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Debian Software Linux

Perens: Unite behind Debian, UserLinux 745

An anonymous readers writes "Infoworld is running a report on the Desktop Linux Conference, at which Bruce Perens suggested that in order to get Linux to the enterprise desktop, the Linux community should base their efforts on one single distribution... based on Debian. Perens went on to say that enterprises will be willing to pay Linux companies to engineer versions of Linux to suit their needs, but that the base distro should remain free. He suggested that by 2006, 30% of enterprise desktops will run Linux." Here is a wired story with more information about his proposed UserLinux project.
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Perens: Unite behind Debian, UserLinux

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  • by eurleif ( 613257 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:13AM (#7443979)
    What makes Linux so great is that there are so many distros, and I can choose the one I like. One distro can never compare to hundreds of them.
    • That would work... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nurb432 ( 527695 )
      What makes linux so difficult to adopt in the business world is that there are too many choices and just confuses the market..

      For a home user, who cares.. for business its a hindrance..
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Horsepucky! "Too many choices" is hardly the problem. The people who could very well migrate to GNU/Linux but don't are hardly intimidated by choices. After all, they have a much larger selection of realistic possible banks to choose from, but this doesn't prevent them from opening checking accounts. They have several options for Wintel vendors, yet they manage to choose one. They could locate just about anywhere, yet they manage to find a place to hang their sign. They could advertise in a million publicat
        • by Bombcar ( 16057 )
          your old hardware starting to seem sluggish? run Linux!

          Good Idea!

          There should be a "simple" Linux that is designed for home users to use to turn an old PC into a fileserver.

          I'm thinking something that will install Knoppix style, load a simple config wizard that will setup DHCP, Samba in NT emulation mode, etc. Such a thing is very doable with linux, we should make it one click to setup (Byte me, Amazon!)

          Then, in the future, if the user wants to, he can begin fiddling with things directly.

          I'm talking p
      • for business its a hindrance..

        You mean for lazy employees who don't observe due diligence or the proposal process and just go with whatever looks good, its a hinderance. For everyone else, they look at the facts, narrow it down to a few choices based on input from outside, then analyze the pros and cons of each of the remaining sources, and make a final proposal, which is then reviewed and either approved or declined. Too bad theres so few of the latter, might have saved a number of .bombs who spent the
    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:36AM (#7444230)

      It's easier to fork your own custom distro if all the packages out in the wild follow the same standards.

    • You can still have many distros, even when they are all based on Debian. See Knoppix and Lindows for example. Not only that, but see the many variations of Knoppix: Gnome Knoppix, MAME Knoppix, etc...
    • There are so many distros, but most corporate Linux users are running Red Hat, Mandrake, and SuSE. A large number of "hobbyists," ie. the open-source programmers not working for any big company, are using Debian.

      The thing is, much of what goes into the four big distros is culled from the little ones-but the little ones often aren't suited for all-around use because they are developed with very certain featuresets in mind.

      If I hire you to work on my network, I don't give a shit if you want to use some obsc
  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:13AM (#7443983) Journal
    If they're running Debian, then that's great. But you need to put Linux into the hands of the masses if you want to take over the desktop and the best way to do that is to seed the planet with Linux Live CD's with the same fury that AOL soils the planet with their CD's.

    No gcc, no including twelve different versions of AWK; just the kernel, KDE or Gnome (pick just one), OpenOffice, games, and all the rest of the shit that makes everything go.

    Right now, when you say "Linux" to a layperson, they don't know what the fuck you're talking about. A Live CD is a painless way for them to find out.

    We can rebuild him. We have the technology.
    • If the masses knew that it was another operating system, most of them would use the CD forn a frisbee. My mother recoils in horror when I suggest she should consider installing Linux.
      • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:34AM (#7444221) Journal
        Nobody is asking her to install Linux.

        Just to run it.

        You can boot from a Live CD, play with Linux, then reboot, take the CD out, and resume your regularly scheduled programming under Windows.

        This is the beautiful thing about Live CD's. If it's done right, the user is completely insulated from all the usual crap we have to do to make Linux work, and without assuming any risk whatsoever from the experience.
        • That's true, but what, really, is that going to mean for Joe Sixpack?

