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VA Layoff Rumors 189

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine dept.
An anonymous reader noted that Slashdot's Parent Company VA Linux Systems has made an appearance on f'dcompany. I'm sure I'm not the only one who frequents the site, so I won't bother explaining it. The report says that VA is planning a lot of layoffs. Amusingly enough, it also mentions that VA hardware largely powers F'd company. Your guess is as good as mine wrt the truth in this rumor, and what it means if it is.
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VA Layoff Rumors

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    VA's stuff is incredibly overpriced, anyway. I'd buy from them if they were within a couple hundred dollars of what I'd pay if I assembled a server myself, but I won't pay thousand dollar premiums when I can trade two hours of work for it. Neither will a lot of other folks they need to start thinking about...
  • Or (1) Buy $999 Laptop (2) Install Linux (3) Sell for $3500.

    I see nothing special about VA's hardware. It's all off the shelf stuff. I can't even opt out of the "support" to save $$$.

  • In this age of dirt cheap GHz chips from the AMD/Intel wars, I fail to see how Tranameta can survive. What ever bacame of this "code morphing"? Nothing. Because they kept it's secrets (i.e., native TM instructions) s3cr33t. OK, so it's low power. It's also low on usefulness.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They ought to be selling other OSes with thier systems. There is no advantage to a VA box over any other pc. A Dell or a Compaq cen be had with 4 hour response on support 24x7. The VA box can't or couldn't when we went shopping so they didn't even get considered. Trying to compete with the big guys using little guys tactics wont work unless you are a LOT cheeper. They aren't.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    PLEASE NOTE: the above post is a parody. If you have never seen the "*BSD is dying" troll around here, you wouldn't get it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How long have you been in IBM? I, together with my teammates from R&D, were layoffed during 90's, because some idiots at that time focused on 'business and consultancy services'(i.e. they don't need no stinking R&D)

    It's proven to be a biggest failure. IBM cannot live by offerring services alone.

    Well, let's see. According to IBM's 2000 annual report, 37.5% of IBM's revenue last year was from services, and the services share is increasing. In 1992, IBM made $33B in hardware sales and $7B in services. In 2000, IBM made $37B on hardware sales and $33B in services. You can try to argue that IBM would have done better to focus more on software and hardware products and less on services, but you can't hardly claim that the move was a "biggest failure".

    Actually, though, it's clear that Lou agrees with you that IBM can't live on services alone: IBM spends over $5B annually on R&D.

    When they told you IBM don't layoff they lie. Good luck. :)

    Everyone knows that IBM has had layoffs. That wasn't true for many years, but it became true around the time you were dumped and it's a fact of life now. It's a fact of life at every company, and it should be. Even successful companies have to clean house periodically.

    As you're squeezing those sour grapes, consider this: According to many long-time IBMers, during the bad years company ended retaining all of the so-so people. The truly lazy and stupid were booted and the really smart and agressive took the money and ran.

    Which were you?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    but I am not going to judge VA Linux by whether
    you do or don't get an internship.
    It was a nice idea that didn't pan out.

    Seems like they have more important things on
    their minds these days.

    Next.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps not all of you, but it seems like most of the people who post on slashdot actually hate the site.

    If slashdot's so fucking stupid, why the hell are you losers here?

    I like slashdot. I've been here as a regular visitor almost from its start. I sincerely wish CmdrTaco, Hemos, Timothy, Michael and everyone else the best of luck whatever happens. They've got a very nice site, despite all the negative comments that have become common around here.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft is collapsing in complete disarray.

    It is worth considering that you don't need to be a Kreskin to predict Microsoft's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Microsoft faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for MS because Bill Gates is dying. Things are looking very bad for Gates. As many of us are already aware, Gates continues to weaken as he loses blood. His insatiable appetite has endangered them all.

    Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers:

    Taco Bell states that there are 7000 Microsoft employees dedicated to ordering Taco Bell meals for Gates. How many employees actually write software? Let's see. The number of employees dedicated to their respective tasks is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 software developers. Slashdot claims that about half of their volume are Microsoft posts. Therefore there are only about 700 software developers actually working on projects.

    All medical examinations show that Gates' health has steadily declined. Gates is very sick and Microsoft's long term survival prospects are very dim. If Microsoft is to survive at all it will be only fanatical open source zealots left. Gates continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save him at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Bill Gates is dead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:56PM (#138993)
    ...I'm sure there aren't any layoffs coming at ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com].

    Those guys gotta be making some serious dough. Getting people hooked on high-dose caffeine products [thinkgeek.com] (I mean, come on! SCHEDULED [thinkgeek.com] deliveries? THAT is GENIUS!)... Free advertising on Slashdot in endless rotation... What do ya figure the gross margin is on that "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" [slashdot.org] shirt that is being advertised right above me as I type this? 50%? 60%?

    I bet during the VA Linux heydey, at $300/share, ThinkGeek was seen as some dorky little t-shirt & caffeine selling bastard child. Now I gotta bet the bigwigs at VA Linux [valinux.com] are saying, "Maybe we should dump selling overpriced servers and turn VA Linux into a pure Linux merchandising play, so we can actually make some money!"

    Hats off [thinkgeek.com] to the geeks [thinkgeek.com] with a business-model that will actually survive the downturn... I hope you guys spin-off of that cumbersome, bloated beastie [yahoo.com] with the triple-black-diamond ski-slope for a stock chart [yahoo.com]- and go public yourselves in 2002, when the money runs out [yahoo.com] at your parents' place.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @04:37PM (#138994)
    he was carrying a sign that said "will post news articles for food" alongside him hemos, michael, and timothy were stripping the Slashdot PT Cruiser, they're so ghetto
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @04:30PM (#138995)
    This link [mcdonalds.com] might be useful very soon for you and the rest of the /. staff! Consider it a token of my appreciation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:36PM (#138996)
    I can't believe no one has linked to this yet. [userland.com]

    You know, I still own lots of stock in overhyped companies, and when the dot-com crash happened, I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. But I swear, it was worth it just to know that ESR's shit-eating grin has finally vanished -- you know, that one I imagine he had on while writing Surprised By Wealth [linuxtoday.com], the most insanely arrogant, egotistical, boorish, and self-centered brag piece I have ever seen from someone who has money.

