize on it. I applaud this, as I definitely consider YaST to be a best-of-breed application.

    My question is, is there any other software within the SUSE distro that Novell could leverage to keep the SUSE ISO's from being sold?

    - Neil Wehneman
  • by texroot (755903) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38AM (#8607116)
    I think that the general rule for gui config tools is to either use the tool or config things manually, but don't do both. Or, use the tool, then add your manual tweaks, saving a copy of the config before using the gui tool again.

    Aggravating, but I've seen the case made for this typical behaviour elsewhere. The justification is that if joe user invokes the gui tool you want predictable results, not results subtly sabotaged by a previous botched hand edit of config files.
  • Different view. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eddy (18759) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:39AM (#8607117) Homepage Journal

    Several years ago, when I first used YaST, I found it to be superior to the rest of the all-in-one administation tools around at the time.

    Several years ago, when I came from Slackware to SuSe (just playing around), I found YaST to be extremely irritating, confusing and all together useless. I'd make a small change in a menu and that would trigger the running of lots and lots of mysterious scripts all over the place, doing gawd knows what. Went back to slackware after that.

    (This was, as I said, years ago and is not a comment on YaST as of today).

  • by mandolin (7248) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:41AM (#8607124)
    Several years ago, when I first used YaST, I found it to be superior to the rest of the all-in-one administation tools around at the time.

    That is not saying much. I always felt a little sorry for the Linuxconf authors (for example), it looked like they tried to make a flexible program (at least front-end wise), but their proggy was always buggy presumably because they couldn't track all the various configuration file changes across different distributions.

    It's certainly nice that Suse is moving farther in the open-source direction, though.

  • YaST over SSH (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:44AM (#8607134)
    Best thing about YaST is that you can easily run it over an ssh connection. It works almost exactly the same over a terminal as from a X session.
  • I got on board (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:45AM (#8607136)
    with Suse 9.0 and I knew then that it was the right move. I used (and started out on) Mandrake 8.1 and stuck with it through 9.1, but when 9.2 released I switched to Suse.

    I also switched everyone I know to Suse and they all agree, Suse is damn good stuff.

    This is great news and I know that this will boost Suse sales. I push Suse and now I have another selling point.

    Thank you Suse, thank you Novell..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:46AM (#8607142)
    Well Anaconda is also getting ported to Debian by Progeny last I remember in addition to the gentoo port.

    If I am not mistaken, the reason that Mandrake dosn't use anaconda, is that at the time that they made thier own installer, the anaconda installer just wasn't up to par. It, and all the redhat-config-* tools, have improved dramatically since RH8 and up.
  • SaX (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Landaras (159892) <neil@wehnemaWELTYn.com minus author> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:50AM (#8607159) Homepage
    The article doesn't mention SaX, which I believe to be a fully separate program. For those who don't run SUSE, SaX handles video cards and monitors.

    I ask because SaX saved me a few hours ago. I came home from school for a week, and left my 19" monitor at my apartment. I'm using a spare 17" monitor while at home. Unfortunately the refresh rate configured for the 19" monitor is incompatible with the lesser monitor.

    I dreaded having to get a crash course in X configuration in order to manually change the refresh rate, but thankfully had SaX. I just restarted, chose "failsafe" from the GRUB options, hit SaX2 after logging in at the shell, and SaX automatically corrected the resolution and refresh rate to my new monitor.

    I still haven't convinced my Windows 2000 box (damn you iTunes! [slashdot.org]) to adjust to the new monitor.

    I'll poke with the Windows box some more in the morning, but I found it interesting that SaX fixed this problem quicker and with less fuss than Windows 2000.

    - Neil Wehneman
  • Thanks SUSE/Novell (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Adrian De Leon (30979) <adrian.deleon@gmail. c o m> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:50AM (#8607160) Homepage
    As one of the "OSS" zealots that has bitched and moaned about Yast's licence in the past, I would like to thank SUSE/Novell for this license change. ;-)

    Now I can recomend and use SUSE without any holdups.

    Please support SUSE with this decision by voting with your wallet.

    It seems that Novell is making the right moves regarding Linux! I hope it pays off for them and the Community
  • Ximian YaST (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:51AM (#8607169) Homepage Journal
    So with YaST going open source and having a much larger developer base willing to scratch odd itches, I wonder if we'll get a GNOME/GTK port of YaST that will get included in Ximian Desktop?

    Anyone want to give some odds?

