Jeremy Allison's contributions to the free software world are legion, and yet the project he's best known for continues to be Samba, the open implementation of some of Microsoft's most important networking protocols.
Linux Format magazine asked him about KDE, NAS, LSB, DCs and other acronyms, and now his answers are here for your TLA titillation…
Linux Format: We've been accused of bias towards Gnome in the past, so first of all we have to ask: do you use KDE?
Allison: No, I'm a Gnome fan really. I tried KDE 4 and it wasn't bad, but I find KDE a bit cluttered. There are too many options. I did a column recently on the Linux Haters blog, and the writer of that blog really summed it up with KDE. They're like, "Oh, change your encoding to ISO 8859-1". I know what that means, but my brother doesn't. Firefox says 'use Western European encoding' when it means the same thing.
LXF: How do you feel about Novell at the moment?
JA: I get on with Novell fine. I work with the Samba people who are still working on Samba at Novell to create patches and we get on pretty well.
LXF: Do you ever have to pretend that the Novell/Microsoft covenant deal didn't happen?
JA: What interests me is the future; how the Linux distribution world will look in the next five years. It still feels really fragmented. The OpenSUSE release is really good. I wonder if signs of the patent agreements are quietening down – you don't hear so much about it.
LXF: Do you think Novell will carry on?
JA: You're going to have to ask them about that. I run Ubuntu these days, and I'm a big fan. They have the strongest chance to take Linux mainstream, so I'm trying to help them do that.
LXF: Do you think it's important to have something that's easily identifiable as Linux? You know, 'this is the configuration panel', etc?
JA: Well, yes. It used to be Red Hat, and I think these days it's becoming Ubuntu, and so yes. I wouldn't like it to be the case that everyone had to run Ubuntu because there were no other distros, but I think having one really popular one really does help a lot. It helps ISVs, it helps people adding software – it makes it a lot easier.
LXF: You're in the US. Presumably Fedora and Red Hat have more dominance over there than in Europe?
JA: Yes, I think SUSE is a lot more popular on the continent. In some ways you can look on them as national distributions. SUSE was created in Germany and is very strong there. Red Hat is from North Carolina, on the east coast of America, and is very strong in the US. Ubuntu seems to be more third world; I don't know. Then of course there's Red Flag in China, so maybe you're seeing the beginning of national distros, or wider geographical areas. I'm not sure about that, though, because Ubuntu seems to have transcended it.
LXF: The nice thing about Ubuntu is that it's done what the Linux Standards Base should have done and implemented a specification where you can rely on certain things in the filesystem always being in the same place, which must be pretty nice for a developer to work with.
JA: For development standards, the Linux Standards Base still isn't useful enough because we're always on the bleeding edge. We need stuff that's above and beyond what the LSB can standardise. We still have the problems of having to test and configure for all sorts of platforms including Solaris and others as well as Linux, so we can't just do things for the Linux Standards Base. It would be marvellous if we could, because it would make our lives a lot easier.