    Fine, Eric. You made money. Great. Lots of people did. But most people don't go shouting from the rafters "Look at me! I have money! And you can't have any! And I will not give any to charity unless they grovel and beg, but don't do that because then I won't give any to you!"

    Whoa, that rant has been building for a while.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:44PM (#138997)
    Come on, you don't see a difference between VA Linux's relationship to the Linux community, and Apple's relationship to the Mac community?

    Apple created something. People then and now loved the product, thought it was insanely great, signed on to Apple's vision and philosophy. And it was Apple's vision, it was Apple's philosophy. They were not only its advocate, but its architect, its visionary.

    How do you figure VA Linux has done anything even close to that for Linux? Linux's first kernels were released in, I don't know, 1990 or 1991. VA Linux did not do that. They weren't even in the first round of commercial companies that did things like sell distributions (e.g. SLS). They are a latecomer, and by the time they were founded there were dozens of other companies just like them.

    Now, don't get me wrong -- VA Linux is a great company, they are giving back to the community, and in retrospect they have distinguished themselves by being more successful. But there is no way they are the heart and soul of Linux. And the death of VA Linux, the company, will absolutely not mean the death of Linux the OS or movement. That is why there is no rallying cry around them like there was with Apple/Mac; because Apple's death would have meant Mac's death, and here the stakes are nowhere near that high.

  • It's interesting comparing strategies - RedHat have carefully purchased the likes of Cygnus (who make money) and given jobs to researchers like Alan Cos who improve the community code RH rely on. They're making money.

    VALinux went on an insane spending spree including the likes of Andover, whose portfolio has never turned a cent, and is in deep shit.

    The most ironic thing? Who'd a thunk a hardware company would be going broke while a company dealing n free software would make money?

    (And $600K may not be much, but it beats having to lay people off. And making money in a dowturn is a good trick.)

  • Perhaps you should ask Bowie J. Poag (former propaganda.themes.org guy, and still the PROPAGANDA graphics guy) about the goodwill VA had when they fucked him over. You'll probably have to catch him when he pisses on the grave of VA though.
  • VA's quality problems are not new. For example, for years they sold a RAID card that did not work well with Linux because one of their employees had written the driver for it. But the basic problem was one of business model. The quality problems would have been fixed by a business model fix.

    Several years ago I argued strongly that they should adopt a business model similar to that of Dell, of putting out large quantities of mostly-identical machines in an assembly line fashion. I also suggested that they needed to broaden their sales and distribution efforts to target new markets for Linux rather than sell to the same old server market. Their response was that their customers didn't want that. But the problem is that VA could never build enough volume with custom computers to get the kind of parts deals needed to be competitive in the business. You just can't survive that way, unless you're content to be a fringe provider of custom computers for people who just absolutely can't accept generic hardware. VA's business model just can't sustain more than a dozen or so employees. I know that for a fact, having been in the hardware business (for a competitor that was bought up by them several years back) and having seen the pressures and limitations first-hand.

    -E

  • Makes me feel sorry for the guys still there. It's hard to imagine 4 months reading layoff rumors every day, goung to sleep not knowing if the lifestyle you've known for the last 3 years will still exist tomorrow, every day being another test of faith, my bad memory being their way of life for 4 months. Wonder if the second round will get severance packages.
  • Clinton government: USA dotcoms hiring everywhere in the world, people making money in IT industry.

    Bush II government (yes, the sequel usually sucks): everybody gets laid off, "Hi mom, my name was in fuckedcompany when I woke up this morning". And what is most amazing is that this government will screw just about everybody, but in 4 years Katz will still be writing reviews for /.

  • Yikes! That's what I get for getting excited about a press report. $600K is not a whole lot of profit when you have $20 million in one time charges. Still, it looks much better for RedHat than for VA Linux. Their revenues are up, and they are able to partner with Dell, Compaq, and IBM instead of having to compete with them. Plus, RedHat isn't quite as extravagant with their money. Their big ticket purchase was Cygnus (who had a proven track record of actually making money, and a huge pile of gifted hackers). VA Linux, on the other hand, bought into the whole dot com buzz to a much larger extent. Most of their clients were dot coms, and they themselves have spent a substantial amount of money on web properties like Linux.comm, sourcefore, freshmeat, and (of course) slashdot. Until advertisers realize that online ads probably are at least as effective as print ads web properties are going to be hard pressed to make a profit. Even if their sites are popular (and their ads well targetted).

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:43PM (#139008) Homepage Journal

    On a much lighter note, it would appear that RedHat, at least, is actually profitable [newsforge.com]. What's more, they are making a profit at a time when everyone else is feeling a definite crunch.

    VA Linux's business plan of selling servers to dot coms looked like a pretty good idea when VC funded flowed like a river, but now that times are tight the hardware market is pretty amazingly brutal.

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:31PM (#139009) Homepage Journal

    It's not slashdot that I fear for, as much as I love it. Heck, my productivity would improve quite a bit without slashdot. I am much more concerned about sourceforge.net. There are a lot of important (and not so important) projects going on at sourceforge. I personally think that the Free Software movement would be dealt a substantial blow if we had to go back to relying on Anonymous FTP at sunsite (er... metalab, er... ibiblio).

    I imagine that there is a pretty signficant cost associated with hosting sourceforge.

  • by sheldon (2322) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:56PM (#139010)
    Am I the only one puzzled by an announcement that a company is profitable despite losing over $20 million in the quarter?

