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Red Herring Looks at Corel's Linux Strategy 66

Wellspring writes "Red Herring's done an article on Corel's Linux strategies. Interesting overview of what they're doing, but they seem to have half a hundred complaints about everything Corel is doing."
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Red Herring Looks at Corel's Linux Strategy

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  • Anyone notice that "Newlix" is just a little bit like "GNUlix? I wonder if they got it from /.
  • Inluding that inflatable Tux in their distribution. The only problem is finding a safe (ie: no contact with heaters and no danger of piled-up books falling on it) place to put him.
    Damn, my place is a mess... maybe I really should clean up sometime.
  • Corel as a company seems sort of Wishy-Washy.

    What ever happened to that office suite all in java that was supposed to revolutionize the office suite biz?
    It seems they are the first ones to jump on a hot market and then when they get burned the first ones to jump off. Just watch, they will be the first ones to abandon Linux if the market starts to go south.

  • Investing in a company with 8 employees and a good idea (hopefully good talent) could work well, as opposed to the usual - having a good idea, a zillion employees and the "appearance" of automation or creativity.

    Maybe I am naieve, but something like this has got to work sometime.

  • That penguin isn't inflatable - it is made of foam rubber.
    I think that bundling Civ:CTP with their deluxe distro (as well as wordperfect) wasn't such a bad move either.
  • Awww damn, and here I was getting all worked up at the thought of an inflatable Linux Mascot. Oh well, back to work.

    Bad Mojo
  • IMHO while this article questioned nearly all of Corel's latest Linux moves, it ignored virtually all of the larger issues which make Corel a good member of the Linux community including such items as :
    1. Backing the StrongArm chip via the Netwinder series. The article briefly mentions the Netwinder, but doesn't do justice to how important Corel was in getting the Linux port onto SA hardware for the rest of us who would like to move away from the 'x86 family.
    2. The free download of Corel's GUI based Word Perfect 8 software.
    3. Adding further US corporate branding and marketing experience to the Linux OS (with Caldera and Red Hat)
    4. IIRC, they also participated against MS in the US DOJ trial, didn'they?
    5. My final point...Corel Draw. I tell ya, if I could buy it for Linux right now, money would be changing hands.
    There's probably more things which I would count as postive moves, but in the interest of brevity I'll skip it and say that for me the only redeeming part of the Red Herring article is that it mentioned that folks who report on investment are finally giving Corel a decent break in the news.

    Well, that's my 2 cents worth.

  • Hey there. I wonder if Michael Cowplan will address this article in his upcoming interview? About the article: I agree, for the most part, with the author's position. Corel does seem to be jumping on the Linux bandwagon. However, I have always had the feeling that Corel was on the verge of breaking. It's just a feeling I get. Also, I feel the Linux may be Corel's Last Change(tm), because MS Office seems to have completely covered Windows-based desktops. There was a time when you attached documents using WordPerfect format in emails. Now it's all Office 97 and 2000. I hope they GPL(or at least LGPL) the Corel Suite. I realize it's unlikely, but with a value-added retail package including clipart, fonts, and other proprietary tools, I would probably buy the retail package. Corporations definetly would, I think, as well as the general populace(who probably couldn't download, compile, and install a suite sucessfully). Dave
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Monday January 17, 2000 @09:59AM (#1364649) Homepage Journal
    The most important Corel feature in the Linux world (and likely to be the most profitable) is their Corel Linux distribution. No mention is made of it, only Corel's acquisitions. In fact, Corel's stock price is mentioned, but no mention is made of the primary reason that Corel stock recenty jumped: the annoncement that they plan on providing a way to run Windows apps (ala Citrix) under Corel Linux.

    So, what was this article supposed to be about, exactly, and why did the author not perform research? This really did not deserve the Slashdot Effect.
  • I doubt that it's just a conincidence that the more general questions raised about Corel's plans in the article seem to be pretty much the same as those raised in the current thread about interview topics [] for Corel CEO Michael Cowpland. The questions about Corel's long term Linux strategy are apparently quite obvious to anyone who thinks about it. Of course the same thing could be said about a lot of companies that are jumping on the Linux bandwagon.

