I declare Foresight Linux as dead

I am not any Foresight Linux Official, but I asked if Foresight Linux is dead in December 2009. Og Maciel answered publicly to my blog post and said:

So to answer the original question posted by Thilo, “is Foresight Linux dead?” I can gladly say “Far from it!” I predict that the Foresight community will rally together in 2010 to get back to being the most GNOMEic and bleeding edge distribution out there!

More then six months after his post, there is still no new release. And as I tried to look where Foresight is ranking now, I found out that it is not listed by DistroWatch any more.

And I think it is fair, with all respect to those who invested a lot of time and energy to foresight Linux, that Foresight Linux can be declared dead.  The main reason for this is the wrong marketing in a broader sense. Because the product never fitted the message. Foresight Linux had many options to which path it could go, but it chose to try to do it all – being the “just works” distro and also being the “bleeding edge” distro. So in fact it became the “bleeds while its running” distro. In my opinion in a distro you habe to make tuff choices. You can not have it all. You can not do it all. If you try you will lose all possible users and end up destroying the software project.

Besides the Foresight problems I have also experiences a lot of problems with rPath – the core of Foresight, because it continuously had only old versions of Python per default and no mod-wsgi for Apache and many other problems. There where mich more efforts to gain more customers, than to fix those problems.

But if you, like me, have based your whole server on bleeding edge Python software like MoinMoin wiki and server technology, rPath is just not good enough. MoinMoin needs very modern Python and loves to work with mod-wsgi.  it is not the question of you can fix those stuff by yourself. Thats what you can do on EVERY distro. Its more the question of those base stuff is something you wont have to worry about. But on rPath, you have. And that is just not acceptable for me any more.

It is said to see all this, but I have foreseen this years ago. Everybody who had eyes could see it. It was not impossible to make very good distros out of rPath and Foresight, but  if the managers do make bad choices continuously, then there will soon be no choices. I guess rPath is not yet at the end. Maybe Red Hat will buy the company and technology or some other software company?


Filed under Free Software, GNOME, Linux, Technology

9 responses to “I declare Foresight Linux as dead

  1. Hi there again!

    Though I understand your frustration with our delay in shipping a newer, stable version for quite some time, I firmly believe that your opinion is based on outdated and perhaps even incorrect information.

    For starters, our (old) stable release has python 2.6 and does deliver what we try to provide our users: stability and the cool effect. Yes, yes, it is old compared to other distros, but we don’t quite have the same type of support behind us like Ubuntu, OpenSuse, Fedora and others have. Foresight was never backed by rPath! The original developers did work for rPath but that was a “side project” and never fully endorsed.

    One important mistake you make is trying to compare rPath Linux to a desktop system. rPath Linux (or rPL) was designed to be a stable, lean, just enough operating system for building Linux software appliances. As such, it’s focus is on stability and not bells and whistles. That means using an older but stable version of python, the same exact version that RHEL 5 ships by default!

    Another mistake you make is to assume that rPath is in the desktop/distro business. We’re not! We are a platform enabler and currently allow our customers to use RHEL 4 and 5, Centos 5.x, SLES 11, etc to build their products on.

    By the way, mod_wsgi and friends have been around for a quite a while in the development branch. Have you tried it yet?

    Finally, you are correct to feel upset that we haven’t released a stable release for quite some time. We’re working really hard, even with the very limited resources we have, to release a newer version with the latest and greatest to our awesome and loyal user base. We do strive to ship stable code, and we do strive to help out our users as much as we can!

    • Hi Og, thanks for your reply. But I do not think I am mistaken:

      I am expecting a modern Python for my web usage. I expect packages to be stable and not in a development branch. This is the same argument I have against proponents of “Debian Unstable” or “Debian Testing”. There are stable releases which the upstream considers to be THE supported versions and often they do not support versions from the stone age (which is quite young in the software world).

      I am not upset. I am sad about my old distro. And I think one of the issues is that there is neither much money nor a lot of community behind Conary. So it is mainly driven by rPath, but they have to cut costs and only develop where they feel its necessary. But this means rPath is not usable for people who want to use software appliances. it might be Ok for MediaWiki but many other very important packages still are not there as a stable version

  2. As one who is a member of the foresight linux team, I can truly say that it is not dead 🙂

    While it’s true it hasn’t released a stable ISO in sometime, there has been quite a flurry of 2-devel branch releases which are developer previews.

    You can see how many commits are coming in using the following RSS feed: http://www.rpath.org/web/project/foresight/rss?feed=commits

    Hope this helps you realize that Foresight isn’t dead…it’s just recovering from a vacuum that resulted when its creator was hired by Canonical.

    • > Foresight isn’t dead…it’s just recovering from a vacuum that resulted when its creator was hired by Canonical.

      Aha back then I was told that this would not influence Foresights development at all.

    • @T Pfennig

      One would have to be ‘less than intelligent’ to think that having the main architect for a distro leave the community with zero impact.

      Of course there is impact! Even if you minimize said impact there is still impact 🙂 The nice part is that there is a good amount of activity in the past 2-3 months and we’re starting to hit a stride with people settling into some new roles.

      All in all, it looks positive and things are progressing nicely!

      • What do you mean with “leaving the community”. Ken said, that that he would not leave Foresight just ebcause pof the work. Did he?

    • Thilo,

      I just want to touch on one thing, because it is appears that you might hold a grudge with Foresight in the sense that decisions were made and goals were set that probably didn’t live up to your expectations and left you quite disappointed and frustrated as a result.

      FWIW, it is my impression that Ken wanted to continue development on Foresight, but ‘Real Life(tm)’ threw up some hard obstacles that required (and still require) much of his non-work-hours attention, leaving him with little or no time to work on Foresight compared to the golden days. When he announced that he had to scale back drastically, it clearly was not something he did lightly, so I don’t believe that Ken was lying at the particular moment in time when he said that him being hired by Canonical would have no impact on his Foresight development work. It’s just that destiny had different plans for him.

      If you are still keen to use a Conary managed distribution, I encourage you to have a look at Michael K. Johnson’s Boots proposal, which is essentially a Fedora respin managed with Conary. You can find the current proposal on the Boots space in the Foresight Wiki. By the sound if it, Boots might suit your needs better than Foresight did. If you want to learn more, you are welcome to drop by and have a chat in #foresight-devel on the Freenode IRC network.

      • Hi Ermo, thank you for your remarks. But I am not really that much into Linux any more. I use Linux as my preferred system on desktops. But I think Conary and rPath seriously need some more support to get at a point where it will be usable and a viable alternative to other packaging systems. You need to at least have all the core packages like Python in a “latest stable” state. I critisized Fedora and Ubuntu for some similar thinking of whoever wants to help is welcome – and if a user has a bug he should run a development version of a package or distribution to see if the problem persists. This is understandable from a development perspective. But its not what you can or should expect from a general user. It really can be understood as offensive. I always said that this approach is OK for distributions like OpenBSD which is much more clear in its message that it is developed in the sense that people who use it also develop it. If you have a split community you can not do so. In no way.

  3. Pingback: New FFmpeg 0.6 and x264 0.98 in Foresight | TForsman's Linux Blog

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