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LSB: A position paper 123

Ransom Love from Caldera has published a positional paper about Linux Standard Base and what he thinks about if the Linux community won't adopt it. I think it's a "must read" (thanks to Linux Weekly News). Update: 03/01 03:23 by S : Seems like that LSB needs a boost: now Intel is talking of setting up a new initiative... (see half way down the page)
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LSB: A position paper

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  • What's wrong with GTK? I think it looks better, has features that Motif lacks (like tearable menus), not to mention that there is a fully functional free version. LessTif mostly works, but it's still not quite finished. GTK also seems to be easier to program, but I don't have much experience with GTK, and none with Motif, which I thought was too yucky when I looked at it.
  • Try Debian. It doesn't have support for compiling from source automatically, but you can do automatic updates with apt. Very nice.
  • You should try the Notif theme. Looks very much like Motif. And what you mean by loud?
  • ./configure --prefix=/usr
    Now stuff goes in /usr/bin etc and overwrites the rpm-installed stuff. Or you can make an rpm yourself, I'm sure it's not that hard.
    The reason it doesn't go into /usr/local is that /usr/local shouldn't be touched by the vendor. That's in the FHS.
  • If the major Linux distributions agree upon support of LSB, other distributions servicing a different sector will not destroy Linux.

    The users of a given distribution will become self-selecting. Those that have little interest in commercial applications, but value their option to alter the underlying OS in any manner they choose would follow the dissenters.

    Both have a role to play - LSB and the major distributions will make Linux mainstream perhaps even to the desktop . Those that will play with the code in a non-standardized environment may be creating the next LSB standard .

    If this is about freedom, it is also about freedom of choice. Linux should not become 90% of the OS market.
  • examining the userbase and finding out what is used by the majority of those users. You know... the (L)owest (C)ommon (D)enominator?

    LSB v1.0 minimum specs could be 486DX2-66, 16MB RAM, 500MB HD, VGA 640x480, SB Compatible Sound, OSSFree or ALSA, libc5, X11R6 3.3.1, SVGALib, Linux 2.0.35, Mesa 3.0, TWM, linuxconf, RPM and File System Standard.

    Almost every distro *I* know of provides these basic things. I include libc5 because it has the most widespread implementation (I can run libc5 binaries on my glibc system), X11R6 is a standard, SVGALib - standard, Linux 2.0.35 or better standard, Mesa 3.0 or better - standard, TWM at the very least, linuxconf is essentially a standard and distro agnostic, RPM can be used on any distro - I hear Debian's install stuff is good but more people use RPM. FSS is VERY important for compatability and crossplatform capability - isn't that what Linux is all about?

    That's not to say that the distribution vendor couldn't ADD to the spec with newer versions and more choices; it would just mean that the ISV's would have a minimum system configuration that they could write to.

    JUST DEFINE THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. It's as easy as that. Give the ISV's additional incentive to provide us with additional sofware.

    Thank you for your time. :)
  • Posted by OGL:

    Eveyone should be in favor of this, especially those who are always whining about Red Hat taking over the world. Instead of making products for Red Hat, companies can make products for any LSB-compliant distribution.

    -W.W.
  • Posted by jhreingold:

    As someone engaged in porting a commercial application from other Unices to Linux, I would cheer at the arrival of a base set of services that I can count on in all Linux distributions. That base set of services has to be competitive with other OSes, or Linux is not going to make it. My users are used to being able to install & uninstall with some sort of package manager. I don't want to tell them "on Solaris, use admintool, but on Linux, you have to untar, copy these files, check these prerequisites, ...".
  • Love says "everybody has to support the same version of the kernel and the same set of library services."

    True but vacuous. Is there any general-purpose distro without plans to support 2.2.x, egcs, and glibc in the very near future?

    The devil's in the details -- for example, the libjpeg problem with its unnecessarily fine-grained version code in its header. But these are easily solvable.

    As for LSB, as long as it's a reasonable discussion between techies to solve technical problems, bless them. But -- at one point, at least -- it was in danger of becoming yet another vehicle for the overblown Perens ego, to which the various distributions replied (quite properly) by ignoring it and starting side discussions.

    I have no idea why Love chose to write this now, unless there's some special situation at Caldera that requires a political statement of LSB support from them. I would have thought that the whole standards thing was mostly a non-issue [mit.edu] by now....

    Craig

  • Even if you don't see need for LSB in order to run commercial software, I don't understand how anybody can argue against standards.


    Standards are good for competition. The more things there are that are standard the easier it is for me to change distributions or work with people who use other distributions. There's less to learn, less to recompile, and less chance of frustration.


    For example, every distribution has a way to stop and start daemons. Since the feature is standard there should be a standard way of accessing it. If you can't agree on init.d setup, then agree on a standard interface that each distro will implement in it's own way (ie. a set of /usr/sbin scripts that call the native commands).


    Now I can go to any machine running Linux and be confident that, even though I've never seen the distro, I can perform basic administration. Also, if Slackware comes up with some awsome whiz-bang feature that I must have, I can switch to it and be instantly productive.


  • are you a programmer? have you programmed with both Gtk+ and motif? or are you just another ac spouting off when they really don't know what they are talking about?
  • Wrong. The Video Toaster crowd killed the Amiga, not the suits as you put it. Pull out the last year or so of Amiga World before it bit the dust and tell us just what most of the articles were about. You got it, the Video Toaster. Now for the Video Toaster crowd this may have been just great, but for people like myself who owned an Amiga 3000 as well as an A500 before that but really didn't give a damn about the Toaster it was one of the things that convinced us to jump ship before Commodore bit the dust.
  • I can't help but think that most of the linux people here or at least the vocal members of it don't understand the issue here.


