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SuSE Businesses GNU is Not Unix

YaST to Become Open Source 478

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

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  • Good work Novell (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Teh_monkeyCode ( 752769 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:22AM (#8607024) Homepage
    Hopefully we can get other large companies putting as much support into open source as Novell is.
    • by hawkeyeMI ( 412577 ) <brock@brocktic[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:27AM (#8607059) Homepage
      I would say Novell's very livelihood depends on their switch to Linux. AFAIK they were no longer going anyhere, though they were once the leaders.

      Let's hope they can bring the famed Novell ease-of-use to Linux.

      • Re:Good work Novell (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

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

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

        • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @07:42AM (#8608290)
          Meanwhile, all the big players have realised that free software is the future. Business models based on control will be obsolete in a decade or two.

          Also, humans will establish a viable colony on Mars and the war on terrorism will be over.

          Open source is a great idea. It works in some cases. I see zero evidence that it's going to take over the entire universe of software. In a few cases like Linux where you are able to apply the efforts of lots of bright folks to the project, it may well win. In lots of other areas that aren't of general interest, seems pretty unlikely.

        • by shyster ( 245228 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2004 @08:43AM (#8608477) Homepage
          Meanwhile, all the big players have realised that free software is the future.

          Not very many companies are making a killing on OSS right now. Some, like IBM, are subsidizing it from their HW sales. Others, like Novell, Red Hat, and Ximian, are still trying to figure it out. I'd say it's a bit early to call it won.

          Business models based on control will be obsolete in a decade or two.

          Just about every business model, not just software, depends on control. That's why businesses spend so much money getting IP protection laws passed. Every business wants locked-in customers, it's a good revenue stream. When OSS companies start playing with the big boys (public investors), they're going to have to find a way to keep them happy.

          Unfortuneatly, Microsofts business model - since they do little other than software sales - their model is based completely on control.

          Let's see []. According to the latest FY2004 1st quarter results (ending on Sept 30, 2003), MSFT gets about 15% of their revenue from segments besides OS and Office sales.

          However, if you take the time to read thru their segmentations, you'll notice that Server and Tools also includes MSDN training and tools, certifications, MS Press, consulting services, and Premier PSS - all non software revenue. According to their financial highlights, we can calculate that Consulting and PSS revenue was $231 million, and MSDN and MS Press was $190 million. Their Office segment also includes revenu from LiveMeeting and Professional PSS, but they don't give figures to calculate that portion of it.

          Adding those numbers together, we can see that non-software revenue is about 20% of their total revenue. That is also significantly higher than the previous year, while their OS and Office segments have been relatively flat (do you think someone at MSFT might have noticed that?).

          Okay, so we can realistically claim that 80% of Microsoft's revenue is from software sales. But, that 20% of non-software revenue (which, again, is growing) is a pretty impressive $1.7 billion (that's with a B) per quarter - that's about $7 billion a year.

          To put that into perspective, VA Linux's [] revenue is $24 million (that's with a M) a year. Red Hat's [] revenue is $90 million (that's with a M) a year. Novell's [] revenue is $1.1 billion a year. Sun's [] revenue is $11 billion per year (but note that they lost money, even discounting non-recurring expenses).

          IBM's [] revenue is a much higher $80 billion a year...but let's take a look at their cost of revenue and expenses. While MSFT [] earns almost an ungodly 30% profit on its revenue, IBM's [] profit is a paltry 8% (I didn't include non-recurring expenses)! MSFT nets more profits on it's $30 billion of revenue than IBM does on it's $80 billion! The story is much the same with HP [], though their profit is a even smaller 5%.

          I think it's safe to say that MSFT's non-software revenue is quite healthy, and ever growing.

          While I like FOSS, I've yet to see how it can sustain a viable corporate business. And, until that time comes, investor money will continue to flock to MSFT so that they can make even more $$. And, even if FOSS wins the war, expect MSFT to remain around for quite a long time. Despite what Linux zealots may think, MSFT is not stupid, and they know how to make money. In the game of business, that's what it's all about...not the ideals of FOSS.

          • by Patoski ( 121455 )
            Not very many companies are making a killing on OSS right now. Some, like IBM, are subsidizing it from their HW sales. Others, like Novell, Red Hat, and Ximian, are still trying to figure it out. I'd say it's a bit early to call it won.