  • by Jakewk ( 66712 ) on Monday January 17, 2000 @10:07AM (#1364652)
    Corel is RedHerring's enemy #1 right now. This is not the first anti-Corel story they have written. Their "Investment Editor" R. Scott Raynovich wrote a scathing review of Corel about a month ago. He stated that Corel was "jumping on the Linux bandwagon", which seems kind of weird considering they've been porting their office suite for over a year now.
    RedHerring's major problem is with Corel's management. And they have some valid points there, but I think RedHerring is underestimating Corel's technology and Linux effort. The question is whether the management issues are real and will outweigh their Linux development effort.
    Rarely have I seen a company the target of so many negative articles by one source.
  • Has anyone noticed, on the bottom of the foam rubber toy, it says in two languages "Not a Toy"? Any idea why people would put this warning on it?
  • Why shouldn't they look a bit like MS Windows stuff? It's a nice user-interface (note: not the best/worst/etc. okay? :) And it doesn't alienate new users with, dare I say it, a rather garish desktop look...

    Besides which, the gnome and kde file managers look and operate an awful lot like Explorer under Win98...hmm... Evil Plot or useful "feature", you decide...

  • I have to echo the sentiments of others -- it's hard to fathom quite what the article's author intended, except to pour cold water on Corel's recent acquisitions. Any slight hint of upside was carefully skirted around. Whilst I understand that RedHerring is trying to cover stocks for investors, it didn't really help anyone wanting to know about Corel.

    In fact, there was far more detail on the acquisitions -- presumably because the author still had the press releases to hand -- than on Corel and why they might be making these acquisitions.

    The author also fails to comprehend what Linux is -- okay, Newlix "write software for x86" and are moving to StrongARM. So what?

    mutter, mutter, grumble, grr... Now I've thought about it, I'm cross...

  • That they don't give it to their kids, and they might eat it?

    I don't know how big it is, but that is my guess.

  • Corel is still behind the game. They probably will be for a while, also. They are half-way embracing Open SOurce, and that is not winning friends on either side. Their main reason for making a Linux distro seems to be so they can try to dominate a platform software wise. They need to revamp themselves into a service-based company. Most of the newest and most profitable comanies in this endustry are simply service companies. I sincerely believe the days of selling software will be over in a few years.
  • That was my first thought. But then I realized, if a kid eats a toy, is it the fault of the toymaker or is it the fault of the parents for raising stupid children?

    WHo eats toys?

    The mascot itself is probably too large to fit in a mouth, but being foam rubber i think it can be compressed.

    For me it's just a nice dashboard decoration :-)
  • About three weeks ago Corel's stock jumped from 15 to around 20, almost overnight. Was there any good speculation about this?
  • Half-a-hundred... that would be, umm, 50?

  • That was my first thought. But then I realized, if a kid eats a toy, is it the fault of the toymaker or is it the fault of the parents for raising stupid children?

    WHo eats toys?

    Apparently somebody does... take a look at this notice I saw on Gateway's website []

    We want to pass on a safety concern that was recently brought to our attention about the foam-rubber "Stress Cows," which are designed to let you squeeze tension away (pictured left). A few conscientious parents have alerted us that small children can tear or bite off parts of the stress cow, creating a potential choking hazard. In response to that concern, and in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Gateway has voluntarily stopped distributing this product and is recalling all Stress Cows previously given to clients. ... Gateway values its clients and believes that their safety is of the utmost importance.
  • I agree with this. In fact in a way you could say they are one of the early adopters. Wordperfect was one of the first commercial products ported to linux. A lot has happened after it. To say that Corel is jumping the bandwagon now is very misleading.
  • Are you nutz? Corel's been a momentum players dream. Overnight eh... sounds like you haven't been watching the Linux hype on the street. Only
    crazy investors would hold CORL overnight. Daytraders just hop the momentum and the hype.
    Corel's never been short of hype..

    BTW.. last CORL ride I took was from $17 to $24
    (30 minutes).
  • Corel is at best a dodgy company with questionable finances looking for any lease on life. Red Herring is right to heap abuse on them.
  • Investing in a company with 8 people and a good idea is probaly as close to wrapping themselves in the spirit of the community which they are tring to court as Corel could possibly come.

