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News and EditorialsRed Hat 7 - is the edge bleeding too much? Red Hat 7 comes with a number of nifty new packages, as described in the new features page. A couple of these, however, are attracting special attention:
In comparison, the recently-released SuSE 7.0 distribution ships gcc-2.95.2 and glibc-2.1.3.
There are a couple of problems with Red Hat's choice of tools here. The first is that they have shipped beta versions of both the compiler and the C library. While Red Hat was obviously confident of the quality of these packages, the fact remains that they have not seen the level of testing that one might like to see for such fundamental components of the system.
The other is that both tools are still in flux. The gcc that Red Hat calls 2.96 (essentially a patched CVS snapshot) produces binaries that are incompatible with those from 2.95 - especially where C++ is involved. These binaries will also be incompatible with gcc-3.0, whenever that comes out. The C library is also still in a development phase, and the possibility of incompatible changes before the 2.2 release is real.
As a result, Red Hat 7 binaries are incompatible with other Linux systems out there - at least in some cases. If glibc-2.2 turns out to contain any other incompatible changes, then distributors will be forced to choose between shipping the stable version of the library or being binary compatible with Red Hat 7.
There have already been flames posted to the effect that Red Hat is using unfair tactics here. The company said to be abusing its market position and its ownership of Cygnus to lock application developers and customers into its own system. These charges almost certainly have no basis in reality, however.
Red Hat has always had a tendency toward shipping very new software. Remember back, for example, to the 5.0 release. It was the first to include glibc2, and was a rather difficult experience for many people who were trying to install it into (previously) working networks. But it also spearheaded the acceptance of a crucial new version of the library.
In this case, Red Hat's reasoning on gcc is perhaps best expressed by this linux-kernel posting by Richard Henderson. Essentially, he says that gcc-2.95 is insufficiently stable and is a dead line of development; it's already binary-incompatible with other gcc releases; and that there's no way to be binary compatible with what gcc-3.0 will be in any case. At least this way they are source-compatible with gcc-3.0. On the library side, they presumably felt sufficiently assured that there would be no more incompatible changes before 2.2 comes out. Red Hat's employment of Ulrich Drepper, the glibc maintainer, probably helped in that regard.
So conspiracy theories are not called for here. Riding the bleeding edge has always been a characteristic of the Red Hat distribution - especially with "dot-zero" releases. The fact that marketing did away with the ".0" doesn't change the nature of Red Hat 7. Perhaps this release should have been delayed until the tools stabilized somewhat, but marketing probably wasn't thrilled with that idea either...
LinuxPlanet reviews SuSE Linux 7.0 Personal/Professional. LinuxPlanet has run this review of SuSE Linux 7.0 both Personal and Professional editions. "SuSE Linux 7.0, the latest offering from the Germany-based SuSE GmbH, comes in two distinct offerings--Personal and Professional, as well as an Upgrade version for current SuSE users. Superficially, there is little difference between the products, not even in price. The SuSE Linux 7.0 Personal costs a mere $39.95, the Upgrade version $49.95, and the Professional version just $69.95, should you choose to pick them up off the shelf. Downloading is available, as with most Linux distributions, but in this instance, I strongly recommend plunking down the cash for this distro." (Thanks to Pieter Hollants)
Mandrake 7.2 Beta2 Review (LinuxLookup). Here's a review of Linux Mandrake 7.2 beta 2 which appears on the LinuxLookup site. "Many of the Mandrake specific configuration tools have been revamped in 7.2. DrakConfig, the front end to the individual configuration tools, has simply undergone cosmetic changes. On the other hand, Mandrake Update seems to have undergone a complete rewrite. The layout is different, and installing developmental updates from Mandrake's Cooker is now supported."
Red Hat Linux 7.0 Review (Duke of URL). The Duke of URL has posted a review of Red Hat Linux 7.0. "New features like a largely-upgraded package system, kernel 2.4, enhanced USB support, and even out-of-the-box 3D support via XFree86 4.0.1 make Red Hat's latest look like a dream come true. Is it a dream come true, or Linux's worst nightmare?"
Caldera's Linux management solution enters open beta. Caldera has announced that its Linux management system, once known as "Cosmos," has entered an open beta test. The utility can be downloaded (in binary form) from Caldera's open beta page. For more information, see the Cosmos FAQ page.
New FAQs from Caldera. After a bit of a pause, Caldera has resumed its practice of sending out a list of new additions to its FAQ. This week's list covers a wide range of topics, from hardware issues to Webmin modules.
Debian news. The Debian Weekly News for October 3 is out. It covers unstable's return to stability, and has an interesting summary of the debian-devel discussion on bug reporting. Debian is suffering a case of "severity inflation," resulting from a perception that only bugs marked as being highly important get attention from the package maintainers.
Kernel Cousin Debian #4 is also out, and covers discussions through September 28.
Tuxtops launches Laptop Debian. Tuxtops has announced the availability of a version of the Debian distribution that has been specially tweaked for laptop systems. It can be had on laptop systems purchased from Tuxtops; it is also available separately.
An Analysis of The Red Hat Network (LinuxToday). The Australian LinuxToday site has put up a look at the Red Hat Network, the first in a two-part series. "The Red Hat Network is a step forward for many users and system administrators. It has the potential to grow into a much larger system which will ease common system administration tasks. It's one of the first business systems I have seen which will truly automate the distribution of software."
SOT opens U.S. office. SOT, the Finnish publisher of Best Linux (claimed to be the top distribution in Finland) has announced the opening of a U.S. office in Minneapolis. The company will also be at the Linux Business Expo in November to introduce its product.
SuSE announces support for new IBM servers. SuSE has been quick to put out an announcement of its support for IBM's new "eServer" line. The announcement covers the full line, from Intel-based systems through the PowerPC models and the mainframe systems.
Section Editor: Liz Coolbaugh
October 5, 2000