            Red Hat has been able to rack up profitable quarterly results in a very spending averse environment. I'd say they're a bit past figuring out how to make money. Maybe a year or so ago I would've agreed with you but I can't say the same now. Also, circumstantial evidence p
        • Re:Good work Novell (Score:3, Informative)

          by maxpublic ( 450413 )
          SuSE was one of the big GNU/Linux vendors, but they were slowly declining.

          I don't know where you got this from. SuSe's market share and profit margin have been increasingly steadily. They've never been in decline, and their sales numbers show that sometime in the next few years they have the potential to surpass Redhat.

          Probably due to the fact that YAST makes it easy even for the clueless to install Linux.

    • Re:Good work Novell (Score:3, Informative)

      by ErikTheRed ( 162431 )
      It's not quite all open source, but props to Novell for finally releasing a downloadable evaluation version [] of SuSe Enterprise Server...
  • by hawkeyeMI ( 412577 ) <brock@brocktic[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:25AM (#8607049) Homepage
    While YaST may be great for people who know nothing about linux (and I'm happy to see that they're releasing it!) it annoys the hell out of me. Maybe I'm just not familiar with SuSE but it seems to me like any changes you make manually to configs will either (a) not take effect or (b) be overwritten by YaST next time you do something with it. Autoyast is very neat, btw. Apparently RedHat has something similar to that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:30AM (#8607072)
      Since I use SuSE at home, i have become quite accustomed to using YaST. Although sometimes it does not make changes, I find that that is very rare, and can be changed manualy. I have never seen YaST overwrite a config file in having used it for over a year. Overall I think YaST is amazing, and is supperior to most other linux managment tools that I have used.
      • by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:35AM (#8607552)
        I'd say that YaST is great for the average user, not just the newbie. Diehard system admins usually won't use an all-in-one gui anyway, but when they do, they expect a lot more from it than is expected by the average user.

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

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

        Note that there is always an exception, and in this case it is RedHat/Fedora. Their config architecture of a database oriented back end which parses the config files and monitors for manual updates (via timestamps) and a GUI front end that connects via network interface isn't exactly lightweight, but at least it's a system that is designed to handle both methods of updating. And no, I'm not referring to their older RedHat configure-everything-with-this-one-app tool, may it rest in peace (forever).
    • by horati0 ( 249977 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:31AM (#8607079) Journal
      Autoyast is very neat, btw. Apparently RedHat has something similar to that.

      Yep. []
    • Same here. An awesome setup tool, however, myself being too Debianized, I try to edit the system files, and YaST overwrites them. arghhh!!!

      However, it's an awesome tool. I love their installer and partitioner with the option of automatic NTFS partition resizing and the creation of a dual boot system if it finds Windows on the drive. Superb!
    • by texroot ( 755903 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38AM (#8607116)
      I think that the general rule for gui config tools is to either use the tool or config things manually, but don't do both. Or, use the tool, then add your manual tweaks, saving a copy of the config before using the gui tool again.

      Aggravating, but I've seen the case made for this typical behaviour elsewhere. The justification is that if joe user invokes the gui tool you want predictable results, not results subtly sabotaged by a previous botched hand edit of config files.
      • problem is that some of the config tools can't do advanced functionality, and so you have to hand-code it. Then when you go back to change one little thing, it resets the hand-coded part and you have to re-remember how to do it and then re-do it.

        For instance, on Mandrake 9.2 after telling the firewall to let ftp through in the control center, it still blocked all the tcp ports ftp uses to transfer data... essentially blocking ftp. The advanced section which let you specify ports would not let you selec
        • Why don't you just use the ftp_conn_track module for ip tables? Then you don't need to leave large ranges of ports open, just the standard ftp port. Once a connection is established the connection tracker will manage opening and closing of ephemeral ports.
      • by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:17AM (#8607279)
        I think that the general rule for gui config tools is to either use the tool or config things manually, but don't do both.

        I think a better rule would be not to make excuses for badly written tools.

        GUI config tools should follow three simple rules:
        • Use the same config as the app does
        • never modify configuration without asking
        • display, preserve, and make editable comments about a configuration item that are placed above that item (with blank lines as delimiters).