          So they boot CD run Linux. The average user is going to be expecting a program, not an OS, even if you tell them that. They'll just think that it is a new desktop theme for Windows that doesn't work quite right. Sure, its free, but what does that mean to them? As far as they're concerned, they got Windows for free when they bought their PC.

    • Mepis [] - Live Debain-based distro which you can also install to your harddrive THROUGH the liveCD version.

      Good stuff - I've been running it as my primary distro for months now.
    • Just so you know, Knoppix is based on Debian, and I've heard nothing but good about Knoppix, even from people who usually say they hate Linux.
    • by Gleef ( 86 ) * on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:25AM (#7444119) Homepage
      While Bruce Perens seems to be talking more about development, not distribution (you can't really develop assuming Live CD's, or else your stuff might not work well on full systems), your point that Live CD's are incredibly important for evangilism is a good one.

      Also, note that the most popular Live CD's either are Knoppix [] or are based on Knoppix. Knoppix itself is based on Debian, so supporting Debian is supporting Live CDs.
    • by aliens ( 90441 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:30AM (#7444167) Homepage Journal
      Unfortunately they don't know WTF you're talking about nor do they care.

      Honestly why would someone running XP Home/Pro migrate to linux?

      There has to be a killer reason to switch, maybe someone hit by one of the worms lately might, but that's still a minority of home users.

      • You're right. Somebody who's running XP probably won't be eager to switch.

        I'm guessing of course, but most novice users who are running XP are doing so because that's the OS that came with their machine.

        But how many people are struggling along with their 386/486/Pentium I/II/III boxes running 95/98/98SE/ME or even NT/2K? And hating it? Because it's slow as shit?

        Anybody who's even put Linux on their box that they just replaced knows exactly what I'm talking about. A lot of times it seems like Linux on
      • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:50AM (#7444370) Homepage Journal

        Honestly why would someone running XP Home/Pro migrate to linux?

        Here are a few reasons that I've seen:

        • Because they've had a conscience attack about using pirated software, but don't want to spend the money to buy a legitimate copy.
        • Worms/viruses, like you said.
        • An interest in trying something new. A lot of people who aren't geeks, per se, still like to fiddle with computers.
        • A dislike for Microsoft (usually imparted to them by some nearby geek).
        • The idea that maybe they'd like to "work on computers", along with a realization that with the growth of Linux there's a good chance to get in "on the ground floor".
        • A desire to have something that "just works" and isn't constantly getting screwed up, or intimidating them with zillions of options they don't understand (this takes a geek to configure a fixed-function Linux install).
        • Need for a file server, router, NAT gateway, etc that runs well on their ancient machine ('cause they just bought a new one with XP).
        • Simple curiosity, wanting to see what all the fuss is about.
        • Because that's what came pre-installed on the cheap machine they just bought, and it seems to work okay for them.

        Those are off the top of my head, and from comments from real Windows users who are using/toying with Linux. I'm sure you can think of some more if you work at it. Few of the above reasons are adequate to justify a switch on their own, but several of them taken together often are.

    • by KikassAssassin ( 318149 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:33AM (#7444194)
      KDE or Gnome (pick just one)

      As a new Linux user myself, I'd suggest KDE over Gnome if you want to draw new people in. Gnome is an excellent interface, but by my experience KDE seems much more familiar to someone who is used to the Windows environment, and overall it has a somewhat more polished feel to it. That familiarity will make your average user who's never used anything but Windows before much more likely to try it out, rather than giving up from the start because everything looks different than what they're used to.
      • by scalis ( 594038 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:44PM (#7444994) Homepage
        I am not sure I agree that just because KDE looks more like MS Windows it means the users will find it easier to work with. Siemens Business Services did a study [] on this a while back (story was posted on slashdot too) Part of it reads:

        "Before settling on Ximian, Siemens evaluated plain vanilla Gnome and KDE as well. Siemens found KDE to be more "Windows-like" than Gnome, but that led to problems when non-technical users expected a more Windows-like experience. Gnome, particularly Ximian's version, was "different enough" to set user expectations that the experience would be less like Windows, which led to fewer adoption problems"

      • As a new Linux user myself, I'd suggest KDE over Gnome if you want to draw new people in.

