Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Red Hat Software Businesses Linux Business IT

Red Hat CEO Szulik on Linux Distro Consolidation 197

Rob writes "Red Hat's CEO has rejected the idea that a reduction in the number of Linux distributions would be good for the industry, and described Novell's acquisition of SUSE Linux as "theatre". There are over 300 distributions listed on, but Raleigh, North Carolina-based Red Hat's CEO, Matthew Szulik, maintained that choice and specialization outweighed any advantage that might be gained by focusing customer attention on a smaller number of offerings. He was particularly disdainful of acquiring other distributions for the sake of protecting or expanding market share. "We have zero ambition to do that," he said. "I think when people approach the problem with an eye on consolidation it destroys the idea of natural selection.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Red Hat CEO Szulik on Linux Distro Consolidation

Comments Filter:
  • Natural Selection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robpoe ( 578975 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:14AM (#13756734)
    How does Novell, aquiring Suse, consist of theatre. They needed a distro on which to build their OES/NLD products, and since they seem to be partly in bed with IBM - who also uses Suse - that distro was the natural choice.

    • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) * on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:22AM (#13756803) Journal

      Methinks Mr. Szulik is jealous that a high-profile rival found a sugar daddy. I don't recall if Novell had their own distro before acquiring SuSE, but if it was that unmemorable, it was probably no great loss.

      • They didn't have their own distro, their NLD offering was ALSO a repacked SuSE that was before they even bought suse actually.
      • Re:Natural Selection (Score:5, Informative)

        by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:17PM (#13757295)
        > Novell had their own distro before acquiring SuSE

        Sort of. From what I remember, Caldera OpenLinux was originally a research project in Novell. In those days there was talk about porting WABI (a comercial product like WINE but for Win16) and the commericial equivalent of DOSEMU (I forget it's name) to Linux. This would allow Novell to use Linux as a high powered replacement for Win 3.1. Those plans appeared to be mostly hype or were abandoned when Win95 introduced Win32 and Win16 became irrelevant. Anyway, Novell Founder, Ray Noorda left Novell with several Novell employees to start Caldera. At least according to the press releases at the time, the excuse was that he was frustrated with Novell's lack of interest in Linux.

        Unfortunately most press was not online during the 1994 era so I can't find many online references to back this up (anyone?). Here are a few I could google: e-2004/FTLinuxCourse/en/net/chap5.html [] 67.html []

        • That's my understanding. Initially Caldera seemed a nice distro. I'm not a big Linux guy, but in the early days I liked it. However it didn't keep up, possibly due to Noorda's illness. It quickly got overtaken.
      • Yeah, I think he's just mad they have real competition in the business... sorry.. "Enterprise" space now. Before the Novell/SuSE deal, RH's attitude was "You pay whatever we say, because we're the only supported game in town," and for awhile there, they were right. We tried to negotiate with them for licenses vs the pricing they wanted (which includes support whether you use it or not) and they wouldn't bother. Then Novell came and was more then willing to talk to us... guess who we're using now? Oh, an
    • by bach37 ( 602070 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:24AM (#13756825)
      Not intelligent design?

      /end sarcasm
  • Oh no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by vmcto ( 833771 ) * on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:22AM (#13756802) Homepage Journal
    Natural Selection vs. Intelligent Design

    The debate rages on...
    • Re:Oh no... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:27AM (#13756855) Journal
      Does natural selection not lead to intelligent design? :)
      • Does natural selection not lead to intelligent design?

        Natural selection in cases where people are involved? NO!!!

        Have you ever seen 600lb geek (and even if you have, he still has to know how not to punch like a girl!! Lazy, overfat and living in moms basement geeks do not count here)???

