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The Re-Unification of Linux

Hemos posted more than 15 years ago | from the the-man-speaks dept.

Unix 361

ESR has written a piece about the re-unification of the fragmented Unix world, as seen in the growing position of Linux. Click below to get the full read.

In the wake of the wildly successful Red Hat IPO stories mooting the possibility that Linux might `fragment' under corporate pressure seem to be proliferating. The memory of the great proprietary-Unix debacle of the 1980s and early 1990s is constantly invoked -- N different versions diverging as vendors sought to differentiate their products, but succeeded only in balkanizing their market and inviting the Windows invasion.

But amidst all this viewing-with-alarm (some of it genuine, much of it doubtless seeded by Microsoft) something ironically fascinating is happening. Unix is beginning to re-unify itself.

SGI's recent decision to drop IRIX and focus on Linux is one telling straw in the wind. Another is SCO's launch of a Linux professional-services group, clearly a trial balloon aimed at discovering whether SCO's branded-Unix business can be migrated to a Linux codebase. I visited a Hewlett-Packard R&D lab last week, and learned that many people there expect HP to deep-six its HP-UX product in favor of Linux in the fairly near future.

What's causing this phenomenon? Open source, of course. Whoever you are -- SGI, SCO, HP, or even Microsoft -- most of the smart people on the planet work somewhere else. The leverage you get from being able to use all those brains and eyeballs in addition to your own is colossal. It's a competitive advantage traditional operating-systems vendors are finding they can no longer ignore.

Playing along now and trying to defect later won't work either -- because running away from the community with your own little closed Linux fragment would just mean you didn't get to use those brains any more. You'd be swiftly out-evolved and out-competed by the vendors still able to tap the literally hundreds of thousands of open-source developers out there.

What we have now have going is a virtuous circle -- as each of the old-line Unix outfits joins the Linux crowd, the gravity it exerts on the others grows stronger. The Monterey and Tru-64 development efforts, the last-gasp attempts to produce competitive closed Unixes, can't even muster convincing majorities of support inside the vendors backing them; both IBM and Compaq are investing heavily in Linux.

Linux fragmenting? No way. Instead, it's cheerfully absorbing its competition. And the fact that it is `absorbing' rather than `destroying' is key; vendors are belatedly figuring out that the value proposition in the OS business doesn't really depend on code secrecy at all, but instead hinges on smarts and service and features and responsiveness.

These are all things the worldwide community of open-source hackers are really good at supplying. Vendors become packaging and value-add operations that never have to re-invent the wheel again. Customers get better software.

By joining the Linux community, everybody wins.
--
Eric S. Raymond

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IRIX Dropped? (2)

rde (17364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731730)

As far as I'm aware, development of IRIX may be slowing, but it's far from stopping.
Oh, despite ESR's tendency to assume all things good are a result of open source, it's a damn fine article.

I agree (1)

Chad Dale (71630) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731733)

I agree with Raymond, actually,I wrote an article to this same effect which was posted in March on Linuxpower.org. You can read the article at http://www.linuxpower.org/display_item.phtml?id=11 1 .

But there is no dispute that the Unix world is slowing unifying. And even as vendors like Sun and IBM try to beef up their own Unixen, they add features to them to make them more compatible with Linux (ie. Solaris runs Linux binaries

I don't think everyone should pat themselves on the back just yet though. There are so many companies relying on proprietary Unix systems with closed source tools (the company I work for uses Solaris exclusivly for everything except a few of our front end apps running in Windows). It will take much to move these companies over to linux.

What about the ton of propriatary code (1)

koax (8699) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731736)

How happily is sun going to fork over the only technologies that are left to differentiate Solaris from Linux? Like NUMA. Will they just keep selling their product as long as theres a poor sucker left buying it? And then embrace Linux before they're crushed in it's path? Will the seperate unix vendors be cutting their R&D departments? Oh so many questions!

Dropping IRIX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731739)

ESR writes: >SGI's recent decision to drop IRIX and focus on >Linux is one telling straw in the wind. Eric, what are you smoking? Have you read too many msgs in *.linux.advocacy? This is typical pro-Linux anti-everything-else FUD. Grow up. T

The fragmentation not in the kernel.. (1)

doomy (7461) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731742)

Most true, Jedi master. I see that you know the force well and it flows as fluid as water. But the fragmentation does have some valid points. Maybe not to the Linux kernel itself. But the OS in generl, those that are forwared by Debain, Redhat, SuSE, Caldera or anyone else.. File system standards are fine, but I dont really feel this is enough. Recently my company went through a whole regoranization (I was heading it). We moved from RedHat based servers to Debian based servers (some are even running the potato now). I was techinically more at ease with Debian, but, my fellow works, those that learned redhat from a book spent many a day bikering at how ugly Debian was (When in fact it was the other way), and how lost they were when they wanted to do something in Debian vs how they did it in Redhat. For normal users such OS changes are fine, but for adminstrators it means a completely different thing. I had to give quite a few seminars to my fellow works and bosses to make them get comfortable with Debian. Why is this happenning? Arnt they all supposed to follow some standard? even if the packgaging systems are different? This is a sad case and getting worse day by day. libc is another problem, some distrubtions just refuse to go up to glibc2 when others are already in glibc2.1, and some companies just put their newest products out in glibc2.1 (Eg: Oracle), when most ppl are running standard OSes that contain nothing but glibc2 at best. Our Oracle upgrade needed a potato upgrade in debian. This came with it's own problems since potato was an unstable OS. I suspect this kind of frangmentation would keep going on. Why cant we have some meetings and iron out the differneces between where files are stories (file system hiraachey standards) and othes. Till that day, I have to waste more time educating ppl and learning different OSes just to install a linux kernel on a box. good day.
--

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731744)

The more I read at Slashdot, the more I believe Linux will change the world, but then i go to work and my WinNT machine stares menacingly back at me. I hope the future comes soon.