    This standard wouldn't be arbitrary and linux wouldn't bend to fit it. It would be a dynamic living standard that would change with the community as the community needs it to. It would be more than a package manager (hopefully it could do some god because there isn't a really good one yet, they've all got flaws) that would just be a tiny piece of the puzzle. It would probably even be an optional piece of the installation. I'm sick of hearing people complain about RPM and say this is a bad standard, you've probably already got RPM capability in your linux dist. as it is even if you never use it.


    The deal is that if linux is going to be a full desktop OS it is going to have commercial source-code-less software. To support that there needs to be some kind of baseline, it's just unacceptable to include all the possible libraries with an application (what good are sharedlibs then?) and it's unacceptable for an end user to buy an application and be expected to go find, download, and build lesstif to make it run.


    Not just will it benefit linux by allowing ISVs to develop software more easily (without worrying about all the 'what ifs' of installing the damn apps) but it will make it easier for OSS to distribute binaries also. And I think it is inevitable, a defacto standard (redhat linux) will become the standard or we can take control of the issue with Redhat's blessing and create a distribution free standard.


    I'm willing to say the a Linux99 compatible machine can deal with RPMs, has QT (if they ever release the free version), GTK+ 1.2, GNOME 1.0, KDE 1.1, glibc, JDK 1.1.7, and lesstif on it in working order. I'm also willing to say that linux99 apps can be gnome or kde compliant but need neither to run. Essentially we'd pick some libs, name them with linux99 in the name and put them in when you install, you could upgrade to newer versions without breaking anything. Next year we will change it to match the new landscape. As component ware becomes more of a reality we can add mozilla and other components to the standard (you will need to have a mozilla component to run certain apps.)


    This doesn't sound so bad to me, sure it might install a few megs of libraries I'm not fond of but if it's optional I won't install it if I don't need it. I'd much rather be able to just install and run StarOffice, Corel WordPerfect, RealAudio, Netscape, or whatever other apps on my linux box than save a few megs or be tied to redhat linux.
    Or spend hours trying to force some application to work on my machine. And if I never buy any binary apps then I don't need it but I'll probably end up installing most of the linux99 standard simply because I'll need parts of it for a lot of OSS apps.

  • What the LSB needs to be is a standard set of tools that the machines need to be "standard." We all want our TAR to work the same and give the same flags. Something similar happened in the UNIX world a few years back. Everyone started sharing applications from one another to make a "standard" UNIX. Sun / Solaris gave out the works of NIS+. Others similarly contributed (I have no idea what though). If we can envelop a certain path to standardization be it RedHat RPM or Slackware's pkgtool or whatever, let everyone use it and Linux will get more backing from companies that want to produce binaries for Linux, but not Source (like Lotus).
  • "Problem with that is, that RedHat is one of the main people in the LSB effort. Most of the past discussion about LSB has been about what package manager to use. I thought it had died, and was glad."

    You know, I have to say, I can't take anything in this post seriously after the opening sentance. The LSB mailing list is hosted by Debian. The site isn't hosted by RedHat. The activity on the mailing list seems to show RedHat hasn't pushed for anything that much, and definately not for something that would specificly benifit them.

    The LSB is NOT a behind closed doors project, and it is not going to be bulldoged by one distribution. Following your logic, the LSB would be doomed to include a commercial X server because the LSB written standard Technical lead is Stuart Anderson and he works for Metro Link, Inc. That more consistant with your logic, and we all know that won't happen.

    Guilt by association is absolutely rediculus, and your stretching to even prove the association! It would be wise to read up on it, and check it out yourself at thier website a bit, join some of the mailing lists, and learn more about it before you condem something you don't seem to understand.

  • I don't think having a common basis would be a bad thing in itself. If you say the next releases of X and Y distribution should have spiffylib.0.63 and wowlib.1.1 or higher that just makes development easier for everyone, open source developers included. Commercial Standards make me nervous, what happens when some company comes out with a proprietary lib that makes thier programs run (vb300.dll for Linux AAAAAAAHHHH!) And then they push to make it standard in all distributions that can be called standard complient. If there is going to be a standard it must be minimal and it MUST be opensource. QT wouldn't even qualify until 2.0 is out. Ligjpeg, libungif, fine suggest a minimum version for compliance. But the first piece of closed source that makes it to the standard will stop several distributions from adhering to it.

  • They have done something to set it apart... Netware support. Sure, there is the ncpfs stuff, but last time I heard, it still doesn't support NDS very well (if at all). Granted, they haven't updated it in a LONG time. The administration tools suck, and you only get 8.3 filenames on ncp filesystems. If they'd fix those two things, (as I have written to the begging for), they'd be moving in the right direction. Also, they need to move to glibc like everyone else in the world...

    Another interesting fact, is that Caldera was the company that actually developed RPM. This happened way back in the days of Caldera's CND, which was a set of Caldera extensions over the top of Red Hat. Today, Caldera still looks a bit more like Red Hat (under the hood) than I care to talk about.

    So, I guess to sum up, Caldera's biggest problem is that they are a slow-mover. RH 5.2. SuSE 6.0. Caldera 1.3?! Guys, put some money into devel!
  • I don't think it necessarily solves the problem for binaries-only software releases the article was addressing.

    That having been said, I have to take this opportunity to say that I also like the FreeBSD approach. From what I have seen it gives you the most flexibility and control. I like its source-oriented approach (ah, the Good Old Days when everything was source only!). I would prefer a FreeBSD-like Linux distribution to those currently available.