    I doubt that Redhat would have the guts to take a risk on a company like newlix, however their name could be a clue that it's not exactly the best risk in the world. Still, it's eight coders, a nice number, who probaly know each other fairly well, I think this will faciliate better coding and fostering of ideas on their part.

    There is also the fact that they Don't have a finished product. This is a good thing, considering that puts them in a greater position to innovate. They are not tied to pre-existing software or the alienation ending support of a product would cause.

    Assuming there aren't any more earthquakes in Taiwan, the IPC Direct deal is probaly also a good idea, despite the fact that it's probaly just a puppet for PC Chips over there. If IPC Direct can make some cheap chips, this will help out Newlix greatly.

    Application hosting is bad, I hate it. I don't like the potential for other people alienating customers with Newlix's stamp on the alienation, if i'm Newlix. Bad decision.

    In the end, this article says more about redherring than it does about corel or newlix. Unnamed sources, 'message board posters', Unqualified people, and generally missing the point on pourpose in an attempt to attack Corel. Sad. Real sad.

    -[ World domination - ]-
  • I'll stay away from the "flameworthy" GraphOn issue; it's not self-evident how that one will be economically beneficial, and comparisons to Windows are rife with misconceptions.

    What I'm not sure of is the economic merits of Corel Linux.

    Note: I installed it last night on my laptop to replace a SuSE install. That went quite well; it took not much more than a cfengine [] run combined with dropping a previously-tuned XFree86Config file into place to get it acceptably configured, which was a whole lot more satisfactory than an attempt over Christmas holidays to install Debian on it.

    (Aside: This laptop has had TurboLinux, SuSE, Debian 2.1, Red Hat, and now Corel Linux installed on it. With the happy merit that I have more-or-less generalized the set of stuff I need to fiddle with after install. Reinstalling means installing a base system + cfengine and then running a cfengine script to get networking fixed up. I probably ought to see if this all copes well with FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD too, as I have CDs handy...)

    Based on the "Day 1" results, I'm reasonably pleased with Corel Linux, as this was the least painlful install. (Well, grumble, grumble, Corel's package selection tool required a whole lot of mousing around, and having sprained a wrist the night before, the word "painless" may only be treated as true in a conceptual sense...)

    You might expect that to bode well for the economics, but that is a questionable assumption.

    • I didn't pay Corel anything for the install, as this was a $2 CD from LinuxCentral. []

      I'd be game to send Corel a little something; I expect that sending them $10 would be a better deal for them than spending $40 on a boxed set...

      (More likely is the option of buying some shares in Corel... One of the few entertaining things I could do with the cash sitting in my SD-RRSP account when I was forced to sell off some telecom stocks, gripe, gripe, fascist CRTC...)

    • I then proceeded to NFS mount a cache with chunks of Debian/Unstable to upgrade it. Mostly complete, and almost a seamless upgrade.

      Which implies that if the Debian Project does a good job of upgrading the "public" stuff, there will be little reason for there to be continuing revenue streams for Corel. Unlike the situation where people really do need to get upgraded CDs for RHAT or Caldera or SuSE.

    It's all well and good for there to be a bunch of startups getting tossed in to produce "useful stuff." Unfortunately, "useful stuff" does not necessarily translate into profitable revenue streams, which is what Corel truly needs.
  • Yeah, but obviously they think the buisness model for most of what goes on there (in 'linux world') works. Otherwise they wouldn't give money to an 8 man start up and say 'Ok, all you have to do is make good products and then we'll help you build a company'.

    However, they do care about the linux community, although perhaps not the concept of open source software. They like the idea that there is a pool of coders that they can just say 'hey we have x-cool idea that we are working on, want to help?' and if the idea is cool enough they get cheap labor. Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen.

    -[ World domination - ]-
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think its way past time people cut Corel some slack. Articles and analysts have been trashing Corel for so long because of their history. But the fact is that even though they might have jumped on the bandwagon, at least they did it before everyone else. They had a version of WP finished in late 98, meaning they started a year or two before it was popular to do linux stuff. And they have done a lot for the OS. The WINE contributions, the the release of an established office product and the support of a large and weighty company. At the moment they have a decent distro and are set to have the office suite and draw products out soon. I would say they have a pretty competent strategy and should get some credit.
  • IMHO while this article questioned nearly all of Corel's latest Linux moves, it ignored virtually all of the larger issues which make Corel a good member of the Linux community
    I don't think Red Herring was really talking about being a good member of any community -- I don't think they really cared. It's a site for investors, and Corel could be a bunch of cutthroat bastards and get a good review, if they were a bunch of profitable bastards.