    Yeah yeah... one time charges. By why do they keep making one time charges once per quarter? :)
  • This is the same sort of thing that Bill Parish has been ranting about Microsoft and other companies for quite a while. One legal method of adding up expenses to show Wall Street that you are making money, another legal method to include stuff you've written off to limit the tax liability to the IRS and state govts. Also, are they refusing to give guidance at all or just didn't have good estimates at the time the analysts wanted them?

  • I don't think he is specific about other companies, but he does say that many are following MS' example. The games accountants play.......
  • "I'd place a lot more value on a MSFT support contract than a LNUX one."

    Evidently you've NEVER contacted MS for support or you're high enough on the food chain (i.e. someone like Dell, etc.) to get decent help.

    There is no value in a support contract with a company that's going to be around for a while when the support's largely useless to most people.
  • Actually, this is completely bogus.

    VA Linux has _always_ had great hardware. They do more testing than anyone else. Wonder why their servers are expensive? They use teflon cables, that usually run $100 a piece. Why? Because they NEVER wear out. VA has probably the best-constructed servers on the market, period. All of their servers include EMP, which makes remote-management a cinch. In fact, you can mess with the BIOS at boot-time remotely with EMP. Their 4U boxes also have dual hot-swap power supplies. My company would have bought more VA if they would have only had dual hot-swap power supplies in their 2U boxes (Penguin and Dell both do this).

    VA also does extensive testing, finding obscure memory compatibility problems and fixing them _before_ they ship.

    I've never seen someone build a 2U VA-like box themselves. Those things are amazing. They always use the best components - that's why they are expensive, and that's why they last forever.

  • This is totally stupid. First of all, let me say that the president has almost nothing to do with the success or failure of the economy. In a free market, that is entirely on the hands of the people. Yeah, that's right, YOU! If you really think that presidents have anything to do with economics, then you would notice that it was the Clinton era that set up the recent downfalls. In fact, no Bush policy has had any real chance to take effect.

    Anyway, presidents don't matter to the economy. You are better off blaming me for any economic downturn than the president or congress.

    ADDENDUM: Actually, a president/congress _can_ hurt the economy, but that is very unlikely. It means that they would have to prevent you from doing business in some way. The only ones who can help the economy is you.
  • Because people just as strident as you (maybe even you?) would claim there was a Massive CmdrTaco Conspiracy if the news was NOT reported, given that VA 0wnz /.
  • by astrashe (7452) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:35PM (#139023) Journal
    It's very common for servers hosting the stories linked from /. to sink. We even have a name for it -- the server was "slashdotted".

    They should offer a premium service -- so much per month or year -- that will let you see the new stories 15 or 30 minutes before they go out to the masses.

    I'm not talking about giving anyone an edge in discusions. I wouldn't let people post comments until everyone can see the story.

    But it would be cool to be able to get in before the servers sink. I'd pay for it. I think other people would, too.
  • especially if it would return the site to the kind of discussions it had a couple years ago.

    This new face of Slashdot is in part the product of the moderation system reducing posting to a game of collecting karma. I've noticed myself drifted towards posting "cute" karma grabbing things instead of communicating what I believe to be important, and I suspect I am not alone.

    This post seems on topic enough to me, as both it and the article relate to the direction and nature of Slashdot. But some moderator might disagree and nuke my karma. It would be safer for me to have trolled Cmdrtaco about his name being an omen for his future career or ESR over his inability to avoid boasting during his brief LNUX wealth. The Karma system encourages the behavior it rewards, and it rewards these subtitle superficial trolls. Thoughtful tangents are suppressed so they won't be "offtopic", opinions are radicalized so they will be "insightful", and conclusions are exaggerated so "informative".

    This karma system has so well trained us what to post even in the face of dramatic news like this article suggesting LNUX is fucked, most comments are cheese-ball jokes and trolls attacking Linux, Slashdot, or VA Linux. Sad.

    Ben
  • Hey, don't feel bad -- I have 25 years experience and no one from VA even calls me (when I'm looking and submit my resume), even when they promised to. Of course, I make more than VA is willing to pay (they do pay under market).

    One thing to learn from this: HR (in any company, not just VA) is the most effective form of firewall known.

    _Deirdre
  • The difference between the Mac community (which I'm also a part of) and the /. community is that the Linux community does not depend on a single vendor.

    Thus, when Eazel closes and Linuxcare, TurboLinux, SuSE and VA Linux downsize (as has happened within the last year), the Linux community is largely unaffected.

    When Apple's in trouble, the Mac community is more directly affected.

    The downside to the Linux community approach is that people may not realize what corporate difficulties are ultimately costing them in terms of delivery of software, etc.
  • Well, for me, the primary reason for wishing ill on VA Linux is Eric S. Raymond. The man is a parasite on "Open Source", although he seems to think he's their savior. Raymond holds a seat on VA's board, and his fortunes roll with it. I have no ill will toward VA in general. But I delight in seeing Eric Raymond eat his "I'm rich now ha ha" words. As his once $35 on-paper million dollar fortune drops to below a meg.

    Right. I don't suppose you've read Cathedral and the Bazaar, used Fetchmail, or configured a kernel with CML2? No, I didn't think so. Sorry, but you don't have a fucking clue. The same goes for the 4 moderators who thought you did.
    --

  • give them 3 or 4 more years, if they're around still, then pat them on the back... Right now, they've just burned through millions in cash, and earned less on their sales than if that money was in bonds. not very successful.

    And scared the crap out of billg, hence the uptick in number of astroturfers, like you, on Slashdot. The beauty of the whole thing is, now you guys have to take the "impossible to build a business on open source" FUD and stick it where the sun don't shine, for at least the next 3 months :-D
    --

  • "Right. I don't suppose you've read Cathedral and the Bazaar, used Fetchmail, or configured a kernel with CML2"

    Ohhh.. who's life would be complete without reading the Cathedral and the Bazaar? I looked over it, about as usefull as your average k5 diatribe. And no, I don't use fetchmail, I don't need it. I know how to configure sendmail. Even I had a use, I still wouldn't. I wouldn't touch code written by those slimy fingers. Its not like I couldn't just write my own. (I've written my own telnet, HTTP, FTP, POP3, IRC and Gnutella clients, as well as an HTTPd server. A fetchmail clone would take me like 4 days) And no, I haven't used CML2 to configure my kernel.