    Jedidiah.
  • Try it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by invisik (227250) * on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:53AM (#8607177) Homepage
    I suggest anyone who hasn't seen SUSE 9.0 Pro to go out and try it. YaST is so simple and SUSE has done an excellent job in integrating things on the desktop with lots of standard drivers.

    I can't wait for 9.1! I'm really excited to get on an integrated 2.6 and KDE 3.2 distro.

    -m
  • Thanks! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nermal6693 (622898) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:59AM (#8607200)
    SuSE has been my preferred distro for years, and a good part of that decision has been due to YaST. Configuring Linux with YaST is easier than configuring Windows. Well I suppose once XP came out, Linux looked a LOT easier in comparison :) So thanks SuSE/Novell, for opening up your distribution further. I hope that this move helps others to see the light.
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:05AM (#8607227) Homepage Journal
    Remember that Microsoft won an Open Source Product Excellence award [cioupdate.com] at LinuxWorld NY 2003.

  • by liquidpele (663430) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:05AM (#8607230) Journal
    problem is that some of the config tools can't do advanced functionality, and so you have to hand-code it. Then when you go back to change one little thing, it resets the hand-coded part and you have to re-remember how to do it and then re-do it.

    For instance, on Mandrake 9.2 after telling the firewall to let ftp through in the control center, it still blocked all the tcp ports ftp uses to transfer data... essentially blocking ftp. The advanced section which let you specify ports would not let you select port ranges (eg 60000:65535/tcp) but only individual ports, so I had to go in and hand code this. Then every time I need to change the firewall, I have to hand code it or It will undo my changes...

    I dunno, maybe I'm doing something stupid, but that kinda stuff bugs me.
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08AM (#8607241) Journal
    Does YaST support running in the console as well as X?

    I ask because this is important to many people -- and I remember that a good point of Red Hat's old Linuxconf was that it ran in both the console and X.
  • by ickoonite (639305) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:13AM (#8607258) Homepage
    Apple does a good job here with their System Preferences.

    On my iBooks, I have a firewall configured the old-fashioned way - using pico :P. If I try to tinker with the firewall using the relevant Preference Pane, I am warned that other firewall software is in use on the machine and that I cannot configure the firewall using Apple's pretty GUI unless I sort this out first. This basic level of protection can't be hard to do.

    A better thing would of course be to get the GUI to be kind to custom-written configuration files, but this could be quite hard to do.

    iqu :)
  • by mcbridematt (544099) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:14AM (#8607265) Homepage Journal
    Also interesting is the fact that YaST is in Sun Java Desktop. You wonder how they did that?
  • by sflory (2747) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:21AM (#8607296)
    My feeling is having talked with some of the Novell people during the early days of the merger. The Suse Linux product will become much more like Red Hat Linux was. I'm fairly sure that you will see the following products suse 9.1 products free download /w isos, basic cdrom with installation support and manuals, and profession with some additional non free stuff. Of course I'm just guessing, but I get the feeling Novell intends to open things up a lot.

    Remember that Novell isn't in the Linux distro business. Suse is a way for Novell to sell services, and additional enterprise software around. That and counter blance MS, and RH. Let's face it if Intel, and IBM actually liked Red Hat. Suse would have been out of business long ago. Then again having dealt with RH selling their RHEL product. I'm beginning to understand the feeling.
  • Re:Ximian YaST (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jrcamp (150032) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:28AM (#8607316)
    I suppose if somebody is that bored, then yes, they could port it to GTK. But the better question would be why you would want to do it? What is there to gain besides now having two GUI implementations to support? I don't see anything.
  • Portability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kinema (630983) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:30AM (#8607326)
    YaST is a great installer. Does anyone know how portable it is? One of the major things that the up and comming Debian installer has going for it is it's nearly toatal platform agnosticism.

    I know that YaST is a lot more refined and user friendly then d-i but the later was designed more as a highly portable framework that can be imporved upon with shiny GUIs as people see fit.

    I want to be clear YaST was great last time I used it and I applaud Novell for opening the source. I'm just currious about it's portability. It's been some time since I've installed SuSE on anything.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:31AM (#8607328)
    Rather then attempt to re-build and re-position the NetWare brand among IT decision makers, Novell realised they could do much better by taking an existing base Operating System with widespread appeal, and integrating NDS with that

    Well, actually they DID rebuild NetWare -- modern versions are very different from the classic lightning-fast Ring 0 NetWare that owned the market back in the day. It's now a real modern operating system, but, no one cares.