  • Oracle runs on every distribution I have.
    Netscape communicator 4.5 runs on RH, Debian and SuSE.
    And it worked on my RH box before and after upgrading from 2.0.36 to 2.2.

    Pre compiled products can statically link and run most anywhere.

    If the authors are dieing to ship a smaller more elegant chunk of code... let them join the open source movement.
  • I'm afraid that you've got yourself the wrong version of Linux then. Red Hat aren't as conformant to the few standards that we have in place already, which is a great shame because that's the distribution that corporate-types are flocking to.

    The general educated position is that Debian is, for those with the experience to cope with, far better with that sort of thing. In fact, Debian can also upgrade everything with two commands (look at apt-get), with the added benefit that everything is guaranteed to be thoroughly quality-checked before release. As a power user I'd certainly recommend it over the other distributions.

    I agree on your view that Linux needs a FreeBSD style upgrade model though, as an option.
  • Having different files doing the same job, in different paths in different distributions is nutty. No-one should waste time trying to defend this.

    When I upgraded samba I was surprised to see that the genuine samba make throws everything in /usr/local/samba, yet my original SuSE distribution had installed the old ones (binaries from rpm) somewhere else. What was the point of that? Some guy in SuSE had actually spent time shifting 'em about, making his distribution fragile to the first time I needed to upgrade samba without going back to SuSE for a new rpm.

    Perhaps rather than make a clean break to conform to the standard, filesystem links can be used to good effect to 'upgrade' old distributions' layouts to conformance without much pain.

    But things like different configuration file formats are just *wanton* and one way or another will get weeded out by evolutionary forces.

    One other thing, the standard clearly needs at least two levels to it. The first, core, level should talk about where files ought to live, format of configuration files, which standard-C libraries must be available and so on: issues relevant to even the smallest embedded Linux application. The guy who replied to this thread above me cursing his HDD space getting eaten with (hated by him) Gnome has a good point if your microwave or settop box is running Linux from flash. The second level could address X-Windows and window manager issues in systems where that's appropriate.

    The guy way above who said that you shouldn't be frightened of these kind of genuinely open, changeable and debated standards was right: the thing is to standardize to core of things without tying people's hands to innovate and remain complient. You need to standardize a virtual base class and let people derive!



  • I think what we should get from Mr. Love's statement is, surely, an indication that there
    is now strain within what was once a multi-vendor agreement to support something called
    the LSB.



    I confess to not following these developments closely enough. Could someone knowledgeable
    perhaps post an objective summary of the current state of affairs?



    In general, I think that posters here have expressed fair-minded skepticism regarding the
    need for--and viability of--an overly restrictive LSB. However, I think it fair to say
    that Linux distributions are as compatible as they are, due to a desire to remain so.



    There is real danger that some Linux distributor (eg, Microsoft, Corel?) might emerge with an agenda
    to embrace and extend the system in proprietary ways. (Corel statements that they intend to develop proprietary UI "standards", and that they see an opportunity to "dominate the UNIX market", show cause for concern.) However, the danger would lie not in
    the attempt to do so, but in the willingness of ISVs and consumers to accept this tactic.
    I am indeed beginning to hear--from consumers and IT people--language like, "we're looking
    to Redhat to provide...". This is bad news for the community, because even though I doubt
    Redhat really has any intention of "consolidating the Linux market," the Redhat of 5 years
    from now could find itself the "defacto standard"--which would indeed greatly stifle the
    innovation and competitiveness Linux represents today.



    Ultimately, the Linux community is going to have to be very savvy about this kind of move,
    and even about general trends, and develop an ability to mobilize opinion against
    proprietarization attempts.



    NB: Applications are NOT required to choose static linkage, if they don't like the
    library layout of a given system--and many large UNIX apps, such as Oracle, already do not.
    An application can set LD_LIBRARY_PATH, and use libraries shipped with the application.
    For GPL'd libraries, this means making source available--however, this is much less a deal
    than ISVs might imagine. Savvy companies like IBM and HP will have no difficulty with
    it.

  • is a good one. I personally think that it can become something really good, if and only if LSB doesn't try things like..."each dist will have glibc 2.1, and GNOME 1.0, and kernel 2.2.1, and blah, blah, blah." Something along the lines of the basic tools, libraries, and maybe kernel version that should be included.
  • Don't mistake me, I use both KDE and GNOME. Personally, I think both have a place but to say to me that I must have this interface, and thus it's supporting libraries, is not what it should be about. Like I said basic utilites and libraries is what it should be. Or if they do what to go with a standard GUI, then it should be something like FVWM, MWM, something very common and basic. Slackware will probably settle on KDE (last I read about it anyway), and that's fine, but that's something that should be left up to the maintainer(s) of the dist. Support libraries (glibc, X libraries, etc) and the like should probably be a standard, no one says that you cann't add to it, or even follow it for that matter. It's just easier for new users, and developers (not just ISV's).
  • That's a great idea really, layering in a way similer to Posix might not be a bad idea at all. One might ask "if we have Posix what do we need LSB for?" Answer Posix is pretty much general UN*X, LSB would cover Linux thus giving us a standard to throw at ISV's and say "you want to port your apps to Linux, here's what you need to read to work on these distros." Really, I'm seeing mainly Slackware users say how bad it is, but I have to ask you then, what makes you think that anyone is going to make you follow the standard? No one's going to kick in your door and force you to comply to the LSB.
  • Netscape manages to produce a decent interface using Motif. All this proves is that with sufficient work you CAN produce a reasonable interface with Motif; not that Motif helps.

