Re: Linux support denial in commercial products?

Dominic Binks (
Mon, 19 Aug 1996 10:20:16 +0100 (BST)

On Fri, 16 Aug 1996, System Manager wrote:

> Alan Cox wrote:
> >
> > > To my surprise I've found that many commercial apps developers refuse to
> > > develop Linux versions of their products. Who and why? Here's the list
> > > I've built so far:
> >
> > Mostly because they work on the simple basis that
> >
> > estimated cost - estimated profit < threshold
> >
> > > ------> Netscape
> > >
> > > -Thay also had suported Linux since the start. One of their main
> > > arguments to beat Explorer is that they are multiplatform. Linux is not
> > > supported in their last version.
> >
> > Netscape 3.0beta has Linux support. Unlike the older stuff you'll notice
> > they now list it on their web pages too.
> Yes, but in the unsupported section. That doesn't make us any good.
> Take for instance that you build an Intranet server for a company. They
> want to purchase the Linux Netscape Browser so that it doesn't expire.


This version doesn't expire. It only has 40 bit security, but then
for international applications that's the best you'll get anyway. In
addition Caldera sell a supported version.

> How do explain that they don't support it? We WANT them to support
> Linux. We want them to sell a Linux version. We want them to recognise
> Linux as a first-class OS. We have many arguments: security updates,
> Posix compliance, multi-platform OS, thousands of Internet servers using
> it... do I need to convince you ;)

Posix compliance? I know of only one variant that is actually Posix
compliant nearly all Linux are close to Posix. The only
multi-platform support that is relatively stable current is Alpha,
although Sparc is clearly moving quickly towards stable. Linux also
has a problem with far too many configurations to be realistically
supportable. For example Slackware is mostly BSDish is file system
layout, particular /etc. Caldera is SVR4 layout. This makes support
a nightmare. The best outlook for Linux is Caldera's Open Linux which
will place Linux in the same frame as other Unix systems. It will be
Unix but just much cheaper.

> > > Not to mention products like Oracle and Informix that would be nice to
> > > have at least the opportunity to choose.
> >
> > Oracle 7 runs with iBCS2. Search for "Oracle Linux" for instructions on
> > this.
> Not the last version.
> And what about iBCS2 documentation? It isn't too encouraging... it says
> it isn't a supported product, that it only runs a small amount of
> programs... The only programm more or less guaranteed to run is WP.
> And even if you manage to run apps on it, wouldn't you prefer to
> purchase a Linux version? Sure it would behave MUCH better than iBCS2.
> And you would feel much more confident. Would you invest your money in
> Oracle for SCO to see if you get it running in a Linux box? I wouldn't.
> But I would buy a Linux version.
> I could convince lots of people to try their commercial apps if they
> could use the same commercial DBs that they have for the other OS.
> Asking to port to another OS and another DB is more difficult.

Yes, but this is the nub. No big DB company is going to port to a
platform that it does not believe will bring it any revenue. Linux is
perceived like that. No company using DBs is likely to port to
another DB uneecessarily and that's the status quo. What is more
likely to put the proverbial cat among the pigeons is a good Office
suite that is compatible with MS Office and UNIX equivalents,
multiplatform and requires modest resources on Linux, in comparison to
Windows systems. If in addition the solution proved to be relatively
cheap there would be a good argument for putting in our office. We
use Linux, Solaris, SunOS, Win95 and HP-UX. Currently we use Word 6/7
for our internal documentation needs and Frame Maker for some external

> And those
> big guys using Linux would take us to the top level apps land... Imagine
> Linux monitoring a Nuclear Plant... but you need to get into first and
> it would be too hard if you can't even run "plain office apps".

Personally I rather never imagine any computer monitoring a Nuclear
plant as the risks are simply too high. Unfortunately as its a
reality I have to face but not without significant concerns.

> > Better still see and pick one
> > of the many vendors (some like Empress quite big names) of databases who
> > do support Linux.
> Ok. I have had a look at all of them and I have been testing some too.
> They look all right. But I'd like to find them ALL... You can find the
> listed databases for other OS too, right? We have less DBs to choose
> being a BETTER OS. Doesn'it it sound contradictory?

By what qualification is Linux BETTER. It is cheaper certainly. It
is pretty stable on the surface and is a good toy.

> > > If we want Linux to become an even better alternative to commercial OS
> > > we need to be able to compete also in commercial apps land. How can we
> > > pretend to build business applications if we can't run commercial
> > > databases? Possible but more difficult.
> >
> > You can go out now and buy complete office suites (Applix, WordPerfect,..)
> > Databases (Empress, Flagship, RDB, SOLID, VBASE). Support the people who
> > are supporting you. There is some very very fine Linux product out there
> > it just doesn't happen to be labelled "Oracle Inc", and on the whole its
> > cheaper and better supported.
> Fine. They support Linux as well as other OS. Why do most of them
> support SCO, Solaris, UnixWare?

Because they have to make money. That's how people are employed.

> I don't want a Solaris to run Oracle. I
> want Oracle on Linux. I want Informix and I want to run more apps than
> Sun. I'd like to see the Netscape Server. I don't want to get posts from
> those development teams explaning that they don't support Linux because
> it dosen't have a threads package, or that transaction atomicity cannot
> be guaranteed... No more excuses. Let's not be blind and say "Ok, we
> have cheaper and better supported ones". They must not be that bad when
> they hold a so large market share. We have an opportunity to get into
> that market ONLY if they support Linux. Otherwise we'll have to fight in
> the low-end servers segment. Don't tell me that Alphas, AP-1000,
> UltrSparc and those beasts are not suitable to run a bank information
> system. We want to reach there too. Or are we going to stop now and say
> "we're better but only we know". EVERYBODY must know we are better. I
> only propose another argument to make us EVEN better.
> After all the effort that's being done, why not be ambitious?
> Pau

I respect you ambitions. First though you have to realise some
*facts* of the industry.

1. There is snobbery in the IT business. Companies like to pay vast
sums of money when they build a product for business purposes.

2. There is real concerns over free software and support. Many
companies are attracted to the idea of free software but if it affects
their core business due to lack of support they will not choose it -
they cannot afford.

3. There is a prejudice over Linux. People do not like being told
they could get better for less so they use perceived differences are
bargaining chips.

4. Linux zealots do not add to the cause. Linux zealots get the backs
of companies up who may have considered Linux but have decided not to
procede for any number of reasons.

Dominic Binks
Aethos Communication Systems Ltd. | 220 Park Avenue | Bristol | BS8 1SB
Telephone: +44 1454 614455 Fax: +44 1454 620527
"Meditation, 2. _spec_ (in religious use): That kind of private devotional
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