        New race of people would be mostly consisting people that have their body and brain constitution similiar to gorillas (mostly from boxer, kungfu or club bouncer tribes or warrior casts with machine guns, with common fact: "pu
      • Re:Oh no... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Knuckles ( 8964 )
        No. There is a huge amount of examples where parts of, say, the human body are not designed intelligently at all, but kinda work and thus have been retained in the course of evolution.
        Often quoted are the blind spot of the human eye (which is not present in the octopus eye, although otherwise the 2 versions are very similar), or the fact that the birth canal runs right through the only bone ring in the human body that can not expand.

        Other examples revolve around the fact that the human is bipedal, and many
    • You missed to include in the debate The Church of the FSM [].
      • You missed the point. Flying Spaghetti monster IS "intelligent design". The difference between ID and creationism is that in ID we "don't know" who did the designing. That's where FSM comes in. Since we don't know, you can't disprove it!

        Personally, I like to think the connection here is Richard Stallman: I have been touched by his GNU-dly appendage. hallelujah and pass the soap.
  • rules of the game (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pmike_bauer ( 763028 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:22AM (#13756805)
    When it comes to natural selection, is consolidation banned from the game?
  • by TarrySingh ( 916400 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:23AM (#13756814) Homepage
    and Novell is doing damn well here in Europe. Novell's acquisition of SUSE in particular was supposed to mount more of a challenge to Red Hat's dominant position as the leading enterprise Linux distributor, but Mr Szulik maintained that the purchase has had no identifiable impact on Red Hat's business No indetifiable impact. These guys are working their way into the German, Freanch and beleive me or not even the lame Dutch are beginning to sing songs on suSe.
  • In fact... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:25AM (#13756833) Journal
    The Linux distro consolidation has already happened. There used to be all these "____ Will Be The Year Of Linux On The Desktop!" commercial distros that people thought would get traction, but none of them ever did. (Yeah, I know, Lindows -- have you ever heard of anyone actually using Lindows? There's nothing there but marketing.)

    Everyone has converged to the Red Hat family, the Debian/Ubuntu family, SuSe, Mandrake and Gentoo. The fact that Distrowatch has a zillion microdistros is irrelevant. (Please, do not pester me with Distrowatch popularity stats.)

    • Re:In fact... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sethadam1 ( 530629 ) * <adam.firsttube@com> on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:39AM (#13756954) Homepage
      Everyone has converged to the Red Hat family, the Debian/Ubuntu family, SuSe, Mandrake and Gentoo.

      Although Debian and Ubuntu are kind of two separate codebases now. Oh yeah, and can't forget Slackware. And of course, the source based distros. And Crux and Arch, they each have some unique stuff. Plus, Xandros is kind of its own thing now, based on Corel. Yeah, some things are based on, say, Knoppix, which is an offshoot from Debian, but I don't see how that is the "same" once they are binary incompatible.

      That makes almost 10 trees from which to branch. How is that converging?
      • Re:In fact... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter ( 3800 )
        Four, five years ago, people sincerely thought there might soon be millions of users running Corel or Lycoris or Conectiva or TurboLinux -- with Eazel and HelixCode fighting for paid subscribers to their desktop update services. Since then, it's become clear that a handful of large players and close derivatives of them are going to make up the large majority of Linux use, with some minor (Gentoo, Slackware) and local (whatever Red Flag is called now, that Spanish Debian version) distros covering the rest.


        • Bonus inflammatory opinion: Debian is about to become the dog wagged by the Ubuntu tail. They're looking more and more like the pre-Linux GNU Project.

          3 to 1 odds that you get modded flamebait for that. However, it really deserves an insightful, if anything, because I truly believe, FWIW, that Ubuntu is really what Debian should be. Red Hat may be right that we will not see a massive fold in of distros, but we likely are going to see more and more distros building on Ubuntu instead of Debian, because Debia
          • Re:In fact... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sonicattack ( 554038 )
            Red Hat may be right that we will not see a massive fold in of distros, but we likely are going to see more and more distros building on Ubuntu instead of Debian, because Debian is just dog slow. Ubuntu is exciting.