    I'm sure the Netscape folks would have some choice words to say about the quality of Motif. Certainly everyone I know of who's used Motif for serious applications hates it ...

    I'm not sure how much better GTK is having not used it much. Netscape's major reasoning behind going to GTK is not because it's BETTER but because it's free software and it's easier to get people to work with it.
  • Caldera's the worst Linux distribution in my book. Red Hat, Debian, SUSE, Slackware, they all have some good things and some bad things. But I can't say anything good about Caldera.

    I don't know whose fault it is, but more than once I've seen /etc/passwd world writable on old Caldera boxes. More to the point, they're so preoccupied with running commercial software on Linux in binary form that they strategically leave out .h files to make it hard to compile things...

  • I'm just curious - why the animosity towards Red Hat? I've never really understood... What makes it fruity and umbrella-laden? The addition of GUI interfaces? Is that such a bad thing?

    I mean, all of the distributions are just that, right? Distributions of 100s of independent packages. Init scripts may differ, some of the directory structure, perhaps... but at the end of the day, what is really so different? Especially after you start customizing your favorite distro to behave the way you want it to behave?

    I'd be interested in some un-emotional, fact-based insight into why people believe that one distro is superior to another.
  • Where are the details?

    What are they proposing exactly??

    If it doesn't meet and exceed the best ideas we can come up with, we shouldn't standardize yet!

    That has killed many things (ADA, X.400/ISO, etc. etc.). Good riddance, but let's not follow.

    sdw
  • Netscape is the only program I use in Linux that is consistently ill-tempered...
    It's statically linked with Motif which makes it a 11 MB monster that crashes, takes 20 seconds to load,
    and sometimes decides to take off with the cpu just to run an animated gif or something.
    I will be sooooo glad when 5.0 comes out.
  • Simply enough, the "problem" is that Caldera's semi-proprietary offerings are being beat to a pulp in the marketplace by the 70% marketshare holder Red Hat, which is putting out essentially everything under GPL or other free licenses.

    Look, it takes less effort to make your app run on all major distros than it does to get it to run on Win95 and NT, and your backward compatibility isn't much different than trying to write an app that runs on NT 3.51 and NT 4.0 (gods forbid NT 3.1).

    No LSB? It means the other distro makers have to play catch-up with Red Hat's decisions, instead of getting to help make them.

    It also means immunity from stupid mistakes -- if Red Hat screws up, another Linux distro will replace them as the leader. If a universal LSB screws up, however, a non-Linux (and not necessarily free) OS will win.
  • "it's not law and it's not in stone. If LSB screws up then nobody uses it, we go back t othe drawing board and make it better."

    And how long does it take to make the decisions, how long does it take to realize it was a mistake, and how long does it take LSB to correct it? And how much damage happens in the meantime?

    Forget a standards committee. Let the rough, anarchic consensus of the Free Software movement and the marketplace solve it. It got us Linux, didn't it?
  • Is there really a chance of a major binary vendor not following the LSB ? I mean, we're probably not talking about anything more than the file system standard and C library and kernel versions here. Either the author of the article is indulging in angst for no good reason, or he knows something I do not.
  • The bickering over RPMs vs tar.gz's avoids the real point. Differing package formats are not a major problem.

    The major problems running commercial packages are mostly related to the shared libraries ( in particular, libc ) . For example, Applix wants libc 5.3.12 , Star Office 4 wants libc 5.4.x , and you have a glibc distro, where all your other apps want something else. What we are seeing at the moment is a mix of the following:
    (a) Big statically linked commercial apps
    (b) Users, often newbies, crying out in pain as they try to configure their system to handle severl conflicting library versions.

    I , for one, would be appy to see this stupidity come to an end. Even if the distributors were to do no more than synchronize kernel and libc versions, this alone would be a vast improvement.

    I do not see a major advantage in having different libc and kernel releases with the different distros . There are some issues where the users want choice ( say, package management ) , and there are some areas where choice makes life difficult for everyone ( shared library versions and directory structures )

    Personally, I'd love to see the distributors standardize on releases of the major ( libc and libg++ ) shared libs, and possibly do the same for the non core libs ( gtk , jpeg , gdbm , ... choose a version of qt, so that *if* qt was shipped, it should be version X ) . Is it too much to ask that linux be binary-compatible with itself ?!?!????

    cheers,
    -- Donovan
    --
    Donovan Rebbechi

  • JamesKPolk writes:
    So, let me get this straight. Linux [...] must now bend to the whims of ISVs?

    No, it must give them, the ISVs, something to "bend to" -- state its own "whims" clearly, that's all.


    Linux [...] must stifle experimental development, and lockitself to an arbitrary standard (beyond POSIX), to make life easier for ISVs to keep their source code proprietary?

    No, but to make life easier for consumers to buy software from those ISVs.


    [I]t seems to me that Linux has been doing just fine before all the big names started porting and supporting Linux.

    Yeah, it's "doing just fine" among those few (relative to the myriads of Windows users) hackers and techno-nerds who use it today. But who cares about the great unwashed masses -- as long as we "L33T D00DZ" can have our toy to ourselves everything is "just fine", right?


    And, now that the media attention is glaring, I see no reason for the current system of distributions and flexibility to change.

    Heh... Yes, "glaring" is a good word to use here, given all its connotations... And given those, I'm not sure it's the word you should have chosen, if you wanted to paint a rosy-red picture like it seems you did. That lovely lava-lamp mood light of media attention can soon turn into the harsh glare of oncoming headlights (mounted on a truck known as "wide-spread consumer dissatisfaction"), if Linux doesn't live up to the feel-good hype it is currently recieving.