        I'd say no to this suggestion. I used to run a customized version of KDE with the Windows look-and-feel. However, my non-techie room-mate didn't want to use it. For him, it was all rubbish on the screen, bloated and all. Don't get me wrong, KDE can be nice if you customize it as you want it to be.

        So, instead of me telling my room-mate that it was what I used and basically forcing him to use it during the time when he
    • I don't understand why you want to leave gcc off. It's not like there is a little clippy jumping out at you and asking you if you would like to compile a C program instead of run the word processor you just clicked. Is it just a disk space issue for fitting things on a live CD?
    • by holy_smoke ( 694875 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:04PM (#7444508)
      You also have to make it painless to do things like install/remove software and install/remove drivers.

      I have been patiently trying to build up and use my Suse 8.2 system.

      My biggest complaints so far?

      - I don't want to have to do black magic command line crap to install my NVIDIA drivers
      - Although I definitely agree with the root/user separation, its a pain in the a$$ to keep getting assaulted with a root password prompt when I want to change a system setting (flame away)
      - many of the programs don't seem polished; that is, they seem to crash at odd times or don't do what they said they would when I hit 'ok'. (??)
      - the interface needs to be more polished for the average user who doesn't want to understand the technical aspects of what a link is or what HDA1 is...

      I LOVE that Linux exists, and I am growing to love it more....BUT...I am not an "average" user. I am somewhere in the haze between advanced Windows weenie and low level Linux novice.

      I don't care how many LiveCDs you ship to my father-in-law or my wife (as examples). If they can't install drivers and programs, configure their systems, and navigate their PCs _easily_ and through the GUI _only_ you won't have an ice-cube's chance in He11 of getting them to use Linux. Oh - and if they can't buy software (games) for it at Best Buy you're screwed too.

      Average users want a tool that looks pretty, does neat things, and makes their lives easier/more entertained. They don't give a rat's behind about shell scripts, Xfree, Xserve, CUPS, gcc or whatever. It just confuses them and turns them OFF to the product.

      Hope you find these comments contructive - they are not meant to assault.

      • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:28PM (#7444794) Homepage Journal
        Dude, not to be a jerk but that's why there are different distros targeted at different segments. You want easy breezy no password point and click? Use Xandros, Lycoris, or Lindows. SuSE is for intermediate to advanced users. You want voodoo black magic? Use Gentoo.

        Anyhow, I'll be 100% honest, if they want to use their PC to play games, Linux ain't where they should be. I've said this prolly 80 times before. I play games on my Linux box but I know / understand / accept that the selection is going to be limited.

        I use to be all for Linux conquering the OS market but as time went on I came to understand that there's some desktop real estate that Linux shouldn't want to own. That segment is the home user that *thinks* they know what they're doing but really only know just enough to make a mess. I'd be happy to see Linux push MS out of the data center, off corporate desktops, and limit them to the mid range home user segment that's the source of 95% of all support problems.
    • Right now, when you say "Linux" to a layperson, they don't know what the fuck you're talking about. A Live CD is a painless way for them to find out.

      I still don't think the average user has any incentive to try Linux out. They don't feel the costs of Windows licensing because it came with their computer. They've been conditioned to expect the occasional email virus or system crash; to them it comes with the territory when using a computer.

      Linux needs a killer app for the desktop market. Work-alikes fo
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:14AM (#7443998) Homepage Journal
    I was quite amused when at a recent conference someone described Open Source as Free Software with a politics-obotomy...
  • I think an important Perens quote from the article is:
    "UserLinux would only depart from Debian for software that is not open source"

    so, UserLinux will be Debian + proprietary software. A dissapointing step back in my opinion.
    • by Nevyn ( 5505 ) * on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:25AM (#7444111) Homepage Journal
      I think an important Perens quote from the article is: "UserLinux would only depart from Debian for software that is not open source"

      so, UserLinux will be Debian + proprietary software. A dissapointing step back in my opinion.

      A step back from what? Right now most US companies running a supported Linux in the enterprise are running Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and it comes with (or with support for) all the products they need, Ie. Java, Oracle, PowerPath, etc. etc. etc.

