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Why Mandrake is Too Cool for UnitedLinux 392

An anonymous reader says "Mandrake's lastest community (spam) newsletter contains their explanation as to why they won't join in on UnitedLinux. Besides the obvious geek-fun of rolling their own distro, they claim that the underlying idea of UnitedLinux is based on a flawed comparison to the Unix world of the 80's. " I think the whole UnitedLinux thing is lame- the distros that want to be compatible already are. UL is just the 2nd tier distros trying to get attention and ink away from the "evil forces" in North Carolina. I'll just stick to the best distribution and watch the fun from afar ;)
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Why Mandrake is Too Cool for UnitedLinux

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  • What? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Aknaton ( 528294 )
    >obvious geek-fun of rolling their own distro

    Aren't they just a Redhat distro with some a few mods? If Mandrake is more than that, please explain.
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:22AM (#3814033)
      Mandrake is clearly not Redhat with some mods any more. Maybe back a couple years but it's definitely it's own unique distribution. They use RPM and Khudzu and that's about it. They hand select, configure and build all the RPMs and packages, they have their own installer, they have their own support tools.

      It's redhatesque but it's unique. It happens to be a damn fine distribution also.

      • yeah great they did an installer and learnt how to compile src rpm's to what they like but I have yet to see them actually upgrade anything before redhat has put its fix's in

        e.g. lets see them actually use gcc3.1 before redhat


        john jones
        • I haven't used Mandrake for a few years now, but back in the 6.x days, they were using pgcc (Pentium optimized compiler, ~30% speed improvement over stock gcc at the time) and did a lot of work on ironing out problems compiling things with pgcc vs. gcc. That seemed pretty important at the time. Of course, my few remaining Mandrake 6 boxes have a hard time compiling anything current now...
        • by LinuxGeek8 ( 184023 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:16AM (#3814443) Homepage
          yeah great
          lets see them actually use gcc3.1 before redhat

          Nice flamebait.
          They are already using gcc 3.1 in Mandrake Cooker, their development distro.
          They built everything with it short after the release of 8.2. They tried before, with Mandrake's rpm-rebuilder robot, but a lot of software didn't build with gcc 3.0 then.
          With gcc 3.1 and 3.1.1 things look better.

          They were the first with devfs in mdk 8.0 I believe, allthough that might have been a bit early.
          They were the second distro to use apt-get (after Connectiva), but they switched to their own tool, urpmi, which is working rather good nowadays (apt-get for rpm isn't perfect yet too, you know).
          So all in all, it seems to me you put out a rather cheap flamebait; you mostly lack the right information.
  • One OS (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rupert ( 28001 )
    under Linus, indivisible.
    • Grrr!! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That's "UNDER GNU/LINUS", dammmittt!!!


    • Surely you mean "One Kernel, under Linus, indivisible." (Except that it isn't really, but we shouldn't let minor facts get in the way.) After all, the OS is more than just a kernel, and the kernel pretty much all Linus is involved with.
    • Re:One OS (Score:2, Funny)

      by Aknaton ( 528294 )
      Damn Linus believers, always trying to force their OS on us. I say that there is no Linus, that he is a figment of your imagination. ;)
  • mandrake (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gralem ( 45862 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:23AM (#3814044)
    Mandrake is simply the best distro out there. It doesn't get bogged down by "this package uses the wrong license" or "this is too cutting edge" or "this is too average user", either. They simply go out there and offer their users EVERYTHING in the linux world. I will always only install Mandrake.

    And not becoming a part of United Linux is partly due to the above and partly due to their use of RPM. I think they're doing the right thing, and the United Linux people fill fall big time.

    • Re:mandrake (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Matt2000 ( 29624 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:12PM (#3814841) Homepage

      "I will always only install Mandrake."

      This is clearly retarded. Why do computer dudes always throw down insane ultimatums? It gives us a bad name and it's the reason people in companies don't trust us.

      "DOS 6.3 is the last operating system this company will every use, PERIOD."
      "Get out."
    • Re:mandrake (Score:3, Informative)

      by breser ( 16790 )
      I like Mandrake but your comments regarding them not caring about the license is just plain wrong. 8.2 no longer includes Netscape. The next version will not include pine [] because of license issues. [] Mandrake has made a large attempt to remove all software that isn't free software from the GPL CDs. The only way to get anything else is to belong to the MandrakeClub [] or buy the PowerPack. []
    • I second that. Mandrake has a ton of cool features no one else does, like a boot progress bar, using GCC 3.1.1 to build their packages; DevFS has been in use since 8.0. They let you use ext3, ext2, reiserfs, and xfs. There is no "you must use ext3" like some distros....Quality
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:25AM (#3814051)
    I am not a fan of mandrake, but this is an extremely well-written document all the way through. I would like everyone to take note of the fact Mandrake seems to be committing in here to follow the LSB [].. so that's good. One thing i wonder about though:

    "In the same spirit, all software publishers should certify their products for a given version of the LSB (Linux Standard Base), not for a particular brand of Linux. Therefore, that software would work equally well with any Linux distribution that is in conformity with the LSB. "

    Is this correct? The UnitedLinux people have been implying that they are somehow just the logical conclusion of the idea of the LSB, and in some way they will make things easier for developers-- i.e., less varied systems to test. Is this correct, or just misleading marketing? Are there any situations where it would be possible to certify a single binary for UnitedLinux, but not possible to certify a single binary for the LSB becuase the LSB is not extensive enough?
    • The story goes like this:

      1) LSB is formed

      2) SuSE implements it, nobody else cares (especially RedHat and Mandrake)

      3) SuSE forms United Linux with Caldera and some others.

      4) All of the sudden Mandrake likes the LSB.

      But I still don't believe Mandrake being compliant unless I see it.

      • by platypus ( 18156 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:49AM (#3814675) Homepage
        Indeed, and I really wonder about the hostility against united linux.

        Ok, they have caldera+ransom love onboard, that may explain it.