  • is pretty good actually.... for newbies that is. I have no problem with setting up RedHat, Mandrake or COL. I haven't bothered with Debian but when 2.2 comes out I will probably give it a shot. Corel Linux is a good choice for newbies, at least for now. What would be nice is if Debian or Slackware would get easy enough for newbies to install and configure, without compromising its stability and reliability. What remains to be seen is what they will do when KDE 2.0 and KOffice 1.0 come out. I wonder if they will try to make it hard for their distro users to run KOffice.
  • Uh pretty simple reason why they ditched java
    #1 just too slow (even on pII-300's a year ago)
    #2 Sun kept messing with Java, they couldn't figure out what GUI to use

  • by Arandir ( 19206 ) on Monday January 17, 2000 @12:59PM (#1364680) Homepage Journal
    Several complaints of Corel jumping on the bandwagon. First of all, they've been on the wagon for quite some time now with Wordperfect and the Netwinder. But secondly, who cares?

    Why should anyone get upset that someone is jumping on the bandwagon? This is Free Software. Jumping on the bandwagon is the whole point of Open Source. I don't see anything at all in the GPL, Artistic, BSD, MIT, QPL or MPL that requires someone to get the approval of some self-appointed community before they can use, distribute or modify the software.
  • What a world we live in. A world where, thanks to litigation, TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN NOT TO EAT THINGS THAT ARE NOT FOOD IS OPTIONAL.

    Sometimes I wonder...
  • The point that a lot of the comments have missed is really, really simple: it's not about the Linux community, or whether Linux is a trend or whatever.

    Cowpland's job is to make money FOR THE STOCKHOLDERS. You know, "increase shareholder value by doing Cool Stuff." Right out of Cryptonomicon.

    In my opinion, it's right for finance mags, which focus on long-term investment value, to question the long-term value of large investments in Linux. Such magazines are, by their nature, conservative.

    The upside is that most companies won't have to -- as long as they have an X-based or command line Unix program, it's not a big deal to ship a Linux product too.

  • That's the whole point! When I come here as a regular reader, I don't want to have to wade through a ton of junk, I want to see the jewels. It makes efficient use of my time. It gives me the information and insight I need to go on with the rest of the comments (if I chose to do so). Quite often I'll go to the article first, then come see the first few comments and all the questions I have will have been anwered. To make me 'hunt' for the best would be horrible.

    HOWEVER... you have a good (or even a great) point with respect to Moderators potentially missing jewels buried in the comments at the bottom!

    Perhaps when a person has moderator points, the page should be forced to a 'chronological' view? Reverse Chronological? And at the _bottom_ of the entire page should be a button to allow the moderator to see stuff (just for this one time) in the 'most points first' view.

    At the current time, it's up to the moderators to 'force' themselves to read everything, and not spend their points near the top without first reading some stuff at the bottom....

    Hey, I got 5 points this last time,.. has this changed/increased? Didn't it used to be 3 points? I don't mind the 3 day limit, but BOY, I'd like to know how much time I have left until my 3 day limit is over...

    Finally: GOD have the 'Slashdot poll' questions been worthless lately or what. Perhaps it's time to allow people to submit suggestions for poll questions. Hey! That could just be a permanent discussion area, and taking the most moderated up question each few days, and flushing the discussion area (not necessarily fully) when one is 'taken'.

  • Getting people to jump on the bandwagon is the point. I read a post a few pages up that blasted Corel for it's attempt at a pure Java office suite, which they dropped when Java lost its luster.

    This is the best the Open Source community can hope for. If companies began to port their products to Linux, then lose interest when after three years Linux goes nowhere, who can blame the company for giving up?

    People who are moaning for a Linux port and simultaniously critizing the results as a sell-out bandwagon effort need to stop and figure out what side they're on.

  • um neither Wordperfect or any other their other apps (coreldraw,etc) are free
  • just too slow (even on pII-300's a year ago)

    You were running COJ a year ago? Why? Corel abandoned the project in 1997 -- almost three years ago. You make a habit of running three-year-old unsupport pre-release software? You can't even find COJ on their website; where did you get it? Hmmm?