Various distros have their differences, but the fragmentation I see in the future is that of people who are limited to one distro's GUI tools vs those who manipulate of config files, etc. -ffat Tony

Cart B4 Horse? (1)

Tim (686) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731746)

This is a really nice piece of Linux propaganda, which is ESR produces at an impressive rate. However, his assertions seem to be a bit premature, considering that only one Linux-centric public company exists to date. How can one assert that the *nix industry is converging on Linux, when Linux hasn't even begun to experience the level of commercial pressures felt by its cousins?

Yes, it seems that several big Unix players have come out with modest support of Linux. Don't forget, however, that these companies are still massive entities, and the support that most have flung in the Linux direction is so token (for them) that they can hardly be credited with anything but protecting their own potential interests.

Don't get me wrong. I really like Linux. I use Linux exclusively at home and at work. But the Great Linux Migration is still in its infancy, and there is a LOT of room for corruption and division.

I think he got into the same stuff Segan was using (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731748)

I like the idea he has but it isn't reality. He obviously ahsn't tried admining Caldera, Redhat, Turbolinux, and Suse all in one place. I worked in such an environment (a compnay who wanted to verify their product on all of these platforms) They all had their own quarks and bugs and even configuration tools. Caldera for example keeps everything in the rc5.d directory set to start. They don't necisarily start. If you use their stupid config tool you can disable them w/o touching these rc scripts! Suse and Turbolinux had more of the same... No I am not advocating Redhat. Its what I am familiar with so everythign to me is different. Redhat did feel the most intelagent orginization of all four flavors.

Re:I agree (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731841)

But there is no dispute that the Unix world is slowing unifying.

It sounds as if you meant "slowly unifying" here; "slowing unifying" sounds, at least to me, as if it would mean "slowing down the process of unifying", i.e. unifying less, rather than more.

Moderation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731844)

Once again someone with a valid opinion is struck down by faschist moderators. SGI is not dropping IRIX anytime soon. They will continue to develop the R14K and even R16K processors. I doubt anyone buying a million dollar Origin 2000 will want to run linux.

Re:Dropping IRIX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731848)

http://webserv.vnunet.com/www_user/plsql/pkg_vnu_n ews.right_frame?p_story=87942&p_type= chill.

debian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731850)

If you want true elegance try debian. AFAIK there are no/few GUI tools, forcing one to learn to edit conf files (which are pretty consistent to all distros).

-ffat Tony

Both good and bad (2)

anticypher (48312) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731853)

ESR is right in that the huge number of *nix variations are slowly being abandoned. Over the years there have been hundreds of *nix variations, and it got to be ridiculous to try and support an application on more than a few of them.

Its a good thing the *nix vendors realize there is more money to be made in service and support, rather than tricky features and special proprietary hardware. As more of them are being absorbed by the OSS model, they realize exactly where the profit comes from and focus on it.

It would be a bad thing if there were too few *nix variations, as many knowledgeable slashdotters point out whenever there is a melissa style virus sweeping thru the media. If there were only 10 or so variations of *nix just like there are only 10 variations of Windoze, then an exploit could hurt many more people with less effort.

I doubt there will ever be only 1 version of unix in the future, but it would be nice to see no more than 20 or 30, with most of them touting their adherence to a common standard for libraries and structure.

the AC

Well stated... (2)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731859)

ESR's comments here truly outdo the negative attitude seen following the RHAT IPO. In fact while taken in comparison with suck.com's article a few days back, it shows how the community is (or at least should be) reacting to the IPO vs. how the rest of the world views what occurred in the community during the past 2 weeks.

He concisely addresses the whole "shareholder demands" argument by showing that these publicly owned companies are seeing that the advantage in adding to the unix codebase via the linux community.

I argued the other day (in response to the suck article) that shareholders outside of the community don't mean squat in the matter of development. And this is precisely due to the way that linux evolves. However, I do believe that shareholders within the community now realize the importance of their contributions since it breaks down monetarily.

Finally, I believe that the end result, once we've looked past the IPO, will be more of the same. And this is good. The group that did not get the letter will still (hopefully) continue to contribute. Some naysayers say the contributions will be due to the promise of tomorrow's IPO and this may very well be the case for some. But I say the contributions will continue since people enjoy contributing.

If RedHat or any of the other companies must develop something to meet the demands of shareholders, then the product must also meet the demands of the community for two reasons.

1. It must be useful for the community for our own reasons or adoption will not occur, causing the doomed fragment to be weeded from the standard Linux distribution.

2. It must be well developed within the community or someone will be compelled to develop something else to compete. And the competing project may indeed have an advantage simply due to the "anti-establishment" vibes that are prevalent within our group.

Well, I'm glad to see another article in which I can agree with ESR. Sometimes they seem far and few between.

And that's my whole take on things.

Distro fragmentation (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731863)

The differences between the distros isn't that great of a problem. The amount of time it takes to adjust to a new distro is miniscule compared to the amount of time it takes to adjust to your first. :)

Oracle and Distro Fragmentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731867)

Hello,

Good point. We have been having this same problem with our own Oracle 8i installations. I suspect Oracle didn't research much or knew too much, when they put out 8i for Linux.