    I'm not surprised. You know something about playing with Perl, and to create your impressive resume you used the Perl libraries. In other words I was right on all counts, including the question of whether you have a clue. Your main talent seems to be character assassination. Microsoft needs you, they are looking for Perl programmers and people skilled in character assassination. We don't need you.
    --

  • I use a quad xeon server from VA Linux to run NT 4.0.

    I need that quad xeon server from VA Linux to run NT 4.0.

    I've never needed anything like server-class hardware to run linux, and as long as the IT people at work don't support it as a "mission critical system," it'll be relegated to development tasks and serving mp3s.

    And, of course, the nice VA Linux boxen purchased by now-long-gone Linux zealots will continue to run NT 4.0.
  • Haha, funny!
  • Yay! 2% margins... They sold 25.6 million in services to attain 600,000 in profits.

    sorry, but that's less than the interest on my checking account. and if i had untold millions to deposit, (they have the cash, they did IPO), i'm pretty sure a 7 or 8% (maybe even 10%, if you loan to the right people) interest rate isn't completely unattainable.

    And yes, people are feelinga crunch, but that just means their profits are falling down, only a few of the real (non-dot com) companies are actually losing money, it's just that they're not making as much as they were last year.

    give them 3 or 4 more years, if they're around still, then pat them on the back... Right now, they've just burned through millions in cash, and earned less on their sales than if that money was in bonds. not very successful.
  • Ha ha, but in fact "wrt" is a perfectly good acronym for "With Respect To", although it is usually in caps: WRT. Of all the potential targets, you picked the wrong editorial mistake :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Here's the good news: Red Hat is in the black. As in, turned a profit this year. Surprise!

    No, seriously! http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,44637,00 .html [wired.com]

  • Quite unpleasant. OTOH, they have been spending to grow during the last several years. Perhaps the best thing to hope is that they have acted in time. If this measure is sufficient for them to become profitable, then it will have been the right measure. When the economy is in a downturn is not a time for the cash strapped to be adventurous. Only for the well funded, and the desparate. We know that VA Linux isn't well funded, and we sure hope they aren't desperate. So this may be the best of the possible choices open.

    At least the e-mail is clear about which divisions are being maintained, and which cut back. Many companies act treacherously at times like this.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Hey, it was already lost. I'm interviewing at another place in NYC tomorrow anyway, and this seemed like a good place to vent.
  • by Teferi (16171) <`ten.etumw' `ta' `irefet'> on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:06PM (#139049) Homepage
    I'm feeling somewhat disgruntled towards VA right now myself.
    This summer, being in San Jose anyway and being a stockholder in the company, I wrangled a tour of the corporate HQ there. It was neat...a lot of really nice guys, and father and I (disclaimer: I'm 16) talked to Larry Augustin himself, who broached the possibility of my getting to intern at VA's NYC office (I'm from NJ) this summer.
    At LWCE in February, we again talked to Larry, and to some really nice guys from the NY and MA offices, who said that it was a virtual certainty that I'd get the internship, AND that I'd get paid.
    About a month ago, new terms: no pay, but internship will work.
    Three weeks ago: my contact's boss is blocking the internship
    Two weeks ago: my contact says that that hurdle is over
    One week ago: Contact says that the head of HR and his pet lawyer are blocking the internship because - get this - they don't have ANY forms or procedures for internships. Which is bullshit, because one of my friends's friends interned there last year.
    Now: Still unchanged. I certainly didn't get the 'sure thing' internship, for incredibly petty-seeming reasons. My contact is considering resigning over this debacle, and I can't blame him. It's absolutely absurd that a company so publically committed to OSS ideology would be so petty and closed-minded in its internal procedures...
  • Man, he must be desperate to throw away his sign that said, "Will post inflammatory fluff accompanied by illiterate commentary for food."

    --
  • Now I know I've had too much to drink tonight. I parsed that as "Maybe we should put some plans together for shaving Slashdot..."

    Pardon me while I try to keep my dinner down.

    --
  • by sharkey (16670) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @08:43PM (#139052)
    Taco wouldn't last an hour. Those menus have to have correct spelling on them, dude. Who is going to buy a Bag Moc, Kwertor Pondar, or Phillay 'A' Phist?

    --
  • The Free Software Foundation!

    Microsoft bought the FSF and has released the new version of the GPL! Thanks to the "upgrade" clause of the GPL, it now applies to any and all GPLed items that Microsoft can find! It reads:

    All code and binaries associated with this software belong to Microsoft.

    Thank God the FSF is non-profit...
    --
  • Jon has already started "moonlighting" with Shift Magazine [shift.com]. Good magazine, regardless of feelings about Katz.

  • Sure there was some piling on by VA during what was a heady time for linux, but they put that money into smart, useful places.

    Sourceforge is very useful to me, and I would hate to see it go away.
  • Wasn't me -- I think those cruisers are pretty hideous. (And automatic transmission, too.)

    I like my 95 escort a lot better than that -- if I were to win a cruiser in a contest, I'd sell it immediately (but not disassembled) and put the money into a nice trip to Nepal and an engagement ring for Ms. Right.

    Just to clarify things.

    timothy
  • Given that we are talking business sales rather than home user sales (in terms of support contracts), you should be able to get your support call escalated to someone who knows what they are talking about fairly easily. Every time I've talked to Microsoft Support, I've gotten past the first operater very quickly and had someone from the specialist team call me back (we are a development house with about 25 people, not Dell). We've even had special hotfixes made just for us at times.