      This is the same "argument" that RMS uses, Ie. It's better to have nothing than something. Life doesn't work like that, people always go for the path of least resistance. Hell even debian wasn't stupid enough to not have "netscape" available when that proprietry and the only real browser. Saying "It's not free" doesn't solve the problem of "I need, now" (and "need" is relative, some people "need" to be able to play proprietry games, etc.).

      • Free Software often has support for proprietary systems, GNU Emacs runs on MS-Windows. This is not the issue.

        > A step back from what?

        We have a complete Free OS and we have tonnes of Free Software. Some people will run proprietary on top of that Free OS. We can accept it but why should we be promoting proprietary software?
  • Great idea, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dr. Cam ( 20341 )
    the community is going to have to put more resources into Debian to keep it up to date. I won't use anything else, but you can't have an enterprise running on a mix of testing and unstable.
    • So an enterprise won't run on a mix of testing and unstable, but it will run on the same software provided by someone else if they call it stable? If you are running an enterprise system, then any software used should be adequately tested. With debian stable the amount of testing you have to do drops to a minimum, with any other distro (where the packages are going to be far younger as is the source upon which they are based) you need to do a far more comprehensive test to establish the stability, secur

  • I was thinking.,. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hookedup ( 630460 )
    the same thing the other day in relation to science, where we have 100's of institutions finding cures/treatments for the same thing, each basically reinventing the wheel all over again. Lot's of people united togeather on one project would probably reap more benifits that a bunch of smaller projects reaching for the same goal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:17AM (#7444036)
    Steve Jobs unexpectly announced today he thinks you should use a Macintosh.

    Bill Gates made an interesting proposal that everyone use windows.

    Scott McNealy outlined a plan he has in which everyone uses Solaris.

    Larry Ellison, in a widely-publicized press conference, stated that everyone should give him money.

    More on these sudden and shocking developments as news unfolds.
  • Odious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:18AM (#7444044) Homepage Journal
    He said the companies will also welcome an alternative to Red Hat and other commercial versions of Linux, which come with "odious" terms, limiting the number of seats and requiring expensive service contracts that are voided if users attempt to modify the software.
    What is odious about that? How can RedHat be expected to support an operating system when they have no idea what modifications might have been made to it from the their version? The whole point of having a standardized version of the OS is to make support easier. Refusing to support versions of RedHat that have been modified from their default configuration isn't odious, it is a common sense precaution against your support staff wasting vast amounts of time.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) * on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:19AM (#7444047) Journal
    What happens when the corporate backers of UserLinux decide that bills can't be met and they have to concentrate on an enterprise version? Bills don't pay themselves and there are reasons why RedHat isn't doing the consumer version anymore.

    In some respects I can see RedHat's position regarding the desktop, because for the majority of desktop users, Windows isn't "broken" and why switch if you don't have to? Servers are cake to argue because Linux IS so superior in many ways and that aspect is very easy to demonstrate.

    Probably what it will take to get Linux on more desktops is M$ trying to strongarm organizations and organizations doing exactly what Munich did, switch to Linux and then use WINE.

    That's exactly what the CIO of the defense branch I am working for is doing right now. Evaluating WINE because he is just fed up with the tail trying to wag the dog and the bad news for M$ is that the CIO doesn't think they are so unique anymore.
    • by debrain ( 29228 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:35AM (#7444228) Journal

      What happens when the corporate backers of UserLinux decide that bills can't be met and they have to concentrate on an enterprise version? Bills don't pay themselves and there are reasons why RedHat isn't doing the consumer version anymore.

      Debian, as a UserLinux, will survive the corporate onslaught precisely because it is free. Much as the Linux kernel will survive in the absence of corporate backing. That is the power of open source software.

      Red Hat isn't doing a consumer version because it cannot afford to, because it must answer to shareholders, because it is commercially driven to profit. Debian suffers none of these drawbacks.

      However, if Red Hat Enterprise were based on Debian, Red Hat would have minimal overhead in procuring a similar consumer version, while retaining all the benefits of a consumer presence. There is an enormous amount of work being put into the Debian distribution, and commercial entities that recognize and take advantage of it have the potential for great benefit.
    • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:46AM (#7444323) Homepage
      What happens when the corporate backers of UserLinux decide that bills can't be met and they have to concentrate on an enterprise version?

