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Thursday, July 25, 2013

E-Mail questions answered

Today we are going to do our Q&A of e-mail where we answer the most interesting questions we get from the community.  We do this after every major release and while this one was a little late in coming, we decided to keep this segment alive.

1.  Your software roadmap says you will be doing a Unity release.  Why didnt you just give your distro an Ubuntu remix name?  Why do you call your distro OS/4?

A) The Unity release we canceled and it wasn't an easy choice for me as I love Unity but that and the 'Ubuntu' naming was a legal decision.  First, to name your distro Ubuntu anything you have to get permission from Canonical and its very hard to do that.  Thats why you see things like, Ubuntu Ultimate Edition and Ubuntu Christian Edition changing their naming scheme.  We had already established OS/4 as a brand and while our original name for this was going to be Ubuntu Professional Edition we decided to skip the legal mambo and went ahead and released what we have under the OS/4 banner.

2.  Why do you keep enhancing the 3.2 kernel. Is there a reason why you dont use the most recent kernels?  Is it laziness or more technical?

We strive for stability.  There are enough distros out there that use the most recent kernels and we have found that to be a your-always-beta-testing route.  All our packages are up to date, application wise.  Our kernel is always up to date but we continue to enhance and make the existing kernels better.  Now, we have 2 routes we take with the kernel.  We have the stable kernel which is always in the releases of OS/4 as the default kernel and we have the experimental kernels which are codenamed "Merlin" which as of this moment is the 3.9 kernel.  Which our release of this kernel is actually pretty good and we have a ton of users who use this as the default kernel on their running systems.  OS/4 OpenLinux 14, uses the 3.5 kernel which we are working on back-porting drivers from the 3.9 kernel and it is our default kernel in our OS/4 SPARC Enterprise Linux port already.  So its not laziness, there is a method to our madness and if you ask users and customers our enhancements of the 3.2 kernel are actually pretty darn good.

3.  Please stop with the Amiga stuff.  The 1980's called and they want their OS stuff back.  What are you guys doing?

We are doing this for users who want to run their old Amiga applications.  There are still some good apps that people use out there that were written for the Amiga 68k.  Thats who this stuff is for.  The AROS subsystem is easy to get rid of if you don't want it, its also interesting playing around with this stuff.  But, for users who don't want it its out of sight and out of mind and for those that want it its there.  We lose nothing by offering IcAROS as a VM or MorphOS on the PowerPC refurbs.  I actually like MorphOS alot.

4.  Im glad someone wants to help with the Amiga community.  You said somethings about the Amiga trademarks in a chat.  Do you stand behind that?  Whats your progress so far on your Amiga to-do list?  What has been the reaction been from the community?

First, community reaction has been about 50/50.  Some like us, some hate us.  While we value all feedback we are constantly talking and doing stuff for the 50% that like what we are doing and want to see us succeed.  Thats why we are doing the Amiga Forever offering and the AROS work.  We also have that segment that sends us people who want to sabotage us and asks for the impossible.  But my overall experience has been pretty much good and what I expected.  We just hired a new dev team member  who is working on the SPARC port and when he gets done he wants to work on the Amiga stuff.  So as soon as the SPARC port is done I'm going to introduce him to the community and he will take over discussions and whatever development opportunities come from that segment.  I'll go back to working on OS/4 PowerLinux, evangelizing and OS/4 x86 development.  That doesn't mean I'm totally out, nor does it mean I wont be around the community.  He will handle things like reading forums, posting to forums etc. and reporting back to me whats going on in the daily life of the Amiga community.  I'll still be doing Ashachat and continuing to build our relationship with the community.   As long as they continue to take us seriously, we will take them seriously.  They start treating us like crap.  Well you get the picture.  But so far, a positive experience and I see a long relationship with the Amiga community.

