Issue #13 November 2005

Ask Shadowman

Dearest readers,

Has it already been a year since Shadowman got roped into this Red Hat Magazine gig? Time sure does fly. Somehow it seems like longer.

A lot longer.

If this last year has proven anything, it's that time waits for no Shadowman. In this contemplative spirit, it seems like a good time to dig back into the vaults for Shadowman's golden oldies. Back to those carefree times when Shadowman was barely more than Shadowboy, and Red Hat was young. Back to when GNOME and KDE could both fit on the same CD. Yes, Shadowman needs perspective from those heady days of 1995.

Join Shadowman on this very special journey to a simpler time.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.

Atpay Olkerdingvay asked:

Give me one good reason why I should install Red Hat instead of Slackware on my next system.

To which Shadowman replies:

Although there are many good reasons to try Red Hat Linux, Atpay -- 100% ELF binaries, GLINT, PCMCIA support -- you asked for one good reason.

So Shadowman gives you one good reason: RPM.

What is RPM, you ask? It is the all-singing, all-dancing Red Hat Package Manager, that's what it is. With RPM, you can install or upgrade an individual piece of software, or whole big chunks of software. You can even upgrade your entire system from one version of Red Hat Linux to the next version using RPM. No more reinstalls, Atpay.

RPMs aren't hard to make, either. Read the man pages, tinker here and there, and you too can create an RPM of your favorite piece of free software. It's easy and fun. With luck, someone might even write a book about it someday.

Surely you're convinced that Red Hat is worth a try. Great! Now go put on the latest Soundgarden CD, download Red Hat from your friendly neighborhood mirror, and enjoy.

AXPatriate asks:

Is there such a thing as Linux on Alpha? I'd heard this rumor, but it sounds too insanely good to be true. What's the scoop, Shadow-dude?

To which Shadowman replies:

The Red Hat gnomes are working hard to deliver Beta Alpha -- er, Alpha Beta -- that is to say, Red Hat Linux/AXP 2.1 Beta for DEC's Alpha family of microprocessors -- sometime in December 1995. Since the Alpha will clearly dominate the 64-bit world, Red Hat has decided to focus on this incredibly important platform.

There are also independent efforts to port Linux to PPC and SPARC, but who knows if anything will ever come of these efforts.

Confused asked:

I got this Caldera Desktop, and I install it and it says it's Red Hat, and now I don't know which stuff is which. What's the deal?

To which Shadowman replies:

Shadowman can understand your confusion. This whole everybody-can-redistribute-the-code thing is very confusing. Here's the deal:

Caldera is not Red Hat. Caldera is an entirely separate company, which was started by Ray Noorda, who used to run Novell back when they were the near-monopolists of the computer networking industry, and then were almost bought by Microsoft, except that Ray got double-crossed by Bill. And that's why Ray decided to build the anti-Microsoft by buying up Digital Research and UNIX and Word Perfect, except that once Ray bought them all up, no one knew what to do with them, and that's right about when Microsoft took all of Ray's customers. And so Ray quit Novell and helped start a little company called Caldera because Ray still hates Microsoft, and evidently Ray heard that this Linux thing might give Bill nightmares.

Now, here's the confusing part, dear readers: Caldera doesn't actually make Linux. That's Red Hat's job. Caldera takes Red Hat Commercial Linux and then bundles it up with a bunch of proprietary applications like NExS and zmail and, oh yeah, Word Perfect -- which means that they don't quite get this whole "open source" thing yet, but they're trying.

Anyway, if you need to run Word Perfect on Linux, Shadowman can recommend Caldera's products with a clear conscience. Caldera has been great to Red Hat thus far, and show no signs that they will ever be anything less than a completely trustworthy business partner for years to come.

Disclaimer:Shadowman totally made up every single one of these questions for your entertainment, dear reader. The answers, however, are 100% plausible, and maybe even true.