    The NDS-on-Linux strategy is really just correcting the biggest mistake Novell ever made -- When they promised customers the future was UNIX (NDS-on-UnixWare) and then for some bizarro reason decided to rewrite NetWare instead.
  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:34AM (#8607344)
    an installer and a test drive are totally different. you don't play with the OS on install. (except for that tetris game on the old caldera, remember that one?) a test dirve is like knoppix, et al. where you actually use the OS for real stuff. i would argue that an installer is totally not relevant to a distro. how many people install windows? few. installation of an OS should never be a factor. period. what matters is what happens when you use the OS. desktop linux will happen when it comes pre-installed/configured. until then, when you have to get a CD then do your own install, it is a niche OS on the desktop.
  • by Xystance (660413) <my AT xystance DOT org> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:46AM (#8607394) Homepage
    Fair enough...

    Then we look at YaST's tools for maintaining a system. Easy to understand, more comprehensive then the KDE Control Panel... that's something anaconda doesn't even touch.

    I didn't think about that. :)

    So, either you use YaST, or you edit config files manually, but no combination of the two really works.

    (Walks off to ponder)
  • by Monx (742514) <MonxSlash@@@expandedpossibilities...com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:48AM (#8607398) Journal
    Strange. On my system, YaST warns that it won't change hand-altered files and instead creates a file with a similar name containing its suggestions. This is a rather old installation, so that may no longer be a feature. On the other hand it could be an option that I set long ago and forgot about.
  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:01AM (#8607451) Journal
    One of the things keeping me from using Suse was that I simply do not do proprietary distributions. That's why I left the proprietary camp.

    I applaud this move. I don't mind paying for tools if I know that the tools will be available if, god forbid, a company goes out of business or is bought out by an unscrupulous company.

    Excellent, insightful move that signals that Novell does get the essence of what open source is about.

    Now, GPL OpenExchange and let it become the de-facto groupware server in the open source world and watch as the knowledge pool of people who can configure it grow and as it does it quickly eats into Microsoft's exchange sales.
  • by ebuck (585470) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:35AM (#8607552)
    I'd say that YaST is great for the average user, not just the newbie. Diehard system admins usually won't use an all-in-one gui anyway, but when they do, they expect a lot more from it than is expected by the average user.

    My only gripe with YaST was once I ran into a nasty corner case. YaST had the options (and yes, there are times when there's no gui for the bit you want to twiddle) but they didn't work as advertised. As a result I had to partially configure my software by hand and partially via YaST. It was horrible, and took more than 10 times the effort of doing the whole thing by hand in the first place.

    I strongly advocate (and I'm sure others do too) that should you use a GUI config tool, use it consistently and exclusively. Most GUI tools are mature enough to handle all the common setup and admin needs for the average user. Some people feel that using a GUI is slightly more risky since there may be a day when the GUI doesn't go where you need to, but in my experience that rarely happens these days.

    Note that there is always an exception, and in this case it is RedHat/Fedora. Their config architecture of a database oriented back end which parses the config files and monitors for manual updates (via timestamps) and a GUI front end that connects via network interface isn't exactly lightweight, but at least it's a system that is designed to handle both methods of updating. And no, I'm not referring to their older RedHat configure-everything-with-this-one-app tool, may it rest in peace (forever).
  • by ebuck (585470) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:59AM (#8607615)
    I can't speak about YaST, because it's just now available and it takes time to adopt such things, but I can tell you the answer could be a resounding YES.

    Compare the situation with RedHat's installer Anaconda. Anaconda has been open for quite some time now, and by being open my company (and a large number of others) have been able to build custom "in-house" distros for the automated installation of systems.

    In our case, it's as simple as deciding if it's going to be a desktop, network monitoring server, vanilla RedHat box, proxy/firewall, or Tomcat server, and then booting the system off a floppy to perform the install (or re-install).

    This would not be feasible without Anaconda being open; however, the reason it's not adopted more often is because it takes time to wade through the numerous little problems to figure out why it's not working in your case (and honestly, not that many people need this kind of functionality).
  • by Ho Kooshy Fly (561299) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:09AM (#8607646)
    With Ximian in hand, and word of GNOME afoot doesn't it seem logical that YAST will go through a major change and go the GTK/GNOME route? It seems to me that YAST on SUSE with integration with KDE may become unsupported. This is too bad becaues in SUSE 9 it is pretty slick for those users who are not experts. I wonder what kind of future the whole of GNOME/Ximian/SUSE will hold...