            I run Ubuntu on my laptop, and my desktop will switch from Sarge/Sid to Ubuntu too, at the next reinstall (a reinstall is the best way for me to get rid of old cruft).

            But for a server installation, I'd prefer the "dog-slow", conservative, well-tested standard Debian distros over Ubuntu. "Exc
      • Although Debian and Ubuntu are kind of two separate codebases now

        It it my understanding that Ubuntu resyncs with the Debian
        unstable codebase every 6 months, so your comment is
        misleading. It is true that the Ubuntu development happens
        independantly of the Debian development, but the Ubuntu
        changes are fed back into Debian and the Ubuntu code tree
        will always be no more than 6 months off from the Debian

        If I've said something materially wrong, I'm sure someone
        will jump in to correct me.
    • You don't hear about people using Lindows/Linspire because the kind of people who end up with it installed on their box probably don't even have a clue they're running Linux, and certainly aren't going to post in forums that you or I are likely to read, if they post in any forums online at all.

    • Re:In fact... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by milimetric ( 840694 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @12:23PM (#13757354) Journal
      See, that's exactly what I thought as an outsider comin to Linux. I tried all those, literally in the order you mention them:

      Red Hat didn't work on my laptop. Ubuntu worked but ran into libc dependency problems when upgrading my system. Suse I actually didn't try but assumed it was the same as Red Hat. Mandrake was nice but didn't really work with all the packages I wanted and for the life of me could not get sound or video to work on my laptop. Gentoo was awesome. Everything worked, hand configed by yours truly now becoming non-noobish. Until I tried to upgrade gcc because I needed some iPod tools and they in turn needed the new gcc. Then all went to shit.

      BUT get this, I'm still usin Linux and it's one of the distros you forgot. You guessed it: Slackware. WHY? Because it just works. Handle all dependencies on your own as easily as it is to install something in windows. That's what distros should aspire to. Oh god, no, not being LIKE windows, but having the apparent EASE OF USE of windows.

      So in conclusion, Slackware rocks, all the others rock less to none. FlameWAAAAR
    • On reading the term "microdistros", I just realized...linux is like beer! You've got your Budweiser (redhat), Miller (mandrake), Heinekein (suse), a million lesser celebrated brands, and a million microbrews...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:25AM (#13756837)
    Since it wasn't clickable in the story, here is the [] link.

    Anti-whoring AC mode enabled for this post.
  • Counter-intuitive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:26AM (#13756845)
    Well he can't very well call for "distribution consolidation" as that is a very Microsoft-ish thing to call for. There's certain things that even Big Linux can't call for without losing their Linux-cred.

    It's like having to be hazed to get in a fraternity. No one really likes it, but you don't get in without it. I can just hear him squirming as his natural business executive instinct is to consolidate, but he's selling a product whose culture won't let him do it (yet). So for now, he smiles and yells, "Thank you, sir! May I have another (distribution)?!"

    • Also, this is marketing from one of the most successful distributions. They're happy to have competitors stay fragmented: it lets RedHat continue to be one of the larger and more integrated environments, and have less effective competition in the server market, where they consider the real business market to be.
    • by LnxAddct ( 679316 ) <> on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:56PM (#13758081)
      About two or three years ago Red Hat was first offered the chance to buy Suse. They declined, not because the didn't want the company, but because the top guys there really do believe that a competitive market leads to better results for both the industry and the consumer. Red Hat is ran with a very Open Source friendly attitude and mindset, you should listen to some of their conferences, blogs, and talks. Not to mention that in the industry that they are in, most of the things that get developed for Suse can be included in Red Hat, and vice versa. This is a very common occurence where even though neither company pays each other or owns each other they still benefit from each others work.
  • News at 11.

