Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Bruce Perens on UserLinux and Ubuntu 212

SDenmark writes "Ever wondered what happened to UserLinux, and how it's faring now that Ubuntu has stolen the spotlight? Linux Format has an interview with Bruce Perens, founder of UserLinux, the Open Source Initiative and Linux Standard Base. Perens discusses the impact of Ubuntu, how industry bodies are helping open source and why figureheads are important for the Free Software community."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bruce Perens on UserLinux and Ubuntu

Comments Filter:
  • OSDL Desktop Linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by anandpur ( 303114 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:24AM (#15105505)
    Why not help? []

    BP:Well, some of the industry bodies try to help open source. OSDL is actually handicapped in one very important way, which is that the majority of OSDL's membership have a conflict of interest where the agenda of open source is concerned.
  • Re:Money talks (Score:2, Informative)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:28AM (#15105535)
    Ubuntu has a huge bankroll behind it. It's great, I use it. But the bankroll helps.

    Plenty of Linux distributions have money behind them. Doesn't make them any better than the next. In fact, Debian works just fine for me (and has for several years now).
  • by STDOUBT ( 913577 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:35AM (#15105580)
  • What is Userlinux? (Score:5, Informative)

    by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:39AM (#15105604) Homepage Journal
    Not to be an ass, but what is Userlinux? Is it a Linux Distro? There is no obvious description on the Userlinux webpage. People like to blame Ubuntu for stealing the spotlight, but Ubuntu fame isn't preventing anyone from putting up a quick blurb describing "Userlinux".

    Every open source project should have a quick 2 line description at the top of the webpage. It shouldn't take me 6 clicks to get a BASIC description of your project.

    Before you criticize, here's what I did:

    I still have no idea what UserLinux is. And that was what, 7 clicks?

    Compare this to It took me 10 seconds to read the 2 line blurb at []:

    "Ubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. It is developed by a large community and we invite you to participate too!
  • by data64 ( 300466 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:49AM (#15105669)

    Not to be an ass, but what is Userlinux?

    See UserLinux description on Wikipedia []. And I do agree with you, there should be a better description on website. I still don't know why one would use UserLinux rather than Ubuntu.
  • I remember being on the mailing list years ago. The conversations with Bruce can be summarized this way:

    BRUCE: I can't tell you who I'm working for, but there's a lot of money behind this project. So, we have to be serious about this. What should we call this distro?

    BOB: SuperLinux!

    FRED: Enterprise-D Linux!

    ELMER: CoolNIX!

    BRUCE: No, no, no! You have to be serious about this! There's a lot of money behind this project. I can't tell you whose money, but we have to come up with a name for our distro that they'll like!

    FRED: If they have that much money, why don't *they* pick a name?

    BRUCE: I want this to be a community effort! How about 'UserLinux'?

    FRED: Boring.

    BOB: Generic.

    ELMER: Ditto that.

    BRUCE: But the community has to be serious about this! There's a lot of money behind this, and the companies that I can't name won't use Linux without a professionally named distro!

    ELMER: So, this is a community effort, but the decisions will be made by fiat?

    BRUCE: No, the community has to be a part of this. Now, KDE or GNOME? My clients only want GNOME. What do you think?

    ELMER: That we should take this seriously because there's a lot of money behind this project from companies you can't name?

    BRUCE: Exactly! So, KDE is out!

    Eventually, there was a big rumble and KDE got shoved back in. I dropped the list some time after that, because it was clear that the community was meant to rubber-stamp a project that some large companies wanted to produce on the cheap.
  • A wise Linux guru (Score:3, Informative)

    by january ( 906774 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:56AM (#15105724)
    I am amazed how pragmatic Bruce Perens is. His paper on the economy of Open Source is much better -- both in terms of being concise, as in terms of being correct -- than anything I ever heard from some other Open Source or Free Software Gurus.

    I highly recommend []this paper to anyone who has not read it yet. It is much more interesting than the interview itself (which is short, and, in my opinion, quite uninteresting given the experience and knowledge of Bruce Perence -- the interviewer(s) did not get as much of him as they could have).

    The article is quite long, but very well researched, and definitely worth spending some time on it.


  • Re:Money talks (Score:3, Informative)

    by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @10:57AM (#15105733) Homepage Journal
    /etc/ is missing

    I blieve this is correct, and is also the new Debian-way of doing things. This has never prevented me from compiling anything. Perhaps you are misusing /etc/ ??? /etc/ isn't needed to run the default OS. /lib & /usr/lib are already included in the default library path, and other libraries are cached in /etc/ .

    People tend to overuse /etc/ (and LD_LIBRARY_PATH). Perhaps someone at Debian or Ubuntu finally decided to clean up. Good for them.
  • by int14 ( 559258 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:18AM (#15105907) Homepage
    I just went to the UserLinux FAQ [] looking for the question, 'What is UserLinux?', and I was going to be all smug and reply with some 'read the FAQ you fool' type comment...

    but then I realized...