        Otherwise they are useless.
        • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @06:09AM (#8608018) Homepage
          The whole idea of having the GUI config tools work "on top" of independtly developed applications, written with no thought of GUI, or even non-nerd, configurations, is a loss-loss situation.

          What we need is for a standardized way for the application developers to communicate the possible configuration choices and their legal values to the config tools, and for the tools to communicate these choices to the applications.

          The interface must be extremely simple to use and light weight in order to be acccepted by the application developers. And it must be stand alone, not depend on any particular framwork or other libraries. The primary interface should be to the application developers, because it is their accept we need first. Our ultimate goal, to serve the users, will have to come next. We won't serve users by having a cool interface that no applications support.

          I believe it can be done, though. I got such an interface accepted among Emacs developers, and I suspect similar tools are accepted in the limited domain of KDE and Gnome. That such a tool can exist in the whole domain of free software, is shown by the acceptance of the gettext interface. Those free software projects that do localization, tend to use the gettext interface. Because it is so simple, non-intrusive, and toolkit independent.
        • > GUI config tools should follow three simple rules:

          Interestingly, those are the same rules that I followed when developing Webmin, yet another administration GUI. Other programs that keep their own databases of settings from which the actual config files are built annoy me, as they make it hard to interoperate with other tools. Some of Redhat's control panels and Linuxconf are guilty of this ..
      • by Hooded One ( 684008 ) <<hoodedone> <at> <>> on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:31AM (#8607540) Journal
        Actually, SuSE/YaST has a pretty good way of dealing with this. Many of the auto-generated files, e.g. modprobe.conf, have comments explicitly telling you to edit [filename], but to make your own [filename].local, which is incorporated with an include statement at the end of the file, and tweak that to your heart's content. This way all your custom changes are preserved.

        Yes, you can do that in other distros as well, but YaST sets it up for you by default.
    • by ickoonite ( 639305 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:13AM (#8607258) Homepage
      Apple does a good job here with their System Preferences.

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

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

      iqu :)
    • by Red Storm ( 4772 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:45AM (#8607386)
      I've been using SuSE since about 5.1 and Yast has come one hell of a long way since then. With Yast there are basicaly three levels of adminstrability. The first is the simplest method using the Yast tool, which works the same in console gui and X-Win gui. Next is using the /etc/sysconfig scripts and then calling SuSEconfig as needed. If you look closely Yast actualy edits the files in the /etc/sysconfig directory and then calls SuSEconfig. Finaly you can turn off SuSEconfig for various programs by changing that programs sysconfig file in the /etc/sysconfig directory. Thus if you want to use your own config file for say bind you can do so without SuSEconfig writing over them.

      Overall I think SuSE has struck a very good balance between gui tools, and config files.
    • by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:01AM (#8607450) Journal
      When you get a new system, please learn how to use it. If something annoys you, find a way to switch it off, or change its behavior.

      Actually, if you change a file directly SuSEconfig can tell that has happened and will not touch it in virtually every case that I did that. But, the best approach is to edit /etc/sysconfig files directly, you'll love how it streamlines things. That way you will have more time for other things.

      Why do people insist things are great for newbs when it makes ones life easier, and makes it quicker to get to the point where you want to be. Why should I spend two hours setting up a TV card manually in /etc/modules.conf for instance, just to watch TV on my Linux box?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:25AM (#8607050)
    Anything that uses a pineapple [] as an icon for "Misc" is alright in my book.
    • by kevcol ( 3467 )
      Ya know, I never once even thought about it when firing up yast but yeah- it's hilarious now that you point that out! A kitchen sink icon would have done nicely as well but that being sorta logical would perhaps make that less funny than a pineapple.
  • by Truval ( 763526 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:28AM (#8607060)
    The problem is that YAST has been going downhill ever since Rolf Schilling left the project. Now they have to GPL it to get development going again. It was a great AI1 tool once but it has languished for at least a couple years now.
    • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:52AM (#8607598)
      Huh? Downhill in what way. I have used YAST since, shoot, a long time anyway, and I've seen nothing but improvments all along. Can you give some examples as to what has degraded, regressed, etc. over time? And for what it's worth I would imagine that Novell is GPL'ing it as YAST's lack of GPL has been one of the biggest gripes of SUSE users over the years.
  • by tokennrg ( 690176 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:29AM (#8607068)
    I've been using Yast for the last few months. I've been really happy with it. Updates are a breeze. Installing new software couldn't be easier. It hasn't missed a dependency yet. Usability is pretty good and fairly intuitive.
  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:30AM (#8607075) Homepage Journal
    aren't Novell giving away the store here? Just the same way that frustrated OpenBSD users distribute unauthorised OpenBSD iso's, now frustrated SuSE fans will be legally able to distribute home-rolled SuSE isos...or worse yet: Steal YaST lock stock and barrel and take away Novell's market.