    -Fly
  • by ebuck (585470) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:17AM (#8607675)
    The windows registry sucks because it's a bad implementation of a good idea.

    Not all people like the idea of a database to hold you're configuration information, but data is data, and if you hold it in a database or a flat file the end result is the same.

    The "suckiness" of the windows registry comes from how badly they implemented the thing, and the incredible lack of accessible documentation in it's early release. Somehow you're supposed to know that

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE ->Autodesk ->
    AutoCAD -> R14.0 -> ACAD-12:409 ->
    Applications -> AecBase -> LOADCTRLS
    is supposed to be set to 0x0000000d (13)
    (as opposed to say 5)

    Add to that a bad heirarchial organization where you often find directory trees that are confusing in their similarity, and thousands (or so it seems) of entries which are similar but not identical. For example, both "system" and "System" are in the registry multiple times. Sometimes chaning a "system" to a "System" breaks things, other times it does not.

    Finally you have my favorites, directories with nearly no meaning at all (at least none that can be discerned) such as:

    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT -> .$A
    (and it's kin)

    You have to look at the contents of these beauties to try to figure out what it is they are describing.

    The registry idea isn't bad. Some may not like it, but others do. But certainly, the Windows Registry totally sucks (as in, my will to live).
  • Re:YAST vs urpmi (Score:4, Interesting)

    by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad@hotma ... minus herbivore> on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:22AM (#8607692)
    Not sure but maybe my SuSE Version 9 distro is diffrent from everyone elses.

    Nope, mine works the same way as yours. Heck, I even mix adding packages on my SuSE box with "kpackage" and "rpm" as well as with YaST. Somehow, it all just works together. Remember that cartoon showing a huge flowchart on a blackboard where the middle box was labeled "magic happens"?
  • Re:Good work Novell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:23AM (#8607694) Homepage
    For the last 5 years, while GNU/Linux was eating Microsofts lunch, Novell was fading out of the spotlight, hanging on through existing contracts.

    Meanwhile, all the big players have realised that free software is the future. Business models based on control will be obsolete in a decade or two. Unfortuneatly, Microsofts business model - since they do little other than software sales - their model is based completely on control.

    MS are trying to pretend that freedom is not inevitable, hoping that if they can postpone it for long enough, it won't happen. (Due to Trusted Computing or similar.)

    Meanwhile the others (IBM, SUN, HP, etc. and now Novell) have accepted it, but they want to slow it down so because it will take time to port their business models to the new way of doing software.

    SuSE was one of the big GNU/Linux vendors, but they were slowly declining. Their use of proprietary software showed a gap in their appreciation of how the free software economy will work. Novell seem to have a better grasp on the concept. I'm looking forward to what they do with SuSE.

    ease-of-use will come in time. user-orientated free-as-in-cost trustable-as-in-viewable are all functions of free-as-in-freedom. I'm looking forward to all the distros now sharing installer&config code.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:24AM (#8607697)
    Actually, have you ever heard of gconf? It's like the Windows Registry, only for Gnome. It's a centralized XML database for common configuration (at least it doesn't contain binary crap). Just like with "regedit", you use "gconf-editor" to edit it (although since it's simply XML, it should be actually doable to edit by hand).

    Personally, I think centralized configuration has a lot of drawbacks. For instance, if there's a problem with gconf (which has happened to me before), then problems crop up throughout Gnome apps, whether the config is applicable or not. It's also a lot simpler to write a shell script that works with a .conf file, than have to deal with XML. Of course, there's obvious benefits as well, due to one app being able to get needed config data from another app in a common location.

    I think in the end, the masses will decide, and my bet is on better documentation and standards, rather than a centralized database. After all, how many average "Joe Sixpack" type users use or care about the Registry? It's the developers who will decide in the end, while the clueless users will continue to use graphical config progs ignorant about how they actually work.
  • Re:Ximian YaST (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MS_is_the_best (126922) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:48AM (#8607780)
    No need to install QT on a gnome only desktop-system. (or even no gnome, but fluxbox, xfce etc.).

    Widgets behave the same in all your applications, no need remember if it was a GTK or QT app.

