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Re: tlug: Gnome virtual desktops

>>>>> "Dennis" == Dennis McMurchy <> writes:

    Dennis> On Tue, 30 Nov 1999, Manuel M. T. Chakravarty wrote:

    >> If your are using Enlightenment, upgrade to E 0.16, but anyway,
    >> E is in _deep_ beta - so, WindowMaker, as Scott suggests, is
    >> much more stable.

    Dennis>   I didn't realize that Enlightenment was even a beta
    Dennis> version.  Why is it installed as the standard manager with
    Dennis> RH6.0 then?  Doesn't seem like a great choice, does it?

Well, as somebody pointed out, "beta" is a state of mind.  What it
means is that the code is in active development, but has worked
in-house and is being released to the general public for testing
without any implication that it is expected to work under any specific 
conditions of volume, temperature, and pressure.

In other words, for practical purposes most open source software is
perpetually beta.  Why does it work so well?  Because enough hackers
have enough variation in VTP that they cover most of the usual cases
and submit patches.  But there's little formal alpha testing (tedious
and costly, although dejagnu helps), and no formal beta testing,
because you can't restrict redistribution.

There's a spectrum (actually multidimensional, but let's not worry
about that) of distributions with respect to the use of beta software.
It has Debian at both ends. ;-)  Debian stable really is stable, but
it's usually (and currently) sufficiently old that it's unusable as a
workstation.  Debian unstable has tomorrow's version today, but I find
that I get a lot of packaging problems (dependencies not satisfied,
Perl bugs---wait a day, and the package will be rereleased, fixed ;-),
and it takes a bit of skill to keep _everything_ running in that
condition (just because the fixed package gets released quickly
doesn't mean something else won't break in the next day's allotment of 
upgrades ;-).

The commercial distributions are somewhere in between.

In particular, Red Hat has a lot of money, and uses it to fund some
level of support for both R&D and patching externally developed stuff
stuff that is too beta to be used raw.  So I think it is a deliberate
strategy there to have a very slick presentation of stuff that isn't
entirely ready for prime time, and in fact only works on the stuff in
Red Hat's labs and in the configuration supplied on the distribution
CD for RHL.  This is good for presentations to "shirts" and "PHBs" who
are going to be impressed by things that look as fancy as Microsoft's

As they get bigger and get more funding I expect they're going to look
more and more like Microsoft, with hardware certification programs and
so on.  This is a good thing, as long as any closed-source stuff they
distribute (eg, ATOK) is vanilla off-the-shelf stuff available in
exactly the same version for any Linux distribution on that hardware.
If they ever start distributing special Red Hat versions of closed
source stuff, find another vendor.  Anything open source is OK, of
course, even if Red Hat gets a marketing advantage from it.  That's
exactly what we want!

If you don't like that, you might want a somewhat more conservative
approach from your distribution.  I suspect that Caldera and SuSE fit
the bill, with Turbolinux perhaps a little more adventurous.

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