    Is this really such a good thing, in the long run?
    • by k_head ( 754277 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:40AM (#8607121)
      Not really. In a recent speech the CEO of novell said that they are no longer an operating system company. They make their money selling things on top of an operating system like eDirectory, groupwise, red carpet, ximian connector etc.

      It looks to me like they are keeping their focus on the enterprise which has very little use for YAST but is more then willing to pay for an awsome product like eDirectory or Zenworks.

      I have spent the last two weeks banging my head against Active directory and let me tell you if my CIO said they were switching to Edirectory I would litereally kiss his ass and wash his car.
    • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:44AM (#8607133)
      Thing is, I think Novell's got the idea. Once we can develop good, solid, working ways to install the operating system, supporting it should be a lot easier. And Novell knows that there's no reason to NOT tap the millions of people online willing to help code this platform. I personally believe Novell's trying to secure itself as the second large Linux supporting company. By buying Ximian, they gave themselves a very viable desktop, by buying SuSE, they gave themselves a stable platform. Now they just need to do the middle work such as getting it to work on all hardware, and making it easy to support. And IMO, open source is a hell of a lot easier to support, especially since the people with the problems, usually know how to go about fixing them, and will send patches.

      Don't discredit the selling power either. This probably won't hurt the sells of SuSE at all, in fact, it very well might augment sales, due to the people without fast internet connections wanting to get a taste of the YaST code. Don't count on it, but the potential's definitely there. Novell's making a good move here, I commend them.
    • by debest ( 471937 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:45AM (#8607138)
      Is this really such a good thing, in the long run?

      It is if it increases SuSE's penetration as a distro. Before Novell (reasonably deep pockets) bought SuSE (pretty small pockets), the distro had to be a profit centre. Now Novell can afford to allow the entire distro to be free (a la Red Hat), so that more people use it and use Novell/SuSE's server and service offerings as a result.

      Novell/SuSE will want as many people to try their software as possible: making their entire distro GPL-friendly will accomplish this, along with Red Hat's official abandonment of desktop Linux. Sure, short-term this may hurt them (I was planning on purchasing 9.1 soon, I may not now). It is *because* of the long-term benefits that this makes sense.
    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:52AM (#8607174)
      To add to the previous three posters who all made excelent points - RedHat GPL'd most everything and provided ISO's for download, and still managed to make money off of Red Hat Linux. This will just increase install base, not decrease sales.
    • by Zeddicus_Z ( 214454 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:02AM (#8607212) Homepage
      No, not at all.

      You need to realise that Novell's product is not a Linux distro - that was never their reasoning behind the purchase of SuSE. Rather Novell purchased SuSE to give them a strong, established Linux distro on which to base their directory service offering.

      Prior to purchasing SuSE, Novell evaulated its position in the market. What they found was that while they had a kick-ass directory service product, they were being kicked in the pants when it came to new deployments - primarily by MS Windows and Active Directory.

      Rather then attempt to re-build and re-position the NetWare brand among IT decision makers, Novell realised they could do much better by taking an existing base Operating System with widespread appeal, and integrating NDS with that.

      Essentially Novell's cut NetWare* and tied its future to NDS on Linux.

      Enter Linux. It had everything Novell needed: stability; maturity; widespread developer support; GPL (why write a new base when you can modify an existing one?); a wicked reputation among IT techs and, best of all, an increasingly bright future with the potential to topple all challengers.

      Announcing NDS on Linux and then subsequently purchasing a well established Linux distro was, not to put to fine a point on it, absolute genious. NDS gets the best possible base, loss of market share to Active Directory is significantly slowed or halted (and eventually reversed if all goes to plan) and Novell regains the reputation it had among techs back in the days when MS' best offering was WfW.