    COJ was sluggish running on Java 1.0.2 on my Pentium Pro 200 three years ago, but it works pretty well on IBM's JDK 1.1.8 on my dual Pentium II 450. (I kept a copy of COJ).

    #2 Sun kept messing with Java, they couldn't figure out what GUI to use

    Says who? In 1997 there was one Java GUI and there still is: the AWT. The Swing Set didn't exist when COJ was dropped. Java 1.1 itself was new. Anyway, Swing is not a new GUI any more than Motif is a replacement for X-Windows. Learn a little about GUI's.

    What Corel did discover was that the AWT was missing some critical functions needed to support an office app. Most of these gaps are filled with the Java 2D API. Still, Java is not the best language to write an office app in...

    All tolled COJ was a pretty impressive effort considering that Corel had to write all of its own high-level GUI classes themselves.

    Your post is just more run-of-the-mill Java bashing. Yawn.

  • The big reason I like the way Corel is going is NOT their Linux distribution (although I've heard good things about it), but the fact that they're seriously developing software for the platform.

    Corel's big risk right now is not getting into the Linux distribution market, but rather, banking on the idea that people who have overdosed on the open source & free software craze will actually come back down to earth and pay some money for good software.

    Linux is STILL the underdog OS, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. One of the major reasons for this is the lack of "serious software". Yes, it's great for servers, and companies are now adopting it for just that purpose. But for most companies, and almost all households, servers are a very small portion of the hardware out there. Companies need to be sure that the OS they stick on their employees' laptops and desktops has the software they need to get the job done. And we're not talking about engineers here, we're talking secretaries, HR people, marketing, etc.

    A good port of WordPerfect, especially if bundled with a very easy-to-use distribution of Linux, could go a LONG way to "common adoption" in the officeplace. CorelDRAW can only boost it further. This is the thing that puts Corel's possible future a notch above even Red Hat -- this company now has both the OS -and- some needed applications.

    Yes, yes, I know. StarOffice. I use StarOffice, and it's a whole lot of not bad. But the big target market for Linux right now are *newbies*. People who don't know better. People who install Windows 98 and don't even know Netscape is an alternative browser. These people are not going to install Red Hat, go out and find StarOffice on Sun's website, download it, and install it. It's just not going to happen. SlashDotters seem to often forget that the average joe on the street has the IQ of celery compared the Linux weenies that visit this site. But unfortunately, that's where the *majority* of the cash flow is coming from. Why do you think the iMac has proven such a hit among the first-time computer buyers?

    I bought some Corel stock, and I'm expecting good things from them. The GraphOn Windows compatibility deal they've landed looks very good to me. I've read nothing but good reviews of their Linux package (at least for those points where mass market cares -- such as easy of setup and ease of use). And they're going to be at the Linux Expo in Paris in February.

    Go Corel!


    If it's not important, you can probably find it in...

  • That's far from obvious since they have been at it for almost two years.

  • It's posible that with all the money they are not making they realise that doom is at hand.

    Knowing this, and perhapse being more pissed at Microsoft than we think they are Corel is giving away what little money it has in the hopes that the fight will continue?

    Why not, if they do make a come back (with the help of linux) their investments will pay back a lot more than the cost. If they go broke (and assuming the investments are strucured as giveaways, not shares in the startups) then they might have funded the resitance army for years to come....

  • The closed-sourcedness of Wordperfect is completely beside the point. There is no requirement that an application for Linux must be Open Source. I brought up Wordperfect as an example since it is a major application for Linux that has been around for a while.

    But if we're going to rag on people just because they have closed source applications, that eliminates *every* Linux distribution. Let's not stop at Corel, let's condemn Redhat and SuSE for jumping on the bandwagon. Let's condemn Debian for sneaking in a nonfree directory. Let's condemn Slackware for having Netscape. Let's condemn everyone who doesn't agree with us 100%.
  • It is also very similar to the chef/ambasador on Star Trek Voyager ;-)
  • Actually, you could do a point-by-point analysis of the article here, and find major flaws. For now, i will only mention the worst omission... the fact that does make computers, and if Corel has any strength or hope, they can easily do the exact same things that Cobalt and others are doing, and possibly better.