    ./configure --switches; make ; make install

    Yeah, that will be a hit with the Mom-and-Pop crowd! Hey, what exactly are those "--switches"? And are you sure they'll work on any distribution? Mom and Pop won't be able to figure them out, if the software package they just bought is configured for a distro other than the one they are attempting to install it on, you know.


    After all, even if IBM, Intel, and everybody suddenly stops supporting linux, us Free software and Open source types will still be able to do with linux what we already do with it.

    Oh, forgive me for not realizing that Linux was built for your pleasure and your pleasure alone. BTW, what exactly is it that you "already" do with Linux -- Web surfing, IRC and games, I suppose...?


    Only, as time goes on, free software alternatives grow stronger and stronger. Any Day Now (tm), gnumeric or KOffice or AbiWord or something will be able to do all that MS Word or Excel does for people. Real Soon Now (tm) Corel or Red Hat or somebody will make a distribution that truly is as comfortable for users to install and configure as Windows 98.

    The only problem being that gnumeric will run "out-of-the-box" only on Corel or Debian, KOffice on Corel or Red Hat, and AbiWord only on Debian or Red Hat, or something like that. The difference, furthermore, being that MS Word and Excel -- and Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect for Windows -- run "out-of-the-box" on all the distributions" of Windows 98 and NT 4! (Yes, I know there's only one of each! :-) (That's why we need a little standardization among distros, to achieve those same advantages.)


    Those of us who like linux are content to bite the bullet and use Windows when we have to, and wait until linux gets all the productivity software it needs, with source code included.

    Again, forgive me for not realizing that you and you alone have the authority to decree that ISVs who want to release proprietary software on Linux -- and people who want to run that proprietary software -- should just fuck off and die, what with Linux being your and the other "L33T D00DZ" personal playground and all...


    Those of us who have looked at perl, egcs, emacs, KDE, and more know that we don't need no stinkin' linux-specific standards, and we don't need no stinkin' proprietary software.

    And your needs are of course the one and only World Needs Standard -- now that seems to be a Standard you're in favour of...


    It may sound like wishful thinking; many people do need proprietary software to get their jobs done. But, those people who need that software aren't using linux right now anyway. So, if ISV's don't develop for them, then it won't hurt linux's market share at all.

    ??? Are you stupid, or what's wrong with you? Of bloody course it will hurt Linux's market share if people who could use Linux if there were a standard for non-OSS ISVs to write to -- can't, because there is no standard for non-OSS ISVs to write to!


    linux isn't going to suddenly DIE because a few ISV's decide it's too hard to support Red Hat, SuSE, AND Debian.

    No, it won't "suddenly DIE" -- it can live on among those few (yes, relatively speaking it is still a few) hackers and techno-nerds who use it today. If that's what you want, to doom Linux to such a marginal existence, and denying ordinary end-users a realistic chance at using it, then just say so. But please don't try to pass it off as striking some great blow for freedom -- it's just the opposite.



    Christian R. Conrad


    Opinions are MINE, not my employer's -- Hedengren, in Finland.
  • You know, this is exactly the kind of comment that makes me want to switch to Debian or SuSE or roll my own. Linux has gotten along just fine by being diverse for a long time, and I really think that we all ought to remember that the way to achieve World Domination (tm) is NOT by beating the old-style SW companies using *their* rules. We are getting there just fine by using our own...

    The human need for a "heard" and to flock around "the leader" never ceases to amaze me, but thanks to the GPL there will always be a nice, custumizable distro for those who want it - even in a MS/RedHat/IBM/HP/Euro/whatever ruled world. That is the real beauty of it all.
  • This attitude is fine, if you wish for Linux to remain a hobbiest Operating System. However, since most people would like to see Linux put a serious dent into the M$ monopoly (including Linus), the answer to that is users. And users will not move to an OS that lacks the applications that they need or are familiar with. The average user doesn't care about the kernel version or which version of glibc he or she needs.

    If the user cannot *use* his or her machine in an effecient manner, then they will not change, technical superiority not withstanding. Period.

    The media has shined a very large spotlight on our community. Very large companies have voiced support and some have even begun to provide very good products. However, without an increasing user base, how long do you believe this support will continue?
  • You know, before reading your post, I thought that having LSB was generally a good thing as long as it was open and flexible to new developments.

    However, you bring up a couple of really good points. One of the things I like about Linux is that it is co-operative (collaborative? collective?) effort of people with many different points of view, but one larger (yet amazingly hard to define) direction.

    I then had a realization...


    The LSB could easily be the first step to the Linux Cathedral.


    Yes, we need standards. Yes, we need protocols and APIs. We've developed those using the current structures. Do we need an arbitrary group of people determining our direction for us?

    I think this could be one of the more interesting questions for the next year or two, as the different allies in the Linux effort (distributors, users, hackers, ISV's, and proprietary software companies expanding into the new market) realize that their own goals are subtly (or not so subtly) different from all the others, and want to have some control (or lack of it) over the direction of Linux.

    This could easily lead to the fragmentation that has plagued Unix and other great endeavours in the past.

    --
    A.
  • Xt has some significant bulkiness and design issues. There are large portions of Xt that just feel unpleasant and unwieldy to use, in addition to requiring too much code to implement. (Having event translations as a user-alterable resource springs to mind.)

    I don't have a good idea of how GTK stacks up as I find the idea of bringing out yet another UI library that's designed to do OO in C instead of C++ to be rather revolting. I do recall GTK being rather more simply and cleanly implemented when I gave it a glance awhile back though.