        But the notion that LSB is enough to get a common base for installing binary software is complete nonsens. Yeah, it works in theory, but in practice, for enterprise ready software, you _want_ to test on an actual platform, not hope that everyone will play well along the standards.
        LSB is a good thing, but nicely written standards don't compensate for excessive regression testing on a real environment (which is what united linux gives us)
        Especially with such a complex beast like a GNU/linux/whatever environment - hell, this mindset fails with simple things like tcp and http. What does MDK think "reference implementations" are for?

        And please, can we stop all this nonsens about "monopolisation", "per seat license" and stuff in combination with united linux?
        The GPL is the GPL is the GPL

        • When the LSB was first being kicked around Bruce Perens happened to be on board and he suggested using Debian's set of core packages as a test distribution. However, Caldera (and to a lesser extent SuSE) didn't want a binary standard base that you could actually install, because the leaders at these companies knew that many people might simply deploy the test distribution and not pay for the proprietary extras that Caldera and SuSE had to offer. After all, if all you need is a Linux distribution that you can run Oracle on, it really doesn't matter which distribution it is as long as it is supported by Oracle.

          That is why we have a written LSB standard and a set of tests instead of a much easier to create and use binary standard.

          Well, Caldera and SuSE (and TurboLinux) have finally realized that their developers want a binary standard, and if they can't have one from the LSB they will simply use RedHat which is a very popular and extremely open.. Once again that leaves the proprietary distributions (Caldera, SuSE, TurboLinux) out in the cold, and so they have banded together to form a proprietary alternative. You see, they have created a binary distribution, but they want to charge people to use it. Since most of the software is GPLed, they can't deny sources to most of the distribution, but you can bet that they will be up to the same old tricks that they have always been up to. Caldera has said unequivocally that the UnitedLinux core would be licensed "per seat."

          The truly unfortunate bit is that it would appear that Caldera is going to use UnitedLinux as a chance to drag SuSE into bankruptcy. SuSE gets to pay for the development and maintenance of UnitedLinux, and Caldera stands to receive a disproportionate amount of the benefit. Meanwhile Caldera still has revenues from the old SCO Unixes to keep itself afloat.

          Personally, I use Debian, and think that it would make an excellent binary test platform. It is well-maintained, non-commercial, and it is a relatively slow moving target. There is lots of room for adding value to the Debian core packages. That being the case, I would much rather see RedHat or even Mandrake (both of which have firm policies of releasing source code under the GPL) become the binary standard than UnitedLinux.

      • Nobody else cares? Excuse me?

        Debian has gone through hell (ask any debian developer about /usr/share/doc) working towards LSB compliance. As I understand it they're still a way off, but they've been committed to it forever.

        I'd bet money that debian has a larger market share than any of the UnitedLinux companies.
  • by StandardCell ( 589682 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:27AM (#3814060)
    As a (relatively new) Linux user, my first distro was Mandrake 8.1. What's nice about Mandrake is that there are GUI interfaces for everything. I mean, I've been working with Solaris and HP/UX for years and writing perl scripts and scheduling cron jobs, but never had to deal with "admin-type" issues like drivers and installing software and hardware. I don't mind going in and trying to figure out command-line switches for various tools and turning system services on and off. Mandrake is getting pretty close to the ideal, particularly with its HardDrake detection and its unbelievably good disk partitioning tool. That's not to say that it's perfect - I still think the whole package/RPM thing needs a lot of refinement, and there are bugs like losing sound on my A3D card for no reason (a known KDE problem). In fact, there's the rub - when it comes to ease of use, Windows still has Mandrake and the rest of the Linuxes beat hands-down. But like I've said before - with 10% of the development budget of Windows products, and buy-in from major software developers in multimedia, Linux could be a Windows killer. Just like UnitedLinux is supposed to do. Therein lies the problem - do you take the distro with the currently closest emulation of Windows' ease-of-use and push it to effective completion, or do you go and pool development efforts to make all the rest of the distros good? My hope is that cooler heads and better attitudes prevail, because many Linux distros and the fate of Linux on the desktop lies in the next move made by all Linux companies.
    • "As a (relatively new) Linux user, my first distro was Mandrake 8.1. What's nice about Mandrake is that there are GUI interfaces for everything. I mean, I've been working with Solaris and HP/UX for years and writing perl scripts and scheduling cron jobs, but never had to deal with "admin-type" issues like drivers and installing software and hardware. I don't mind going in and trying to figure out command-line switches for various tools and turning system services on and off. Mandrake is getting pretty close to the ideal, particularly with its HardDrake detection and its unbelievably good disk partitioning tool."

      I have to agree that Mandrake is an excellent introduction into the linux world. Before I started using it a year ago, I was a well experienced windows user who paid for university textbooks by building computers, setting up networks, doing user training/consultation all on windows.

      Mandrake is great for easing users in, because as you say, the GUI helps prevent 'shell shock.' Now I started off using DOS in the mid 80s, but you can do so much more from the linux shell. Mandrake is great because you can ease yourself in and learn the linux shell slowly.

      Just last weekend I compiled and installed Apache 2.0.39 singlehandedly (which is trivial for msot *nix users, I know) but this is a testament to Mandrake's user friendliness and ability to help users help themselves into the linux world.

    • I agree that Mandrake is probably "closest to getting to mainstream" if you define that as the home/soho user. If you're talking about corporate America, however, I think RedHat still has that market pretty well locked up right now.

      Mandrake has a great distro, but their sales and marketing tactics are a little too "consumerish" for the business world.

      AKA. We're low on funds, so let's petition our membership with spam-like emails begging for contributions. Hey, wait, we'll make a little "club" so people feel good about contributing to us! We'll even throw in single-user licensed of some commercial software like StarOffice! Now, let's try to sell some stocks in our company since we can show how our revenues are up. Yeah, I know - we're not listed on any major stock exchange (yet)... but nevermind that. Buy it anyway and we'll get listed eventually! Really, we will!

