Interoperability problems

Story: Comment of the DayTotal Replies: 7
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Oct 04, 2005
8:58 AM EDT

Even alcoholic beverages suffer from interoperability problems.


Beer, then whiskey's kinda risky. Whiskey, then beer? Never fear.

Not sure why Dell would even care about how many hole-in-the-wall distros there are, though, since there only only 2 that a company like Dell would ever consider for desktop use:

RHEL Desktop and Novell Desktop (or whatever its called).

Edit: Errm... or Mandrake, which is what they are actually using on their notebooks sold in France.


Oct 05, 2005
1:17 AM EDT
Quoting: Remember:

Beer, then whiskey's kinda risky. Whiskey, then beer? Never fear.

You know, in situations where this snippet of wisdom has been a factor for consideration, I never can remember it to apply it. Odd how that happens.

Lately I've given up Whiskey though -- makes the hands sore.

Usually I wake up the next day with other people's footprints on my hands, and I think "Maybe I should stick to water with lemon juice if this is going to be the result."

I think the whole "There's too many distros" thing could be categorized in several ways:

1) We want Linux to be like Windows! (ugh)

2) "We want to be able to Kill Linux like we've done with other companies" (This is the Dell executing Microsoft strategy) theory. Presently, the staggering number of alternatives has to frighten the piss out of them...

3) We want to be able to marginalize other companies products, and we can't if the marketplace is confused like this: A: "What's your WalMart PC running?" B: "Linspire" A: "I'm running something completely different, called RedHat on my Dell PC." C: (jumping in) I have something called Ubuntu loaded here. And so on -- if everyone is running Microsoft Windows, this problem goes away. I know it looks like "1" above, but in reality, it's a different motivation.

4) They are concerned about interoperability with other Linuxes. *chortle* (forgive me, I had to put that in there, I hope you're laughing as hard as I am by now).

I'll stop there. --FeriCyde


Oct 05, 2005
11:38 AM EDT
Paul --

You're too harsh.

"Too many" is hard to wrap your arms around, to be sure, but there are at least 150 or so Linux distributions out in the wild.

That sounds like, if not "too many", then certainly more than anybody needs.

Of course, everybody is free to do their own thing, but, gosh, every now and then some of those things might blend together into one or two REALLY NIFTY things.


Oct 05, 2005
12:00 PM EDT
Quoting: Of course, everybody is free to do their own thing, but, gosh, every now and then some of those things might blend together into one or two REALLY NIFTY things.

Agreed on the first part -- except that I think that the whole software distro eco-system isn't hurting a thing. So there's some confusion -- beats the alternative.

As to the blending together -- it happens every time RedHat and Novell release a new stable version of their product. Before you begin to flame me on my choice of the top two, bear in mind that I'm viewing Linux (for the purpose of this subject and talkback) with very corporate colored glasses. That's Dells' context, and if they want to whine so much, they should just stick to marketing one or two products. That's their true choice.

You and I both know, the whole mess-o-distros thing isn't going anywhere soon. I've been watching (and listening to this same, droll, stupid argument) for over 5 years now. Has Linux adoption truly been harmed by so much choice? I sincerely doubt it -- but that my trac'd friend, is just my not so humble opinion breaking through.

Oct 05, 2005
12:52 PM EDT
Paulie -

I don't think Linux has been harmed by the presence of 3,258,692 distros, but I can't swear that it hasn't.

That's because I can't swear that the people putting out Bob's Own Linux or Linux for Tabby Cats don't have a really wonderful idea or two that might help everybody and provide more whiz bang goodness than Yet Another Linux Distribution.

Oct 05, 2005
1:51 PM EDT

Sorry about your hands. Hope they get better soon. ;-)

The thing is, it makes little sense to talk about whether there are "too many" Linux distros or not, without framing the question appropriately.

Too many for whom? Too many for the benefit of the users? Too many for the benefit of the individual distro creators? And are we talking about the creators of small distros? Or large? Are there too many Linuxes for Dell Computer to support them all? Or the ISV's? Large ISVs or small ISVs?

My personal feeling is that, restricting my scope to what's good for Linux adoption in general, there *are* a few too many distros. Though I don't think that really hurts us that much. And its always easy to turn a "duplicated effort" argument into a "competition is good" argument. So I won't go there.

What hurts adoption more is the public perception (and perception by vendors like Dell) that there are over 100 twisty little Linux distros, all different, when the fact of the matter is that there are only a few that they need to worry about.

When it comes to 3rd party support, the 3rd parties need to understand that they really only need to certify against RHEL and Novell's enterprise versions. (And maybe a version of the LSB, if you're one to believe in that sort of thing.) I choose these because they are the only targets that a top heavy company like Dell could really keep up with. (Debian is slow moving enough, but the lack of an "Inc." at the end of its name kinda disqualifies it from the perspective of a systems distributor like Dell.)

The rest of the distros just have to shuffle to make sure their users can use the software, even if the vendor supplied install script can't find "/usr/bin/foo" and bails.

Oct 05, 2005
2:52 PM EDT
Steve: Your post makes an excellent point. Understanding requires contexts.

Linux has the benefit of providing raw material for people to do many things with it. It works for studying information technology, information systems, hardware, and it has commercial uses.

The commercial extensions have helped bring drivers and innovative technologies to every Linux user if they want it. The other uses have helped people understand and learn technology and create exciting things.

It just don't think Visual Basic for applications can fulfill those requirements.


Oct 06, 2005
6:38 AM EDT
The "too many distros" argument has a component nobody has mentioned so far: Windows-culture-based ignorace.

A lot of the distros are not general purpose: Phlak or Whax are "live CD" distros for penetration testing. Thing's like SuperRescue, tomsrtbt, etc are "live CD" rescue distros. Fedora: general desktop, SuSE has a destop and a server if I remember, DeLi: elderly machines, all those "router on a floppy" or "router on a CD" distros: make unhackable routers. Trinux: security/hacking.

Windows culture HAS NOTHING LIKE THIS. At best you have this semi-precious beast on your PC that mostly works, or at least you're used to its quirks. Your settings are scattered over so many registry entries and files that if you put on the WIndows equivalent of a new distro, you loose something every single time. A few wizards or gurus have an OEM disk they can reinstall from scratch from, everyone else has the Sekrit Rekovery Partition.

The whole concept of a "distro" HAS NO WINDOWS EQUIVALENT. All these complainers don't understand. And most of them don't want to understand.

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