Day 2: Keynotes: Working Together: The Linux and Business Communities

Jon Maddog Hall was the moderator of that panel and after introducing the panelists, Nicholas Petreley started asking a few questions to the other panelists.


The first subject Maddog brought up was Mandrake (the distribution based on Red Hat, who unfortunately re-used Mandrake's name (the enlightenment guy who works at VA)).
Nicholas asked Donnie Barnes from Red Hat what he thought about Mandrake basing their distribution on Red Hat, add a few things, and ship it as a separate product. Donnie explained that it wasn't a problem because everyone knows that Mandrake is based on Red Hat, and Red Hat is able to take any improvements that Mandrake makes, and include it in their next release if they wish to.


Some companies like SGI are now trying the open source model and will find out int the process how well it works. Also, it helps to have companies like Adaptec that used to be very badly supported on linux due to the fact that a lot had to be reverse-engineered.
The issue of open source drivers then came, with companies like Creative Labs who consider the source code to the SB Live card as too confidential for other people to see. At this point, one way to make this evolve is for a company like IBM or VA to say "Jee, we'd love to use your card in our machines, but we only work with open source drivers, so we'll have to go to one of your competitors".

One of the known issue is FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt), but on the other side, everything has weaknesses and it's not a good idea to ignore them. There is of course the well known Mindcraft benchmark between linux and NT where NT was several times faster.
While that test benchmark was specifically designed by the hardware and test choices to get NT to win, later, another independent test confirmed that in some configurations (multi CPU, high end machines) and for some tasks, NT is faster than linux. Now, the constructive response is to improve linux so that it gets better in those areas (although some benchmarks are quite artificial and useless, so not too much time should be spent to please those ones)


Dave Sifry from Linuxcare (on the left) answered "what happens if microsoft releases a linux distribution, or office for linux" with "although it's not likely, if they did, linux would end up wining anyway". While microsoft could write something closed source to replace X, people would not necessarily accept it, and the linux community could then have an impressive reverse engineering project :-)

As for the issue of compatibility between the different distributions, this is indeed an issue that the LSB will eventually fix, but the differences are really small things on top of linux itself to make it easier to use. You can always use the core commands which work everywhere.

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