      My guess is that the UserLinux corporate backers are large IT *users*, not developers like Red Hat. If that is the case they don't need to make any profit on it - they want to save money by using it themselves.

      Get a few big companies with hundreds of thousands of PC seats and each company's share of the investment to develop this kind of desktop distribution starts to look small compared to what they spent just on handling the latest MS virus.
  • No, unite behind Gentoo!</sarcasm>

    I for one think that it's a horrible to "unite" behind one distro. One thing that makes Linux great is the diversity that allows people to experiment, and everyone benefits.

    OTOH, it would be nice if there was a single specification vendors could support, eg. the LSB.

  • Wishful thinking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 3Suns ( 250606 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:21AM (#7444068) Homepage
    Nice idea, and I agree wholeheartedly. Too bad it'll never work. "Everything could be so much better, if only they did things Our Way." That []'s never been thought of before...
  • This is just so much noise brought to you by the same guy who brought you "Linux for hams."

    Then he started Debian - but dropped out. It was brought to fruition by others years later.

    So Bruce, why should we follow you on this effort? Why should we believe your going to follow through with this effort considering your lousy track record?
  • Good thinking. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:23AM (#7444086) Homepage
    This is good thinking. Allthough i have been a long time SuSE user (you can tell by my spelling :-) but with the recent developments i think that the only other viable alternative (sorry Mandrake) for the future will be a single base on which commercial companies can build their own desktop distro. This way all base functionality remains available for everyone.

  • by ajensen ( 155948 )
    ... The strategy isn't to convert the masses all at once, but rather to explain the advantages of Linux over the Windows operating system for certain types of companies running certain types of applications.

    This focus on smaller sample groups is nice to see. It is quite obvious that in certain situations, Linux has some major advantages over Windows. In my experience, web applications (Apache+PHP+MySQL) and embedded systems are good examples.

    In support of the above quote, I find it highly unlikely that

  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:23AM (#7444091) Homepage
    Following Sun's decision to end of life all the Cobalt boxes, I'm converting my Raq4 over to Debian. The stability combined with security backports appeals to me.

    Whilst reading all of the recent dropping of Red Hat Linux and purchasing of SuSE etc. I did wonder if this would lead to a boost for Debian. Take the Fedora project, for example. It seems madness to contribute to this over Debian, since with Fedora you really are just beta testing Red Hat Enterprise edition for them - the whole 'giving back to the community' thing is better handled by Debian since that is not meant for feeding back into commercial distributions.

    So yes - I have to agree. Debian would seem to be the way to go following the absorbtion of the big names. Let Red Hat do its own work in getting rpms ready for RHE 16.8 or what have you - concentrate your efforts on improving things for the community at large instead.


  • "The people who develop open-source code," Perens said, "are getting tired of being told that they have to pay to use it."
  • by VivianC ( 206472 ) <internet_update@ ... inus threevowels> on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:24AM (#7444099) Homepage Journal
    Thanks Bruce. I now open the Linux Holy Wars thread by stating: "I like Mandrake better!" Please feel free to reply and let me know why your personal favorite is better.

    Maybe we should keep working on the LSB specs so all the distros can interoperate?
    • You missed his point. The point is that you can have 1001 Linux distros, but it would eliminate allot of duplicated effort if they were based on Debian because Debian already has a comprehensive software package repository, a structured filesystem layout, and a demoncratic multi-national internet based community that develops, tests, maintains, supports, and uses Debian.
  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:24AM (#7444106) Journal
    I admire Perens ambition and passion for the open source movement, and always respect his educated opinion, but I am not so sure that I agree here. Working in the enterprise world myself for about 4 years, it has been my experience that management is more willing to use Linux when it is backed by a well-known and "secure" name. Customized jobs cost a lot of money, and most enterprise decision makers are more inclined to lean towards comprehensive distributions and assign the task of making it workable to their already over-tasked IT staff.