  • Xt (and hence Motif) has some significant bulkiness and design issues. There are large portions of Xt that just feel unpleasant and unwieldy to use, in addition to requiring too much code to implement. (Having event translations as a user-alterable resource springs to mind.)

    I don't have a good idea of how GTK stacks up as I find the idea of bringing out yet another UI library that's designed to do OO in C instead of C++ to be rather revolting. I do recall GTK being rather more simply and cleanly implemented when I gave it a glance awhile back though.

  • I dislike GTK because it isn't written in C++ and it should be.


    One problem I see with LSB is that too much standardization is bad. A good OS will succeed in a marketplace (ecology) because it can adapt to fill a lot of niches. There's a shrink-wrap application/home user niche. There's a heavy duty file server niche. There's a web server niche, and there's an imbedded applications niche. There are TONS of niches. Linux is adaptable enough to fit into all of them.


    The most important niche from a standardization standpoint is the shrink-wrap niche. That niche is large enough to have several players, and they will only badly hurt eachother if they don't cooperate to some extent. I see GNOME, and possibly LSB as a step in the direction of getting the shrink-wrap people to cooperate to the extent necessary to create a stable marketplace niche for Linux.


    LSB is bad if it attempts to make ALL Linux distributions conform to the standards necessary to compete in the shrink-wrap niche. Distributions should be clear about the needs they try to fill, and standards should be flexible enough to let them fill them.


  • Do not see the problem here:

    Even slackware has rpm utilities. And all systems have tar and gzip.

    All systems shipped at the moment have both libc and glibc (with minor glitches like wich one is preferred) so no problem there either.

    All systems ship with a 2.0.35+ kernel and none with 2.1.x or 2.2.x

    So if an ISV is a moron and does not see the fact that a properly linked package will work on any system, then to hell with it and its venerable product.

    If the ISV is not a moron, than there is no problem here and Oracle and IBM are proving this pretty well.

    And there is more than enough standards as of now to follow (i mean those that are not completely implemented). Overlapping them with a new and artificial one is simply stupid...
  • Do not see the problem here:

    Even slackware has rpm utilities. And all systems have tar and gzip.

    All systems shipped at the moment have both libc and glibc (with minor glitches like wich one is preferred) so no problem there either.

    All systems ship with a 2.0.35+ kernel and none with 2.1.x or 2.2.x

    So if an ISV is a moron and cannot design a properly linked package that will work on any system, then to hell with it and its venerable product.

    In btw: this is what mostly makes windows life so troubled. So letting these guys into linux will quite windowize it... It is better to keep this kind of lousy "developers" OUT!

    If the ISV is not a moron, than there is no problem with having 4-5 distributions. Oracle and IBM are proving this pretty well.

    And there is more than enough standards as of now to follow (I mean those that are not completely implemented into Linux). Paying attention to a new and artificial one is simply stupid...

  • I would suggest you take a look at Debian. They have developed a wonderful utility apt-get (soon to get a nice gui front end). Whenever I wish to get the latest changes I type two commands:
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
    Everything else takes care of itself, dependencies are checked and updated, old programs are removed, and the system works as a Debian distribution should (which is very stably). It is possible to add these commands to cron, and your system will remain up-to-date without any routine intervention.

    Enjoy,

    cartographer
  • The only reason I still run Windows at all is to play games. It might be wishful thinking, but it would be nice if games (like baldur's gate) were made for linux. Then I could drop windows completely. If there was some stardard that would make it easier for companies to make sure that their programs would run on all distributions, I think they may consider porting more seriously. A company isn't going to want to spend money to port a program to linux and then have it only run on one distribution. If you think interplay or or other commercial game companies are going to release the source to their current games so we can fix the problems your crazy. Also, a company doesn't want to have to deal with making multiple package files. If a company is going to sell a shrink wrapped game in a store they aren't going to package three cd's, one for rpm, one for deb, and one in gz because it costs more. This is assumning that the game is large enough that all all 3 package types wouldn't fit on one cd...

    For the above reasons I think a standard would help.
  • So, let me get this straight. Linux, a kernel that started out as a project to learn the quirks of the 80386, and then became a "better Minix than Minix", must now bend to the whims of ISVs?

    Linux, possibly the most successful GPL'd project outside of GNU, must stifle experimental development, and lock itself to an arbitrary standard (beyond POSIX), to make life easier for ISVs to keep their source code proprietary?

    Well, I only abandoned WinNT 6 months ago or so, but it seems to me that Linux has been doing just fine before all the big names started porting and supporting Linux. And, now that the media attention is glaring, I see no reason for the current system of distributions and flexibility to change.

    ./configure --switches; make ; make install

    After all, even if IBM, Intel, and everybody suddenly stops supporting linux, us Free software and Open source types will still be able to do with linux what we already do with it.

    Only, as time goes on, free software alternatives grow stronger and stronger. Any Day Now (tm), gnumeric or KOffice or AbiWord or something will be able to do all that MS Word or Excel does for people. Real Soon Now (tm) Corel or Red Hat or somebody will make a distribution that truly is as comfortable for users to install and configure as Windows 98.

    Those of us who like linux are content to bite the bullet and use Windows when we have to, and wait until linux gets all the productivity software it needs, with source code included.

    Those of us who have looked at perl, egcs, emacs, KDE, and more know that we don't need no stinkin' linux-specific standards, and we don't need no stinkin' proprietary software.