Second, what I said in the Ashachat Q&A, I stand behind 100%.  It doesn't take a genius to see that all software related trademarks of Amiga are dead.  Just look at the USPTO and yes, we have registered certain trademarks and if any objections come up we will defend those vigorously.  Now, the Amiga community has told us that Linux has no role to play in any offering labeled Amiga and we appreciate that and thats why we, at this time, wont be offering Amiga OpenLinux or Amiga Enterprise Linux.  Since the Amiga community doesn't want to see it, any legal battles would just be simply for ego purposes alone and I don't see that as a reason to go to court.  Our hardware partners are happy with OS/4 and our future plans, we are excited and that 50% of the Amiga community is excited.  I also want to clarify something.  It has come to my attention that I supposedly got 2 cease and desists orders from Amiga Inc. regarding our logo choice.   Those are fabrications.  I have gotten NO cease and desists from Amiga Inc.  I even had everyone check their spam and junk folders and nothing.  Our logo choice, was a good choice and if you Google it, you can also find where we purchased that logo.  We purchased the black and white and altered it to be blue.  If Amiga Inc has an issue with our logo, I'm sure they will be in contact and we will deal with it as required.  Our logo is 100% legal and doesn't confuse ANYONE to the quality of OS/4 and what they actually purchase.  The AmigaOS market itself is so obscure, that if I used a checkmark it would not make a difference.

Third, our progress.  We have taken on two Amiga development projects and our port of OS/4 PowerLinux is ongoing.  So far we have the 3.2 kernel, 3.5 kernel and 3.9 kernels built.  We have gotten about 40% of Workspace Manager ported and we have gotten things like MP3, Youtube and almost all codecs working.  Its been pretty awesome to do and I am personally enjoying myself.  Now, we do want to target the X1000 and someone said, "isnt there enough X1000 Linux distributions"  Well thats true, except for the reality.  MintPPC hasn't had a major release since 2011.  Fedora doesnt support the PPC platform as a primary architecture so any build failures will not stop a release.  So you have the "if" factor.  If it works, if applications run.  Same with Ubuntu.  PC OpenSystems looks at PPC as a major architecture, there is no "if" factor.  If it doesnt run, it wont be released until fixed.  If an Application doesn't run it wont be released until fixed.  As soon as the initial project is built, we have 5 volunteers already who said they will maintain it and we will give them the same support as our x86 and SPARC teams.  So we will maintain an up to date, fully supported distro.  If A-EON and Acube don't want to be involved in the PPC build then we will target the Apple G4 and G5 as well as IBM servers.

5.  You guys had an OpenSUSE build at one time.  Whatever happened to it?  And do you plan to change systems?

The OpenSUSE build of OS/4 is actually still available but not broadly distributed.  Since we are disagreeing with Canonical on MIR and other factors, all routes are being investigated and pursued.

6.  I love OS/4 Enterprise Linux.  When will 4.2 be released and what can you tell us about it?

4.2 will be released in December.  Development is ongoing so there is no new news regarding OS/4 Enterprise Linux 4.2.

7.  Is OS/4 based on LTS technology or on standard Ubuntu.  What kind of support do we get?

OS/4 OpenLinux and OS/4 Enterprise Linux are built on LTS technologies and are supported by Canonical LTS for 5 years.  PC OpenSystems after the 5 year period pulls 5 years of extended support for OS/4 Enterprise Linux.  OS/4 Enterprise Linux thus has 10 years of support.

8.  I know lots of Linux distributions disappear from lack of funding, lack of donations and a lack of interest.  What happens to the free version of OS/4 should this happen to you guys?  What do you guys do to ensure this doesnt happen to OS/4?

Well lack of funding and donations are a major drawback to any open Linux distribution.  We feel that pain as do many others.  But, right now its not a problem.  Starting with 13.7 we will start offering a $20.00 USD digital delivery version of OS/4 OpenLinux.  Right now, the free download release of OS/4 OpenLinux is disqualified from support subscriptions unlike if you purchase the USB key from the OpenSystems Marketplace.  The Digital delivery release will not be disqualified and is partially eligible for support subscription guarantee and it will have an "app store" or Marketplace.  And no, not the Ubuntu Software Center very similar to the USB key release.

If, and its a strong IF.  If the OS/4 OpenLinux Project cannot financially sustain itself, then releases will be less frequent and it will no longer be a free download.

So far, thats not happening.

9.  I like KDE, why did you stop doing the KDE release?

Lack of interest from users.  While the new releases of KDE are available via the repository, there was just not enough interest to continue to donate resources to the KDE release.  If we had a lot of users who wanted it and were willing to assist us in the development then sure.  But even the KDE developers and community were not interested in it or seeing a KDE based distribution succeed.  Also, a lack of testers.  Everyone wanted the XFCE/Workspace Manager release of OS/4 but no one wanted to help us test the KDE release properly.

10.  I like the macish window bars, I hate the white and blue one.  Can you please make the macish window bars the default again?

Thats happening in 13.6 or 13.7  Depending. :)

Thanks guys for some great questions.

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