      Meanwhile, RedHat has most of the deals inked to come pre-installed on name-brand servers when you order them with Linux.
  • "best distro"? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vogon jeltz ( 257131 )
    "I'll just stick to the best distribution and watch the fun from afar ;)"
    Well Taco, it might just happen that United Linux fits your needs perfectly then:
    • Look again. It's a joke. Ransom Love says he wants to find a way to include Debian in UnitedLinux and DWN is saying the only way that'll happen is if they make UnitedLinux based on Debian.

      If you don't believe it, check out the UnitedLinux FAQ [], which states:
      Today, four development members - Caldera, Conectiva, SuSE, and Turbolinux - make up UnitedLinux, but the initiative is open for additional Linux companies to participate.
  • by fishlet ( 93611 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:31AM (#3814105)
    I think that Mandrake tends to be an early adopter of new features... more so than other more conservative distro's like Red Hat. Whether that's a good thing or not is a whole other discussion- I personally think it's great. Mandrake was (one-of) the first to use a graphical installer, journaling file systems, etc. I imagine being part of a coalition like 'UnitedLinux' would entail restrictions as to what they can and cannot do. I'm glad that Mandrake has decided to continue choosing their own path.
  • by bigjocker ( 113512 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:34AM (#3814130) Homepage
    We Linux users know there is a problem with the current linux distributions. It's not only an interoperability problem, but a core one. We have came to a point where we knew we were going to get to, but we haven't tought of a solution because we were making linux ready for the mainstream. Now is the time to solve this, UnitedLinux is a start, but, as many of you, I dont like the approach they took.

    We all know all the problems with RPM based distros, compatibility between them breaks a lot, and, even if you should have only one RPM for any distro, when we go to download an application we get a RH6.X.rpm, RH7.rpm, MDK8.rpm, MKD8.1.rpm, etc ...

    I'm a Mandrake user, and I love it, but I have seen apt-get working, and I'm really impressed. I think apt-get is the right direction for a real package management tool for all distros. This is the direction package managment under Linux should be taking, and not creating commercial standards without atacking the core of the problem nor creating apt-like solutions or apt-like-frontends for rpm based solutions.

    Conclution: LSB + apt-get should be mandatory to be able to call anything a Linux distribution. I know a lot of us would kill for apt-get to be the default package manager in all distributions.
    • There's an RPM version of apt-get at []. It's for Redhat but I don't see why it wouldn't work for Mandrake.

      I don't think apt-get will solve the problem of different RPMs for different distros.

      • There's an RPM version of apt-get at []. It's for Redhat but I don't see why it wouldn't work for Mandrake.

        That's exactly what we shouldn't be doing. Is the RPM package/dependencies list available to the apt packages? is the apt packages list availabe to RPM? Do they use the same notations? Ah, I see, making a RPM version of apt-get solves the problem, because we need more front-ends that hide a poor designed system.

        We need to stop for a second and rethink a lot of things, and among them is package distribution for linux. No matter which distribution we use or we make, this is a issue that is comming back to us right now, and if we don't do anything it will get a lot worse in the future.
    • LSB + apt-get should be mandatory to be able to call anything a Linux distribution.

      What about a distro with no package management? Are they going to be forced to install an unused apt-get? What about gentoo? I prefer portage to apt. What about when I want to write a better package manager tomorrow? It can't get it's foot in the door because apt is standardised. What about...

    • by Strog ( 129969 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:12AM (#3814419) Homepage Journal
      Have you tried urpmi on your Mandrake box?

      It's the backend for the graphical software manager. Automatically downloads dependancies etc. similar to apt-get(I said similar, not like apt-get). I like typing partial package names and it will give you a list of all matches, versions, etc. Works fine out of the box but you really need to add mirrors for updates and cooker if you want to really work well.

      Urpmi has had some teething problems in the past but works well now on my systems. Anyone working with it on the 8.0 PPC release will know what I'm talking about. The issues basically convinced me to run the development version (cooker) on this iMac until the bugs were worked out. Worked much better when I got the latest wget. Curl didn't really help the issues for me. The last couple releases have worked flawlessly for me. That has me looking for problems that may or may not be there. YMMV

      I'm not knocking apt-get. I've used it and thinks it works great. I also like the package management in FreeBSD too. I think more Distos/OSes can look at what's been done and follow these examples.
      • I'd like to see a package management system somewhat like CPAN [] (more info []). I like being able to use a ReadLine enabled interface and automatic dependancy checking. I like being able to break the install into parts: I gan get the module, tweak it as I see fit, then install it. It just seems like a better system then fink, apt-get, etc.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:56AM (#3814716) Homepage
      the biggest problem is NOT rpm.. it's software developers trying to use a package manager as an installer which is VERY wrong.

      you dont try and use windows-update to install photoshop, so why the hell are linux programmers doing the same? There is an excellent installer package available to all and is top notch... It's from loki, and doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out...

      the other problem is the overwhelming desire by EVERY programmer to use incompatable and bleeding libs.. if you are writing an app for the masses, USE COMMON LIBS THAT ARE ON CURRENT DISTROS. you dont see apps sold for windows that use pre-pre alpha graphics libs that are being designed for the next windows release... so why do linux users have to suffer? developers that cant keep their hands out of the CVS for the libs installed on their machine either need to be slapped or forced to publically state that "My program XYZ WILL NOT WORK ON A STANDARD LINUX INSTALL... See my requirements list for why"

      and a standard linux install is RH7.2,7.3 Mandrake 8.2 or whatever. just list it, take the time to be sure your users can actually compile your app. Or offer up a completely statically linked version... no worries about libs there...

      Linux is ready for prime time.. now only if the app developers would start getting ready.
  • Flamebait story.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Junta ( 36770 )
    I have a few favorite distros, and they all have their place.

    Gentoo is my absolute personal favorite for personal systems. The major thing about FreeBSD I loved was the ports system, and here it is in Gentoo with a system that is more likely to get suspport from vendors. You can build *everything* with a nice automated build process with a good dependency management system and well designed configuration management. Tweaking make.conf can yield a very high performance system with only the optional dependencies you want. The price paid here is that this method of operation takes a great deal of time for a good install. Sure, a prebuilt stage3 can be used, but a) what's the fun in that? and b) still have to build X and desktops. Also, the portage maintainers mostly take software developers at their word that a package is ready and stable rather than having a heavy testing process. This is of course a double edged sword. On one hand you get all the cutting edge (or bleeding edge if you want) stuff before everyone else and it generally works well. However, the downside is that integration is not well tested and that stuff is left to the user. I personally am willing to test and debug in exchange for the system, but some don't like this.