    Even if you consider Microsoft's tech support fairly bad (which I disagree with), I wonder what sort of value you place on, say, 3dfx's support at the moment? Personally I prefer support from a company that exists - however bad - to support from a company that doesn't exist.
  • Crap. There's plenty of other ways to do this. None of the times I've called MS support have I been charged by the minute.

    Check your "facts".
  • by throx (42621) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @04:43PM (#139065) Homepage
    Actually, it makes sense to purchase from a company that has a significant chance of existing for the foreseeable future. The day MSFT goes Chapter 11 will probably come a long time after the current batch of Linux vendors are well and truly forgotten.

    In a world where Linux vendors are selling support and not software, you have to be careful that your support contract is actually worth something. With the present financial climate, I'd place a lot more value on a MSFT support contract than a LNUX one. Nothing to do with the cost of the product - everything to do with the performance of the company.
  • Slashdot user numbers are in the high six figure ranges. I guess the answer to your question is alot.
  • He was carrying a sign that said "will post news articles for food" alongside him hemos, michael, and timothy were stripping the Slashdot

    JonKatz was there also, but his message was so long he could barely fit it on 8 signs ...

  • Aside from the layoffs which are expected to hit all walks of e-business, I wonder how this will impact Linux to have a company go under. See what I mean by this is, VALinux is pretty cool (wassup Jim Gleason) but their model of selling Linux only appliances is trivial.

    Why didn't they just focus on selling servers no matter what they were running. VABSD, VANT, nothing else but Linux came out of it. Now when you look at CTO types who know squat but sign those purchase orders, sadly they're likely to be under the impression if it doesn't have a price it's not worthy, meaning Microsoft lurks in their eyes.

    Moreso interesting, Linux posted its first profit [crn.com] which sadly is puny on a business aspect. So will VALinux' layoffs shadow Linux as a whole to people who don't know much about OS' ... Think cluebie here "Linux stinks because they make no money, and their business falter.. I'll stick with MS, a money maker they must be doing something right."
  • by 0xA (71424) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @09:05PM (#139073)
    Once I hanged around #debian helping a guy who was obviously knew just a little more than basic things.

    He told me he's in a hurry because a customer was waiting for the answer as we spoke. Out of curiosity I did a /whois on him: valinux.com...

    P.S. I know there are more good people in VA then lousy ones, so no hard feeling here okay?

    Man that is really not fair. Nobody knows everything. I've been tripped up by silly little things in areas that I would consider myself rather expertish. When a customer did ask him something he couldn't figure out at least he knew where to go get help, #debian would be a good place for help. Most importantly he asked, he didn't brush it off or try and BS his way through it.

    I think if more support people knew when to cut out and get more information there would be a lot more happy customer's in the world. This guy finding someone to help him out so he could, in turn, help his customer is a great endorsement for VA in my books.

  • Actually, I see lots of ads from Sun, Oracle, HP, etc. I would think that /. would be a fairly valuable asset. For one thing, the readership base is incredibly loyal. Think about how lame /. has gotten as of late, and how we still come here.
  • Soon, Slashdot will succomb to the Lameness Filter of Reality. Please wait at least two minutes before creating accounts on another weblog.

    So, now. Slashdot is lame eh? Well, since you spent the time to read slashdot, then read this story, then post...what does that make you?

    -------------
  • by supabeast! (84658) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:35PM (#139079)
    on Jon Katz.
  • that doesn't mean anything. many companies are hiring at the same time they're doing layoff. sometimes they'll cut a whole department that's not part of their "core strategy" while simultaneously hiring into the departments that are doing well. many times they'll move people's jobs, but sometimes the skillsets just don't match and they have to look elsewhere.

    afterall, it's not like "employees" are just carbon-copied workers. you can have some that won't work while still trying to find some that will.