    I don't think that the community needs to collectively focus their attention on one single distro. I just think that one single distro needs to rise above the rest and earn market acceptance as a solid desktop. The strength of Linux is that I can use a different distro suited to a particular task. If I need a quick solution for IDS, but don't have some powerful hardware, I can quickly setup snort and Acid on a Debain box and get it going. If I need a quick packet filtering firewall with easy to manage tools (for the IT staff here that isn't very Linux knowledgeble) I can setup Redhat 9 in about an hour and a half.

    Somewhere in the near future we need a desktop distro that is every bit as good as Windows is when it comes to the desktop. Then I can say "when I need a quick desktop for someone that just needs web access, eDirectory, and Lotus Notes out of the box, I can use insert distro here."

    • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:56AM (#7444435) Homepage

      The problem is, when free markets make decisions about what should rise above the rest, that decision usually has nothing to do with what product is actually the best product. Instead, success in the market too often is based on factors such as what product is first to the market, what product has the strongest sales force, what product gets the most press, and what product works with the most other products that have decided to choose just one to be compatible with.

      PHBs have started to turn to some form of Linux. As more and more do, do we want to let them make the decisions about which particular form to go with? Or do we want to at least influence, if not outright make that decision? Do we want them using a distribution that locks them into a single vendor, or do we want them using a distribution that can be supplied to them competitively forever? You know they can't make good long term business decisions because of their shortsightedness in areas of technology. They rant and rave about how business concerns need to be addressed, and then they go off and make stupid decisions that end up costing the company more and exposing them to new risks.

      In as much as I think Bruce Parens' statement is a bit self-serving, I do think he's right, and that we need to center around not just a free kernel, but a whole free distribution. That's the only way to ensure minimal risks and costs for business use of Linux systems.

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:25AM (#7444118)

    I'm fed up with all this blather about Linux on the desktop. Is it ready yet? What needs to be improved? Why hasn't it happened yet? etc. etc.

    There is one thing that is going to get Linux on the desktop, and one thing only. That is that the big PC manufacturers (principally Dell and HP) start to seriously promote and sell desktop PCs with Linux already installed.

    If that doesn't happen, then Linux on the desktop will probably never happen to a significant extent.
  • i use Debian on a daily basis, but there are quite a few things that really turn me off from the distribution (and what makes other distributions more attractive). i'm not trying to troll here, but if my facts are wrong or perhaps i lack information, please someone let me know so i can adjust my thinking.

    one of the number one reasons i don't like debian is that packages in the stable branch are typically full point releases behind! have you seen the version of vi in their stable branch? holy, say hello to
    • by jiri B ( 62962 )
      one of the number one reasons i don't like debian is that packages in the stable branch are typically full point releases behind!

      You can have stable, or you can have bleeding-edge. Debian gives you both options (three, actually).

      Perhaps Debian could release more often (and you could volunteer to help with that), but there's a lot of situations where one just needs something stable; and when Debian says "stable", it is. Most people don't want to be upgrading to a new version of their operating system more
    • Why do you use stable? I mean, really?
      You can just go with testing, it's a lot more stable and consistent than your typical distrib (Red Hat/Mandrake/Suse) and it is fairly up-to-date.
      [ Disclaimer: I use unstable on my machines, but it has not really caused any problems ]
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:34AM (#7444214)
    Especially with Redhat's latest retreat into their proprietary turtle shell, I'd love to have Debian certified for apps like Oracle, etc. This issue has also come up recently among OpenACS developers. []
  • Ever Tried Debian? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbrod ( 19122 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:35AM (#7444227) Homepage Journal
    I see all these people saying "what is so great about Linux is all these different distro's to try, and Debian is only one".

    I don't think you have used Debian. I love Debian because I can put the bare minimum on my machines and then build up from there whether it be Gnome or KDE or a strict web server box with no GUI. To build it up all I have to do is grab the packages I want with apt. I can roll my own distro in a way.

    Not to mention Stable, Testing and Unstable are really all different distributions anyway.

  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:38AM (#7444246)
    It seems like there has been allot of anti-Redhat FUD lately. While I have always been a Debian fan, and I agree that every distro maker should base their distro on Debian, all this crap about Redhat leaving a hole in the consumer market because they made Redhat Linux a community project that is still heavily guided and sponsered by Redhat... that just smacks of anti-Redhat FUD.