    Seriously, does anybody expect Redhat's CEO to announce that "Novell is a serious contender, and Redhat is about to lose market advantage"?
    • Well considering how much younger Red Hat is than Novell and the fact that Red Hat focuses soley on linux where as Novell has its hands in many markets and still Red Hat's market capitalization is around a billion more than Novell's says something. Novell has consistently been underperforming in the market for a few quarters now. There is serious mismanagement in that company. The distribution is great, but most of its greatness is still from the prior owners. There is lots of speculation about Novell being
  • It's just FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:28AM (#13756866)
    Since Red Hat (for whatever reason) has had the lions share of the US corporate Linux market up to now, they have to spread a little FUD, as Novell has greater corporate name recognition than Red Hat. If I'm a PHB C?O, which distro do I use and buy support from? Hmmm, I've HEARD of Novell...
  • by ausoleil ( 322752 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:28AM (#13756870) Homepage
    What Matthew Szulik is actually clamoring for is more sales for Red Hat, especially when he takes a swipe at SuSe, which is one of Red Hat's strongest competitors. Subtle Szulik isn't.

    The truth is that the number of distros is good for the industry. Sure, it sets back Red Hat's bottom line, but a lot of people use Linux because it is free as in beer. The Debian distros in particular come very close to rivalling the "products" that Red Hat, et. al, distribute, and as far as support, "Google is your friend."

    Szulik and company actually hurt their own sales when they decided to focus solely on the enterprise market and leave the smaller potatoes out to fend with Fedora. SuSe still offers a nice packages distro for those that want one, and they took a lot of the folks who had used Red Hat's products previous to their being abandoned. Others went with Debian, and some Fedora. None of these choices generate profits for Red Hat.

    Sorry the little guys weren't big enough for you to worry about, Matt, but there are other choices in the Linux world to use. That may be bad for you, but it is good for us. And Matt, let's tell it like it is: you need us more than we need you. That's how FOSS works, so get used to it.

    • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:37AM (#13756935) Homepage Journal
      And Matt, let's tell it like it is: you need us more than we need you.

      Look at how many FOSS pies Red Hat has their fingers in (gcc and the kernel are two that immediately spring to mind; I know there's quite a few more. Don't they also sponsor glibc development too?).
      If Redhat stopped sponsoring the OSS projects they do, gcc alone would grind to a halt, and a good number of other projects would be impaired as well.
      • If Redhat stopped sponsoring the OSS projects they do, gcc alone would grind to a halt, and a good number of other projects would be impaired as well.

        No it wouldn't. It would slow, stumble, trip, but it would keep going. Red Hat's disappearance would be an enormous blow to the OSS community. It would take us years to recover. But OSS disappearing would destroy Red Hat entirely.

      • Your implication is that Red Hat alone has the programmers who can keep the development of gcc et. al running.

        Let me give you a little hint at who can do it as well: Leave Red Hat's headquarters, turn left on Avent Ferry Road, go to I-440. Continue on to the I-40 intersection and go west until you reach Davis Drive. Turn right at the top of the exit to the end of Davis Drive.

        You've just arrived at IBM in Research Triangle Park.

        Think that IBM could manage this?

        Or, for that matter, Novell?
        • Being able to is not the same as being inclined to; and I seriously doubt that Novell or IBM would be willing to expend the resources and effort that it would take to match Red Hat's current contributions to those OSS projects.

          For Redhat, it's the core of their Business Model; for IBM, (an OSS expendature that intense) would be throwing money down a well.

          OT Question: when the hell did IBM become the 'good guys' anyways? Does no one remember the reasons that they were so reviled through the 70's, 80's and 90
          • for IBM, (an OSS expendature that intense) would be throwing money down a well.
            See: the fees they pay their lawyers in the SCO lawsuit.
            See: IBM opening their patent suite to FOSS
            See: IBM's own work in the kernel, etc.
            Anyone who thinks IBM is not serious about open source needs to look closer.
            • I never said they were not serious; I said that taking on those specific (and additional) expenditure would be like them throwing money down a well. To put it more diplomatically (and precisely as well): we cannot count on IBM taking up the slack just because they have deep pockets. Their sponsorship has been limited to things which directly benefit (or, in the SCO case, effect) them.

