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SEUL: Fwd: Re: One end-user distribution?
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Date: 7 Apr 1999 23:07:40 -0000
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In-reply-to: <199904072011.QAA10686@belegost.mit.edu> (message from Roger
Dingledine on Wed, 7 Apr 1999 16:11:31 -0400 (EDT))
Subject: Re: One end-user distribution?
> > Hi all,
> > First of all this message is written to Seul and LaetOS, and I am Dennis
> > Leeuw from LED. This is so you know to whom this is send and to inform
> > you (a bit) about who I am :)
> Can you give us a brief summary (with URLs) of each of these groups, given
> that most of us don't read French very well?
My french is not so bad. :-)
> > I am with two friends working on an end user distribution based on
> > Slackware. Since I am the one responsible for the inclusion of the
> > 'right' software I was surfing the net and came across your efforts.
> > Since we just started (atleast to my opinion) we haven't invested too
> > much yet in software development, although we are working on a graphical
> > install interface.
Slackware is not very easy to made user friendly: it lacks a package
system, is relatively traditionalist, relies more than others in hand
editing and the BSD init system makes clean installs of software
difficult. On the other side in several aspects it is closest to the
problems of people than the university-minded RedHat
However you should try to contact Pat and the Stampede people
(www.stampede.org). There is a long time I am unhappy about Slack's
stagnation and I would like some people helping Pat in giving it a
facelift. On the other side it is not sure he would accept because
Slackware die hards want it like this.
> > Okay, so now the reason for this mail. What I find very difficult to
> > cope with is all the different distributions around that seem to
> > disagree more then should be. After all we want is to promote Linux,
> > don't we?
But each one has differnt ideas.
> I have cc'ed this response to the Project Independence list
> (http://independence.seul.org/). I'll give you a very brief history of
> SEUL as it relates to creating an end-user distribution.
> We started out in 1997 as a project to create a good end-user distribution,
> because there wasn't one around. In June of 1998, we finally gave up on
> that: http://www.seul.org/archives/seul/announce/Jun-1998/msg00000.html
> We have lots and lots of discussion about it in our list archives, though.
> (http://www.seul.org/archives/, most notably in seul-project)
> The simplest reason for why we dropped that goal was because other people
> (most notably Redhat) were doing it better by that point than we were.
> Project Independence appeared in May 1998 as a reaction to the fact that
> SEUL wasn't making any real progress in actually putting out a distrib. A
> couple months after they started, their site became unreliable enough (and
> relations with SEUL were good enough) that we re-merged the two projects,
> so SEUL continued to do non-technical things and Independence continued to
> work on their distrib.
> > Well since I see popping up some efforts now to bring Linux to the
> > desktop and even to the user who just want to work, I think we should
> > end the different distribution problems. When we want to build a system
> > that is end-user friendly we should provide them with easyness and
> > clearness, not with troubles and fighting people over which system is
> > best.
> In general I agree; but keep in mind that not all end-users are the
> same -- people need different solutions for different problems, and it's
> more difficult to come up with something that solves most of the problems.
> > So my question is is there a way for us all to join one common project
> > to bring Linux at the desktop? United, as one open solution?
> > If you are all willing to get one version out and thus give up each
> > single effort, then take the following questions allong with your
> > answer:
> > Do we decide to base the distro on a previous one or do we decide to
> > start from scratch?
> > I think we have to use RPM as the standard package format as defined by
> > LSB, objections?
> You will hear some objections from the Debian people (of course), but you
> won't hear any objections from Independence. The reason why they're based
In fact the secession between Indy and SEUL was on this point: basing
on Debian+DPKG against RedHat+RPM. One of my concerns was that we
would be isolating from nearly 90% of Linux user base specially the
user base needing an easy Linux.
Redhat is mainstream and there are several distribs who are quite
close to it: that means that features of Indy could be incorporated
relatively iinto other distribs or added by users suffering of some
flaws or hackerisms in the distrib they have. RH was the wy to go in
order to be useful.
Second point was availability and books. You can find RedHat in most
cities above 20 thousand people but there are only three or four
places in Paris where you could find Debian on CD ("normal" people
don't install from the net), in the whole of France I don't think
there is more than ten stores where you could find it. That is ten
stores for 60 million people. In addition it is difficult to use a
system without some printed doc. I, supposedly a tough Linuxer was
completely at lost in front of a Mac for whom I had only electronic
doc. Now imagine the opposite a Mac user in front of Linux without
paper doc. Again there are many books based on RedHat (and many on
Slack and Caldera) and with a RedHat CD in it. So many they are
taking bookstore space from Windows :-). And they are written in the
national language of people. It is very, very difficult to find the
booklet describing Debian and again it can only be found (in rare
occasions) on a couple stores in Paris, about half a dozen in the
whole of France. And it is are written in English: that is hebrew for
most end-users in most countries.
> on Redhat (currently 5.2) is because Redhat has already made a lot of
> progress in hardware recognition, easy install, good packages and packager,
> Starting from scratch is insane when you can start with (for instance) Redhat.
It would not only be insane but hopeless: they have a fair sized staff
of real programmers working full time. We are several times
outnumbered, working in free time and in addition most of us are
"hello world" programmers. We would never have a chance to catch them
if we tried to start from scratch. Fortunately this is free software:
we can take their work and build on it.
> > Next we will have to decide what we want to support (libraries,
> > x-server(s), window manager(s), desktop environments(s)...
> > BTW as you might or might not know, there is one more effort which is
> > called EasyLinux (www.eit.de). It seems to me a commercial version, so I
> > didn't write this to them. Neighter did I contact Caldera.
They are comercial and not GPLed.
> Also, look at Mandrake (www.linux-mandrake.com) and Berolinux (I believe
> the author of Berolinux recently merged with Mandrake). In general, there
Mandrake is similar to RH: commercial but GPLed.
> are quite a few commercial distribs coming out. The point of Independence is
> to have an entirely free distrib, created not for profit by a group of
> volunteers -- for the people and by the people.
More eaxactly from the people who have suffered for the people who are
In my mind Indy's goal is not wiping out other distribs. If people of
other distribs watch Indy as a kind of user feedback, incorporate
features of it and these features help the spreading of Linux and the
downfall of other systems so much the best. If our ideas are the
right ones, and I think they are (we are users) and they disdain them
there will be people using Indy instead of other distribs. Of course
I have sympathies and if Indy features are incorporated in another
distrib I would prefer a GPLed distribs over a proprietary one but the
enemy is non-Linux systems not other distribs.
Jean Francois Martinez
Project Independence: Linux for the Masses
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