    Debian has a good distribution setup with apt, and can do a lot of the stuff portage does but with binaries which take less time to install, but are not as optimized. The testing process is certainly there, perhaps not highly organized and such, but what it lacks in organization it certainly makes up it time. Installing stable gets you a rock solid system, but the software is as old as dirt. If you aren't a performance freak nor do you care about the latest bells and whistles, user friendliness, but still want a *rock solid* distro, debian is good.

    RedHat seems to have a more structured testing procedure that gets things out the door faster than debian, but not necessarily as stable. The free options for updates is far worse than debians. So if you want more up to date stuff than debian, need some good gui utilities to coddle you through certain configuration tasks, or want corporate support, and are willing to live without apt or portage and with a tiny amount more flakiness, RedHat is good.

    Mandrake I like for desktop systems I don't want to be bothered with again. They consistantly have the most updated packages I've seen (outside of gentoo, of course). And for desktop configuration their tools are pretty damn easy to use. The price paid is increased flakiness, occasionally to the point of Windows 2000 flakiness, which isn't too bad, but not great. A common user will likely fare better with Mandrake than other distributions. For servers I would say debian or RedHat, maybe gentoo for home servers that can afford to take a long time to install stuff on, and for workstations/desktops mandrake or gentoo...
    • I can't argue with that. He makes some good points as to the advantages/disadvantages of each:
      1. Debian (easy binary upgrades)
      -1. Debian (upgrades as old as dirt)
      2. Gentto (nice upgrade methods)
      -2. Compile time
    • Gentoo is a rather good idea, but its still in early development in the 3.1gcc area, some things dont compile correctly. Optimizations can cause some compile problems. I had to keep a local rsync mirror of the gentoo distrib files so I could speed up install. Downloading 100+ megs over a 128K connection is freaking evil.
      1.3b was broken as of 2 weeks ago, had to use 1.3a.

      Mandrake Cooker is my favorite, burn an iso, poof your a gcc 3.1 system, no fuss, build in 15 minutes.

      But then with Gentoo, your on the bleeding edge, takes time, takes work, but it does make a faster workstation. (BTW, it has a preemptive kernel which does make a better X workstation)

      • Mandrake is my usual distro. The new cooker is nice; it feels pretty stable too. Its KDE3 install is cleaner than adding it to Mdk 8.2. What drove me nuts about it was burning an iso -- it really fills the disk (716MB) and those outermost tracks apparently aren't all too reliable on some disks (Fujifilm 32X).

        That aside, Mandrake is way more user-friendly than even Red Hat, for a home/toy machine at least. It come with more games -- my six year old loves it! But Tux Racer is missing in the cooker; apparently the sound libs are incompatible. And urpmi didn't resolve the problem, just said no. That aside, Mandrake does a nice job of setting up the desktop. And its installer beats Red Hat's. For instance, if your Disk 2 or 3 in Red Hat is bad or missing, Red Hat's installer hangs and won't finish up. Mandrake puts the critical stuff on Disk 1, and if Disk 2 is bad (see above about full CD-Rs), at least it completes the install with the packages that it could get from Disk 1.

        Gentoo drive me nuts. It has no installer, so it's really a do-it-yourself project for hardcore Unix weenies. Not even like the old Heathkits, with step-by-step instructions that worked. I'm currently stalled figuring out passwords. As defaulted, Gentoo is incredibly, unusably picky about what it'll accept as a user password. I'm sure it's all settable via pam.d, but like the rest of Gentoo, if you don't want to learn all about the guts of something, you can't get it to work. I don't mind the compile times. If Gentoo could be run with a Mandrake-like installer, it'd be amazing.
  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) <> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:37AM (#3814151) Homepage
    Debian Weekly News [] explains how Debian is, logically, going to become the basis for UnitedLinux.

    Note to the uninitiated: The relevant paragraph has a typo, it's missing a ;-) on the end...

  • Not Spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:38AM (#3814164) Homepage
    I object to the term "spam" being used to describe the newsletter.

    You have to opt-in to get it.
  • I'll just stick to the
    best distribution [] and watch the fun from afar ;)

    The Debian Weekly News [] say:

    We are happy to
    learn [] that UnitedLinux will apparently be based on the Debian distribution, since Ex-CEO of Caldera, Ransom Love, will be trying to find a way to include members such as Debian, which don't have the commercial focus of the current UnitedLinux partners -- and to us this looks like the only logical way.
  • companies want that (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ghopper ( 580600 )
    They're not targeting individuals here, there targeting large companies. The kind of companies that are reluctant to buy in to an open source operating system now, because they're afraid that the distributor will go out of business tomorrow. Now that fear will be alleviated because there will be dozens of "compatible" distros. And the companies will require that the software they purchase for Linux be "certified UL compatible".

    United Linux wont give us better distros, and it wont make Linux distros any more compatible with each other. However, it will create a bureaucracy which will give corporate managers a nice warm fuzzy. It's a marketing gimmick, and the corporations of the world will fall for it. It's too bad that most corporate IT managers are so clueless.

  • by k8to ( 9046 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:54AM (#3814287) Homepage

    UnitedLinux is clearly an attempt to raise the commercial value of compatible and LSB-compliant linux distributions.

    The Mandrake solution of 'blindly do whatever RedHat does' does make things somewhat compatable, but there are a lot of drawbacks to this strategy, and it doesn't really help the commercial software vendors at all if Red Hat decides to change what they provide from version to version. (And they do.)

    The Linux Standard Base is useful, it is relevant, it is important. This draws attention to and raises the bar of interest in this regard.

    Now, please explain, all you slashbots, how this is a bad thing?