    - j

  • Unpleasant? Of course. Like it or not, our modern era is largely rooted in WWII. The Nazis define a certain pole of human behavior - in many contexts they're invoked as the extreme of authoritarianism. Which is not quite the same thing as comparing someone's trivial actions to the holocaust morally.
    Godwin's law may have been a good idea at one time (although I doubt it - 'the act of censorship is always worse than that which is censored.') but it kills many interesting discussions now. Hitler really introduced 'total war' and the blitzkreig. The parallels to Microsoft are astonishing, but I'm not sure I could do the subject justice. Especially because of the inequality of their crimes - economic predation versus mass murder.
    At any rate, I'm afraid you can't change the fact that 'grammer nazi' is a natural and evocative phrase. Slang tends to touch on the most powerful things - God, sex and death. The crimes of the Nazis have made their name powerful in metaphor.
  • You're right. The page provides adequate information. I realize now that for some reason (failure to be a bright boy?) my eye has always skipped over the block of text you quoted. Usually I'm using Lynx, and the first two screenfulls or so are meaningless noise. I'm afraid the speed with which I skipped that noise has carried me past the meat of the page.
    However, I still don't like SF, and still think the pages are less effective than average open source pages.
    And your comment on the lameness filter and suitable uses for the editors' time is apt. I have on occasion spent an hour on a carefully crafted post to explain some abstruse topic, only to be prevented from posting it by the lameness filter.
  • by crucini (98210) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @11:04PM (#139087)
    They were in a strong position to become the linux vendor to many Unix shops and fill the role that HP or Sun would fill. The magic, had they pulled it off, would have consisted of welding the disparate commodified parts of a PC into one shining 'workstation'. Unfortunately they did not do this.
    I had a VA workstation at one company. I remember when it first arrived - I turned it on and started X. Someting was wrong. The resolution was (I think) 640x480. This was on a machine with a Matrox card. I've never seen a Sun in low-res mode. I don't even know if they're capable - that's the whole point. From the time you shove the install media into a Sun to the time you throw it in the dumpster due to obsolescence, you only see it in the correct video mode. I have no idea what VA was thinking. If I were a naive purchaser, I would have left the box as it was and been somewhat unhappy with the display. Plenty of Windows users run 800x600 after all. A coworker had a VA box with a CD-RW (factory, of course). It never worked very well. After numerous phone calls, VA said there might be a kernel bug causing the problems, and put the fixed kernel on their servers for download. Which was good. The bad part is that I think they shipped this system not only without testing it, but without ever testing one like it (thus the late discovery of the bug).
    VA had all the chances to offer a Macintosh level of integrating and testing. They controlled the OS and hardware. I don't think they delivered.
    I should also mention the multi-week lead times for standard workstations. All in all, a bad vendor and the only reason they were used is their support of popular web sites. Which was not very persuasive with management.
  • by crucini (98210) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @10:25PM (#139088)
    Personally, I'll be quite happy when SourceForge shuts down. The worthwhile projects will be hosted elsewhere, and the marginal ones might be abandoned. I admit that SourceForge provides some infrastructure which most projects wouldn't bother creating otherwise. But here's why I hate SourceForge:
    • It's full of unfinished (unusable) and utterly vaporous projects. It really pisses me off when I'm searching for a solution to a problem to waste minutes on a SourceForge site, sometimes even downloading a tarball and trying to compile, merely to discover I've wasted my time on someone's empty fantasies. You can assert that as the consumer of software I have no right to expect, etc., but I think it's an act of inconsiderate pollution to spread useless software.
    • Before SourceForge, project web pages were both more usable and more informative of the character and status of the project. More usable because less cluttered - Open Source project web pages are generally some of the best on the web for clarity. More informative, because a half-baked toy project will get one hastily-written page, if that, while a mature, heavily used project will have many pages and current release news.
    • I shudder to think what Microsoft's PR folks could make of SourceForge. If they want to convince an executive that Open Source is ridiculous, they just have to let him browse this site and take in all the 'discussion forums' with two posts, all the ambitious projects with no release info. It's an ongoing embarassment.
    Anyhow, for those who love the enhanced functionality of SourceForge, the software is free and can be implemented elsewhere. Hopefully in a post-SourceForge world it will implemented only when a project has outgrown a simple static site.
    We're in no danger of reverting to UNC FTP archives. (Not that there's much wrong with them.) Pretty much every ISP offers free static hosting to its customers. Then there's angelfire/geocities for the cash and bandwidth impaired.
  • Holy shit, what does everyone have against ESR? He's done a good job of convincing companies to think harder about open source (for that matter, he helped come up with the definition of open source. Remember, before him, RMS's Free Software was the only game in town). Without ESR, Netscape would not have opened Netscape. Okay, we can all bitch about how Mozilla has taken 3 years, but better 3 years than never! Otherwise you'd probably still be stuck with Netscape 4.XX, or Konquerer (and boy would it suck to be a Gnome user).

    On top of that, how cool was the text adventure based kernel config? Yeah, he's egotistical. Yeah, he gets more publicity than other coders who have done equivalent amounts of work. But I don't think he's done anything worthy of this kind of hatred.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • I would've linked to Taco Bell [yumjobs.com]...
  • Someone I know tried to pay money to get VA Linux to come and set up Sourceforge at his company. Even after repeated telephone calls, VA Linux never replied and finally a consulting firm (not VA Linux) offered to get paid to do the work. My friend gladly accepted. I've actually heard this kind of thing more than a few times with VA. Is it just me or is VA notoriously bad at customer service. Is it that hard to return phone messages and e-mail?

    Basically what I'm saying is no wonder they're losing money, people try to throw cash at them and they don't catch it.

  • by Megane (129182) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:50AM (#139096) Homepage
    I've never seen a Sun in low-res mode.

    Then you've never tried to install Solaris x86. I tried this back in the Solaris 7 days (when they had that "free plus $15 for shipping" offer three or so years ago) and found out that their X servers didn't support any video card manufactured in the (then) past two years, and wouldn't take a "backward compatible" later version from the same manufacturer, either. The only fallback option was 640x480x16 VGA. It was unbelievably ugly. And the only text mode option was 25x80 (unlike Linux, which can give you 60x80 on most VGA cards). It wouldn't even boot with an ATI All In Wonder 98 because the _text_ mode console driver was incompatible with that card!

  • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @08:12AM (#139097) Homepage Journal
    Without VA, what do we loose?

    Source Forge [sourceforge.net] and linux.com [linux.com] are the first things that come to my mind, but I know there are many more.

    A shutdown or down-sizing of sourceforge would deal quite a blow to many projects.

  • Right. I don't suppose you've read Cathedral and the Bazaar, used Fetchmail, or configured a kernel with CML2

    Ohhh.. who's life would be complete without reading the Cathedral and the Bazaar? I looked over it, about as usefull as your average k5 diatribe.

    And no, I don't use fetchmail, I don't need it. I know how to configure sendmail. Even I had a use, I still wouldn't. I wouldn't touch code written by those slimy fingers. Its not like I couldn't just write my own. (I've written my own telnet, HTTP, FTP, POP3, IRC and Gnutella clients, as well as an HTTPd server. A fetchmail clone would take me like 4 days)

    And no, I haven't used CML2 to configure my kernel.

    I don't see why choosing not to use the software of an egomaniac disqualifies me to have an opinion about him.
  • by elegant7x (142766) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:38PM (#139100)
    Well, for me, the primary reason for wishing ill on VA Linux is Eric S. Raymond. The man is a parasite on "Open Source", although he seems to think he's their savior. Raymond holds a seat on VA's board, and his fortunes roll with it. I have no ill will toward VA in general. But I delight in seeing Eric Raymond eat his "I'm rich now ha ha" words. As his once $35 on-paper million dollar fortune drops to below a meg.

    But other then that, there is a real difference between Apple and the crop of Linux companies. With the Mac, everything depended on Apple, and really it was Steve Jobs who designed the thing. But these Linux companies are just making money off something that's already popular. VA does give back to the community, but they also take. Slashdot was around long before VA bought them (or rather the company that /. Sold to. CT initially didn't want to be owned by one of the Linux corps, and refused to sell directly to VA)

    The real and fundamental difference is that without apple, there would be no Mac. Without VA, what do we loose? You can buy Linux powered hardware from most of the major players nowadays, and Most of the commercially produced Linux code is coming out of Red Hat.