    Truth is that Redhat Linux 10 was released several days ago, and for trademark reasons it is called Fedora Core 1. Anyone who has used Redhat 8.x or Redhat 9.x, will be able to tell that Fedora Core 1 is Redhat 10.

    I would love to see one internet based community developed meta-distrution of Linux, with one comprehensive package repository. This would be the Linux standard. Then companies that want to make a newbie-friendly Linux could cherry-pick the best software packages, make custom themes, and tweak everything and also provide support.

    In my opinion, the thing that Redhat 8 through Fedora Core 1 do really great is that they cherry-picked a nice set of software packages, made a nice theme for the desktop, and put everything together into one nice coherent package.

    Note that the good things that Redhat does with its distro do not conflict with having a Debian-foundation, and the fact that Redhat has decided to fracture the internet community because it refuses to have Fedora Core 1 be a customized Debian is just plain silly!

    Other distros have shown the power of using a Debian based core: Knoppix, Libranet, and Lindows, to name 3 distros, all accomplish something slightly different.

    1. Knoppix is a live CD based Linux distro with completely automatic hardware detection. Knoppix is a great toy, a great way to advertise Linux, and it makes for an uber rescue disk.

    2. Libranet aims at being a general purpose desktop/server distro, and it adds value by greatly simplifying the installation and maintenance of the OS.

    3. Lindows is supposed to be a newbie friendly / user-friendly Linux distro that emulates the look-n-feel of Windows. It is aimed at a large target market of casual computer users that want to save a few bucks.

    So please tell me why Redhat couldn't use a Debian foundation for Fedora Core? All they had to do was create a small community layered ontop of the Debian community. Their job would be to cherry-pick software packages from the comprehensive apt repository that Debian already has, and integrate it all into one coherent system by tweaking settings and theming applications.

    In conclusion, lets drop this Redhat ditched desktop Linux crap, and focus on the fact that Redhat is duplicating effort by not basing their community developed distro on Debian. It is starting to remind me of Christianity with its many demoninations.

    • Note that the good things that Redhat does with its distro do not conflict with having a Debian-foundation, and the fact that Redhat has decided to fracture the internet community because it refuses to have Fedora Core 1 be a customized Debian is just plain silly!

      Why would Red Hat do this? Red Hat already had a great foundation to build on, Red Hat Linux. It's far ahead of Debian in most areas... so regress a couple of years to build on Debian? Why? The opposite would make far more sense.

  • I really don't think this is too surprising. In my opinion, Red Hat made a mistake dropping their Desktop solution - sure, it may not have been giving them short term gains, but the reason Red Hat's so popular is because it is typically the Linux everyone starts with. Losing this mindshare I believe will ultimately lead to less Red Hat developers in the long run.

    Aside from their departure, it really seems like free Red Hat has just been slowly turning into Debian anyway. Most RPM-based distros I know no
  • One weakness as well as strength of Linux has always been the ability to choose. There are so many distributions that you can choose the one that fits you best, that you like best.

    Focusing on one distribution has the advantage that this single distribution really would get boosted, but it would limit our choice.

    I for one don't like Debian, for several reasons. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good distribution but I don't feel home on it for several minor reasons. So what, that's why I chose another distr

  • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:48AM (#7444347) Homepage
    I said it before, and I'll say it again: cid=6329 689

    One of the main reasons why GNU/Debian is perfect for a reference system, is that stable doesn't change that often.

    Debian Woody (3.0) was released July 2002, with an update December 2002. How many version of Mandrake, SuSe, Gentoo or RedHat has come out since then?

    If you are a developer, you really don't want a moving target like the other distributions. You really want to have stable target over some period of time.

    Note that, even if Debian becomes the reference system, it doesn't mean that RedHat or SuSe, Gentoo can't have never libraries or KDE, or GNOME on their system. It just means that at the very least, they need compatible libraries installed by default.

    And no, LSB is not enough. That is just a voluntary paper, and with no reference system, you still would have to test the major distributions to make sure your program is working.