    • UnitedLinux is clearly an attempt to raise the commercial value of compatible and LSB-compliant linux distributions.
      Please keep in mind that UnitedLinux isn't the LSB. I fully agree with your later assertion of the goodness of the LSB but if your looking for LSB, UnitedLinux isn't the way to go. Its an entirely different goal.
  • by BRock97 ( 17460 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @10:56AM (#3814299) Homepage
    Over the last few years of open source, why is it that when an open source company becomes successful financially (and by this, I mean is able to operate without going under), they become the source of evil-ness in the eyes of others? I understand that Taco put the "evil forces" in quotes to indicate a certain level of sarcasm, but to some in Open Source Land, they do see it this way.

    What has RedHat done that is so bad? Sold out? Stifled innovation? As far as I am concerned, no, they have not. In fact, I am very happy with their products on the server level and use it on three production machines at my local university. The Airforce is even looking into using servers running RedHat. Not only does their stuff run well, but it gets good name recognition for Linux as a whole.

    It isn't just RedHat, either. I am sure that if the Apache Foundation were to go private and start selling a commercial version of Apache httpd AND become commercially sound, they would be looked upon in the same way.

    I am asking in all seriousness. I want to understand this mentallity.
    • successful financially (and by this, I mean is able to operate without going under)

      As RedHat is yet to turn a profit, and it remains questionable whether she ever will, I would say she is in certain danger of going under.

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:22AM (#3814497)
      Over the last few years of open source, why is it that when an open source company becomes successful financially (and by this, I mean is able to operate without going under), they become the source of evil-ness in the eyes of others?

      This presumption isn't correct IMHO. Not even Richard Stallman (whos rhetoric, while often quite insightful, is about as feiery as it gets) is guilty of what you describe here, much less the majority of the GNU/Linux and Free Software/Open Source community at large.

      Red Hat has done some great things for the community, and has given back a great deal to the community. I may not prefer their distro personally, but I have no trouble suggesting it (or Mandrake) to friends who want to install and play around with Linux.

      What has RedHat done that is so bad?

      They have encouraged proprietary software vendors to release their wares in a manner that is compatible with Red Hat and not other distributions, by falsely implying that they, Red Hat, set the standards and everyone else follows.

      This is bad because (a) Red Hat does not (and shouldn't) set the standards and (b) it is quite possible, and vastly preferable, to package software in a distribution-agnostic form installable by evertyone. Blender did it, Loki did it, Id and several other proprietary vendors do it now.

      This is my only real criticism of Red Hat, and if they would cease and desist this behavior (which IMHO does in fact do harm to the community as a whole, and to the vendors who are seduced by the erroneous notion they have to target one or two main distros) I would have absolutely nothing bad to say about them whatsoever.

      UL, on the other hand, is an effort to exploit exactly this myth, mislead software vendors in the process (to their detriment and the detriment of the GNU/Linux community at large), all without giving even a fraction of what Red Hat has given back to the community, and that is a very real and serious problem. Actually, propogating the notion of commercially imposed standards (rather than standards formed by consensus) and forcing users to use a One True Distro (or forever chase and mimick a One True Distro) is a terrible disservice to the community, regardless of how much is "given back" to the community to compensate, and it is an effort that should be resisted and fought.
      • by tempest303 ( 259600 ) <jensknutson AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:28PM (#3814985) Homepage
        I must respectfully disagree with a few things here:

        They have encouraged proprietary software vendors to release their wares in a manner that is compatible with Red Hat and not other distributions, by falsely implying that they, Red Hat, set the standards and everyone else follows.

        This is true to an extent. Red Hat did essentially "go their own way" in some respects, setting up their own standards for some things. The most notorious of these breaks is, of course, the use of GCC 2.96 instead of 2.95. This caused a lot of controversy, and deservedly so, but it's what they felt they had to do for their distro []. They had customers who required the enhancements of 2.96, and so they met those needs. They took a lot of crap for it, too, but they stuck to their guns (and the customers they were serving).

        RH also took some liberties with file system layout, etc. They obviously felt it was important enough to make the change, so they did.

        What I'm trying to illustrate here is that in both cases, RH did what they did not to lock out other vendors, or to hyjack the industry, but rather to apply what they felt was some needed sanity into certain aspects of Linux. However, the community has now "caught up" to Red Hat's changes, by releasing GCC 3.x, and the LSB 1.1 spec. RH's next distro (which will undoubtably be called 8.0) is going to be using GCC 3.x, and will be LSB compliant. So it seems to me that Red Hat has only been doing what they felt was necessary until the community made their decision on the direction of things, and then RH re-converged their distro with the community at large.

        it is quite possible, and vastly preferable, to package software in a distribution-agnostic form installable by evertyone. Blender did it, Loki did it, Id and several other proprietary vendors do it now.

        Yeah, but they did it by making nasty custom installer scripts, typically with no uninstaller! Eek! This might be nice for Slack or Gentoo people, but how about an RPM for the RH, Mdk, Suse, Caldera, and (via alien) Debian users? What's more, they probably also statically linked the stuff to hell and back. I'd prefer to see 2 releases - LSB and non-LSB. A nice RPM for LSB compliant distros, and non-LSB for people who don't give a stuff. ;-) The LSB people are rewarded with package management, and smaller executables, and a smaller memory footprint, but it doesn't keep out the people who aren't compliant.

        While I'm on the subject, who isn't compliant now, or won't be by Fall? RH will be fully compliant with 8.0, MDK is/will be soon, all the United Linux distros are/will be (SuSE, Caldera, Connectiva, Turbo), and Debian is/will be as well. What about Gentoo, Slack, and the micro-distros? Anyone know if they plan to conform? FOr that matter, what about Lycoris and Lindows? ANyone have info either way on these?
  • by jaaron ( 551839 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:12AM (#3814414) Homepage
    If you didn't read the Mandrake article yet, I would really, really recommend you do so. It's wonderfully written and an excellent explaination of what a distribution is and how software should be developed. For example:

    It is extremely hard for us to understand why some software publishers and hardware manufacturers only support one Linux distribution.

