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The Anoraks' New Clothes 110

An anonymous reader sent us linkage to a ZDNet UK Article written by Martin Butler of the The Butler Group. The article doesn't say much new, it really just says linux is just the "New Thing" (Just like windows was so many years ago) and that it will factionalize when money becomes involved. And its already started to happen. My take? Bring it on! As long as a base system of kernel, libs, and utilities is compatible accross distributions, divide all you want. Debian for Hackers. Red Hat for Suits. Slackware for loons. And the 28 other assorted distributions for whoever wants them. Its about options, and as long as we adhere to a minimal set of requirements, everyone will be happy. Am I crazy?
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The Anoraks' New Clothes

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  • I think Linux fragmentation isn't safe yet (not that that will stop people). Once the LSB [] gets finished and accepted, then fragmentation will be fine, since it won't cause as many problems for new developers.
  • A little bit of FUD in the article, but not as bad as many ZDNet articles. There's certainly more content in my compressed air duster than in that article, though.
  • Um, I fail to see how the jump is made between trainspotters and computer geeks. My understanding is the stereotypical trainspotter doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain. The stereotypical computer geek doesn't know enough to go out in the sun. The're kinda mutually exclusive hobbies.
  • Not off topic at-all; the article uses the word "anorak" to describe "hackers". I didn't understand the analogy.
  • You say it's sad when a flamewar erupts that you PURPOSELY incite? That's basically like taking a swing at someone then saying if they do the same to you, something's wrong with them. But your comment does prove that no matter what the topic, someone will bring up KDE or gnome and think that everyone else cares about it.
  • OK, another question then. Just what is trainspotting? (I obviously have neither read the book nor seen the movie.)
  • by echo ( 735 )
    In french Anorak means "jacket"
  • Just for your own amusement, keep in mind that the RPM fairy comes complete with source code, a man page, and --help.

    And for those compiling from source, there's a special SRPM fairy, that will "magically" create RPMs that the RPM Fairy can install.

    The sad bit of this is that there's nothing magical or proprietary about RPM... The source is out there, it's GPL'd and even documented very well.

    The only reason it seems "magical" to Slackware users is they are too lazy to learn about it. I know.. I used to be one.

    Echo "Recovering Slackware addict"

  • He probably gets paid a lot of money for saying pretty much nothing.

    His contention that standards inevitably fall apart when money is involved doesn't make any sense. Unix split apart because of poor licensing before there was much money involved - it's been slowly coming back together BECAUSE there's now a lot of cash at stake. AT&T could have prevented the SysV/BSD split by 1/keeping the source totally closed through more restrictive licensing, 2/keeping the source totally open (ie. free). They did the worst possible thing by having licensing terms that encouraged a fork. Academics had enough access to the source to make significant modifications, but they couldn't merge their changes back to the original.

    Are there other examples of standards splintering that I'm missing?

  • What he failed to point out is that despite there already being so many distro's around, all with their competing features, is that they are still far more compatable than each other and the various un*x flavors than Windows is between different versions of itself.

    Of course, Windows2000 is simply another division in that, and then there's 64-bit Windows, and then...
  • If I could just butt in between responses to Cmdr's gentle troll in the editorial

    Who the hell is this clueless old fart Butler anyway ? It's like coming across a zdnet article from 6 months ago.. Linux lacks support, windows works today, etc etc.

    Doesn't the smug old git (checkout the photo) understand that the reason technical people (dismissed as "anoraks") are interested in Linux is that it works better than Windows. It never was the "anoraks" who were interested in Windows 10 years ago. It caught on as part of the "nobody ever fired for buying IBM" mentality.