      GPLing YaST isn't a loss for Novell, it's a gain for Linux. Which makes it a gain for the base OS Novell will see increasing use of NDS on. Which makes it a win for Novell.

      *Yes, Novell will continue to support and even offer NetWare-based NDS installations. But the fact remains that if all goes to plan, Novell will see its new business increasingly tied to NDS+Linux rather than the old bundle of NDS+NetWare
    • now frustrated SuSE fans will be legally able to distribute home-rolled SuSE isos

      But they've been able to do this all along - the restrictions in the Yast license solely applied to commercial distribution. Giving it away for free, modifying the source etc - that's all been allowed already. I can see your point though, that someone selling the SuSE ISOs could reduce their sales.

  • Ability to Adapt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedillybar ( 677116 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:32AM (#8607089)
    You need to be able to adapt if you want to stay alive in this world. The United States has been along for so many years because of the "necessary and proper" clause which allows the government to adapt to a changing world.

    Clearly Novell is taking the hint. They're aware of the fact that the world is going Open Source, and they're willing to deal with it. If they ensure a good relationship with the open source community now, they'll be rewarded with success for years to come. If they distance themselves from the open source community, like SCO, then they will make more money in the short term but be ousted in the long term.

    Novell is a good organization that has been around since the beginning (or, at least, for a long time). I, for one, hope they continue to be around and keep up the good work.

  • Novell's doing? (Score:5, Interesting)

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

    • Re:Novell's doing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xutopia ( 469129 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:50AM (#8607407) Homepage
      Remember the roots of Novell. They are a network administration company and this is what they want to do. By making a decent, freely(or cheaply) available linux distro more popular in the business and home world they are causing a threat to the MS monoculture model and will have an advantage with dealing with all the different types of systems out there. They'll be the ones calling the shots of the network, where all really happens.
  • by bangular ( 736791 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:33AM (#8607093)
    Many distributions have open sourced their installers and administration tools, but for the most part, many have been useless for other distros. Many expect the EXACT filesystem hierchy of the original distro, exact package tools, etc. etc. So if I want to make a distribution and base it on someone else's installer or admin tools, I either have to dig into their source and do it myself, or make another distribution. There are some notable exceptions (webmin being one of them). While this is mostly good news, what I question is, will I be able to use it on linux from scratch without heavy porting? If not, it's not much use to many people.
    • by r_j_prahad ( 309298 ) <`r_j_prahad' `at' `'> on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08AM (#8607242)
      I'm running YaST Online Update (YOU) in the background even as I type this, downloading a new Athlon kernel and associated security patches. YaST is not your run-of-the-mill useless sysadmin megascript; it's forty or fifty inter-related packages that address every important aspect of managing a Linux system. Microsoft doesn't have anything close to it. I don't know of any reason why you couldn't use it on any RPM-based distro, but I have to admit I've been using it solely on desktops, and not in a server environment. It's the newb's answer to keeping a healthy up-to-date patched Linux box on the Internet that won't be a detriment to it's neighbors or an embarassment to the Linux community.
    • by ebuck ( 585470 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:59AM (#8607615)
      I can't speak about YaST, because it's just now available and it takes time to adopt such things, but I can tell you the answer could be a resounding YES.

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

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

      This would not be feasible without Anaconda being open; however, the reason it's not adopted more often is because it takes time to wade through the numerous little problems to figure out why it's not working in your case (and honestly, not that many people need this kind of functionality).
  • YaST vs. Anaconda? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xystance ( 660413 ) <my @ x y s t a n c e . org> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:33AM (#8607095) Homepage
    So, alright...

    I purchase SuSE 9.0 Professional, DVD.

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

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

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

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

    Therefore, I pose the question :

    Anaconda vs. YaST : All other variables made equal, which is easier to use as a user, and which is easier to implement as a distro developer?
  • by Landaras ( 159892 ) <neil&wehneman,com> on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:38AM (#8607113) Homepage
    I am a huge SUSE fan, in fact running 9.0 Professional as I type this.