    No kidding, try "make xconfig" and "make gconfig" on a linux kernel (2.6.x). The xconfig just doesn't make sense to me as a GTK-user, and I can totally understand that a QT (KDE) user finds the gconfig version annoying.
  • Re:I got on board (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ojQj (657924) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:50AM (#8607786)
    I'm a linux newb and I started with Suse 9.0 about a month ago.

    I'm still trying, 'cause I'd rather not use Windows for various philosophical and technical reasons. I'm disappointed, though.

    Specifically YAST broke my network configuration multiple times by adding a network card when I configured something in a seperate unrelated part of the tool. Try to find that error as a linux newb. The apps Suse comes with have multiple minor, but irritating bugs. Mozilla's scroll bars disappear, the address manager refused to save my filters for a while and then suddenly fixed itself, some of the screen savers crash the computer entirely, and etc.

    So yeah, I'm still trying, and since I am a programmer, I may just go in and fix the bugs rather than living with them. Because YAST is going GPL, I have a chance to be able to help out there. But with all the hype I'd been reading here on Slashdot about GPL'ed projects and specifically Linux, I was expecting better. Oh well...

  • by zhenlin (722930) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:56AM (#8607811)
    Put all your eggs in one basket! Yessiree, this basket will hold any kind of egg, and very many eggs too!

    The Windows registry is not easy to repair, having a binary on-disk format. What is worse, is that the most important things (system and personal settings) are condensed into one single database file each.

    Config files have the benefit of being able to hook into the filesystem permissions, by sheer virtue of being a file.

    Additionally, by seperating out each configuration file, there is no single point of failure. (Other than rm -rf /etc ; or equivalent corruption)

    Anyway. If you want a key-value registry, look at gconfd of GNOME. (Even that isn't a single monolithic database, it is actually stored as a folder hierarchy on disk, and the file format is based on XML)
  • by Lennie (16154) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:45AM (#8608113) Homepage
    Supposedly FAI [uni-koeln.de] is supperior to all of the above.

    Because it seems more vendor neutral. It's not something I've checked, though. It's definitly something to look at, if you need such a thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:14AM (#8608204)
    I fairly dislike distribution-specific config tools like yast or the redhat-config-* stuff. Because it only does a fairly small part of what the to be configured application really provides (look at redhat-config-samba).

    Therefore I'm thinking all day and night about an end to the configuration-mess on Linux: There would be a generic frontend, driven by the XML-description the very app does supply on its own.
    Using this XML-description the frontend would parse the config and present the options to the user. Parameter-checking/dependecy should also be handled.
    That way you also could have "wizards" (although I strongly dislike them).
    Such a thing would be the ONLY way to escape the configuration-hell on Linux across various distributions.
    Oh, and context-sensitive help could also be provided for each option/"configuration state".

  • Fantastic News (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kumochisonan (704897) on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:19AM (#8608224) Homepage
    I have recently come to realise that one of the problems with Linux, and one of the reasons why most ISP's won't support it over the phone is because of a lack of standardised configuration tools.

    I am hoping that this Open Sourcing of YaST will mean that other distros will begin including it as a configuration interface, making it a whole lot easier to support.

    I am aware that almost every distro has it's own friendly GUI tools for config, but what we need is a standard tool across all distros, so that companies that offer support over the phone can easily train first-liners on how to support customers running Linux.

  • by protomala (551662) on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:50AM (#8608313) Homepage
    For me the big question is: now that yast is open-source, will other distros follow and open their tools, or will they start working together on yast? The amount of reinventing-wheel the distros have done all this time by creating their own tools is s complete shame. For me, I want Mandrake to change to yast asap! Why? Mandrake is a KDE distro, but their tools are in gtk, they promissed to switch to QT, but never did, now the tools are there, they should only get them. (they can even keep their installer that is great IMHO, but use yast as tools). I use Mandrake, and would love to see them cooperating into making yast great so more distros could take advantage of those tools. Anyway, little distros probally will start using yast as default tools too, I belive.
  • by zelbinion (442226) on Friday March 19, 2004 @08:30AM (#8608436)
    Documentation is what makes text files superior to the Windows registry (and possibly database configurations in general.) Many of the config files I edit on a regular basis have the documentation of what the options mean (and sometimes what options are available) IN the config file itself.

    The windows registy doesn't have this. Unless you happen to have a copy of the manual handy for every little app that has polluted the registry with dwords and hex values and what these mean, the registry is incomprehensible.