    AARGH, I just hit myself. I should know better than to bother looking at zdnet. Is there any other profession in the world which is so badly represented by it's press. It's not as though you find medical journals written by people with no qualifications at all saying things like

    "Anti-biotics or Leeches - in depth article on what's wrong with these untested new fads"
  • Even worse than no package manager is a package manager that isn't. If you've installed Slackware 3.6 (and probably 3.5 and before), you'll know you have to rm -rf a whole bunch of /var/packages, /var/setup, etc. shit. I think Slackware expects you to use setup to install everything or something (is there any use to that program?
  • 1) Windows may have been new, but it was never innovative.
    2) Linux really isn't innovative, other than the economic model on which it is based. But in a way, this is good. What it is, is a rock-solid implementation of almost every computing standard out there, standards which the "innovative" guys tend to forget.
    3) I'm sad to say that he was right about the factions, however. And it is starting now. Not the distro's (that's a common misconception). I'm talking the emacs vs. vi people; the Gnome vs. KDE people, and probably, once it's released, the Berlin vs. X people. Just watch; I'm going to say "Gnome Rules" (which I do honestly believe) and I'll bet you a flamewar starts as the reply to this post. It's sad, really, but do you see what I'm getting at?
  • Ain't it obvious guv'nor? UK hackers always wear unfashionable anoraks if and when they venture outdoors into the incessant drizzle. At least in the "popular imagination".

    Regards, Ralph.
  • I actually used to live in Hastert's home town (Yorkville, IL). My girlfreind grew up down the street from him, and she claims that he's the only republican that she can deal with. I've actually considered showing up at his door and educating him on matters of privacy/cryptography, and possibly even getting linux adopted a little more throughout the government.

    On the other hand, he might have me arrested if I do that.
  • > BTW, I don't like Debian, because the last time I checked, they were giving in to the FSF, and calling their Distribution Debian GNU/Linux.

    Quick history check - Debian was created by the GNU project - they funded it's initial development by Ian Murdock. So why shouldn't it have "GNU" in it's name?


    - Jim
  • RedHat are getting enough money to produce a professional site. This current site doesn't do anything for their image. At the time I'm writing this the slashdot article: Is RedHat the next Microsoft is sitting on their front page.
  • As long as a base system of kernel, libs, and utilities is compatible accross distributions, divide all you want.

    Having spent a good chunk of my weekend migrating from MkLinux to LinuxPPC, the issue of constantly changing libraries has been on my mind. I find that one of the biggest hassles of Linux is the amount of time I spend tracking down and building the new version of the library required for some new app. And I only have one GTK app installed!

    I think that that situation is manageable, or even desireable, as long as it's an OS for hackers and tinkerers. I'm sure that as Linux moves into a larger market, the pace is going to have to be slowed down. (See the Red Hat post above - I bet that's how it's going to happen.)

  • Proud loon checking in.

    I'd rather be able to customize my system, instead of having some magical RPM fairy decide where stuff needs to go.

    Oh yeah... and I can install Slackware onto an 80 meg partition. Try that with your Red Hat, monkey boy. :)

    [For those too dense to notice the emoticon, this post expresses the way I feel, but wasn't meant to be inflamatory.]

    Slackware forever.
  • This is rather off topic...

    An anorak is the hooded coat worn by the inuit (native people from the far north of North America). It is basically a jacket that dosen't have a zipper all the way down its front. It might be known as a pullover jacket. Look in a camping goods catelog and you might find one.

  • Our main server here runs Slackware. Has for three years now. It has exactly the software it needs to have. No more. No less.
  • defining the minimal sets of compatability will be hard, but diversity isn't bad in and of itself.

    some people have commented on it (bob young is one), but linux is, and has been for over a year, attracting people from new backgrounds. windows in particular. soon, a lot of mac developers are going to pop up since they'll be learning unix skills anyway for macos x.

    i'm a unix bigot, i can't see much of value coming from the windows world. i can see some good ui stuff coming from mac people, but i dunno much about macos gui access - methinks they're skipping x and doing their own stuff. that's a loss.

    i really don't see anything wrong with a giant redhat, nor do i see anything wrong with more competition in the distribution arena. as long as it's gpl'd and open, we'll be safe. now if some company uses a linux kernel and proprietary code from init on up in a completely nonstandard config... well, then the linux community is in trouble. it'd be a lot of work though.
  • There have, for a long time, been the commands installpkg and removepkg (or is it pkginstall and pkgremove? I can never remember) which do exactly what you might think they do.

    I still think it's funny that when doing an install of a Redhat system, the installer uses --force --nodeps to install everything. Even Redhat doesn't trust their own system.
  • After all, Gore invented Linux.
  • Only movements which are living and vital have such controversy surrounding them. Windows has no such "problems". There is plenty of room for even more contention and flames.
  • > Once the LSB gets finished and accepted, then fragmentation will be fine

    I'd agree here. There has to be a minimal set of standards - such as libraries and directory setup and services. After that, it's a matter of competition. The best applications win.

    That being said, fragmentation does tend to scare off applications developers. Things get dicy when you're trying to test, and I'd hate to see a good application fail just because the developer(s) picked the wrong distribution.

  • Sounds similiar to how the BSDs are dying.
  • Slackware was the first distribution I ever attempted to install, and it wasn't easy, but I did it. After using it for a year, and listening to various people rattle their 'my distribution is the best' sabre, I thought I'd expand my horizons.

    So far, I've tried SuSE, Debian, and Red Hat. I tried each version for about 2 weeks (that's roughly 3-4 hours per day of use) and I found that *none* of them are as configurable as slackware. Sure slackware takes a bit of upgrading when you get it. In the long run though, it does *exactly* what I want it to do.

    Slackware forever.
  • Penguin mints are great, but I've developed a stronger fondness for Black-Black (Happily manufactured by the Lotte company of Japan). It's chock full of caffeine, and I think other wonderful additives, but I can't be sure, because the only words that appear in English on the packaging are "Hi-Technical Excellent Taste And Flavour"...
  • To understand how Linux could become a credible alternative to Windows it is necessary to understand the dynamics behind IT itself. The anoraks are driven by technical novelty and innovation, quickly tiring of technology once its challenges -- making it work -- have been overcome. These people live by the motto: 'If it works it has no value'.

    Um, I don't know about the rest of you, but I use Linux because it works. Because it doesn't crash that often, because it is fast, etc.

    Who exactly is leaving 95/98/NT because they are tired of it working all of the time. sarcasm { Damn, NT has just been up and running for too long. I wish it would crash so I could spend hours on the phone with some stupid tech guy because I can't look at the source myself. }

    Linux just happens to be in the right place at the right time, providing anoraks with the life-sustaining technical novelty they need.

    That is funny, I could have sworn Linux was in the right place at the right time, providing us with the life-sustaining stability, efficiency, and control we need.

    But then again, I could be wrong.

  • Agreed. Butler is just part of Microsoft's FUD machinery - He's always being quoted in Computer Weekly and on Silicon.Com.

    By the way, above you seem to indicate that 'The Butler Group' and Martin Butler are not the one and the same entity - I personally suspect that they are.

    Founder, President, CEO, Teaboy & General Dogsbody
    The Dodger Group
  • It can't be anywhere near as good as the Dodger Unix operating system, more commonly referred to as Dynix. ;)

  • Seems to me that IT industry pundits are a lot like astrologers - make the vaguest possible predictions, and then a year down the line bend what's happened to fit what you predicted and claim to have been right all along. Either that or just state the bleeding obvious.

    "I predict that in a group with a great deal of dedication to the platform, factionalism will arise." Well, duh. Show me any group like that where it doesn't. I think it'd be an improvement for a lot of factions to produce more code and vent less heat, but the old rule applies - competition promotes innovation and improvement.

    If Linus ever did get tired of being in charge of the kernel, I think in the first instance he'd hand it over to someone he trusted. That's what I'd do. And if the worst does happen and the code forks, people will use what suits them best, and changes will probably migrate back and forth.
  • Haven't you heard of QuickCam?

    (Ducking for cover....)
  • Slackware==no disk space
    RedHat==Tons o' space and easy
    SuSE== I dunno, It's still pretty rad
    Debian== Turbo Geeks

    Ever mounted a floppy as a swap partition... that's style!
  • Y'know, you hear all this crap about "code forking" and so forth...These people obviously don't understand the dynamics of the way the Linux kernel work. As long as oversight is centralised (like Linus and AC), then the kernel won't fork. Anyway, Linus owns the copyright to the name, so anything not endorsed by him becomes something else.

    As for incompatibility between versions, the closest we've come is libc5/glibc2 crap. Which is really easy to remedy.

    Different package types? Compile from source! I use RedHat, but I only use rpms for libraries (and, of course, the base install).

    As long as it's still Linux, it'll still be compatible.

  • Yah know...
    The first time I tried to install Linux, I had a choice of Slackware (Unleashed book '96 version) and RedHat 5.0..

    RH would just NOT install right.
    Slackware went in on try 1. Sure, it took a bit more thinking to get it there, but DAMN!

    And besides, there's a certain satisfaction to bucking the trend that's bucking the trend..

    -- Proud member of the intra-Linux counter-culture.
  • President Bush should get together with Hastert and Lott to repeal encryption export restrictions, end government purchases of Windows NT, and fix the Patent office.

    if Gore got his hands on linux, it would become illegal. He'd say that linux discriminates against minorities, since minorities are less likely (according to various polls) to have computers and internet access.
  • I don't care what anyone else does but unless they do what I do they're nuts. Get SuSE 6.0 and upgrade KDE. Just kidding. It's just nice to know that you can just download any package and run it no matter what distro the author is using. Now if only the license is strong enough to resisty the babble of the US court system we can continue to have standards.
  • What is this? Some kind of weird tree-hugger Utopia? People actually writing to standards? Everyone is supposed to do it their own way, right? So they can grab the market share, right? I mean anything else would be un-american, right? Oh, wait there's more to the world than the American Way? What?

    (--regains senses--)

    Oh, sorry, I slept near that new Gates book, it must have tried to poison me....

    The fact is, people want standards, and until people deviated from standards, the WWW was a cool place to play. As long as Linus, Alan, and the Merry Men, keep a standard kernel and lib. the Linux World will just get better and better.

    Silly "technical" writers are so used to the status quo of Big Business today, they can't see the shift that's happening, there's more profit to be made in an Open Source Standards world. IBM, HP and the others will catch on soon.
  • What happens if Linus and AC get fed up the with infighting and petty bickering that has been popping up with increasing regularity? I see two things happening. One, some groups keep a standardized kernel and co-develop it together, but they do this for commercial interests. While they continue to provide their distros for free, and are willing to work with all comers, certain segments denounce them because of their commercial interests. Which brings me to number two. These segments continue with their own distros, some groups work well together, others don't, eventually they end up with kernels that are incompatible, the stronger alliances maintain compatiblity, but no one is compatible with the commercial vendors.

    Now, what have we ended up with? We're right back where commercial unix is today, although for mostly different reasons. I'm probably going to get flamed a bit, but think on this. We wanted Linux to be widely accepted for many reasons, now that this is starting to happen, we are bitching at eachother over (mostly) trivial things. If Linux is going to be everything we want it to be, we need to stop fighting, we need to allow for the commercial interests of companies like RedHat, while maintaining the diversity provided by user based groups such as Debian. If the commercial and non-commercial sides can manage to get over their differences and work together as, Linux will go places we never imagined. If we can't let that happen, Linux is likely to become the next OS/2.
  • aren't penguins great. they are the only way I made it through an exchange deployment.
  • I chose Red Hat because I wanted something somewhat painless to install and I wanted to... but since I can't get all the chicks, I guess I'll have to move to Debian. Can't really comment on the SuSE thing, though. I'm more of a metal/industrial guy myself.

    Come on, people, it's a ZD publication... don't expect too much from it.
  • You forgot to say that RPM's are for sissies! Slackware users tend to be the people who know something about Linux in the smallest amount of time.
    I really can't stand people who "install" Linux and the GNU tools, and have no clue of how it works. New installs of Linux should be hard, and when the new user starts to show they know something, they can use RPM's then. I think this should especially true for X. The harder, the better!
  • ummm, yea....WHATEVER.

    get a clue man. why don't you wander over to and see how GREAT and PROFESSIONAL their site looks....blah

    if you dont like the redhat site, i suggest you
    donate your time and redesign the fucking thing into something more suitable in your mind.

    damn...some people just dont get it at all.
  • President Gore

    Please. Those two words together is enough to make me want to vomit. I don't want to see the chief administration poster boy for Clipper/Skipjack/key escrow president, nor Tipper Gore, the founder of PMRC the first lady.

    I like freedom, and those that are for government spying on citizens and for censorship of music lyrics are no friends of freedom.

    The democrats had better be able to come up with a better candidate than Al Gore. How about Bill Bradley? What is his record on the important issues?

  • We don't use Linux because NT works so well, we use Linux because NT is such shite!
  • Such idiocy presumes that controversy can only be expressed in the language of vulgarity and ad hominum. The fallacy of that position is self-evident.

    What all these flame wars really represent is the fact that Linux and the Internet have superceded the old BBS nets as the forum of choice for the socially illiterate, self-proclaimed mavens of the computer "underground".

    The truly sad result is that flaming is a self-perpetuating phenomenon that seems to engulf even the most civil and intelligent of individuals once they have become the brunt of it. Civil debate and discussion require effort and thought; flames only a keyboard and a command of the cruder elements of language.

    Fortunately, there seem to be relatively few flame-baiting topics in the Linux universe so far. Sadly, these subjects seem to be in the forefront of conversation far too often.

    Freedom of speech is a vital part of the Net. It carries with it the responsibility to use that freedom properly. Express your opinions. Do it forcefully when necessary. But recognize that flaming is not speech but assault. It presents no opinion, but rather attacks those whose opinion differs from yours, and in so doing, spits upon the very freedom that allows it to occurs. It is the ultimate hypocrisy.

  • As it was explained to me several months ago, "Anorak" and "Trainspotter" are Brit synonyms for "nerd" or "geek". Trainspotting is an activity roughly akin to bird-watcing; sitting atound in dreary English weather for hours on end with a book of train engines, watching trains go by and hoping to see a rare engine. Apparently, the activity is common enough to have become a stereotype of a lonely, pathetic person with no social skills and, therefore, nothing better to do. An anorak is a hooded, waterproof cloak, often in bright colors, which might be called a "rain slicker" in parts of the US. Supposedly it's the outerwear of choice for sitting around in cold, drippy weather, and therefore, at least by the stereotype, the most common identifying mark of a trainspotter.
  • So you're a suit Rob? Aren't you running RH 5.2?
  • ,Slackware for loons,

    Hey now, no Slackware bashing! I like Slackware and I'm perfectly normal. Except for those damn pixies flying around the room.

    John Riney
  • Why should he appoint anybody? Since he probably invented Linux anyway(that Torvalds dude just stole his idea), Al himself should take on this responsibility. That'd be great.

    John Riney
  • Not to mention that "when standards first emerge" bit. Linux is as old as Windows 3.0. In what way is this a new emergent standard?


  • Was there a point to that article, really? Maybe I've just not had enough coffee yet this morning, but it seemed like all he said was, "BlahblahblahLinuxblahblahLinux! Look! I'm writing about Linux! Read me, everyone! Blah blahLinux."

    Yeesh. :P

  • I agree with the factions point. I'm a new linux user, grabbed RH 5.2 from work. I'm trying to get GNOME installed too. I don't understand all these little spats about distributions, GNOME vs. KDE, etc. None of it makes sense, and the depth to which some of these go tend to turn people off and make linux users look like a bunch of little kids sitting in mommy and daddy's basement. Just my $0.02.
  • Hmm, I have to disagree...

    The Amiga for instance, doesn't just smell funny, it's dead- an ex-parrot; joined the choir invisibule etc etc..

    However, hop on over to comp.sys.amiga.misc to see how valid your metric is- lots of drongos flaming each other over vaporware :-)

    Yes, I do own several Amigas, but they mostly run linux.. and when we get cross-compilation running on the x86 box, the PPC Amiga will run APUS linux too...