On fragmentation, I too hope that some of those big distro's would come together and do something about how ugly their FS and others look. Hope these problems are resolved before Corel comes out with their own Debian inspired distributions.

my 2 pence

What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

conio (39484) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731868)

Why is it that every time an article like this is posted on Slashdot, the other free, open-source Unices (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.) are blatantly omitted? Keep on writing like this and you'll have every Joe Linuxuser thinking that FreeBSD is a Linux distribution -- if he even knows it exists at all.

How about making your articles less Linux-centric? After all, aren't we "all in this together?" Isn't it "all about choice?"

-Sam

Re:Distro fragmentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731872)

For an individual it might be easy, but for large size companies where Adminstrators have to handle 6 different flavours of UNIX and 40 different mutts of m$, learing Debian or any other distro over RH takes time and a lot of habit changes. Which is fine for young ones like me, but certainly not for oldies and others who have their adminstration stuff engraved into their brains.

give it some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731882)

Every aspect of Linux will fragment just as much as the commercial unices. SCO/HP/IBM/Compaq don't want to leave Redhat or any other company incharge of their OS so they will create their own distributions which will make it easier to support their customers. New distributions will have new ways of doing the same thing. Different librarys, different licenses, different programs...etc. The kernel will eventually split too. Already other architectures are getting the shaft because there is a handful of people who decide what goes into the kernel and what doesnt. It is likely that if company X wants to improve linux with patch Y and Linus says no they will just apply it in their distribution. That is assuming companys ever really adopt Linux. Which I doubt because it would mean dropping a couple decades worth of code and millions of dollars in IP into Linux. Ben.

Re:IRIX Dropped? (1)

phlawed (29334) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731885)

You are right. SGI's MIPS Big Iron will most probably never run Linux. Telling the world that SGI is dropping Irix is doing both SGI and Linux a big disservice.

ESR (and huge parts of the media) reads the SGI pressreleases and quotes pieces totally out of context, giving the impression that SGI is leaving Irix (and pretty much everything else) behind. This is not good for SGI.

Note that SGI contributes real code to Linux these days. You don't want SGI to go away.

Disclaimer:
I work for SGI. I don't speak on behalf of SGI.

Re:Distro fragmentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731888)

True, in the place I work an old slackware to RH & Debian needed virtual links in /usr/local/ and we had to write all sorts of HOWTO's to educate the admins and powerusers.

Duplication of effort in distributions (1)

zrpg (10539) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731890)

Actually, I am seeing duplication of effort. How many distrobutions now want to make an easy to use and install Linux? Let's see:

RedHat (well, sort of. At least easy installs)
Mandrake
easyLinux
StormixLinux
CorelLinux
Project independence
Caldera

sooo many others too, I've lost count. There's so many distributions now that have goals of making it easy. I think many distributions is good if they all have different goals. But now some distributions are re-inventing the wheel. Let's take Mandrake, for example. The wanted to bundle KDE with Redhat. Fine. Now Redhat comes with both KDE and Gnome, and let's you choose which at install. What advantage does Mandrake have now?

Besides these, there are so many other distributions that all seem to want to do the same thing. So while ESR wasn't talking about distributions, it is time to consolidate, join together and stop obsolete projects. We all know Linux can win with servers and large corporations. The news about SGI dropping Irix and NT is expected. It's time, and we all know it too, to put Linux on the desktop. If more users use Linux, it means less Microsoft monopolies, better software, more hardware support. And right now, Linux has a long way to go. How is wasting effort going to help us get there? Ok, so we have two desktop environments, KDE and Gnome. That's okay I guess. But there is too many options for the user, with none of them being what (s)he wants.

IA64 is an important factor too (1)

gradbert (80505) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731894)

One thing that one one had brought up yet is that
many of these unix vendors are also converging their architechtures by saying that they will be moving to intel's IA64 in the future. What converging on Linux will bring to them is a larger binary compatable user base with which to attract third party software vendors. Right now the large number of combinations of unix versions and architechtures is an impediment to getting popular software ported.

the other IA64 factor is that the unix system vendors who are moving to that architechture are probably realizing that it is cheaper for them to help in port of an operating system than to have to do one on their own

What is debian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731897)

What's their stock symbol and where do they trade? man

Preaching to the choir (1)

PurpleBob (63566) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731899)

Well, this is very nice to hear, but I'm sure this news would have a much better impact if it was somewhere other than Slashdot.
I realize that many Slashdot users don't use Linux - I was one of them not too long ago - but I assume anyone who has read more than 2 articles on Slashdot realizes how successful Linux is becoming. Posting an article on Slashdot about this is preaching to the choir.
--

Everybody loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731902)

No more competition on the UNIX market means no more innovation. It's a fact that Linus is incredible tight-asses when it comes to extending and evolving "his" kernel.

Once the vendors figure it out that they lose all control (and at the same time give up their intellectual property), the pendulum will start swinging in the other direction again.

Re:What about the ton of propriatary code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731904)

Sun tried the "switching OSes to be closer to the industry standard" thing before -- SunOS 4 to Solaris.

It bit them hard then. It's going to take an awful lot of convincing that their customers won't go running away in droves before they contemplate switching to Linux for the official operating system. They'd be more likely to make Solaris free software than they would to drop it, for just that reason. Solaris is a good OS, in many different respects.