    I think a lot of the animosity generated towards VA is caused by the fact that they tried to be 'the' Linux company, getting the stock symbol "LNUX" and everything, buying all the major Linux sites, that kind of thing.

    And of course, employing ESR as their 'corporate conscious' is isn't winning them many brownie points (I hope)
  • Is that FuckedCompany's readers are just like /.'s - Or at least, the contributing ones. The message thread has become a Linux vs. Win2k thread and people are insinuating that others have far less experience than they claim - That they may in fact be a pimple-ridden native of Bumfuck, NW.


    --
    ALL YOUR KARMA ARE BELONG TO US

  • by proxima (165692) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @07:50PM (#139105)
    Perhaps part (or most) of the problem lies in /. and other Andover/VA Linux sites that depend on ad revenues. From what I've noticed, /. and other VA sites seem to link to each other, with few ads coming from the outside (which would bring in money to VA, obviously). Are they that short of paid ads that they have to rotate in self-promotion?

  • LNUX is collapsing in complete disarray.

    It is worth considering that you don't need to be a Kreskin to predict VA's future. The hand writing is on the wall: VA Linux faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for VA because Slashdot is dying. Things are looking very bad for VA Linux. As many of us are already aware, VA continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood. Their overpriced hardware is the most endangered of them all.

    Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers:

    Slashdot leader Taco states that there are 7000 users of Slashdot (the rest of the accounts are for trolls to mod themselves up). How many users of Plastic are there? Let's see. The number of Slashdot versus Plastic posts on their respective sites is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 Plastic users. Geekizoid posts on their site are about half of the volume of Plastic posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of Geekizoid. A recent article put Slashdot at about 80 percent of the VA market cap. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 VA Linux users. This is consistent with the number of alpha-stage SourceForge projects.

    Due to the troubles of Andover, abysmal sales and so on, they went out of business and were taken over by VA Linux, who sell another troubled OS. Now VA Linux is also dead, its corpse turned over to another charnel house.

    All major surveys show that Slashdot has steadily declined in market share. Slashdot is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Slashdot is to survive at all it will be among fanatical open source zealots. Slashdot continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Slashdot is dead.

    --
    < )
    ( \
    X

  • by bataras (169548) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:39PM (#139107)
    Amusingly enough, it also mentions that VA hardware largely powers F'd company. Your guess is as good as mine wrt the truth in this rumor

    I believe it is definitely true that VA Linux powers most of FuckedCompany.

  • I like my 95 escort a lot better than that [...] an engagement ring for Ms. Right

    Hey, careful, tim, Anne Marie [educatedescort.com] is certainly a very fine "escort", but I really don't think you should be conisdering marrying her.

  • The death of professional Linux companies like VA will relegate Linux and open source back to the basements and dorm rooms of enthusiasts, and will see enterprise support wither away quicker than you can say "Mozilla"
  • The problem is getting machines and bandwidth. Especially bandwidth. Even if there are tons of people who will help work on/admin sourceforge-II, without a bunch of $$$ it won't happen.
    IBM, Sun or Compaq could pick it up. They wouldn't even notice the sort of cash required to support SourceForge. I don't know if they would or not - so far they've been reluctant to do anything that might be seen as attempting to "take over" the Open Source movement.
  • I kind of doubt Sun would - last I heard they're still not big Linux/OSS fans (perhaps "cautiously interested" would be a better description).
    Yeah, but then it occured to me that Sun's OSS enthusiasm might well be inversely proportional to Microsoft's and that taking over SourceForge might be the sort of PR move that would appeal.
  • I had the pleasure of dealing VA. I was exploring whether we could employ OnSite or an offsite closed-source Sourceforge version. To start with it was extremely hard at the time to find anyone with VA who would deal with this at all. My emails were disappearing in some VA black-hole. It took them several weeks (after bouncing my messages through various incompetent employees) to actually deal with it. It looks to me as if they have too much money there and need to do zilch to support themselves.
  • Of course! I'm a big fan and would subscribe if that's what it takes to keep /. running.

    That said, part of /. is making fun of Taco, Hemos, et al., so you really can't blame the /bots for taking this fairly grand opportunity to do so.

  • by RhetoricalQuestion (213393) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:42PM (#139126) Homepage

    This week's poll [slashdot.org] indicates (so far) 2% attendance at Hamburger U.

    A forewarning, perhaps?

  • by BlowCat (216402) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @04:36PM (#139129)
    How about LAST post? What if /. closes tomorrow?
  • by update() (217397) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:22PM (#139133) Homepage
    Isn't it funny how much effort VA Linux put into Giving Back To The Community, Showing That They Get It and other such good-will building exercises? And when they run into trouble the open source mob gets a few laughs out of it and moves on without a trace of sympathy? As a Mac user who vividly remembers the "Apple is dying!" era, the contrast to how the Mac addicts responded is really striking.

    Clearly, one lesson is that having one of your board members write an article bragging about how much money he made on the IPO is unhelpful. But could it also be that the way to build a truly loyal user base is to make something that users think is worth paying for, not by telling one's users that they're heros who are owed the world gift-wrapped on a silver platter?

    Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

  • If a rumor was posted on that site's main page its all but released for public knowledge. Its very difficult times. The crash is starting to close down some of the best known websites, like we saw last week with Suck.com. The problem with open source is that there's no money in it. I believe one of the much touted ways companies were going to make money off of open source was to provide support and consulting for the software. These companies never really sprung up. What ended up happening was that it opened access to these extremely advanced systems to the public which learned them, and then went off to work at websites. Consulting co's could have formed a nucleus of an open source market. Instead we got caffienated beverages sponsoring the websites.