              Someone else brought up the example of what happened to the XFree86 project. While I'm not sure how much corporate sponsorshi
      • Before RedHat came along, there was no GCC.

        • That's flat-out asinine. I never said they created it; but they are the ones who are currently the primary maintainers and developers of gcc (and a shitload of other OSS infrastructure as well).
    • A) Red Hat had an oppurtunity to buy Suse first (and they had plenty of money to do so), but they declined because they honest to god believe that competition is good.

      B) Red Hat's management is open source to the core, if you've ever followed their blogs, or speeches then its pretty evident this isn't just a sham.

      C) Red Hat manages GCC, glibc, commits more kernel code than any other entity, is now the core entity behind Gnome, has committed large portions of code to Apache. They've given us Cygwin, GFS,
  • by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:36AM (#13756925)'s in his company's interest to have the rest of the market fragmented and redundant.

    Theatre? He says that because Novell isn't fragmented and redundant and that's his competition, especially since SuSE Enterprise is undercutting RHEL in server deployments because of Redhat's absurd costs for it.
    Competition is a wonderful thing, but in the real world the elephant doesn't have anything to worry about from the ant.
  • by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:42AM (#13756979)

    But like everything in life moderation is key.

    Of course RedHat don't mind fragmentation it helps them. By encouraging fragmentation they can sit at the top and say to people "look, we offer stability". That's why Debian does so well (although I have to say I believe stable is a little to stable - 18 month update cycles please :) they offer some stability. It's important to try now ideas out but it's just as important that the OSS community tries to pull together.

    While it is great that I can choose from 300 different distributions I have to ask the question: how many of them don't suck? About 5 to 10 would probably be the answer. I just want to cry when I look at the amount of time and effort that has gone into some of these projects that get maybe a hand full of users and then die a slow death as the idologues that started the project realize they aren't going to caputre the market.

    It's great that people want to help it's just a shame there are a lot of people that feel the only wheel they can use is the one they built themselves.

    I'm sure this post will get moded as a troll in two seconds flat so I am going to stop wasting my time.

    • While it is great that I can choose from 300 different distributions I have to ask the question: how many of them don't suck? About 5 to 10 would probably be the answer.

      I'm sure if you and I tried to figure out separately which 5 to 10 of an agreed list of 300 (or so) distros don't suck, we'd have different lists - because we have different needs. I want something I can turn on and run - with minimal effort. I know how to configure Samba and NFS and all the other fun stuff, but I don't want to have to

  • Natural selection (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:44AM (#13757001) Journal
    "He was particularly disdainful of acquiring other distributions for the sake of protecting or expanding market share. "We have zero ambition to do that," he said. 'I think when people approach the problem with an eye on consolidation it destroys the idea of natural selection.'""

    Very good point he makes, but it only works with OSS. If he needed to acquire functional IP through business acquisitions, then the Red Hat development plan would begin looking like the MS development plan of the early 90s.

    The problem with applying natural selection to Liux distros is that the distros will evolve to fill niches. If mass adoption of Linux to compete with Windows is the goal, then the natural selection model fails... people will choose what works best for them, not what is best for everyone in the long run.

    In addition, natural selection does not necessarily lead to what is best for the consumer in general. It sounds nice in theory, but a species on top will do its best to hold down the up-and-comers, thus inhibiting the "natural" part of the selection process.
  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:44AM (#13757002) Homepage Journal
    There are a lot of debian/apt based distributions where you can almost mix and match sources and repositories between those distributions... is not a consolidation, but Ubuntu, debian, knoppix based and even commercial ones are getting some sort of common backbone thanks to this.