Re:What is debian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731905)

Debian is a free, or Open Source, operating system (OS) for your computer. An operating system is the set of basic programs and utilities that make your computer run. At the core of an operating system is the kernel. The kernel is the most fundamental program on the computer, does all the basic housekeeping and lets you start other programs. Debian is kernel independent. It currently uses the Linux kernel but work is in progress to provide Debian for other kernels, using the Hurd.

And yeah they trade on FSF. Symbol DEB.

Re:What about the ton of propriatary code (1)

bert (4321) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731912)

The announced GPL'ing of SGI's XFS [sgi.com] shows 'the big guys' can actually release real content to the public (and thus their old Unix-opponents). If SGI can show it's not afraid to contribute then there's hope for all.

Re:The fragmentation not in the kernel.. (1)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731915)

One comment I would have related to this is the
scary fact that when you go to download some
new game or software package for Linux, there
are about 5 or 6 different targets to choose
from. glibc2, glibc2.1, dyn, static, et al.

It's not that big a deal to me, but I just
think about all the newbies that don't have a
clue. I imagine it's a bit intimidating.

*sigh* (1)

RISCy Business (27981) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731916)

Would somebody please write ESR a reality check? He obviously needs one. It's PAINFUL to read this.

First off, WRONG. IRIX is not being dropped, only scaled back. Development will be continued in very limited proportions, and support and bugfixes will be continued.

Secondly, DEAD WRONG. IBM has about fifty times as much invested in Monterey than Linux. I'm not going to cite my sources, but that's fact. They're banking a HELL of a lot more heavily on Monterey than they ever will on Linux. Reason being that they stand to make more off Monterey, since it's basically AIX with iBCS only it's for PowerPCs. It runs Linux bins. So it's got one hell of a leg up on Linux with better corporate acceptance and wider support.

ESR really needs to check his facts before he goes spouting off.

-RISCy Business | Rabid System Administrator and BOFH

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

aether (70803) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731921)

> Keep on writing like this and you'll >have every Joe Linuxuser thinking that FreeBSD is >a Linux distribution -- if he even knows it >exists at all.

Saw an add in a local computer magazine for several certifications, one of the ones listed was freebsd linux. Its already happening.

Re:IRIX Dropped? (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731924)

SGI IS dropping Irix on many of it's platforms. Instead, it will focus on hardware platforms in the workstation market, and on graphics chipsets in the PC market (SGI's real strong points IMHO). That does have a unifying effect on the Unix world.

On the big iron, SGI is staying with Irix. That's also a good call. Making Linux ready to go for those platforms is still several steps away.

I certainly DON't want SGI to go away. XFS and other things for Linux are all GOOD THINGS! I also hope my next machine has SGI graphics chips and bus archetecture.

Linux is fragment hell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731927)

First let me say I like Linux and free software.

Lets not try to hide or blur the truth. Linux is fragmented moreso than any commercial flavor of Unix ever will. Why? Thousands of coders. The Linux kernel is a mess of random hackings. We have GNOME and KDE (need I say more?). While Linux is being a good little server OS.. thats all it's good for. You can't sit there and tell me everything will come together and turn Linux into a uniform OS. It's NOT going to happen. Red Hat can change Linux into some semi-uniform beast. But thats just it. It's not OUR Linux. It's Red Hat's.

Without a standards organization Linux is doomed to being what companies like Red Hat want. And since egos are a bigger priority than making SuperDuperWordProcessor work across all flavors of Linux, a standards organization will fail.

Currently, as of 1999, there are Linux users who use GGI. Some use SVGALIB. Some use X. Some use OSS. Some use ALSA. Some use GTK+. Some use Qt. Some use KDE. Some use GNOME. But not two people use the exact same setup. This is why nothing more than GNetworkMonitorUtility or KTetrisDeluxeEnhanced, or perl network-copy-arrage-thingy are coming out (check out freshmeat.net).

Linux is too chaotic to code for. And the programs people want are word processors, office applications and soforth. If you are in the KDE camp all is well. If you are in the GNOME camp all is well. Otherwise its back to Windows for you.

ESR. You are just as bad as Microsoft about bluring Linux (of course your intentions are good ones.. I hope anyways).

Okay.. one last rant. Microsoft works. Some think they are evil, some don't.. I don't care personally. Microsoft WORKS. They might not be totally uniform (WinNT->95/98/2000). But they are generally 90% compatible and uniform. They allow people to create programs which run everywhere (Windows is closest to everywhere). Write once.. run everywhere. Linux on the other hand is write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Two software ideals clashing. Unix has always been "write portable". Windows has always been "write uniformly". You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Let me explain why KDE/GNOME will fail. They are aiming for portability. They aren't designing FOR Linux. They are designing for an abstract computer which does not exist (and never will). GNOME will never take full ability of Linux, nor will KDE. They will feel so foreign compared to how Linux runs.

Re:Dropping IRIX? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731929)

The blank between "p_type=" and "chill" in the URL you put in (as text; why don't more people post HTML-formatted articles and put real links in?) doesn't belong there; this is the article [vnunet.com] , which quotes Hank Shiffman of SGI as saying
"We have not closed the door finally on [Irix, SGI's version of Unix, on Intel], but the current feeling from an applications standpoint is that Linux is the right answer. Given the resources we have, we have to focus on just one [operating system] and that one is Linux.

(In this context, "on Intel" presumably means "on IA-64", not "on x86".)

Linux may be sexy today... (1)

JoeBlazer (31892) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731931)

...but it seems to me that any so-called unification of this past year is overly connected to ESR's own style of [Oo]pen [Ss]ource. If 'unification' means 'comercialism' (and hype) we'd better hope that big biz doesn't just up and wreck the freedom of Linux (fat chance).