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

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

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

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

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

    - Neil Wehneman
    • by sflory ( 2747 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:21AM (#8607296)
      My feeling is having talked with some of the Novell people during the early days of the merger. The Suse Linux product will become much more like Red Hat Linux was. I'm fairly sure that you will see the following products suse 9.1 products free download /w isos, basic cdrom with installation support and manuals, and profession with some additional non free stuff. Of course I'm just guessing, but I get the feeling Novell intends to open things up a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • YaST over SSH (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

    Thank you Suse, thank you Novell..
    • Re:I got on board (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ojQj ( 657924 )
      I'm a linux newb and I started with Suse 9.0 about a month ago.

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

      Specifically YAST broke my network configuration multiple times by adding a network card when I configured something in a seperate unrelated part of the tool. Try to find that error as a linux newb. The apps Suse comes with have multiple minor, but irritating bugs. Mozilla's scroll bars disappear, the address mana

  • SaX (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Now I can recomend and use SUSE without any holdups.

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

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

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

    Anyone want to give some odds?

    • Re:Ximian YaST (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jrcamp ( 150032 )
      I suppose if somebody is that bored, then yes, they could port it to GTK. But the better question would be why you would want to do it? What is there to gain besides now having two GUI implementations to support? I don't see anything.
      • Re:Ximian YaST (Score:3, Interesting)

        No need to install QT on a gnome only desktop-system. (or even no gnome, but fluxbox, xfce etc.).

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

        No kidding, try "make xconfig" and "make gconfig" on a linux kernel (2.6.x). The xconfig just doesn't make sense to me as a GTK-user, and I can totally understand that a QT (KDE) user finds the gconfig version annoying.
  • Try it! (Score:4, Interesting)

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

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

  • Thanks! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nermal6693 ( 622898 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @01:59AM (#8607200)
    SuSE has been my preferred distro for years, and a good part of that decision has been due to YaST. Configuring Linux with YaST is easier than configuring Windows. Well I suppose once XP came out, Linux looked a LOT easier in comparison :) So thanks SuSE/Novell, for opening up your distribution further. I hope that this move helps others to see the light.
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:08AM (#8607241) Journal
    Does YaST support running in the console as well as X?

    I ask because this is important to many people -- and I remember that a good point of Red Hat's old Linuxconf was that it ran in both the console and X.
    • by Jeff Mahoney ( 11112 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:33AM (#8607338)
      Yes, the YaST ncurses interface is fully on par with the X-based version. You can even choose not to install the graphical version if you don't want it. The actual heavy lifting is shared, and the front-ends are only interfaces to use it.
    • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:51AM (#8607414)
      Yes it works even if you don't have X installed.

      $ rpm -qa | grep curse

      There is a ncurses version and best of all you can find all the options and menus in the same places as you would with the X version - very consistent. It's funny I replied [] to another poster earlier today who was complaining about YaST being "closed source". This is great news because hopefully now we can put this "non-gpl" argument behind us and support [] Novell & SUSE with our wallets on May 6th when SUSE 9.1 becomes available. Or pre-order it now - I don't know from where though. I do remember seeing a link somewhere during a Google search.

  • by mcbridematt ( 544099 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @02:14AM (#8607265) Homepage Journal
    Also interesting is the fact that YaST is in Sun Java Desktop. You wonder how they did that?
  • Portability (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

    I want to be clear YaST was great last time I used it and I applaud Novell for opening the source. I'm just currious about it's portability. It's been some time since I've installed SuSE on anything.
  • by LibrePensador ( 668335 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:01AM (#8607451) Journal
    One of the things keeping me from using Suse was that I simply do not do proprietary distributions. That's why I left the proprietary camp.

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

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

    Now, GPL OpenExchange and let it become the de-facto groupware server in the open source world and watch as the knowledge pool of people who can configure it grow and as it does it quickly eats into Microsoft's exchange sales.
    • by rsax ( 603351 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:18AM (#8607488)
      Now, GPL OpenExchange and let it become the de-facto groupware server in the open source world and watch as the knowledge pool of people who can configure it grow and as it does it quickly eats into Microsoft's exchange sales.

      I don't think it's that easy: []

      How does OGo compare to SuSE OpenExchange?

      A: SuSE OpenExchange is actually two things: an OpenSource messaging server based on Cyrus and OpenLDAP and a closed source, proprietary web groupware server (ComFire).