    Each hardware manufacturer should develop drivers directly with the appropriate Free Software project. Network card manufacturers should cooperate with the Linux kernel project, videocard manufacturers should collaborate with the XFree86 project, and so on. For example, when a network card module is included directly in the Linux kernel it becomes a de facto standard supported by all Linux distributions.

    In the same spirit, all software publishers should certify their products for a given version of the LSB (Linux Standard Base), not for a particular brand of Linux. Therefore, that software would work equally well with any Linux distribution that is in conformity with the LSB.

    This article has really increased by respect of Mandrake and shown that they really do understand the Open Source/Free Software methods.
  • Look, everyone knows Mandrake doesn't want to join United Linux, and why? Because they want to make money, and not share it with anyone else. It would be nice to see Red Hat follow a strict Linux standard, and Mandrake to do so as well (since they tend to follow Red Hat) but that probably won't happen because they are constantly trying to include things that will make people buy their distro and sign up for their services rather than just the same old standard stuff. That's the reason, and everyone knows it, Mandrake is just blowing smoke.
    • Yes, Red Hat and Mandrake are FOR PROFIT companies, and they will do things to attract people to buy their distribution. Duh! Many companies that "want to make money" are paying for people to contribute to Linux development full time. You make it sound like following a standard (anyone heard of LSB) means you must be part of United Linux.

      United Linux is an attempt by several companies that don't have a large portion of the market to build name recognition for themselves, and to make more money. Don't make it sound like they are out to save the world, they want more people to buy their brands of Linux, just like Red Hat and Mandrake do.
  • by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:17AM (#3814455)
    Any e-mail I don't want = spam

    I guess Mandrake is sending their newsletter to *@*.* now, right?

    Spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail with a specific commercial pitch or advertisement including a price. Introductory e-mails (especially sent to a specific address), newsletters and business correspondence is not spam.
    • Spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail with a specific commercial pitch or advertisement including a price.

      Wrong, and spoken like a true spammer. (I hope you are not a spammer, but your definition echos almost precisely that which is used by some Spammers to justify their bulk emails).

      SPAM is Unsolicited Bulk Email. Period.

      Whether it is promoting Salvation from the Lord Our God(tm), Senator Hollings Reelection Campaign, or the Latest Penis Extention scam, it is SPAM.

      However, opt in mailing lists are NOT SPAM because the Opt In process itself is an act of solicitation.

      Of course, if a vendor or web site changes your selection from 'not opting in' to 'opting in' then, of course it is SPAM, because in fact you never did opt in, and they have deliberately miscategorized their lists in order to decieve.

      Any bulk email that arrives without your having asked to be included on a list (e.g. for notifications, etc.) is SPAM. Period.

      All of that having been said, it is my understanding that Mandrake's Newsletter is opt in, which means by opting in you solicited it and it is therefor NOT SPAM.
      • [i]I hope you are not a spammer[/i]

        No. However there are times when I send "hello, our company is" e-mails to other web sites and news sites, one at a time. Is that spam? No.

        Polite introductory correspondence is essential to business. Screeching SPAM!! SPAM!! SPAM!! every time an unfamiliar e-mail address appears in the From: field doesn't help solve the spam problem, and in fact, makes it worse.

        That said, I'm glad to see Mandrake's newsletter is opt in. They don't seem like a spamming-type company (and they make an excellent Linux distribution).

        Oh, and moderators: since the word SPAM appeared in the STORY, this is NOT offtopic.
        • >Is that spam?

          Yes, and if I were a sysadmin that received your email, I'd simply firewall you off my subnet.

          You have no right to advertise to me. If you want to send me an email, make sure it is ontopic for the email address you've found.

          I really doubt any websites you've found had "send your advertising here" email addresses.

          Next thing people will say that looking companies up in the yellow pages and dialing them by hand to advertise to them is not telemarketing.
          • Yes, and if I were a sysadmin that received your email, I'd simply firewall you off my subnet.

            What if our business wanted to buy something? By this definition, such an e-mail would be labeled spam.

            So now every e-mail sent by a business is advertising, therefore it is spam. This is why screaming SPAM!! for *every* business e-mail is the wrong idea.

            make sure it is ontopic for the email address you've found.

            The topic being printed right next to the e-mail address no doubt...

            The definition of spam is "unsolicited bulk e-mail." Sending a polite introductory e-mail to *one* address doesn't fit that definition.

            The new definition is "if the e-mail didn't come from a familiar address, it is spam" and that is plainly ridiculous. I don't support mass random e-mail advertising by any means (I get about 50 such messages a week), but businesses have to communicate.

            to advertise to them

            I never said these e-mails were advertisements. We have a web site for advertising. E-mail is for communicating with people. Businesses may not have a right to advertise to you, but they do have the right to use e-mail like everyone else.
      • SPAM is Unsolicited Bulk Email. Period.

        In regards to email, the original poster is correct.
        Feel free to look at the definition of SPAM in any anti-spam law.
        • In regards to email, the original poster is correct. Feel free to look at the definition of SPAM in any anti-spam law.

          The definition of SPAM predates any legislation on the subject by years. The fact that our corrupt government has drafted legislation (or, in some cases, allowed mass marketers to draft legislation) that changes the definition for the convinience of the SPAMMERs themselves in fact does nothing to legitimize the incorrect definition you are defending. It does serve, however, to delegitize the government that is redefining the term ... the same government, perhaps, that defines the total destruction of a southeast Asian village as "liberation," fascist contra-revolutonaries as "freedom fighters," computer security crackers as "terrorists," and so forth.

          From whatis:
          Spam is unsolicited e-mail on the Internet. From the sender's point-of-view, it's a form of bulk mail, often to a list culled from subscribers to a Usenet discussion group or obtained by companies that specialize in creating e-mail distribution lists. To the receiver, it usually seems like junk e-mail. In general, it's not considered good netiquette to send spam. It's generally equivalent to unsolicited phone marketing calls except that the user pays for part of the message since everyone shares the cost of maintaining the Internet.
          The most authoritative definitions are probably the following ones, offered by the Net Abuse FAQ (for USENET)
          The term "spam" [...] means "the same article (or essentially the same article) posted an unacceptably high number of times to one or more newsgroups." CONTENT IS IRRELEVANT. 'Spam' doesn't mean "ads." It doesn't mean "abuse." It doesn't mean "posts whose content I object to." Spam is a funky name for a phenomenon that can be measured pretty objectively: did that post appear X times?
          and the email abuse FAQ (for email)
          Unsolicited email is any email message received where the recipient did not specifically ask to receive it.