I'm certainly not a religious fanatic in the o'reilly vs stallman war, but if 'unification' is 'interoperability' he's obviously forgetting other (more?) important details such as posix, gcc [and gpl in general], and gnu tools.

Perhaps if 'unification' simply means 'common enemy' then we should thank MS more than linux, har har. Keep MS running then, I say, otherwise all the distros (at least those who are big biz wannabees) will start their own embrace and extend tactics.

If 'unification' means 'locked in to the Linux' way then perhaps we'll all just be chained again to another one true way [sic] until new freedom fighters emerge to release us from the tyranny. *nix may be flexible a stellar OS, but this is, after all, only perhaps the second day of creation in computer history.

If 'unification' means 'eyeballs', then we're really screwed up to think that having everyone Linux-enabling their software is going to make the world a better place. Don't forget that every one of those publicly gambled companies is bound by law to serve the interests of their gamblers (oops, stockholders) alone, and will simply change their biz strategy away from open source the moment they feel it doesn't serve them any more.

Are we stupid, or what? Of course these big companies like SGI, IBM, and many more, want to line up behind *nix, and want the latest buzz to succeed. It releases them from subservience and/or fighting over the crumbs that MS leaves behind in the mass consumer world. It is not that traditional UNIX has failed them technically up until now, it's just that it doesn't have the buzz.

Oh well, enough flame bait for one night (berlin time).

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731933)

Because this doesn't apply to *BSDs. This applies to Linux. Why? The GPL. How do you think all the original Unices got fragmented? All of these companies got a copy, hid their source, and released their own proprietary versions. They cannot do that with Linux (or at least not the core parts of it.) With the *BSDs, they can. So, they are not part of the unification process, because without the GPL and the promise of always being able to get the source, ESR's argument gets much, much, much weaker. Companies will always hide their source since they know their competitors can just take thier source and use it and not release it. Unless it's GPLd. Then, their competitors can take it and use it, but they also have to release their modifications. So, they are much safer using GPL'd source openly instead of *BSD source openly, because a competitor can take their openly used *BSD source and use it in a closed manner, thus depriving the original company any benefit from going open with it. Thus, they won't go open with it. So, this has less to do with Linux and *BSDs and more to do with the GPL and licensing issues.

Re:Preaching to the choir (1)

conio (39484) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731936)

You're exactly right. However, this is probably one of the main reasons Linux is so successful -- the overzealous advocates raise morale inside the community, "empower" the users, and all becomes wonderful.

-Sam

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731942)

Because the whole point of an article like this is that the other free, open-source Unices (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.) are all children of fragmentation. You can tell -- it's in their blood. That's why *they* fragmented.
-russ

IRIX has been dropped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731944)

Anyone who was at Siggraph and talked to someone at SGI understands this. It's time is limited. The decision has been made to phase out IRIX. Of course it can't happen overnight, but it will happen.

Re:IRIX Dropped? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731947)

IRIX is a dead OS. tell me when the next version of IRIX is going to ship ? IRIX 6.5 was probably SGIs last big gasp for IRIX...bloated as it were with 10 CDROMs for the whole thing. Sure IRIX support will continue..but it will be phased out just like any other dead OS. im sure SGI may release a couple of bugfix versions 6.6/6.7 ? but is it really going to release an entire new version number (7.0) ? no.

Re:What about the ton of propriatary code (1)

slpalmer (6337) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731948)

How happily is sun going to fork over the only technologies that are left to differentiate Solaris from Linux? Like NUMA

Hasn't SGI stated that they will be contributing NUMA support to Linux?
---
Stephen L. Palmer
http://midearth.org
Just another BOFH.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

conio (39484) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731951)

What amazes me is the sheer hypocrisy of Linux users. They endlessly chant about Microsoft controlling the OS market, about how they want "freedom of choice" of operating system. Yet they aim for world domination, and oppose anything "fragmented."

Also, please tell me how Linux is any less fragmented than the *BSD tree. I am aware of at least 20 distributions of Linux, and there are undoubtedly more out there.

-Sam

Re:Moderation (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731952)

Once again someone with a valid opinion is struck down by faschist moderators.

Maybe it wouldn't have been moderated down if it contained less insults and more facts. Your post, at least, was able to offer a hint of fact.

If a post is nothing but emotional outbursts and insults, it SHOULD be moderated down. It is nothing but noise.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731954)

How do you think all the original Unices got fragmented? All of these companies got a copy, hid their source, and released their own proprietary versions. They cannot do that with Linux (or at least not the core parts of it.) With the *BSDs, they can.

The answer to the poster's question is "because the bulk of the UNIX-system-vendor interest in open-source Unix appears to be in Linux, not in any of the BSDs, and that's why Raymond spoke of Linux as being the cause of the re-unification"; there's no need to ascribe this to Slashdot not giving enough emphasis to the other open-source Unixes.

One can speculate on why the bulk of that interest is in Linux; I've not heard anything to convince me that it has anything to do with the GPL preventing fragmentation (I've even heard people argue that BSD not being GPLed is the reason why all the different open-source BSD projects have appeared; those arguments are especially unconvincing, given that they are all, err, umm, open-source projects, so it's not as if XBSD could add something and keep YBSD and ZBSD from ever picking it up...).

One could imagine companies thinking the way you describe, but that doesn't necessarily imply that they are thinking that way ("plausible" doesn't imply "true").