    Point is that this "traditional" software company is now having a valuation of a "linux" company, a "concept play." I seriously doubt that any real investment site would suggest that a concept play is a good investment.

    The other thing to remember is that /. is what pumped up Corel stock. It pumped it up from $2.00 with stories about NetWinder, and from $6 with stories about Corel Linux. It's US that are inflating the price. Relative to RedHat, though, I think it is still a value for what they can do.
  • ...half a hundred complaints...
    Isn't that much, and

    Interviews: CEO of Corel
    [or something similar]

    Any way you look at it, maybe this shouldn't've been posted...
  • Unfortunately, there seems to be little correlation between those things that make Corel a "good member of the Linux community" and actions that create shareholder value. By this, I mean financial value (earnings growth, revenue growth) rather than share price growth through market hype.

    Corel has real promise in the Linux arena and many of their initiatives, particularly the investment in "server appliances" may eventually translate into strong revenue and earnings streams. Even if these ventures do turn into good business moves, the overall financial picture for Linux companies remains unproven. Read the warnings that Red Hat listed in their latest 10-Q (I freely admit these clipped to show the worst case scenario):

    We have not demonstrated the success of our open source business model, which gives our customers the right freely to copy and distribute our software. No other company has built a successful open source business.

    If hardware and data transmission technology advances in the future to the point where increased bandwidth allows users to more quickly download our products from the internet, users may no longer choose to purchase Official Red Hat Linux. This could lead to a significant loss of product revenue.

    Financial markets don't give anyone a break. I just hope folks out there don't get burned by buying stock in great technology companies without fully understanding the risks involved in the business model. Given its current losses, it is difficult to justify using traditional fundamental stock analysis even the current $20 price. Remember, this stock sold for as little as $2 as recently as last May. Now all of sudden, it makes news when it hasn't increased more than 10X??

    Give me a break.

    DISCLAIMER: I do not own or trade (sell short, options etc.) in CORL, RHAT, or other Linux stocks.

  • I actually read the article and thought that it was well written and presented the information in a fair a balanced(somewhat) manner. A complete contrast to the Raynovich article on Corel just before Christmas. His was a scathing personnal attack on Cowpland full of retoric, half truths and junk. And he is listed as an investment editor. That aside, the article points out that maybe Cowpland is not the foolish stock promoter and his investments in these Linux companies may be part of a strategy to provide an alternative OS, applications and support. Exactly what Microsoft needs to show that they have competition and save themselves from breakup. Ironic since Corel was almost destroyed by M$.
  • The other thing to remember is that /. is what pumped up Corel stock.

    I rather think that PR Newswire and other such sources of news that non-technical investors see had more to do with it. Headlines like "Corel announces entry into NC market" and "Corel announces entry into Linux market" went much farther and wider than Slashdot could have every spread the word. Slashdot is a tiny niche demographic, and even given that the average wealth of that demographic is probably higher than the norm, I don't think that we have THAT large an impact on the market.
  • Speaking to what Corel needs to change, but speaking more to their Linux distribution:
    Corel Linux is pretty nice. They actually are making quite a few "friends". It's the business that I am dubious about. E.g., the version of kppp that they have in their distribution has a tendency to not dial properly (they have a custom version of KDE, they have announced an intention to go with the std. version when KDE2 is released). I ran into the problem. So have many others. wvdial gets around the problem, so it's no major hassel, once you know the trick. However, their target audience appears to be Windows users who won't know the trick, and perhaps won't have access to wvdial (unless they buy a Debian distribution).

    Second point: su appears to not require a password for the non-superuser accounts. This strikes me as dangerous.

    Third point: The Corel Update facility is very nice, but it doesn't have the flexibility of dselect or apt-get. What I keep wanting is an update utility that will take the package info that I supply, and scan the list of sites for matching packages, then ask me to make a choice, and perform the updates requested. Instead one appears to need to know ahead of time what one wishes to install. Possible, but annoying, as I don't want root to browse the internet, but only root can do the installs. So I need to keep switching back and forth between root and the user account. (I still haven't gotten GNAT installed from Debian unstable).

    OTOH, this is a first edition. Presumably the later releases will improve.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal