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Caldera

Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 review at Salon 90

Robert Rwebangira writes "There is a nice review of Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 over at Salon - read the original review. Bottom line: The easiest Linux to install so far, but there are signs of increasing fragmentation in the Linux distributions. "
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Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 review at Salon

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Um, yeah, most unices are incompatible. How many applications nowadays compile only under linux? I know it's always disappointing for me to download a program and try to compile in on my solaris box to find the source code littered with #include and assuming /dev/cdrom. If I have to make any changes to the source then it's not compatible. Most stuff that shows up on freshmeat isn't compatible.

    Besides, why should I have to compile something just to use it? What if I don't have the right compiler? Source compatibility is the last refuge of unix apologists.

    If you can't use a command as simple as mount, you just plain don't need linux.

    I can think of plenty of situations where I would use linux but not need mount. In any case, the author didn't say that he couldn't use "mount", only that it was cumbersome. Which it is.

    As for binary applications.. erm.. like most other applications, ya, *gasp* type the command and it *gasp* works.

    Unless they are dynamically linked against a library you don't have installed. Or are expecting to find /etc/fsck. Or only expect 8-bit color depth. There are a thousand assumptions a binary application might make that aren't necessarily valid on any given machine.

    I'm sure your holier-than-thou righteousness makes you feel better but that's about all it's good for.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    you can install if you already have ext2 partitions... you just need to select the *advanced* option when it asks you about your disks and then edit the displayed partitions to what they should represent
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have working, miracles of miracles, an actooooal copy of Caldera 2.2, of Comdex heritage.

    It's a morass of mistakes.

    kppp is broken, there's a bugfix/recompile on the users' lists, but no newbie can do it, and besides, there's no source code with the Comdex distro. Cool. Anyway, use the deprecated /dev/cuaX, instead of /dev/ttySX. At least it works. Sometimes. And no, we are not downloading a zillion bytes of KDE 1.1.1.1.1.1 to work around your mistake.

    The install fails to lay down the boot sector, not on the hard disk or a floppy. It took me 2 minutes with a rescue, but it's a mighty steep learning curve for the newbie.

    It's missing a libcrypt.so something or other, so it can't run the newest version of Applix. But hey, that's why the free market will sell us RH.

    Star Office needs a media key, nowhere to be found on that neat plastic CD case. Neither Caldera nor Stardiv say it's their responsibility. OK, so tough, if you can't see your way through to it, I won't try it or buy it. You have our email address, you scanned it at Comdex. Maybe Suse can help us, we have one of those CDs, too.

    All in all, Caldera has failed in the attention-to-detail department. Pity, 1.1 had so few boo-boos. Better luck next time.
  • by whoop ( 194 )
    Ugh, why do accidental backs now delete this text box?

    Ok, here's a little more of the quote from Salon:

    The various Linux distributions continue to morph into distinctly different identities. Does this mean that the Linux market is fulfilling the predictions of open-source skeptics by beginning to fragment into incompatibility, just as Unix did efore it?

    Obviously, since there is multiple distributions, and they all aren't identical (by definition), nothing is compatible, right? And until we have just one distribution, we can never achieve the utopia that is Windows. That is the only reason Linux exists, right?

    Now, to put a distribution in its perspective, one must understand the target audience for it. In OpenLinux 2.2's case, the hard core hacker isn't their target. So there isn't things like rxvt, many console editors, etc. They chose the KDE route and most likely the newer people that try OL will stick with GUI programs for a long time. For optimum performance, you probably don't want to muck with RPMs from other distros, but stick with whatever Caldera puts on their FTP site.

    But, after the play around in COAS and what-not for a bit they may want to learn more about the underlying things. Just realize that without proper studying up on what you're doing, you can cause things to get messed up. In a worse case scenario, you'll have to reinstall, though I'd urge you to first research why what you did wreaked havoc. You can usually find a simpler solution (restore a default config file and re-edit or whatever).

    This is where the beauty of Linux comes in. If you want to dig deep into just about anything, you can. There is no one company saying, "No! You cannot know what all the keys in the registry do (or any undocumented "feature")! Now go back home and use IE!" (not to point any one company out :)). Or when you call a tech support line because a card stopped working, "Have you installed any other software since the card's drivers? Yes. Well, we can't guarantee performance then. Reinstall Windows and see if it works." (Happened to me once, the moral of the story, never install anything.)

    Let's face it. The vast majority of the media doesn't care. It's about entertainment, not news. They want hits, viewers, listeners, etc. So they have to do what they can to win people to their medium. I basically gave up on them when a local TV station's teaser for the news was something like, "10 ways your kids will kill themselves with household items. Tune in tonite for part one of our weeklong special." Shocker headlines is what advances a career, not journalism. Their job isn't to hunt down the story, look into allegations, discover the truth, etc. That's all just folklore of days long ago. Now it's just repeating what a "source" told them and ending there.

    So here we are. This fringe group, coding in dark basements with piles of Fritos, that doesn't behave like Windows, programs aren't identical to Windows, etc. Until we pack up our bags and work to make Windows perfect (like one of them put it), we will never be well represented in the mass media. And they'll keep churning out this drivel that gets 100,000 hits in it's first day on the 'net and think nothing is wrong...
  • by Matrix ( 290 ) on Tuesday May 11, 1999 @11:18AM (#1896995) Homepage
    Every time I hear about the fragmentation of Linux, I start wondering just how hard it would be to partially fix that. I mean, we have the LSB right? But what are we gaining from it? I think the big things than need standardization NOW are file locations and package formats. With Linux seeming to gain popularity, it'd be nice if when you're told to edit "/foo/bar" it's actually there, instead of finding it at "/bar/foo/bar" or something. I realize this is being worked on but what is being DONE?

    Packaging is another problem. For those who don't understand or don't want to use source, we have packages, right? But there are tgz, slp, deb and rpm, which is 3 too many. There needs to be a package format drafted (and it's the LINUX package format, NOT the distribution package format) that addresses the shortcomings of current packagers as well as integrating their good features.

    Of course, with file locations being the same and all, we'll have no problems with packages from one distribution working with another. Commercial distributors need to think about the good of Linux rather than the good of themselves at this point, even if it does mean boxed programs say "Runs on Linux Standard 1.0" instead of "Runs on Distribution X". We'll all benefit.
  • Does this mean that the Linux market is fulfilling the predictions of open-source skeptics by beginning to fragment into incompatibility, just as Unix did before it?

    I've installed both COL 2.2 and RH 6.0, and it seems to me that they're converging, not fragmenting. COL has LIZARD and RH has GNOME, but other than that they are very similar; both use the 2.2.5 kernel, glibc 2.1, XFree86 3.3.3.1, KDE 1.1, etc. RH has maintained their tradition of shipping a pre-patched kernel, but some things will never change, I guess.

    TedC

  • I also chose OL for the price, but now I wonder if I got what I paid for.

    I think you probably did. I have both COL 2.2 and RH 6.0, and the only significant difference is that RH includes GNOME (which is very nice, BTW).

    TedC

  • Is there a page out there anywhere or a howto or a pointer on how to actually compile and install a new kernel, and perhaps get rid of the graphical boot messages?

    To disable the graphical boot messages, edit /etc/lilo.conf and remove the lines "vga=274" and "debug=2", and then run /sbin/lilo. If you want to ditch the graphical login, edit /etc/inittab and change the line "id:5:initdefault:" to "id:3:initdefault:" (be careful not to change anything but the 5 to a 3).

    TedC

  • so we decide to roll out a distro...will it be KDE or Gnome (if any GUI)? :P THERES a quick way to kill a distro, with 176 thousand flames over what to use and what not to use


    "There is no spoon" - Neo, The Matrix
  • If I remember correctly, .slp had options for supporting the other three, and alien can convert the others. This isn't perfect, but it's better.

    Really, any of the package formats get the job done in their given distribution. It would be nice, however, if we had a consistent interface for the packages, some kind of database that we could all agree upon. At the moment there are probably more .rpm's available than anything else, but obviously we could change that if needed, with the tools we have now.

    I'm more interested in seeing window managers and widgets/toolkits supported as themes or resources. The more we can make all the applications on the system look the same (and look like whatever we want) the less people whine about not having a consistent interface. I think we should be able to have a consistent interface that can look like *anything we want it to look like*. :)
  • Foolproof interface? What are you on? Windows has never provided a 'foolproof interface'. That is why many of us are LINUX USERS to begin with.

    Windows still aint no Macintosh. Get over it already.

    The novice user has no motivation to get anywhere near /etc/rc*. The same goes for the rest of the configuration files. You can hose Windows just as easily through regedit. The idea that a cluebie could trash their system by futzing with things they have no understanding of is not something limited to Unix.

    The idea that it is, is infact FUD.
  • The nice happy gui frontend for /etc is the responsibility of the distro. For the rest of us that really shouldn't be so easily intimidated, little cross-unix changes should be so much of a problem.

    If you can't handle going from Irix->SCO->Solaris->Unicos you don't really have any business futzing around with /etc/ or even regedit by yourself either.
  • You misunderstand. The issue is not whether or not the newbie should be futzing with their configuration but rather whether or not they should be or want to be futzing with /etc/foo.

    My rant is not at all a matter of "M$ can't do it so why should we bother".
  • Simply put: system configuration is functionality orthogonal to an end user desktop, period.

    KDE can be used as a tool to deliver an end user interface no more or no less so than curses or libc.

    As long as the tasks can get done easily, it really doesn't matter if the interface is rendered as pixels or ANSI characters.
  • The graphical install is more of a 'first impression thing'. Finding your video card or SCSI card (Be failed at this for me) or NIC is much more important than how pretty the installer is.
  • Any user that's concerned about /etc/X11/XF86Config actually being /etc/XF86Config is more than advanced enough and sentient enough that the deviation should not be a problem.

    Everyone else should just be using Xconfigurator or 'a better xconfigurator'.

    The rest of a Unix should be abstract enough that changes in absolute file paths should be a non-issue. Otherwise it's broken, period.

    Besides, symlinks aren't that evil.

    I like having a (Solaris-ish) /etc/init.d.
  • The most recent examples I've used have been from DOS actually. (specifically the sound blaster pro configurator from Creative Labs, DOS5 circa 1993). The UI is just a means to an end to deliver a certain level of functionality to the user. The fact that a particular UI toolkit renders in ANSI rather than pixels does little to really hinder or help functionality.

    The application still has to be designed sensibly for the task.

    This is no more or less true of Win32 or QT than it is of curses.

    So counter-example away. Claiming that it's not worth starting is just a lame excuse to not support your position.

    The world does not end and begin with Windows or even WIMP systems in general.

    Having started out with AppleDOS and GEM helps makes that more apparent (in my case).
  • Typos abound. No warranties express or implied. :)

    I wonder if Rob will ever implement the ability
    for use non-AC's to edit our posts. :)
  • Easy answer: None.

    No X at all. Make it a server oriented distro.
  • by Hallow ( 2706 ) on Tuesday May 11, 1999 @06:58AM (#1897014) Homepage
    I found Caldera 2.2 to be missing quite a few things. While it's nice that it's geared towards non-techie/non-linux users, it leaves a lot to be desired for someone who is.

    For example, there's no rxvt, no compress, no uncompress, no pine, no jed/joe/jove/pico.

    I guess you're supposed to use vi/emacs/kedit, but frankly vi's no fun and emacs can be slow, and kedit is no good if you're not running X.

    The lack of rxvt in inexcusable, IMHO, because no matter how great kvt is, it just doesn't work with the vga font and there's no way to turn of utmp/wtmp logging, so it's no good for bitchx, and if you have 10 of the darn things open, you have 10 logins.

    Likewise the lack of compress/uncompress. I know it's not used that much anymore, but it's still handy to have in a base install.

    The installation is fairly nice. Since it's geared at desktop users I'm not going to scream to loudly about the fact that there's no non-X based install option. I experienced on hitch with the install, it automagically installs lilo to the MBB instead of the MBR since it comes with Boot Magic. I already had lilo installed, so I had to go back and fdisk /mbr from a boot floppy to get to my miniscule doze partition to install boot magic.

    The startup screen is nifty, minimizing what you see on boot, change anything around, recompile your kernel, and you're bound to get a bunch of big red "FAIL"'s next to events though. The Caldera Open Admin System can be confusing, and the apps are not well integrated. They really need a gnome/kde control panel type interface that unites the apps.

    I have to mention the price point. It's $29.99 at CompUSA, with a $10.00 mail in rebate. The RedHat box sitting next to it on the shelf is $79.99. Which is a newbie, who doesn't know if he'll stick with linux, more likely to pick up? Probably Caldera. Will Caldera help the newbie stick with Linux? Probably not.

    At any rate, I've gone back to my home-burned Linux Mandrake 5.3 (RedHat 5.2 with kde and some updates), with an obscene number of hacks and changes. :)

    Personally, I can't wait for a glibc based slackware.
  • I Agree! 'When' glibc is in Slack I'm goin'
    that way! I just like the stuff. Slackware
    is what I learned on ( and am learning), and
    I find it easier that RH. Call me sick, most
    do, but I keep Slacking.
  • Absolutely. And first on the list? Recent /. source...
  • Ok, I am neither a Linux user or a Windows user (I'm an OS/2 user, primarily). I've tried installing Linux in the past, but it usually winds up being taken off my machine because it's just too much of a headache.

    I have to say that this time, I think Linux will stay on my machine for at least a little while. Caldera OpenLinux has by far been my most pleasant encounter with Linux to date.

    The install process is much, much easier than RH 5.2 -- although it's not without it's problems. I couldn't install OL2.2 on hdc, b/c when I did it wouldn't boot, it couldn't be added to Boot Manager, nothing. I would up having to nuke NT (what a shame) and using that partition on hda as my Linux partition. Then, it worked ok. It took me about a day to figure that out.

    Since then, I've had only a few problems. I haven't been able to get my sound card to work (a Crystal TidalWave 128)... yet... and it took me forever to figure out the trick to getting StarOffice to install. I still haven't figured out how to configure my printer.

    On the other hand, I find the documentation that Caldera provides to be very good. While the user's manual doesn't go into Linux in-depth, it covers some very important things -- including how to configure a kernel, which I was able to do (hey, not a big deal to most of you, but _trust_ me, what a rush). I was able to install it on my laptop, and for the first time I can use a PCMCIA modem on it. And Caldera's web site has a great knowledge base, I'm very impressed.

    I've seen some concerns that people feel Caldera is trying to "dumb down" Linux by making it boot straight to a graphical system. Trust me -- this isn't happening. KDE is an ok desktop (not the Workplace Shell, though!) but it can't do everything. I've already had to delve into the depths of man files and HOWTOs to get everything working.

    What Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 _does_ do, however, is give us newbies a "safe" starting point -- a place that looks familiar to us. We'll make tiny little forays into the horrible world of the blinking command prompt, and if it doesn't work we'll retreat to a good solid game of Freecell or Reversi. When we actually do something right in that horrible place, we'll feel more comfortable with it. Sooner or later, we'll be able to edit configuration files with the best of you.

    Anyway, it's not a perfect distribution, but it's a pretty good one.
  • I installed OpenLinux from the free CD Caldera was passing out at Comdex. It installed easily, and it works great. The problem I did have was when I used COAS to set up my sound card (GUS). COAS let me screw a round with the DMA ports and memory locations until I made the system unbootable. Any way, I reinstalled it and my GUS card worked fine as did Kppp and Word Perfect.

    I think that COAS needs a lot of work to get it right, but it on the right track. Newbies need a distro that lets them install fast and get to work.

    I use Debian at work, and it is very good too!
  • by Yethi ( 8104 ) on Tuesday May 11, 1999 @07:42AM (#1897019)
    I have tried to install OpenLinux 2.2 on my box and I simply quit trying after 3 hours. I have been running Red Hat 5.0/5.1/5.2 and the RH installer always worked without an itch. Here are the problems I encountered: 1) If you try to install on an hard disk that already has ext2 partitions; you are screwed. You will have to use Partition Magic and reallocate all the space to one big primary partition. 2) The Lizard installer detected my vanilla ATAPI Toshiba CD-ROM but when it was time to install the software, I got some message that it didn't find any media to install from. 3) I tried the text-based installer. No Disk Druid to setup the partitions and when I got to configure the mouse, the installer could simply not deal with my Logitech Mouseman. Conclusion, it seems that the folks at Caldera have tested their installer from the perspective of new users that want to install Linux on a drive that shares space with Windows. It seems to work for that configuration. For people that already have some distro of Linux running, I would suggest to stay away from this product. It simply not suitable. Yethi.
  • That's not a bad idea. If slashdot puts together it's own distribution, they could A) make it inexpensive (especially to slashdot readers) and B) let Rob and Hemos use the profits to improve slashdot, and maybe Eat once in a while. :P

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I'm not sure it's necessarily such a good idea to work on a policy of "If Microsoft can't do it, why should Linux?" The developers at Microsoft couldn't code their way out of a wet paper bag. Linux should be able to do better because the development model is superior, the code quality is superior, and the programmers are generally more conscientious. If we're going to let Microsoft set the hurdles, we're going to be crawling on our bellies.

    The novice user has plenty of reasons to modify his/her system configuration, not the least of which are installing new hardware, setting up a dialup ISP account, and adjusting display parameters. The fact of the matter is that a newbie is far more likely to screw things up beyond his ability to repair them under Linux than under Windows when making routine adjustments. By foolproof I don't mean bulletproof; I just mean an interface that any clueless twit can use for reasonably simple tasks. And I don't mean that it should be like Windows or Macintosh. It should be better than either. Substantially.

    Saying that a newbie can more easily get into trouble with Linux than with Windows is no more FUD than saying that a newbie can more easily injure himself with a motorcycle than with a tricycle. It's just the way it is. Linux desperately needs training wheels. As far as I can see, there's nothing wrong with that unless, like Windows and Macintosh, it somehow becomes impossible to remove them.

  • IMHO, politeness is a requirement of genteel society; it is the obligation of a decent person to be polite, not of other people to "earn" it. Obviously, you disagree. This is your loss.

    As it happens, Mr. Leonard did not show me a copy of the review prior to publication. Frankly, I don't have any problem with the review as such. Nothing in it that I can see falls outside the realm of opinions about which honest people can disagree, and it does accurately reflect concerns held by some members of the non-technical user community.

    I am well aware of the serious stability problems Windows has; such was my main motivation to adopt Linux for my personal use. In managing a mixed network of Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and AIX boxes, and a userbase of varying technical skill, it has been my observation that Windows (and secondarily MacOS) pose fewer usability problems for inexperienced users than does Linux+KDE. This is particularly true of routine system configuration. The average non-technical business user doesn't mind rebooting and having to seek technical support for the occasional reinstall as much as they mind a system that makes routine operations difficult.

    It was a terrible review, and I think you are a shill. Clearly you have some kind of axe to grind...

    Baseless personal attacks are always the last resort of the intolerant. If I am a shill, I am a shill for Linux. If I have an axe to grind, it is a thorough hatred for Microsoft and what Microsoft has done to the personal computing industry. Unfortunately, personal integrity forbids me to lie and deny that Linux has some end-user usability problems, or to refuse to acknowledge that Microsoft occasionally does something acceptably well.

    The thick-headed dogmatic insistence that Linux is better in all ways than the competition will get Linux just about as far as the same attitude did for the Amiga and the Macintosh. Nothing can be improved until it is recognized as needing improvement.

  • What Caldera OpenLinux 2.2 _does_ do, however, is give us newbies a "safe" starting point -- a place that looks familiar to us. We'll make tiny little forays into the horrible world of the blinking command prompt, and if it doesn't work we'll retreat to a good solid game of Freecell or Reversi. When we actually do something right in that horrible place, we'll feel more comfortable with it. Sooner or later, we'll be able to edit configuration files with the best of you.

    That's exactly it. Personally, I detest GUIs (to the point of using Lout instead of a word processor), but they really help with the learning curve for inexperienced users. The problem with Windows and MacOS is that they actively prevent even experienced users from getting at the nuts and bolts of the system. After a certain point, the learning curve hits a brick wall. Linux has the opportunity to be the best of both worlds: raw power for the experienced, ease of use for the inexperienced, and a bridge between the two.

    Of course, this is only possible if we can get past the (let's face it) frequently condescending and contemptuous attitude that a lot of techies take towards non-technical types.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Tuesday May 11, 1999 @08:18AM (#1897024)
    My real name is Eric O'Dell; I'm the random software engineer whom Andrew Leonard quotes in his article.

    The sense I got from my conversations with him was that he was overall positive about Linux, the progress it's making, and its prospects for the future. That perhaps doesn't come out very clearly in this review, but he was quite fair and reasonable and willing to learn in email.

    Linux does have some serious shortcomings with respect for the point-and-drool Windows user, and some way to present a foolproof interface to those users will be necessary if we care to capture that market -- and I realize that not all of us do. There are legitimate concerns about fragmentation and incompatibility; the fact that they will probably be resolved in the near-term future doesn't constitute any kind of guarantee. These are things that I worry about, and I'm pretty confident about Linux.

    The thing that most struck me about Andrew Leonard was that he seemed reasonable, friendly, and open-minded. I'd say he's probably a good journalist for us to approach -- politely, mind you -- to discuss our opinions about Linux and Open Source. Just bear in mind that the absence of a glowing review is not necessarily a slam, and that criticisms don't necessarily constitute FUD.

  • Never mind, for now, the always controversial issue of whether Caldera and KDE qualify as truly "free" software by the stringent standards of Richard Stallman and his cohorts

    I don't know about everyone else, but software being free isn't as important to me as software that does what it's supposed to do reliably.

  • With Linux seeming to gain popularity, it'd be nice if when you're told to edit "/foo/bar" it's actually there, instead of finding it at "/bar/foo/bar" or something. I realize this is being worked on but what is being DONE?
    Check out the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard at http://www.pathname.com/fhs/. Quite a while around, but it doesn't look like anybody cares...

    belbo

  • You have a good point when you say The problem, says O'Dell, is that there is a "strong tendency for configuration files to become hopelessly corrupted" if users try to use both GUI tools and command-line direct intervention at the same time.

    Tools such as linuxconf always have a "shaky" feel to them. Furthermore, other solutions to this problem (AIX, NextStep, Windows) always seem to involve a binary configuration database.

    I don't know if any real work is being done in this department, but GUI's such as KDE are always going to be pure eye candy if you can't do any system configuation there.

    --
  • Simply put: system configuration is functionality orthogonal to an end user desktop, period.

    There are so many counter-examples that it's probably not worth even starting. Anyway, the world does not begin and end with standard unix.
    --

  • Actually I think I misunderstood you and we are actually in agreement. (orthogonal does not equal incompatible).

    My original point wasn't that it was difficult with a GUI system (it shouldn't be), just that it's difficult with the stew of text config files in regular unix.)
    --
  • How many unintelligible requests for help are going to be flooding in when Ciruit City starts selling Dell and Compaq Linux boxes? This will be the true test of the Linux communities resolve as the next generation Linux owner may not be capable of installing their own OS. The door to the real world and its vast hordes is fast opening and if Linux wants the lions share of the market they have to be ready to handle absolute morons.
  • While in a general sense I like the distro, it is definalty not the one for me. I can't wait to get Redhat 6.0 So i can use both KDE and Gnome on a distro that I am somewhat familar with.
  • by Zico ( 14255 )

    Just bear in mind that the absence of a glowing review is not necessarily a slam, and that criticisms don't necessarily constitute FUD.

    Welcome! I can tell that you're new to Slashdot. :)

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • fritos and swedish fish candies, those are my mucking (I don't call what I do hacking) foods of choice.
  • Lizard, the new install tool by Caldera is nice for a new user just getting started, but if you don't have a supported video card it can be a pain in the a$&. Though COAS is nice, I was able to compile ide-scsi on the fly and burn a cd no problem.
  • Caldera has said that once everything set with LIZARD they will be releasing the code, so if it becomes an exceptional loader we may see it in all Linux distro. As far as GNOME goes Its a bugger to install under COL 2.2, with RH 6.0 it replaces FVWM95 as the default winmanager which I found quite nice. Hopefully COL will start having it as an option instead of KDE.
  • that /. should roll it's own distro. Think about what would come from that. We have freshmeat serving up some great file, some good programmers and a ton of hardware hackers on here. I think we could take the lead in the LiNUX distro race.
    "Windows 98 Second Edition works and players better than ever." -Microsoft's Home page on Win98SE.
  • You sound like the kind of person who doesn't mind running XF86Setup after installation, if the installation does everything else correctly. Although debian is not like that (it hardly does EVERYTHING correctly), my feeling is that it is the most consistent distribution out there. I have been running it since v 1.3 (though I had it installed for me) and only Debian installs packages correctly, as well as deletes them correctly. Thus there is relatively less pain if you screw up an important package like libc6 and don't want to reinstall every single thing that uses it.

    P.S. for all you flamers: Yes, I have used redhat 5.0 5.1 5.2 and 6.0. I also tried Caldera on a friend's computer. Never seen Slackware though and hope never to go into that realm. 8)
  • http://www.salon.com/contact/letters/

    aleonard@salon.com
  • Hmmm... I had a different experience altogether. I have had Red Hat 5.0 installed on my computer in the past, but had so many problems getting X up and running that I nuked that partition. This was totally different. Everything autodetected fine and it partitioned my hard disk. Installation was quick and painless. My serial mouse didn't work (and never worked under RH 5.0 for some reason), but switching to the PS/2 connection worked fine. Booted into Linux, then X, then KDE, logged in and there it was. Damn slick.

    Problems: I don't see what that Bootmagic program gets you that LILO doesn't except for the nice graphic interface, but you have to wait for the damn thing to load, so its not that great of a trade off.
    The documentation on how to modify all the things it automatically installs (the 'hide the boot process' program, etc...) seems non existant. Now I want to modify those things (I like to watch my boot messages!) and am not sure where to start.... ah well, first steps into a larger world and all that..
  • When I wanted to install linux on a friends laptop I decided, I'd go buy the new Redhat disks (I'm a long-time redhat fan). The store I went to only had the 5.2 disks and the Caldera set, so I thought I'd experiment. Well, despite all my efforts, I couldn't get Caldera to work on my friends Thinkpad 560 (needs pcmcia cdrom support.) Eventually I just used my old Redhat disks whihc worked fine. Still in the mood for experimentation I installed Caldera on an old PII I had at home. Here the install went fine, though it seems that if you want to over-install another linux distribution, you need to use their tools (it wasn't happy just writing onto my previous partitions - I had to start their default install, back out of it after it had made the boot sector, then repartion the disk.)

    The fact that there are only 4 install options (basically all or nothing) is annoying, as is the fact that it defaults to starting every imaginable service.

    There appear to be some problems with adding users through the install GUI, though adding them by hand seemed to go just fine. I haven't done much more playing than that - all in all it seems like a step in the right direction for a mass-appeal linux distribution, but could still be alot better. The lack of support for that Thinkpad was pretty annoying as well.
  • Off on a tangent a bit, I've been looking for a general guide to what the various configuration files are -- i.e., where they are located, what they do, what sorts of programs rely on them. While I have been able to dig this kind of information out of particular man pages, HOWTOs, etc., on a need-to-know-x basis, I'm trying to get a whole-picture, right-brain understanding of my system, and it would seem there has to be a better way. Can anyone suggest something?
  • I just want to make clear that I'm not questioning Mr Leonard's jounalistic ability; his articles on Linux, and geeky things in general, have been suprerb. But in comparison, this one stinks. It begins as a review of a new product, but halfway through the article it becomes apparent that it is really an article on Linux fragmentation, and a poor one at that. I'm not claiming that current GUI configuration tools are good (personally I despise Linuxconf and have had problems with Gnome), but they are better now than when they were nonexistant before. It really isn't an appropriate topic to focus concerns over fragmentation. I'd have no problem with the article if it wasn't attatched to a product review, and if brought attention to more important concerns, such as filesystem layout, library versions, init scripts, etc.
  • Andrew Leonard's columns are usually pretty good, but this review is borderline FUD. It follows the standard format: loads on the praise to establish warmth and credibility, and then slams Linux with a heavily biased report of negative issues. The issue here is fragmentation and incompatibility. Yet the examples he gives have no specific relevance to Caldera OpenLinux. They are not even specific to different distributions. The entire second half of the review makes the point that KDE and other GUI systems don't work well with each other, or when users tweak config files by hand. But nowhere does he say that he tried an alternate GUI on Caldera or edited a config file directly. This is not a fragmentation issue, because this area is already heavily fragmented, and always has been, because Unix simply does not have a standard configuration format or API, which makes this an application issue, not a distribution issue. What he fails to mention is that GUI configuration standards are actually converging as GNOME and KDE become the standard Linux GUI environments. His agrument is very shallow when you realize things are getting better, not worse. The real fragmentation problems, such as startup script differences and file locations, are mentioned in a single sentence with no examples.
  • I've found Caldera 2.2 to be exceptionally complete and stable. I've installed it now a couple of dozen times on four different kinds of machines, and have had only minor problems - its DHDPCD even works correctly out-of-the box with RoadRunner, although oddly, the OS complains it uses outdated calls. (Can't help on PPP - who uses that anymore, anyway? :-)) My 7-year-old daughter, who is not computer-savvy (real literacy first, "computer literacy" later), has installed 2.2 twice now on her own. She probably couldn't do that with Windows98, so we've cleared the ease-of-install hurdle.

    StarOffice is a commercial product, so Caldera doesn't give away licenses to it. If you have a real copy of 2.2, the StarOffice key is on a label inside the cover of the Getting Started Guide. And you'll get another CD full of source with the real thing, too, so those are both invalid criticisms.

    Caldera does make some assumptions that may be questionable, but they are not completely unreasonable. The biggest problems I see are:

    1) You do need to select Custom Partitions/Expert or whatever it is if you already have Linux partitions on the disk. The Use Prepared Partitions option does not work well. There is also no option to do a full surface scan before the install, something I needed on one of my disks.

    2) As you mention, if you boot off of the CD, rather than launch the install from windows, Lizard does not properly set up LILO, so on your next boot, it'll get as far as printing "LI" to the screen before hanging. This is not a problem if you use the included BootMagic thing, which I personally think is a pain, but I understand why it's there. This is a real problem if you're trying to build a pure Linux box, since you won't have a Windows partition to launch BootMagic from. If you do use LILO (created either by hand or with LISA), you don't get the graphical boot screens, which is either good or bad depending on your perspective. This whole issue needs some work - it's definitely the most botched area of this distro.

    4) Lizard completes all it's hardware checking at install time, and provides no way to re-run/reconfigure at a later time. This makes it quite difficult to get everything working on a laptop that does not have a CD, since you have to install the image on another computer and then transplant the disk. If you do the install on a desktop computer, you'll be missing PCMCIA and other stuff you'll care about and have to add the missing packages by hand. This is admittedly a corner case for any install program, but it would be nice if it worked.

    4) Really a KDE problem: Many of the KDE config screens, including the KDE wizard, are not usable from a 640x480 screen (buttons below the edge of the screen, etc.) This is just boneheaded design! While it's not necessary to force everyone into a "6x4" window for config, everything *should* work with no problems from a plain old VGA display. This makes KDE fairly useless on the Libretto unless you use a virtual desktop, which you should never *have* to use.

    5) (Not really a Caldera problem.) I have not yet got sound working ever, under any Linux, so I guess it's no worse than all the other distros, but I had hoped for better this time around. I have come to believe that sound with Linux is impossible... :-) It is frustrating - I've spent probably 25 hours futzing with sound under Caldera 1.1, 1.2, 2.2, and RedHat 5.0 and 5.2 with three different hardware audio configs (Toshiba Libretto 50J, Dell Latitude CPi, FIC Sahara Databook). I'm still about 0 for 20, despite numerous helpful messages from slashdot users saying I must be a clueless newbie or a complete idiot, since eveything works fine for them. Oh, well - someday I'll be able to listen to MP3s on Linux - I think. If anyone has audio working under Caldera 2.2 with the above hardware, I'd love to hear about it.
  • I think I am the only person around who sees fragmentation as a Good Thing. My Linux needs on my little home box are not my same needs at work. I like the idea of having different Lini (?) for different needs. e.g. My notebook has a 180 meg hd, 8 meg ram, and runs at 50 mghz and doesn't have a CD. Slackware installs and runs great on it. My desktop computer gets whatever I feel like. Usaully run Debian, but I have just installed Caldera 2.2 to see what it was like. I would hate to try installing Caldera on my notebook. I guess I've rambled way too much about this to go into the other posivitve aspects of fragmentation...

    regards,

    Tim
  • >it wasn't happy just writing onto my
    previous partitions

    I've read this quite a few times. It worked just fine for me. But I think I'm alone. On the other hand, I fought with my printer, but others with the same printer had no problems. (Or so they say.)

    >The fact that there are only 4 install options

    I found this unforgivable. If you choose the minimum install, which I normally do, they don't provide a decent GUI tool for adding additional packages (which sort of defeats the "user-friendly" thing they promote.)

    >There appear to be some problems with adding users through the install GUI

    The initial install GUI adduser is broken, but once running the GUI tool works fine.

    Overall I really liked Caldera 2.2, but it does have some really ugly problems, or if you prefer, lots of room for improvement.

    I think the biggest problem is ignored--they aren't quite sure who there target audience is. On one hand, they seem to be going for the Windows 9X home user, but on the other, they are going for the big corperate clients. The result is an odd mixture of good and bad, and which is which, depends on who you are.

    Regards,

    Tim


  • I got Linux up and running in no time flat---I was able to putz around and run different applications, I was able to get ethernet configured (work LAN)----It just works in this corporate environment. And ya know what?

    Thats what Caldera is after. With this---they might get it.



    All I needed was a working distro so I could work backwards and figure out how everything works. Now I'm learning to edit my own files---seeing how they work before being changed: It's all good.


    Next stop --- Solaris. Thats where the money is, and this is a good tutorial for me.
  • The work I've been able to do on OL has greatly improved my Linux Experience with Mandrake at home. I'm building a box, and it will have a Linux distro (hmmmmmmm...which) running Sol X86 and Win95 in vmware....
  • There's no itch. There just isn't a horde of Linux newbies crying out for the fool_proof GUI interface to Linux. So the software hasn't been created, uhhh, made fool_proof.

    When JoeSixPack and family see their neighbors and friends having a superior/appealing/amazing computing experience thanks to Linux, then they'll want it. Then they'll need that fool_proof GUI.
  • Hey, Slackware is my favorite dist!

    Ok, I actually LIKE the command line prompt.
    At home I have a quad boot of Windows95, NT, Redhat, and Slackware.
    95 is for all those stupid apps that I need to use (for now!).
    NT is specific for work related things that I do.
    RedHat 5.2 (need to upgrade to 6.0) is for my school. Since I am doing a project for school and want to stay "compatible" with their system.

    And I have Slackware for everything else.
    It's my prefered OS/Dist.

    So those who don't like to hunt and peck. I suggest Slackware!!!!

  • Just for the record... PartitionMagic does not give you both the option to partition AND to delete a partition at the same time. When PM crashed, it thought that the process was complete. So when I booted up Windows again, I DID NOT have the option to re-do the partition. My only option was to delete the partition. I tried that, and since the process was never really completed, it said I had no Linux partition to delete. So I was in a catch-22. My point was that if I hadn't been familiar with fdisk and paritions, I would have been stuck at this point.

    You're right, I might very well have been complaining if I had not been able to handle a more difficult install process, but that is not relevant. I realize that user-friendliness and user-control both have their ups and downs... I only wanted to give my impression as a new user.

    --"A man's Palm is his best friend."
  • I am new to Linux but very experienced with Windoze (which I quickly discovered means nothing). I am a programmer, but all of my prior programming experience is for Windoze. While my experience hasn't been that helpful in the Linux setting, at least I am familiar with computers, scripts, etc. in general and can apply this to Linux. If I didn't have this experience, I would REALLY be screwed. Anyway, I bought OL 2.2 because I was afraid that being a Linux newbie, I would have difficulty getting anything else to run without a great deal of pain. My idea was that I would get OL installed and use it to learn the basics of Linux, and then move on to another distro. Well, I've had it installed for a week, and I am wishing that perhaps I had chosen something like RH 6.

    For starters, Partition Magic crashed halfway through, so when I tried to use LIZARD to install, it said I had no prepared Linux partition. Luckily I am familiar with fdisk and I fixed the problem. Other than that, the installation went without a hitch, except the fact that I put in an incorrect parameter for my video card and had to run XF86Setup to fix it.

    After some difficulty, I also got PPP set up, with no thanks to Caldera support. It's obvious that I just need to go through the HOWTO's'; they're much more informative, though they can be technical for a newbie.

    My biggest complaint is that while the "totally graphical" interface is nice for a newbie, if everything doesn't automatically configure during installation (like my modem, printer, and sound card), you really need to dispense with the graphical stuff and get into the guts of the system. I wish I got to see my boot messages on boot instead of using dmesg afterwards. I have asked Caldera 3 times as to what some of the items in their graphical boot sequence represent, but have not yet gotten a response.

    So, that's a newbies impression of OL 2.2. I will probably use a different distro next time, because I feel I will have more control over the install process and the system configuration. Plus, many of the references I have purchased use RH as an example, and some of the info is distro-specific. I also chose OL for the price, but now I wonder if I got what I paid for.

    --"A man's Palm is his best friend."
  • I have had the pleasure of installing OpenLinux 2.2 on a customer;s computer (I work at a computer book store in Edmonton, Canada), and I found the installation process to be extremely slick. I was very impressed by the fact that it ran through the cofiguration scripts while Linux was installing, rather than wating until the end, and that it "entertained" the instalee with tetris for the rest of the install. I thought that was very thoughtful.

    Unfortunately, they were thoughless enought to leave a severe security hole in it.

    This was posted to bugtraq last week:


    I believe I've found a bug in the installation process of OpenLinux 2.2
    when using the LISA boot disk. During the installation a temporary passwd
    file is put on the new file system containing the user "help" set uid=0
    gid=0 and no password. Once you are prompted to set the root password and
    default user password a new passwd and shadow file is created yet the help
    user is left in the shadow file with, you guessed it, no password... Here
    are the offending entries:

    /etc/passwd
    help:x:0:0:install help user:/:/bin/bash

    /etc/shadow
    help::10709:0:365:7:7::

    Anyone who installed OpenLinux 2.2 using the LISA boot disk should check
    their password file now ;-)



    (Andrew McRory)

    Other than that gross oversight, it's a great product and is a huge step forward in bringing Linux to the masses.

Those who can, do; those who can't, simulate.

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