    Plus, if I do a man sshd_config, I get a reasonably usable manual on what I can put into the config file and what it means. Where is this on Windows? Windows help? Nope. Application help? (maybe, but probably not.)

    Putting all configuration options in a registry may or may not be a good idea, but if you loose the ability to include documentation with the configuration, then IMHO it is a net loss.
  • Re:Fantastic News (Score:3, Interesting)

    by emtboy9 (99534) <<jeff> <at> <jefflane.org>> on Friday March 19, 2004 @09:01AM (#8608524) Homepage
    We had that once. It was called linuxconf. And it really really sucked. In fact, when I was providing linux end user support, one of the first questions I asked users was: "Have you used linuxconf?" and if so, the first suggestion was always rpm -e linuxconf.

    YaST is a LOT better than linuxconf was or ever will be, BUT it still has some issues to work out. However this can only be a good thing, because now, there should be a LOT more people looking at YaST and working on fixes and features.

    The problem I see is this: There are no real standards. Red Hat starts services one way. SuSE another. Debian yet another, and so on and so on.

    They sometimes put things in different locations (/lib v /usr/lib) and sometimes do things completely different.

    I realize that each distro HAS to provide some difference, or some sort of value-add to survive. Traditionally, its been support for peripherals, better filesystems, support for more processors/ram and package management. Debian has .deb, Red Hat has rpm, and so on.

    Those are fine, but until all the major distros focus on standardization, at least at the base kernel and filesystem level, Linux will not succeed like it most definitely could. That is why you can go to rpmfind and find the same program compiled for 4 different distros... more in some cases. There are kernel differences, compiler differences, and more that all conspire to keep each distro at the "just different enough" level to prevend such things from functioning.

    Personally, I would like to see all the major distros (the smaller ones would probably follow suit on thier own pace) settle on ONE kernel version per release. ONE GCC version, ONE library version; you get the drift.

    After that, everything else is a value add, and can be what makes one distro more appropriate than another for a given use. But at least at that point, you will be able to use binaries from one distro on another without having to worry if 2.4.21 in Red Hat is really 2.4.21, or is it 2.4.18-lots_of_patches_and_Red_Hat_tweaks.
  • by ebuck (585470) on Friday March 19, 2004 @09:07AM (#8608545)
    Apache supports the inclusion of files into it's (normally) one config file format. This means that you can use the Include directive to move a portion of the config file into another file on the file system.

    These other files can have different permissions, and if ACL is your cup of tea, you can set it up and enjoy. Or you can use the standard user/group/other UNIX permission set as you like. How you slice and dice the file is up to you.

    But who would really do this anyway? Apache is a server, and you don't take a server and distribute the configuration between a group of people, each that can only touch these bits, but not those. You give the power to the administrator of the machine (or the server).

    With a fragmented server configuration you run the risk of someone setting thier own slice of control to some nonsense which stops or cripples the operation of the entire server. With the apache http server, those who need to tweak their own hosting permissions can do so without fancy ACLs and a fragmented config file system. That's what .htaccess is all about.

    Mabye there's a time and place where your argument will be much stronger, but Apache's HTTP server isn't the best example for proving your point.

    Plan 9 (the OS, not the movie) really turned everything into a (very glorified) file system. It was interesting, but after using it, there seem to be limits as to what is comfortably put into a configuration file system, and what is better off in a plain vanilla config file.

    NewtonOS took a completely different approach, it didn't have a file system per se, rather it had a underlying database. Configuration issues did not disappear, but they were much easier (my opinion) to handle. Some found it inconvienent to have documents be entries in a database, but that may have been a side effect of it's novelty.

    Perhaps the real problem is that file systems (in general) make lousy databases? Look at the clunky implementation of the registry "find" function, and you'll see that an elegant solution is begging to be found.
  • good news.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @10:16AM (#8609145)
    I see a lot of debate here centering on whether hand-holding gui apps like YaST are a good or a bad thing..

    Getting back to the point of the story, as far as config apps go, YaST is pretty good - deals very well with dependency issues for rpms and seems to deal well with all the configs on my 3 SuSE boxes. Being able to call YaST through the X gui, through the ncurses gui or directly from the CLI means that it remains useful even on a P233 laptop with 96Mb of memory.
    Regardless of inter-distro bitching and l337er-than-thou user-hostility fans, the GPL'ing of YaST is Damn Good News - there's lots of good tools within YaST, and if it's GPL you can of course keep the bits you like and dispense with those you do not..

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