Re:Moderation..Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731955)

I agree.

you need (1)

kfort (1132) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731958)

a clue. Flexibility is one of the best things about linux. I can make my computer look and run the way I want it to look and run, and you can do the same to yours. Its all about choice (FREEDOM). Thats why I use Linux, for the freedom. Most of that freedom comes from the GPL. Sure MS works, but it doesn't give you freedom. I don't understand your comment about Linux being chaotic to code for. I don't understand your comment about KDE and Gnome not designing for Linux. Theres a reason we have portable languages like C. Do you want them to code GNOME in x86 asm? No thanks, I would like to run Gnome on my apple powerbook. Smoke better crack,

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731959)

Um, *you* wanted to know. Just because you don't like the answer, that doesn't mean it's wrong.

All Linux distros use the same kernel.
-russ

Re:give it some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731963)

it wont. the GPL will keep it together and the proprieatary patches will be dumped eventually. there is only 1 linus and only 1 linux.

Re:Duplication of effort in distributions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731964)

thats what the LSB - the linux standard base is for.

Re:Interesting..Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731965)

NT loves you, Linux wants your soul.

Re:Preaching to the choir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731966)

and the freeBSD's become obsolete. all hail linux!

Re:Linux is fragment hell. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731967)

how much did microsoft pay you today ?

Re:Cart B4 Horse?..Amen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731968)

Great response, that should have been the end of the paper.

Re:What about the ton of propriatary code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731969)

Sun is a hardware company. In fact every splinter of UNIX I can think of was made by a hardware company who had to develop their operating system (at a loss) because they had no choice. Of course nothing can change overnight, but as soon as Linux becomes competitive with the other Unices, they're going to eventually say to themselves "why waste money developing $(PROPRIETARY_OS) when GNU and Linux will do just as well?" It only makes sense for them to fold whatever magic they have in their own OS (be it XFS or whatever) into Linux so that they still have the same level of quality without having to maintain a costly operating system.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

conio (39484) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731970)

> All Linux distros use the same kernel.

OK, so kernel == operating system now?

It is my understanding that the various Linux distributions each use different versions of libc, each come with different tools, et cetera. If this isn't fragmentation I don't know what is. Again -- hypocrisy.

I'll voluntarily end my posting to this thread here.

-Sam

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731971)

All Linux distros use the same kernel.

No they don't. Red Hat Linux distros use a custom Red Hat kernel. Usually, it's an older kernel than the current latest "stable" kernel, but with some of the newer features and bugfixes added in, to make for a truly stable kernel (the "stable" kernel tree itself is somewhat of a misnomer).

Re:*sigh* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731972)

scaled back = first steps to dropping. of course they cant say we want to drop our one and only OS...but lets face it..are there any roadmaps for IRIX 7.0 and beyond ? why are we running irix 6.x for so long ? montereys going to come back and bite IBM in the arse when no one buys into it. whats the point of going for monterey when you can go for mac os x on your powerpc or linux ? and linux does iBCS too.

Re:*SGIh* (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731973)

SGI is dropping IRIX. They're spinning off a subsidiary--very likely because SGI has contractural requirements to support IRIX. SGI itself is switching to Linux.

Your 50x figure is probably right. Given the higher development costs associated with proprietary software, the fact that it's a multiple of the resources devoted to Linux is not a good refutation of ESR's point.
-russ

WHO cares about SGI? RedHat is 2X as big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731974)

Just some food for thought.
RedHat is a 4.5 Billion dollar company.
SGI is a 2.3 Billion dollar company.
SCO is a .2 Billion dollar company.

It's funny. Wall Street understands it better than the Unix old timer bigots.


perhaps not... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731975)

Linus might be reluctant to include contributions with novel ideas in the kernel, but sooner or later he'll have to change that (or modify the kernel design so that more parts can be exchanged easily), since more developers and companies will be very interested in having their contributions included. If this finally happens, a lot more innovations will happen in one place, giving Linux a big advantage...

One problem I can see is that vendors with custom Unix versions will probably be unable to contribute patented ideas to Linux, though I'm not sure about this. It may also happen that, if Linus can't be persuaded to accept enough contributions from large companies, one of them could decide to start maintaining their own branch of the kernel, which would probably divide the Linux base between corporate/hobbyist users again (as the former would be more likely to use the "corporate" branch of Linux).

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731976)

yes. kernel=OS. libc etc can always be added later...the kernel is the main point of fragmentation..thats the real problem that BSD has. note that LSB the linux standards base is seeking to reunify all the libc fragments etc etc.

ESR (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731977)

I'd say ESR is one of the main reasons I'm still using Windows rather than Linux. Articles like this, filled with half-truths, omissions, and outright lies are what's kept me away. Of course, ESR isn't the only guilty party, much of the Linux "community" behaves likewise.

IRIX is not being dropped, nor is it being replaced with Linux. IRIX is still being supported and developed for SGI's high-end servers, which Linux cannot, and most likely will not, run on. Linux is for low to mid end computers, not enterprise-class servers. That's what IRIX is, and will continue to be, for.

Linux is not "re-unifying" UNIX. There are still many different fragments of UNIX, ranging from Linux to FreeBSD to Solaris. The various BSDs seem to mess up ESR's arguments, so he just omits them. Typical.

Anyway, RMS's writings had almost convinced me to switch to Linux. Bruce Perens has done a good job as well. Unfortunately, the rest of the Linux community, along with ESR, has done the opposite. That, and the fact that I REALLY dislike X, is going to keep me in Windows, at least until I get some spare time to install FreeBSD.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731978)

A Unix operating system is typically named for its kernel. FreeBSD runs the FreeBSD kernel, OpenBSD runs the OpenBSD kernel, Solaris runs the solaris and Linux runs the Linux kernel. If you took all the files associated with FreeBSD, and replaced it's kernel (and support programs like ps, lsof, etc) with the Linux kernel (&etc), you would be running Linux. Wouldn't you?