    VALinux being a hardware supplier will of course suffer sales slowdowns with the rest of the market. Those kinds of servers, like VALinux and Penguin Computing make are for websites and NOCs, and so many IT budgets are frozen. So what happens when bastions of freedom suddenly need money? Will slashdot sell out? And by that I mean will we start seeing animercials ala zdnet? Possibly a licensing fee for slash code? Perhaps slashdot can sell moderation points on ebay? Will we need to accompany our link submissions with a 20 dollar processing fee? I'm of course kidding, I'm sure Slashdot's much too respectable for that, but it must be one of the highest trafficked sites that VALinux owns, and possibly on the internet period. Unfortunately it looks that the only company making money off the internet is AOL.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:20PM (#139135) Homepage Journal
    The trick is weathering the storm. Once it's past those in a position to make a run at market demand will do very well. I'm just hoping there's enough of the quality Linux support companies around to give Microsoft hell. If there aren't then it will truly be a bleak future. Even Microsoft fans must concede, Microsoft can only get better while their feet a held to the fire.

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • Yeah sure, whatever, I'm not trying to make sense. I'm just trying to be funny.

    In all actuality, though, he could just sell the domain. Remember when he put it up on eBay, and it got up to a few million?
  • by unformed (225214) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @04:27PM (#139138)
    the day when the headline @ fuckedcomapny is...."Rumor has it that FuckedCompany.com is planning on laying off a large number of employees. At this time, employees could not be reached for comment."

  • Maybe we should put some plans together for saving Slashdot, just in case...
  • I'm lucky enough to work for IBM, in Durham, NC, in a job that mostly calls for Linux skills. So far, IBM has not laid anyone off, and is in fact, doing very well.

    How long have you been in IBM? I, together with my teammates from R&D, were layoffed during 90's, because some idiots at that time focused on 'business and consultancy services'(i.e. they don't need no stinking R&D)

    It's proven to be a biggest failure. IBM cannot live by offerring services alone.

    When they told you IBM don't layoff they lie. Good luck. :)
    &nbsp_
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • Man that is really not fair. Nobody knows everything. I've been tripped up by silly little things in areas that I would consider myself rather expertish. When a customer did ask him something he couldn't figure out at least he knew where to go get help, #debian would be a good place for help. Most importantly he asked, he didn't brush it off or try and BS his way through it.

    I happened to be a VA customers too and I think that'd be funny if I dialed to their technical end up meeting him in #debian asking me questions. :)

    I think if more support people knew when to cut out and get more information there would be a lot more happy customer's in the world. This guy finding someone to help him out so he could, in turn, help his customer is a great endorsement for VA in my books.

    I know I'm not being fair to this guy here. Let me explain in general. I've the very old preconception on technical support which I paid a lot of money for. HP were excellent in technical support because their engineers seemed to know everything. When they have complicated problems they will turn to global support repository until a solution comming out. Oracle, on the other hand, would even ask a portion of your code to help you debugging. That's what I mean in technical support. I definitely not refer to something like AOL technical support. :)

    I hang around #debian a lot, and sometime there are some nasty trolls took calls and BS around; and more often you met with some BSD activists bashing Linux whenever people asking question(that's annoying, I know BSD is great, but so what, that's a linux channel. Can't they just shutup if they don't wanna help?). Of course there are lots more helpful and smart people but that's just not the service level a paid customer would expect of.

    P.S. Normal commercial grade M1-3 tech support would cost you 5-25% of original purchase. That's quite a lot.
    &nbsp_
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • by jsse (254124) on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @05:37PM (#139147) Homepage Journal
    Once I hanged around #debian helping a guy who was obviously knew just a little more than basic things.

    He told me he's in a hurry because a customer was waiting for the answer as we spoke. Out of curiosity I did a /whois on him: valinux.com...

    P.S. I know there are more good people in VA then lousy ones, so no hard feeling here okay?
    &nbsp_
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • It's a sad and scary time right now...

    Even as Linux is gaining ever MORE acceptance, the market is still going down. I'm lucky enough to work for IBM, in Durham, NC, in a job that mostly calls for Linux skills. So far, IBM has not laid anyone off, and is in fact, doing very well.

    I HATE seeing this happen to VA. They make a great product. And I fear for what might happen to /. Though, I doubt that this site would have any problems getting enough community support to survive, should it become necessary. I'd be more than willing to pay my share of $$$ to keep Slashdot alive.
  • If that's the case then VA doesn't like to consume their own dogfood: here's the netcraft findings [netcraft.com]

    The site www.fuckedcompany.com is running Microsoft-IIS/4.0 on NT4/Windows 98.

  • by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad&hotmail,com> on Tuesday June 19, 2001 @06:58PM (#139153)
    If Slashdot goes, how else will we be able to stress test all those webservers out there?

  • They still have http://www.valinux.com/about/jobs/
    out there with bunch of different positions available.
  • When Redhat was up for a while, they where able to do a 'second offering'. This allowed them to sell more shares at then current price (I think over $100/sh). Redhat was lucky enough to do this second offering before the bottom fell out of all the Internet/Linux stock and to pocket alot of cash.

    Unfortunately for VA, their stock never stayed up long enough for VA to do this. This could have allowed them to have a large stash of cash for these hard-times.

  • Actually, the current round of VA Linux layoffs is being blamed on the efforts of those formerly WinTel leaders of Compaq and IBM.

    So although it's sad to see VA Linux get hit hard, it's also reassuring to know that WinTel powerhouses are seeing Linux as an important (but perhaps not yet significant) piece of the action.

    The OBV reporter quoted a study which stated that CIOs who support Linux have very high faith in the established companies, but respect the service and reliability of VA Linux. (http://obvreport.com/ [cnet.com] references a copy of the report - is the original off-line? Someone follow up if you can find the original!)

    It's too bad that everyone can't survive. But given the strong market forces of both WinTel, Linux and MacOS, this should NOT be a surprise - even to the VCs!

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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