  • Isn't Slackware the official distribution of the Chruch of the Subgenius? [alt.slack]
  • Do your pixies talk to you? Mine say things like, build glibc 2.1, egcs 1.1.2, and various other packages from the source.

    Of course it could be the tin of Penguin Mints a day that I eat.

    -g0 -O99 -fomit-frame-pointer -march=i486
  • But not necessarily for these particular reasons...

    In any case, the crucial test for compatability is: can you run 99.9% of the binaries on different platforms without recompilation/major option tweaking? If you can, then the differences between, say, Red Hat and Debian do not matter. If you need to recompile or do deep options voodoo, then the whole thing will crash around our ears. To succeed prepackaged binaries have to run on *Linux*, not Red Hat Linux version 5.0 or greater with kernel patch v2.........

  • > When they actually produce a working OS they can call it whatever they want, but they shouldn't go around renaming other people's work.

    Hey Now! Debian is one of the better distributions, IMHO, and is one of the only distributions that mantains the same spirit that helped build Linux in the first place. Don't troll what you don't understand.
  • Hmmm....nice and all. Too bad RPM doesn't work. That whole dependency checking loop screws everyone up.

    But rpm doesn't suck nearly as much as Debian's packaging system.

    I like rpm because I can convert it to a tarball with Slackware's rpm2targz utility. Then I can work with it. I don't trust rpm to safely install anything.

  • This kind of article are really bad. Easy express opinion, no proof, no arguments. A single "metaphore" and he thinks he caught the whole subject.

    Comparing Linux History to Unix history is incorrect. Linux really not follow the same development line and the way Linux evolved is really not the same as the way Unix as evolved.

    To be brief, in answer to this article, I should say that achieving compatibility between Linux versions is always possible, as long that the components involved are "open". That's a major differences with Unix where people are bashing each other in law suits (Are there law anoraks? Just kidding.) for stolen ideas. That's the same reason why Linux can't die totally exceipt from holocaust or a MS totalitary mondial government.
    If this happen, you can be sure I will be in the rebellion.

    Just my 2 pennies.
  • Hellllllll yes!
    Damn RIGHT!

    Hotty Toddy Gawsh Almighty
    Who the hell are we?

    Flim flam bim bam
    (with apologies to Colonel Reb.)

    Oh yes and about the magical RPM fairy .. i tried redhat ..what was it .. 4.0 .. well that magical fairy pissed me off just once to many times. RH reminded me of Windows .. scary stuff.

    I'm a loon
  • Heheheh, screw 80mb!
    I have gotten Slackware + X + networking in 40mb of space (and *still* have free space). With 20MB of swap it ran fairly slow on a 386SX-25 laptop w/ 3.5mb of ram and a 60mb hdd... heheheheh
    Smallest install of RedHat was about 50MB in 5.1, without X or networking...

  • I personally think that Slackwares Menu based install is almost as beautiful as my gf. Its easy to use, straight forward, not to mention simple. It doesn't assume jack about you or your system, and doesn't fight you when you try to do things that are off the beaten path like *cough*redhat*cough.

  • hehehehehhe, ever mounted swap across a network? or to a tape drive? *thats* style. Or maybe a tad excessive. Oh well... You have to be a tad crazy to be a true hacker...

  • Personally I think slackware's menu based installation is no harder than any other Linux distributions.
    Whether you consider the lack of a package manager to be a good or bad thing is a matter only you can decide.
    All I know is RPM is still not perfect although it is still a useful utility if you prefer that sort of thing.


  • No Rob is someone who should be careful what he says!!


  • In my world, the 'suits' don't get to decide what we run...they tell me what they want to do, and I tell them how we can do it...and if Linux is the way to do it, then that's how us geeks do it.

    Am I just in some lucky little pocket of non-reality out here??

  • Preach on brother!
    As long as the basics are compatible with each
    distro I dont care how many there are. Ill just use what works best for me.

How many weeks are there in a light year?