BTW, that's why Stallman is completely off base when he asks for Linux to be called GNU/Linux. The OS is called Linux regardless of how much GNU content there is.

Everyone is distributing libc6. Some people are still running libc5. Backwards compatibility is achieved by distributing libc5 as well. Forward compatibility is achieved by installing libc6. Has FreeBSD never had changes which are not forward-compatible?
-russ

Oh, I don't know... Maybe because THEY SUCK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731979)

Oh their users go on about their techncial exellence and talk about how much more secure and stable they are. Tell any one of those fuckers to PROVE it and he'll sputter and stammer and make a fine noise. And that's ALL he'll do.

Re:*sigh* (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731980)

ESR really needs to check his facts before he goes spouting off.

That's what I've thought after nearly every single article of his I've read. Apparently he'd rather generate good PR than be accurate and truthful.

Re:WHO cares about SGI? RedHat is 2X as big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731981)

IRIX is a great OS and most of us who run SGI boxen care about it...and so does SGI. some of the stuff IRIX can do is way beyond anything that linux can do right now. its true SGI is dying, but hopefully they'll move IRIX technology into linux..it would be a shame for that kind of great engineering to go to waste. we're not bigots (not most of us anyway) and we do see the light (even if it does look like a penguin).

Proud NOT to be using Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731982)

If Linux is the revolution we're all supposed to be driving towards (i.e. mediocore device support, no meaningful GUI, ages of cruft, so-so performance), than I'll thankfully count myself with the rebels.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731983)

Did I say "same version"? It's trivially obvious to the least intelligent casual observer that the kernel binary shippped is NEVER the same, if only because different hardware support has been enabled.
-russ

Re:Linux is fragment he**. Amen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731984)

Yep and theres Libc and QT. Trying to support it all under linux is a mess. Also, there was another developer trying to make an IRC client for Linux, he had such a hard time getting to work on linux because ever one had different version of QT, he just quit.

Distributions of Linux will Consolidate too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731985)

The neat thing about Linux is that anyone can put out a dist. Most of those dists will die off though, with a statistically insignificant number of people using them. A few might survive and become strong, but there will never be more than two or three major dists, a manageable number to go between. Redhat is undisputedly at the top of the heap right now. A lot of people I know who are in-the-know with Linux run Debian, and a lot of europeans run Suse. I'd guesstimate that these three dists cover about 90% of the Linux using population.

Anyone who wants to have commercial apps run on their dist will have to maintain a directory structure compatable with, well, RedHat.

Re:Oh, I don't know... Maybe because THEY SUCK? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731986)

Well, for the sake of truth, I have had two customers tell me that they benchmarked FreeBSD against Linux (same application software), and FreeBSD won. The FreeBSD people have good reason to be much more dignified about losing in the market (instead of whining like they do).
-russ

Re:Oh, I don't know... Maybe because THEY SUCK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731987)

I love it when someone who has no clue what they are talking about chimes in with his pithy little piece of retard-extract. Go away and play pointy-clicky with your GNOME retard-ehancement tools.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731988)

Tell you what, Sam. Why don't you read the article again. It's about unification.

So, when you can tell us that NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and BSDI are unifying, then we'll talk. In the mean time, we'll lump them with all the other Unix splinters dotting the landscape....

Try linuxconf. NT's sucks by comparison. (1)

cynicthe (33709) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731989)

And checkout the Lothar Project>. [linux-mandrake.com]

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731990)

I wasn't implying that the Red Hat kernel was different because it was a different version. It's not even part of the Linux kernel development tree. It's not *any* kernel that you can find on ftp.kernel.org, but a custom kernel of their own, that differs not just in how it was configured, but in the code itself.

whiney users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731991)

If you are looking for whiney users, the place to go is the Macintosh.

Mostly the BSD community has been quiet. With the rationalization of 'we work, and thats what we care about'. If they whine, its in thier own camp, and don't come to the GNU/Linux camp and whine. (What the hell would be the point of visiting here saying anything anit-linux? Its like kicking a fire ant hill)

When the BSD population gets an infusion of Macintosh blood, (mac OS X) I expect to see the whineyness level to rise.

Usenets proves the point... (1)

Tronster (25566) | more than 15 years ago | (#1731992)

I'm a new Linux user, and if you go to #linuxhelp and ask for assistance, the first question people ask you is, "What distro are you using?"
Just to drive the point home, I recently bought a Netgear card (which I returned because of bogus Linux support.) Anyway, in the readme that came with it's "special" tulip NIC driver, it had instructions for Red Hat systems, and for SuSE systems.
In my opinion, Linux is already pretty freaking fragemented.

Re:Distro fragmentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731993)

What most influenced the decision, when selecting among Slackware, RedHat, and Debian ?

Re:Proud NOT to be using Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1731995)

Actually both of the subjects you mentioned are areas where linux excells at. Its just ease-of-configuration that is the problem in my opinion.

It's been in the news dumbass (1)

cynicthe (33709) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732002)

That's where he's coming from.

All linux distros DO NOT use the same kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732003)

just read the labels on the boxes. you don't even need to peel of the wrap to figure this out.

Re:debian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732004)

dselect

Re:you need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732005)

I think you interpretted me as a Linux hater (hence your aggressiveness).