    It may sound like wishful thinking; many people do need proprietary software to get their jobs done. But, those people who need that software aren't using linux right now anyway. So, if ISV's don't develop for them, then it won't hurt linux's market share at all.

    linux is already doing just fine, even without a prime-time Desktop Environment. So, barring some foul play on the part of transmeta's flying saucer technology :-), linux isn't going to suddenly DIE because a few ISV's decide it's too hard to support Red Hat, SuSE, AND Debian.
  • About playing well with other unices, wasn't it informix who said, when questioned on how much work it took them to port to Linux, "we typed make". I.e. the source that they were using for sun compiled cleanly and worked under Linux?
  • RedHat is basically the leader in the Linux community... Redhat went to rpm.. and so did Caldera, TurboLinux, SuSe, and most others. RedHat went glibc2, and now the rest of the distros will follow.. and are..

    Although Debain and Slackware are good distros, and WILL be around for a while, they are both a bit behind.. debain lacks in a good configuration tool (as of 2.0), so does slackware...... they are both excellent tools for learning th einternals of the Linux system, as they require you to edit almost every file by hand, rather than thru a GUI...

    Redhat is a good distro, but because they are often the first one to go to the bleeding edge Linux stuff they have had some stability issues in the past. but I think they have overcome most of them (RH 5.0 & 5.1 are known to be a bit unstable in some areas.. duh they released 5.2 to fix these)..

    I use SUSE.. and it does follow Redhat model in some ways.. however the installation is the main difference and the setup tool..

    there was an article on 32bitsonline that that compared distros.. and there results were that most distros are different in the setup tool and installation .. other than that the distros may have a few different libs....

    to port to linux here is what I'd recommend

    1) most distros are moving to glibc2. is support threads and some other things that are 'modern' in programming and necessary.. so if you are going to port to linux go with glibc2 as the c lib... (now libc2 officially) ... threads are good and in many programs they can improve performance... and on multi processor machines (like mine) they can only be a good thing....
    2) the kernel version.. if they are just coming on board with linux..start with 2.2 kernel series.. 2.0 is stable but even Alan Cox and Linus T, will probably tell you that eventually they like to see 2.0 die and 2.2 improve...
    3) now if they ar porting from windows to X they shoudl pick a tool kit and stick with it.. here I'd recommend wither gtk+ for C or qt for c++.. I use gtk+ and find it very easy to use.. but I am a c programmer..

    .. and I think most people with a clue will agree that this will be Linux 99... glibc2, rpm, kernel 2.2.. although I have not move up to it yet myself.. by the end of the first quarter of 99 I will have upgraded from suse 5.2 to 6.0 + updates....

  • Blech. I (and most of us I believe) aren't looking to just be better than NT, why be so AMAZINGLY short-sighted? We're looking to be the best we CAN be, which is alot more than just better than NT. Not all of us are just microsoft haters. Also, this hardly seems a distribution issue, but more a library/kernel issue. There are only two libraries in general to be concerned about, libc5 and glibc2. There are two kernels to be concerned about, 2.0.x and 2.2.x (I realize there are obviously subtle differences in each release, but those generally don't affect what the world sees). This doesn't seem all that bad as I suspect in the future libc5 will phase out (Assuming glibc2 becomes more stable and such), as will 2.0.x, as 2.2.x becomes more stable and accepted. This may take 6-12 months, or maybe even a year or two, but it'll happen.
  • Obviously the community is not going to listen to a committee or company that attempts to impose some kind of standard on the community. In fact, such attempts can only undermine the reputation of Linux and will _cause_ splinters in the community (as this Slashdot discussion surely indicates).

    If I was an LSB supporter, I would come up with your standard, and recommend it to the community (so far, I haven't seen a standard yet, just a lot of talk about why there should be one). If your idea is good, the community will adopt it and assist in making it better. If not, well, the community will tell you where you went wrong. Show the code, or in this case, show your standard. Noone in the community is likely to take you (the LSB supporter) seriously unless you provide some solid recommendations. If they make sense, then great! I'd be happy to support them.

    The problem here is that an LSB standard must stand on its own merits, not on theories about what should be right for Linux. Until that is understood, no progress will be made.

    Jason
  • > The real matter is what can be if corps really
    > move to Linux ? Without them, I am sure we will
    > never rise at M$ desktop standards.

    The question is do we want that.
    In the early days of computing, the time of the
    C64, ZX Spectrum, BBC etc, computing was a lot
    of fun. There was this whole bunch of hackers
    that tried to figure out the systems and program
    for fun. Then the suits came in, developed the
    PC, and Windows, and took away much of the fun
    and orginal spirit. Now with Linux computing
    and computers are fun again. I am afraid all
    that will be gone again if we let the big
    companies over again, and try to be everypersons
    OS.....

  • look at first Unix versions. It factionized, and it was the mess.

    If there is no minimal Linux version, big corps will distribute their own versions (isn't Corel starting this already ?). This will bring :
    * either chaos with more distributions
    * or corps apps will end to being tied to their distribution (and say bye-bye to freedom). Just imaging that M$ distribute some Linux version that can easely run windows apps. I am sure they will if Linux is threatening them. Years ago Billy said : "Internet is nothing, we have MSN" but one year later he embraced Internet... You might be horrified by that idea, but plenty of M$ clients would be interested... Another argument in this favor : Win is a mono user environement, M$ never believed in thin clients, but they changed their mind with NT4 Terminal Server & win 200?
  • People just don't seem to get the difference between a kernel and a distribution. IMHO, nearly everybody who has a linux uses a distribution with (g)libc.

    If people want to make programs that do things differently, they'll have to provide statically linked binaries. So what?
  • Let me preface my remarks with agreement with what appears to me the majority of /. posters -- that the M$ monolith needs to die a swift death. I would also like to state that I have been involved in PC app development since before the Apple had a II after it's name.