    In RPM land, things are not so clear, as is a bit more rare than an RPM for a distribution works in another, but opening distributions also generate a lot of subdistributions that aggrupates a bit a lot of distros, like all fedora-based ones or the future ones that could be based in opensuse.

    I think that is ok that we have a lot of distributions with its own view on how to be installed and somewhat administrated, but could be confusing to have a separate packages for all and each distribution.

  • by Mr_Blank ( 172031 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @11:47AM (#13757033) Journal
    "I think when people approach the problem with an eye on consolidation it destroys the idea of natural selection."

    Corporate mergers, buyouts, and bancrupties are part of natrual selection. Consumers migrating to one company's offering can lead to 'natural selection'. One company having a big bank roll and buying out weaker competitors is also a form of selection.

    In the 1930's there were hundreds of car companies. By the 1980's there were the big three and a few non-US companies. Over those 50 years a lot of 'natural selection' occured, and companies merging was just one option. General Motor's many brands of automobiles are not due to GM's internal innovation, but really are due to GM buying weaker competitors.

    Let's watch to see what company will be the GM of Linux distros.
    • Corporate mergers, buyouts, and bancrupties are part of natrual selection. Consumers migrating to one company's offering can lead to 'natural selection'. One company having a big bank roll and buying out weaker competitors is also a form of selection.

      One company buying out a weaker competitor and destroying their product isn't natural selection, and doesn't lead to an increase in adaptation. The environment isn't "selecting" for any trait---it just so happens that the first company on the scene has more m

  • Guys, think about this. In genetics, Natural selection does its work but it takes millions of years to reach improvements. What mankind has done (i.e. for breeding dog races, or mixing crops of wheat, etc) is to take the best, mix them, and see which ones work or not.

    I think a similar effort should be done regarding linux distros. "Accelerate evolution", so to speak.

    I've also noticed that the discrepancies between distros can be classified in the following categories:

    * Installer
    * Windows manager (GNOME,KDE)
    * Configuration tools
    * Bundled software

    In some distros, i.e. ubuntu hoary, the configuration tools depend on GNOME. If I switch to KDE or other WM, they're no longer available (or maybe they are, but not automatically and transparently).

    So, if we make these independent from each other, the distro evolution might get a boost, so we could end up with a "meta-distro" where you can only change some parameters in the installation, and everything will still work as planned.

    But then again, i'm no Linux expert, these are just my 2c.
  • If the competition gets too hot, he - or the future owners of the intellectual property - can just renege on Redhat's non-binding, non-perpetual patent "promise" [] to "refrain from enforcing the infringed patent" [my bold] against FOSS competitors.

    Remember when SCO was FOSS's best buddy? Companies change hands, good intentions blow away in the wind, but patents sit there for 14 or 20 years, hissing and spitting venom at all who stray too near.

  • What he actually said about "theatre" was this: "I think people like the idea of this 5,400 employee software company buying up a German Linux distributor. I think they liked the theatre of it." The paraphrasing of this in the leader is misleading.

    That aside, of course, Red Hat would hope that the number of non-Red Hat distros would stay high, since that tends to increase the gap between Red Hat, the only Linux distro that most ITers know about, and the rest of the pack. In addition, the confusion, or per

    • yeah, there is nothing to scare you more than a bugrep against some random distro, "debian unstable", which can be pretty broken sometimes (like touch() not working) or a fedora release.

      The costs of replicating the environment mean that you probably cannot do it for more than a few distros, which leaves the end users to fend for themselves. Bad news for RedHat: SuSE is enough of a mainstream distro to merit the effort.