          Taken by itself, unsolicited email does not constitute abuse; not all unsolicited email is also undesired email. For example, receiving "unsolicited" email from a long-lost friend or relative is certainly not abuse. The reason that it is defined separately is that email abuse takes several forms, all of which begin with the fact that the email received is unsolicited.

          Bulk email is any group of messages sent via email, with substantially identical content, to a large number of addresses at once.

          First, a short lesson on the term "SPAM". Spam describes a particular kind of Usenet posting (and canned spiced ham), but is now often used to describe many kinds of inappropriate activities, including some email-related events. It is technically incorrect to use "spam" to describe email abuse, although attempting to correct the practice would amount to tilting at windmills. For more on the history of the term, look for "2.4) Where did the term 'Spam' come from?" in l

          UBE: Unsolicited Bulk Email
          UCE: Unsolicited Commercial Email
          MMF: Make Money Fast
          MLM: Multi-Level Marketing

          [ are all forms of abuse, commonly referred to as 'spam' ]
          The only people who are defining SPAM in the self-serving, restricted manner as you are are the SPAMMERs themselves and the legislators they have bought (and, indeed, not even all of them).
  • UL is just the 2nd tier distros trying to get attention and ink away from the "evil forces" in North Carolina.

    Yeah, because we all know what a second-tier outfit SuSE is [].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think we should treat the base Linux distro as a commodity and separate it from other components. We have a group working on XFree, one for the kernel, etc, so why not get a bunch of people together and release a base distro with the kernel, required libs, XFree, command line apps, etc. This base would hopefully be LSB compliant (FHS too!). This way, different companies would concentrate on installers, application choosers, and eye candy (KDE/Gnome/etc). Don't worry, there will still be lots to fight about ;)
  • UL resistance is high in the current Linux community, so their customers will have to come from somewhere other than the existing Linux base.

    The final frontier of Linux computing is the Windoze desktop. RH, Mandrake, and a few of the geekier distros have pretty much conquered the hardcore Linux community, but there has been minimal penetration of the desktop market.

    What remains is the competition over whose Linux will be pre-installed on the next batch of lowball Walmart machines. Simplified installs, upgrades and desktop support will appeal to the "Linux for dummies" crowd, especially those who don't know or care about the GPL issues.

    No matter who UL says their target market is, the only customers that would be interested in a "pay per seat" implementation of Linux are those who are trying to abandon a "pay per seat" implementation of something else. The UL product should have some appeal for PC manufacturers who want a cheaper Microsoft than Microsoft. I think UL will evolve into the "Linux Ultra Lite/Total Fluff" distro.

  • by Opusthepenguin ( 589974 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @11:58AM (#3814732)
    Mandrake is right on when they say "MandrakeSoft would gain nothing by joining United Linux, and doing so would damage our reputation." Mandrake's claim to fame is their ease of use and GUI utilities, which have been praised and touted in this thread. They are not limited to the desktop, but they do it very well and that is their core competency. The are traditionally not the hardend server Linux you would think of (yes, of course Mandrake makes a fine server, I'm talking about their focus and perception). The UL crew have been very specific on what their target market is; not the desktop, the enterprise server, even to the exclusion of the desktop. Why then would Mandrake be interested in joining such a server focused group? As state, they wouldn't. Joining UL would force them to compete in an area where they are neither the leader or have a competitive advantage. Sure, you can believe all the sanctimonious hoorah they spout if you want, but bottom line is it's bad business for a desktop focused distro to join a server focused organization.

    The biggest missconception about UL is that it is some Borg like entity that once you join you must fall in line with. This is just not the case. Each participating member can do whatever they like outside the UL organization. SuSE has stated quite clearly that they will continue to offer a desktop version. This version will (probably) not have the UnitedLinux tag on it, but then for a desktop, who cares? What UL offers is the ability to have your OS certified on enterprise hardware without being lucky enough to have the "defacto Linux standard" in your title (that's RedHat incase you missed it). With that in mind, there's no reason Mandrake could't join UL and realse a UL version, fully certified on all major hardware, with the added value of it's GUI tools, etc. Then Mandrake could continue to sell their deskop/server versions that would appeal to a broader, more price sensitive, customer base.

    The second biggest missconception about UL is that it limits competition. This is just the opposite of the truth. To date there is only One distro that enjoys certification across all major hardware line, RedHat. Now, either RedHat has been unwilling or unable to convince it's hardware partners to certify agains all Linux distro's or, say, a Kernel/libs version of Linux. Sure, their are hundres of distro's out there, but only one certified for your enterprise needs, nice if your RedHat. With UnitedLinux there will not be two distros certified on all major hardwere, but five. And, because of the open (gasp) whey UnitedLinux was founded that could grow into as many distro's who care to achieve that level of certification. So, while UL does nothing to prevent a distro from producing whatever they like (thus not hurting competition), they provide the avenue through wich all distro's, not just RedHat, can achieve hardware certifications and compete in the enterprise market.

    UnitedLinux is not a bad thing. It is focused on what it wants to do, but ultimately it does what RedHat never cared to, bring the rest of Linux along into the enterprise space. . . if they want to come.

  • by Charlie Bill ( 34627 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @12:57PM (#3815228) Homepage
    UL is just the 2nd tier distros trying to get attention and ink away from the "evil forces" in North Carolina. I'll just stick to the best distribution and watch the fun from afar ;)

    Someone please mark this date.

    Inter-Linux FUD takes over any rational discussion of things.