      OGo is very similiar to the groupware server part and indeed you can install OGo as the groupware component on an OpenExchange server to save the ComFire license costs and use a solution wholly composed of OpenSource software.

  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @03:56AM (#8607609)
    I believe that YAST was the "big reason" that SUSE (my personal favorite Linux distro) didn't have ISO's for download. I never had any trouble installing from FTP, and I will continue to buy the retail packages for the great manuals, but ISO's would SURE be nice.
    • I believe that YAST was the "big reason" that SUSE (my personal favorite Linux distro) didn't have ISO's for download.

      Why? I don't see how the (old) Yast license would have had any influence on that matter. Certainly not for SuSE, but also others could distribute Yast freely as long as no money is involved.
  • by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @04:35AM (#8607737) Journal
    Quite a few people seem to hate SuSEconfig changing what they had manually changed, check here: /etc/sysconfig/suseconfig

    You'll notice this:

    "## Path: System/SuSEconfig
    ## Description:
    ## Type: yesno
    ## Default: yes
    # Some people don't want SuSEconfig to modify the system. With this
    # entry you can disable SuSEconfig completely.
    # Please don't contact our support if you have trouble configuring your
    # system after having disabled SuSEconfig. (yes/no)

    Set that to no then, saves the trouble in switching over to a completely different distro. Whilst you're at it, check the other files in that directory.
  • Wrong headline (Score:3, Informative)

    by jayminer ( 692836 ) on Friday March 19, 2004 @05:06AM (#8607837) Homepage
    YaST has already been open source. It was just not GPL'd.
  • Future! (Score:4, Informative)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2004 @08:19AM (#8608395)

    YaST is nice and makes a great foundation for configuration. Are we talking YaST and/or YaST2? But SaX2, the X11 configuration tool, has been exceptional in my experience.

    Anyone can configure a Linux machine these days, but few can get the X11 configuration working correctly.

    If linux is truely aiming for the Desktop, wouldn't it make sense to have X11 configuration realiable and easy?

    The real test now is coming into the configuration of peripheral devices more than the core OS and applications. Email and Web is not hard to do if you pay some attention to what you are doing.

    But getting USB, FireWire, printers, sound, video all working cleanly and consistently will be the real test. Many distributions do this well to different degrees of success, but as always you have to check your hardware carefully before you buy it. This peripheral support is still a factor holding back the adoption of Linux

    But consistent with the problem of obtaining a Desktop Linux is the problem with Multimedia. Multimedia support under free sucks really bad. SuSE ships with the lamest install of xine/mplayer I've ever experienced. And it's not just SuSE or Debian. It's the multimedia libraries and all the Intellectual Property bullshit. There's no innovation here folks, just territorial land grabbing.

    Maybe with the EU having the balls to make a judgement against Microsoft and the chance of them sticking with it in the vote today, there's a chance that some day we'll be able to watch DVD's on our Linux computers without the need to hide in closets.

    I think the release of YaST means this:

    YaST2 and the entire Linux community has developed to such a point that YaST no longer holds a leading edge against the competition to the extent that it used to. As such it would be a better investment if YaST was more freely available to evolve according to the OS environment as we (SuSE/Novell) concentrated our efforts on other tools that still provide a leading edge over the competition (YaST3?, SaX2..)

    This isn't to say in any way that YaST isn't still a valuable tool. But it might be a matter of, "We have a pretty good tool, lets give it back to the community.... Now that's done we can gather around another project more intensively."

    Like Anaconda.

    I wonder what Debian or Gentoo has to say... They need some help with this stuff, especially Gentoo.

    • Re:Future! (Score:3, Informative)

      by crusher-1 ( 302790 )
      "YaST is nice and makes a great foundation for configuration. Are we talking YaST and/or YaST2? But SaX2, the X11 configuration tool, has been exceptional in my experience."

      YaST (ver 1) is obsolete and no longer used. YaST2 is the "only" YaST that exists today (save those run fairly old versions of SuSE). If in a shell, when "yast" is called it is merely a symlink to /sbin/yast2, but in the ncurses form. Whereas calling "yast2" brings up a QT/gui version (unless in init 2 or 3).


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