Let me explain why this all matters. No one can possibly support every feature a "Linux" machine will have. Its tedious work to support GTK (GNOME)alone.. yet having to support QT (KDE) also (because half of the market is using KDE and the other half is using GNOME). QT is a complete different beast compared to GTK (C++ vs. C).

What this all boils down to is USING the computer.

Every single person can think of ways to make something better. Every single person can contribute a new choice. This leads to fragmentation.

Why Windows works is its fairly choice-free. Users have ZIP compression. Everyone uses ZIP.. not everyone LIKES ZIP.. but everyone uses it. Windows API.. not everyone likes it, but everyone uses it.

Maybe choice is not such a great thing in the computer world. Since anyone and everyone wants something a different way. Maybe the best thing to want is common ground.

Making Linux simple is my point. Choices take away simplicity and make complex. The end users that the slashdot crowd so desire spend much less time thinking about why they have just ZIP and much more time focusing on what they need done.

This is why Microsoft is king in end-user world. They know what end-users want. And end-users want computers to FUNCTION.. not to have choice of widgets, and libraries for accessing their sound cards.

Re:Apples Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732006)

X86 assembly is nice, coding in ASM makes the software faster. Also, who gives a fu** about your power notebook. Apple computers suck.

World of FreeBSD far more rational than linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732007)

One distro.

Sane release schedules.

CVSup.

I don't see any ill-effects of the fragmentation of *BSD linux users rave about.

What do I, as a FreeBSD user, care about NetBSD users?

It matters as much to me as Solaris releases and code do to linux users.

Re: more important: who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732008)

The market will decide - if Sun makes money with proprietary products, great. If not, they can join the Linux crowd.

Re:WHO cares about SGI? RedHat is 2X as big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732011)

RedHat is worth that much? shesh. Anyways who cares about RH, MS is worth 100billion.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Syslevel (69599) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732013)

"thats the real problem that BSD has."

I wasn't aware that BSD had a problem.

It's shocking how much you know about the subject.

Fragmentation (2)

Jonas ÷berg (19456) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732014)

I wrote a comment to this on LinuxToday too and I don't want to duplicate the effort, but I think it's important to point out that we will see some very natural fragmentation in the community which is the fragmentation that occurs when developers realise that Linux isn't bleeding-edge anymore and goes on to work on something else which in time will probably replace atleast the Linux kernel.

Eventually, the Linux kernel will be kept alive by corporations who has an interest in the kernel because they can make money off it. These companies might be working together to reunify Unix, but we'll see some fragmentation between companies and the bleeding-edge hackers. And I think we'll see this very soon.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732022)

It doesn't differ in any substantial way. I'm sure that any bug fixes are offered back to Linus and Alan. What's more, if those bugs are not fixed, whether using the Redhat patch or another, then Redhat re-fixes the official kernel. Pointedly, they do not maintain their own kernel.
-russ

Re:Oh, I don't know... Maybe because THEY SUCK? (1)

Syslevel (69599) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732023)

Oh their users go on about their techncial exellence and talk about how much more secure and stable they are. Tell any one of those fuckers to PROVE it and he'll sputter and stammer and make a fine noise. And that's ALL he'll do.

There's some severe hostility showing in all that. You should seek some professional help.

what is this BSD "problem"?????????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732024)

Do you think FreeBSD users sit around all day fretting about compatibility with OpenBSD????

Are you linux users this clueless????

FreeBSD as a system has been incredibly safe and stable. None of the utter confusion (including fragmented kernels) which IS happening in linux.

Re:What about the other open-source Unices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732025)

It wouldn't make any sense for the BSDs to unify, they each address a different concern. They were forked to add diversity and persue different goals instead of trying to do everything with one big mass. The forking wasn't an attempt to gain market share (and if it was, it certainly was a poor one! :) but to create more specificaly useful OSs. For example, I'm using OpenBSD as my web/SQL server, because I trust it as one of the most secure codebases available.

Re:WHO cares about SGI? RedHat is 2X as big (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732026)

Old Unix bigots, meet the new Linux bigots.

Re:give it some time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732027)

One Linus to lead us. One Linux to run. One Bill to lead us. One Office Suite to run. One Fuhrer to lead us. One Nation.

Re:SGI is dying? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1732028)

Is SGI really dying? I thought these guys made the best graphics computers around.

Doublethinking out loud is now a sport. (1)

cynicthe (33709) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732031)

I suppose the KDE and GNOME desktop environments and the kwm, enlightenment, and blackbox window managers I use are a figment of my imagination.

I suppose the fact my Cyrix 6x86L 200 (150 actual) stands up to my friends' P233s Winblows machines except when playing Quake is another figment of my
imagination.

I suppose the fact that every device except my Windows only printer works is yet another figment of my imagination.

I also suppose that the hack I downloaded to drive my printer doesn't really work because we're talking about a windows printer.

At least have the guts to use a login name.

Re:World of FreeBSD far more rational than linux (1)

conio (39484) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732032)

This is an excellent point and I wish I'd made it earlier. FreeBSD's unity is one of the main reasons I use it -- I can get the latest source from a single CVS repository by issuing a single command, then rebuild the entire userland with a single command. I can also install any of over 3500 programs in the ports collection with a single command. If that's not unity then I'm not sure what is.

-Sam

Re:Preaching to the choir (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 15 years ago | (#1732035)

I suspect suspect the smarter the technology press journalist follows /. closely. So memes originating here might end up in the press. Especially if your name is ESR.
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