  • by psicE ( 126646 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @01:29PM (#3815581) Homepage
    What do SuSE, Caldera, Conectiva, and TurboLinux have in common? Simple; those four distros are practically the only ones that continue to try to make a profit, and consistently fail. RedHat is profitable, and Mandrake is getting closer every day; Debian, Gentoo, and myriad others are noncommercial distros that have no profit incentive. But SuSE, Caldera, Conectiva, and TurboLinux all want to be the next RedHat, and outside of very small markets, they all failed.

    SuSE is RedHat's biggest competitor in Europe, and has the greatest marketshare in Germany. Caldera was formerly RedHat's biggest competitor in the US (until Mandrake came along). Conectiva is RedHat's biggest competitor in Latin America. TurboLinux is RedHat's biggest competitor in Japan.

    So, these four distros realized that in every market, there was generally three corporate competitors: RedHat, Mandrake, and one of them. They decided to merge, so that there would be a common distro with worldwide marketshare; but kept the companies separate, so that they could leverage their brand in each market - would Latin Americans suddenly buy a copy of SuSE? As it is, they might fully merge someday, if/when the UnitedLinux brand becomes stronger.

    Mandrake knew that they were a strong competitor throughout a very large geographical area; as they said in this statement, their worldwide marketshare is larger than the four UnitedLinux companies combined. Mandrake would have nothing to gain if they had to pool their resources with four companies who are much weaker then they are, and declining all the time.

    I wouldn't be surprised if UnitedLinux ends up in a full corporate merger, and later the whole thing goes bankrupt; after reading Mandrake's statement, I get the feeling that they wouldn't be either.
  • I think the whole UnitedLinux thing is lame- the distros that want to be compatible already are.

    Being a FreeBSD user, and thus to some extent part of the problem ;-), I'm only peripherally aware of what's going on here, but an attempt to unify the operating environment of the various Unices can only help. Unifying Linux would be a great start. The inability to do this in the late 80's, combined with a refusal to make a user interface the mere mortals could use, handed the PC market to Microsoft in the first place. Unix was going gangbusters back then and was on the verge of standardizing, but everyone had to do their own thing, and Billy jumped in. And it's taken another 10-15 years for Apple to put a pretty face on Unix. The Open Source version still has a long ways to go yet to match it.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday July 03, 2002 @03:09PM (#3816510)
    I have great respect for the Mandrake Linux, or any other Linux distribution, for that matter. Making a distribution of any software is hard, and an OS is more complex than most.

    But Mandrake is missing the boat... and so is United Linux.

    In Mandrake's FAQ entry, explaining why they have decided not to participate in United Linux, they state:

    "Since all distributors use the same base
    components, there are relatively few binary
    incompatibility issues. And even when a
    binary compatibility problem arises, it's
    easy to recompile an application for a given
    Linux distribution."

    and they claim:

    "It is extremely hard for us to understand
    why some software publishers and hardware
    manufacturers only support one Linux

    To me, the answer is obvious: a third party developer would have to not only internally certify their software for support purposes, but it would have to also maintain seperate SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) for each of the Linux versions on which it runs. For commercial applications, "recompile" is not as easy as the act itself. It's clear, these people have never produced a third party shrink-wrapped packaged software product intended to run on a UNIX system.

    The intent of United Linux is to try and make it possible for a manufacturer to build shrink-wrapped product that they can know will run on any United Linux labelled platform.

    But here, United Linux must fail, as the LSB has failed.

    In the original UNIX Wars (of which I am a battle-scarred veteran), the problem was that each distribution of UNIX, even for the same processor family, was "standard plus extensions". Each vendor tried to provide "value add"... and, in doing that, they introduced incompatability between nominally standards compliant platforms.

    So paying lip-service to a standard gets you nowhere. The LSB gets you nowhere, and POSIX gets you nowhere. You may be able to compile the same source code on each of these platforms, and, if you are lucky, and did not need to use any platform proprietary information to build your product, it may run without errors. But all you've achieved with this is source compatability.

    The LSB doesn't give you binary compatability, and neither does United Linux. And it won't, even if they specify the ABI, even to the point of install tools and other minutia, like IBCS2 did (and neither BSD nor Linux has *full* IBCS2 compliance, until the IBCS2 installation and packaging tools also work -- it's not *just* the ABI, it's the environment).

    Why will United Linux fail, since that's what I'm leading up to?

    United Linux will fail because it's not possible to *turn off* the vendor "value add".

    This seems counter-intuitive at first, but it's a fact. It's the same reason the LSB has failed to deliver on the same promise. And it's the same reason UNIX was never able to be defragmented, when everyone started using Intel processors and commodity PC hardware. Here is the reason:

    Standard plus extensions is inherently non-standard.

    Let me repeat that:

    Standard plus extensions is inherently non-standard.

    Until it's possible to turn off *everything* that isn't covered by a standard, it will be impossible for a third party developer to build something that they *know* will run on all platforms that conform to the standard.

    Linux vendors: if you want to become the #1 developement platform for United Linux, then strip out everything that isn't covered by the definition of United Linux.

    That -- and only that! -- will guarantee that any program that runs on your platform will run on any United Linux platform.

    It will guarantee that there is no possibility of a third party developer accidently using a vendor specific extension (OK: "enhancement", but we know that it's really there for vendor lock-in).

    It will also make you a commodity.

    *This* is what the vendors in the UNIX Wars feared, and refused to let happen. And, in doing that, they lost all the third party development resources to Windows, which *was* a commodity, even if it was one only because of the Microsoft Monopoly.

    Will this happen? Will the Linux Vendors wake up to the fact that they nust agree to *commoditize themselves*? Probably not. It's a lot easier for Caldera or Mandrake or Red Hat to compete among themselves, and try and beat each other down, than it is for them to try and take on Microsoft.

    So Mandrake... you're avoiding doing the wrong thing by not participating in United Linux, given it's current vender differentiation model permitting vendor lock-in of third party developers.

    *But*... you are doing it for the wrong reasons, and as long as you stick to your guns, you aren't going to be doing the right thing for the right reasons, either.

    -- Terry

The absent ones are always at fault.