    Linux wise, I am also not distribution-centric yet. So all of the flame wars between Debian, Slackware, Caldera, RedHat, and SuSe strike me as being alot of wasted use of bandwidth and mindspace. As are the non-stop commentaries about KDE vs. Gnome, Gtk vs. Motif/LessTif.

    As a developer, what I want is a clear set of API's and/or published specs which allow me to write and test my code, then point it at a target platform, knowing that as close to 100% as possible of the code will function properly on that target platform.

    Which is what the Win32s API, etc. do well (that is, not perfect, but enough to get the work done.) I have written apps in the past that worked without any code changes on platforms from Win3.11 (with the Win32 library), Win95, and WinNT. They even functioned correctly under OS-2/Windows without problem.

    I guess what it boils down to is that if the LSB initiative results in a more consistent API across platforms, then I'm all for it.

  • Only experts can test new applications, because there is nearly no real computer newbie who uses Linux. But a big corp can put money in these kind of tests. Therefore, if we want Linux to be stronger, and being a real alternative to M$, we need support from corps.

    Your argument is valid but not sound. I think I read here that GNOME is going to be installed on pretty much every computer in Mexican elementary/secondary schools. You couldn't pay for a better usability lab than that.
  • In theory I think it's a good idea. I doubt the open source projects need this, but the binary-only software could really benefit from this. It would go a long way in helping ISV products because they could test against a standard, as opposed to testing all major distributions on all the platforms. It would also solve the problem of "splintering" versions of Linux that a lot of people outside of the Linux community seem to constantly predict.

    I doubt, however, that it would actually work. The problem is that Linux software is changing so rapidly that any standards base would be swamped trying to keep up. A lot of software changes every few weeks, not every few years like traditional software. By the time any panel could agree on the Linux standard it would change and they would need to start over.

    If people really want something like this, I think a greater benefit would be gained by participating in other Unix standards organizations and meeting their certification tests. A lot of the new vendors supporting Linux now also run on other Unix platforms. If making life easier on them is the goal, let's play nice with everyone instead of creating yet another standard.

    Unfortunately the issue adressed in the paper is a concern. Maybe I dilusional, but lately more software seems to only work with certain versions of other libraries. For example, Window Maker, GNOME, & the Gimp seem to be very version specific on some of their libraries. A third party vendor would have a nightmare trying to ship a product against constantly moving target. The question is how do you "standardize" without slowing development to a halt?
  • Kernel - Choose version closest to the pure Linus Torvalds Linux kernel. I'm personally planning to get Linux for my PCI PPC PowerMac, and I've chose LinuxPPC over other versions, such as MkLinux, even though it is harder to use than MkLinux because it is more pure. MkLinux is slower, and is built on top of the Mach microkernel. Mac OS X was originally meant to be on top of Mach, but now it appears that Apple intends to make Mac OS X pretty much a version of Unix with the Mac user interface. Apple is trying to migrate the Mac towards being a Unix box.
  • Saying that POSIX compliancy, SVGA, X Windows, and Motif Libraries should be all ISVs count on locks us into old technology. What LSB is all about is providing a framework that can be used for the future. We will move beyond glibc, and I want better than Motif (which is actually even uglier than Windows).

    Today Linux has a shot at what advocates have always wanted, widespread acceptance. And the only way it is going to continue to succeed is with modern commecial applications with a modern look and feel. (and locking ISVs to Motif, or Lestif, certainly isn't going to do that.)

    You may consider package managers to be "stupid" but again if Linux is going to get widespread acceptance, it needs to be easy for the average user to install and remove programs. I really think that RPM does that. Use one of the GUI frontends, and you've got a pretty easy to use system.

    What you don't seem to understand, is that this whole movement doesn't have you as its target. I'm not its target, Joe Slashdot isn't its target. What this will do is bring more Windows users to Linux. Most of whom expect the software that they just bought at Best Buy to run right out of the box. (Which isn't too much to ask) He's not going to mess with libs, he calls tech support immediately when he sees DLL or VXD.

    If Linux provides only what the "old gaurd" sees as bare essentials, then it is not going to succeed. What RedHat is doing for Linux right now is going to give it a chance to really compete in the OS market. I am guessing that the next redhat release has some real potential to be the breakthrough release. I think with Gnome 1.0 it has the potential of attracting a lot of consumers.

    Oh, and GTK rocks. I mean come on, how can a 100% themeable toolkit not? If you like Motif, use the motif theme... Windows, the Redmond theme, whatever. Personally I like the BeOS theme... And I have been told that it is simple to use, but haven't used it myself, us web developers don't get out much...
  • Can you believe the arrogance of that bunch of suits?

    From the article:
    Intel likes the idea of open source software but is afraid of too many cooks in the kitchen.

    What do those idiots think "open source" means, anyway?

    For this reason, the company will announce next month the formation of a consortium to help ensure a unified vision and common implementation of the Linux operating system, company officials said last week.

    Yeah, right. These assholes finally figured out that the Linux community has something worthwhile, and is trying to position themselves to be in control of it.

    While Intel execs believe in the open-source model, they're concerned about potential fragmentation caused by too many disparate implementations.

    Bullshit. Fragmentation of what? the kernal? the libs? The beauty of open source is that if something doesn't work with the system that you have you can fix it so it does work.

    "Not everything has to be shared all the time," said Ron Curry, Intel's director of marketing.

    Now that one really takes the cake. Thinking like this is the reason that Linux is kicking Microsoft's ass.

    So now all the bandwagon jumping suits-without-a-clue have decided that the grass just might be greener in Linuxland and have opted to join our parade. Be afraid.

    Symlink

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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