    With a working reference system, like Debian, you would only need to test against one distribution.
    • Sure Debian is stable compared to others, but too OLD and STALE.....old gcc, old kernel, old etc.... my partners & I found we couldn't use it in my startup business (using RedHat 8 for now, but trying to figure out what's next). Fedora has the problem of the other extreme, too bleeding edge with unknown stability. So, to find a business-class distro, that has free ISO's available for testing technology of next release, I'm wondering if Mandrake might fit the bill. Anyway, if Debian moved just a littl
  • Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @11:54AM (#7444411) Journal
    Why should volunteers spend their valuable time making something to give away to corporations?

    For this purpose, commercial distributions such as SuSE and RedHat exist.

    One size does not fit all.

    The market will decide as and when Linux is ready for the corporate desktop, and in what form.

    Microsoft is doing a marvellous job already of comitting suicide due to over-pricing its software, shoddy quality and vulnerabilities to malicious code.

    Linux has been doing just fine for my personal computing needs since 1996. If corporate America (or anywhere else for that matter) wants to enjoy the privilege of using Linux, it can make like the rest of us and make an effort.

  • 20-30% My ass... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:05PM (#7444513) Journal
    Linux won't make ANY inroads in Corporate desktop america until there is an undeniably stable and certified foundation by which to support from.

    Corporate america isn't based around the concept of "Free Software" it is based around Revenue Generation, using the right tools to get the job done and providing an IT infrastructure support revenue generation, sales force and back-office.

    Linux doesn't have any sales force automation tools. Sure you can install Oracle 11i on Linux, but even then your talking servers. Oracle 11i doesn't even support linux as a workstation.

    Until ACT is ported, until the average sales person can do everything he/she needs to do and very easily, linux will make "0" inroads into corporate america.

    It is all about supporting your sales force, your R*D departments or whatever your business's revenue generation is from. Linux just doesn't do that right now and surely won't do that within the next 3 years.

    RedHat has bailed the desktop market and gone for the workstation, but even then that is a UNIX workstation level NOT an "end user" level. Suse is making inroads, but not enough to do 20-30% market share.

    I'll repeat myself again. Corporate America is about supporting your revenue stream. Linux simply can't do that at this point. Tools are built around simplicity, ease of training and what is common knowledge. Your average sales person only uses a PC when needed and does everything with a Cell phone, note pad and over a few beers at the local bar. Linux can't replace this. Especially Debian.
  • by figa ( 25712 ) on Tuesday November 11, 2003 @12:19PM (#7444668) Journal
    I recommended Debian for my company's development platform last year, and I'm now wishing I stayed with RedHat. Stable is hopelessly out of date, and the install is too difficult for junior desktop admins (windows admins) and developers to set up without my help (and I'm a developer, not an admin).

    I need a stable release that evolves a few times a year, so that I can read reviews and decide when it's time to migrate to keep up to date. Debian only offers the choice between a year-old distribution several major releases out of date that nothing will compile on, and a testing release that moves on a daily basis, often jumping several versions back or eliminating a package entirely.

    I also need a GUI installer, so I don't have to hold people's hands through the install. Nobody should ever have to use dselect, unless they're migrating from DOS.

    The thing that upsets me the most about Debian is that the stable release is not always stable. The package for Galeon has been broken for a year now. The download manager for the Woody version crashes constantly, though the bug in Galeon was fixed well over a year ago. My choice now is between the unstable stable version and the completely unstable unstable version that stopped working entirely for me around 1.3.9 (yes I filed a Debian bug report). The testing version has since disappeared.

    There have been numerous stable Galeon versions since last year on two separate branches, but I don't have an option to roll back to a useful version because stable is hosed and testing is gone. This ultimately caused me to give up on Galeon and just download the Firebird binary and install it by hand. So much for the wonders of apt-get.

    Debian needs to either step up its glacial pace or make testing an honest milestone release before Perens starts touting it as an industry standard. I'm thankful there's still competition from organizations that put Linux usability over Open Source ideology.

    • I think of Debian as sort of an OEM distribution, like the Linus kernel, which gets various value adds before it is released in, for example, Red Hat. Similar with, eg, vs StarOffice.

      Products like Lindows, Xandros, Progeny, Knoppix and Libranet are based on Debian, and are clearly trying to enhance "Linux usability" and include more uptodate revisions of packages. Further, Knoppix is a foundation for other products like Morphix.


Air is water with holes in it.