      One mistake of redhat is that by giving "amateurs" nothing but fedora is that it has pushe
  • by jonesy16 ( 595988 ) <`jonesy' `at' `'> on Monday October 10, 2005 @01:57PM (#13758089)
    Several of the responses to this article and every other claim for consolidation revolve around "linux is about choice." I agree, choice is an important mainstay in the linux mindframe. I want to be able to choose how my UI looks, how my mouse behaves, what web browser I use, what permissions I have, etc. But a simple assesment of the current Linux situation is uncomfortably jumbled with too many distributions striving to achieve the same thing but through different means. If just half of the distributions had decided years ago to work on ONE installer, where would we be? If they had decided to work on ONE set of configuration utilities, where would we be? The end user wants choices when it comes to how the system interactively reacts doing every day tasks. But when it comes to system maintenance, software installation, package managements, etc, choice is not productive. When a support team has to know 15 different ways to change the default IP for a wireless network card based on the plethora of distributions, that is not productive. When a package has to be compiled and released in 4 package formats with 10 different sets of libraries to support the majority of linux distributions, that is not productive. I love choice, I love that there are 10+ GUI's for me to switch between. I lvoe that I don't have to pay another company to change my theme in those window managers. But I also love that fact that there is really only one X-windows. But what I don't love is that a dos to unix conversion utility is called "dos2unix" on redhat/suse/mandrake and "flip" on ubuntu. There are several more examples and I'll leave is as an exercise to the commenters to flame me for my criticisms and critiques of the state of GNU/Linux. To summarize, choice is wonderful, but so many of the problems and complaints that linux users have could have been effectively solved by now if the 200+ developers working on 40+ projects decided to work together instead of trying to invent forty versions of the wheel.
    • IMHO there's a big misnomer going on here. "Linux" is not the platform anymore than NTOSKRNL.EXE is microsoft's platform... it's just a small component of the platform. From that perspective, in my view FC, Gentoo, WindowsXP, Ubuntu, OSX, Solaris, etc.. are all competitors; I put them on equal footing when choosing my platform, I don't lump them into "Windows, Mac, Solaris, Linux x 300". Now the linux variants do have the advantage of more cross-platform compatibility than say Windows to Mac, but they a
  • .. some of these 'distros' are not that different. IE: distrob B & C are based on distro A so they are actually just a repackaging of existing distro to make it easier and more friendly, like kbuntu and ubuntu are to debian. Yes there are differences, but they share code and packages.
  • I wonder about Suse too though. They've generated much buzz lately, I think they've set themselves up to be *the* legitimate alternative to Red Hat, but they aren't generating RH-level revenue. (yet?)

    Perpetual #2 is a very tough spot though and:
    1. opens the door to MS adopting redhat and sucking all the money out of linux.
    2. keeping Novell and any other commercial Linux distros as MS competitors in name only. Which would be the point for Microsoft.

    At the PHB/consumer market level where RedHat/Suse/Lindows
  • ...that if there were fewer distributions which development energy were focused on that greater strides could be made in the technology. While I think that the number of distributions currently "in the wild" isn't completely ridiculous, it seems to be heading rapidly in that direction. If we could, for instance, gather all of developers of the "networking utility distributions" together and let them focus all of their efforts on one single "product", we would have the best features from the best distributio
    1. Natural selection, or competition is good for the end user. If it wasn't Windows might be a better OS.
    2. Having different companies specialize in distributions for different markets make the products a better fit than one "do it all" distribution. RedHat might be the corporate standard in the US, but SUSE is in Europe, and then there is Asia, India, Africa, etc. And lets not forget all the types: home computer, server, desktop, geek, grand parents, mobile, embedded, realtime, hardened, softened, etc.


  • Ask Shadowman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Monday October 10, 2005 @06:04PM (#13759868) Journal
    Hmmn, this really comes over as a senior suit dissing the competition and engaging in a little preening. Lunch with Shadowman would surely have been more entertaining though it would probably be a couple of days before the hangover subsided.

    Novell/SUSE have an increasingly strong product and it's very, very far from "theater". And besides, the ultimo, leading Linux distro may not even have been launched yet. A major corporation could enter the Linux world tomorrow with a brand-new distro and turn the entire place upside down.

    I guess Red Hat had better keep running because there could be some really hungry bears after them.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.