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[school-discuss] Re: Linux in Government: Linux Desktop Reviews, Part II | Linux Journal

on Tue, Mar 22, 2005 at 09:45:31AM +0200, Michael Shigorin (mike@xxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 10:53:19PM -0800, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > My own forray through the usual suspects:  Debian, Fedora Core
> > / Red Hat, Gentoo, Mandrake, SuSE, Ubuntu, turns up a few
> > interesting observations:
> [skip]
> Thanks for review, I've occasionally forwarded it to novell.ru's
> CEO I know -- maybe they realize that hiding docs is even worse
> than hiding updates in the sense that updates do cost money to
> maintain *and* to reproduce but docs can't be reproduced as such
> without having them -- and it's hurting those who should promote
> them (if I were SuSE manager :).

Docs should *really* be considered marketing, IMO.  I finally seem to
have impressed on another company the fact that swatting of user-hosted
docs is highly counterproductive.  They're letting such repositories
stand, now, at least for several years and counting.

> OTOH I could propose you to have a look at ALT Linux for that matter
> -- we're apt-rpm, company+community, no wipe+rebuild, but should warn
> that effectively the system GUI configuration tools end with installer
> -- which should be no major problem at the school (except the printers
> maybe... and localhost:631 is there).

The one RPM-based GNU/Linux I've been favorably impressed by to date has
been Connective, and that's just by reputation -- haven't actually used
it.  But Connective _have_ recognized the significance of Policy and
apparently gone through some pains to implement it.  Which may make
their merger with Mandrakesoft interesting.  After all, those who fail
to understand Debian policy are doomed to reimplement it.  Poorly.

I also feel that we're going to see two forces at work on GNU/Linux
distros.  A consolidation among the "majors" -- current Debian, Red Hat,
Mandrake, and SuSE.  And a proliferation of special-purpose
"minidistros", referring more to usage than size, which are tailored to
specific needs:  bootable, localization, user sectors, security,
entertainment, etc.  But under the hood, many of these microdistros will
themselves be based off of one of the majors, and in general, Debian.

The currently interesting stuff in distros largely boils down to:

  - Slack:  the Old True Way.  Tough on n00bs, but about as close to
    GNU/Linux-from-scratch as you can get with _some_ distro support.
    Except for Gentoo, more below.

  - Red Hat:  old-school corporate GNU/Linux.  Includes derivations /
    related distros:  SuSE, Mandrake, Turbo.

  - Debian:  the metadistro.  Policy-based distributions, emphasizing
    extreme ease of tailoring systems to a particular package set /
    load.  With many spinoffs being based on specific loads of packages
    with a bit of polish and QA massaging of the spin-off's own mirror

  - Gentoo:  As with Slack, but the build-it-yourself school.  _May_
    point the way to customized small loads.  I don't see this as
    becoming mainstream, but it's really interesting in embedded space.
    There's a lot of good ideas coming out of Gentoo (and being
    assimilated by other distros), but a lot of foolishness as well.

I suspect we're going to see a further winnowing of RH/SuSE, possibly
with an aquisition (or at least *very* close relationship) between IBM
and Novell.

I don't think that the corporate distro model really has much room for
growth, as it generates too many inherent conflicts.  You're reliant on
support and update services, but that's exactly what gets in the way of
user adoption.

That said:  I've looked at a number of distro models myself.  I'd like
to look at Gentoo more at some point, but can't say yet another RPM
distro holds much appeal.  Russian / Slavic localization may be a niche
opportunity, but it's not one that fits me well.

> It has some obvious drawbacks -- the major being "in the midst of
> reorganization process" when company must decide which path to
> choose, and several persons including me are pressing in the
> direction of "multi companies mutually supportive with community"
> (I happen to be co-initiator of one of a few such companies which
> is located in Kiev, Ukraine).  It's yet to be seen; and wrong
> decision (or the lack thereof) may lead to the dissipation way
> but still we hope for the better and existing products like
> Compact 2.3 are just out there.

Good luck with it.  I _do_ feel that a competition -- both of businesses
and ideas -- is good.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    I found that a very expensive hobby, too. But then I never was much
    of a businessman.
    - Casablanca

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