    They don't even have that question on the FAQ. Wow, so yea, you're absolutely right.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @11:23AM (#15105956)
    You also forgot about Corel's version of Linux, which was supposed to be the first real user friendly Linux that embedded WINE to allow native support of Windows applications (namely, Corel's CorelDRAW suite and WordPerfect).

    True, I do agree, Linux distros come and go, but the OS never really takes off. They need one Distro to rule them all, but the Linux camp is so disorganized and filled with too many individuals trying to be the hero that Linux will never be an effective replacement or competitor to Windows. Until you get ALL linux developers concentrating on ONE Linux distro, the very fact that there are 100+ camps will mean Linux will never succeed as a workstation platform. Each distro has its unique claim to fame, but if you had one distribution with ALL these claims, then that would be impressive.
  • by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @12:19PM (#15106436) Homepage
    Like Fedora Core ... 4? Thats the grandparent's point. Theres 100 distros that have up to date packages. Whats so great about Ubuntu that have people crazy about it?

    Because there are a lot of people - myself included - who have used Debian for a long time. We like it for various reasons including it's proper Free-(as in speech)-ness, the apt/dpkg package management system, the fairly hands-on approach to system configuration and all sorts of other reasons that vary from person to person. The biggest problem with Debian is that it sucks as a desktop distro because it's too out of date. Ubuntu gives those of us that are long-term Debian fans what we need on the desktop without sacrificing what we love about Debian - except, arguably, a certain level of stability since Debian stable is tested like crazy.

    To put it another way, here's why I don't use a selection of other distros: Redhat - too commercial, Suse - ditto, Fedora - can't stand the package management, Mandriva - ditto, Gentoo - would rather spend my time configuring the package well rather than compiling it. I have Debian on my server and love it, and have the closest thing to Debian on my desktop.

  • Re:Money talks (Score:3, Informative)

    by ardor ( 673957 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @01:49PM (#15107152)
    It must be your fault. I installed dapper, apt-getted build-essentials, gcc & g++ 4, make, and can build both sources from the net and my projects without any problems. No problems arise.... ever.
  • Re:Money talks (Score:3, Informative)

    by OneSeventeen ( 867010 ) * on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @02:01PM (#15107257) Homepage Journal
    To install software in Ubuntu, you click "Applications">"Add Applications"

    This requires the administrator (root) password, since we don't want just anybody to be able to install software. (i.e. viruses embedded into emails)

    Then, you just scroll through the categories, and the programs in them, and when you find something you might be interested in, you click on it, see the description of the software on the right side of the window, and if you like it, you put a check in the checkbox next to it.

    You keep doing this for however many applications you want. Once you are done, you click Apply, and it downloads the required files, installs them, puts them in the main "Applications" menu, then tells you where to find all of your new software.

    It is basically a user-friendly version of "package management", and kind of like Windows XP's Add/Remove programs, only you can add software from a variety of vendors, and you use the internet to get the latest version, rather than your install CD to get a 5 year old version. (kind of nice, actually)

    I have used that method to install software such as email clients, 3d rendering programs, vector art programs, audio editing programs, and even desktop publishing software.
  • by beachdog ( 690633 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2006 @05:28PM (#15109058) Journal
    UserLinux came closer to being a simple, successful business desktop than anything before it.

    Ubuntu has taken over on my desktop because of better USB integration. Ubuntu handles my USB scanner, printer and camera and UserLinux doesn't.

    UserLinux made the extraordinary Debian software and package environment accessible without the without the inadvertent and uncontrolled negative Gurella marketing presence that has undermined the mainline Debian distribution.

    I'll tell you a UserLinux story:

    Back in the days when Red Hat stopped selling a $50 box I started looking for another Distro.

    I tried Knoppix and an interesting thing happened when I mistakenly visited the Debian IRC chat seeking assistance. I was treated with gruff and rude dismissal.

    What I think was going on was somebody was engaging in Gurella Dis-marketing. Whoever this was, it was someone deliberately making sure that anybody exploring Debian got a good bitter mothful of rejection. The people in the IRC chat were hybrid child-professional assholes. People who projected a veneer of competency, and had nothing to say except "go away".

    So after that, UserLinux looked like a really nice bunch of people with a reasonable tolerance for my interests.

    UserLinux has a picture of a folded paper airplane reflecting that it was a careful selection of the best of breed applications from the huge Debian package universe. Unlike Debian it didn't make you "Figure this out if you want to install this software"

    The target client for UserLinux was a "business desktop". The charm of the distribution was it installed like gangbusters and you could add anything you wanted from Debian.

    I joined the UserLinux project and I contributed a help file. For UserLinux I wrote a help file covering tasks like dual boot setup and Java installation.

    So I'll say thanks Bruce Perens and also Linux Format British edition is an excellent Linux publication (sold at Borders Books I think).

Loose bits sink chips.