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July 30, 2004
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Mike Angelo discusses Pogo Linux Computers with Pogo CEO Tim Lee and Pogo Linux Engineer Jesse Keating

The Mettle of Pogo Linux

. . . the biggest obstacle for people was making a big leap from Windows to Linux, so we gave them both. If they liked Linux, they would leave it on there. . . . most customers kept their Linux install. - - Tim Lee, Pogo Linux CEO

Mike Angelo -- 30 July 2004 (C) -- Page 1


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To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

For more than several weeks now we have been busy looking over the spring 2004 crop of major Linux distributions that implement the 2.6 Linux kernel -- both the 32-bit and 64-bit offerings. For most of our lab work in this endeavor, we have relied heavily on the Pogo Linux Altura64 Workstation.

Pogo computers generally are designed to be shipped, and usually are shipped, as multi-boot Linux and Microsoft Windows computer systems. In part that is because one of Pogo's objectives is to help people migrate from MS Windows to the GNU-Linux operating system.

The Pogo Altura64 Workstation

Our Pogo Altura64 Workstation came with 64-bit SUSE 9.0 pre-installed. Since the Pogo Linux Altura64 arrived at our lab, we have added 64-bit SUSE 9.1, several editions of Mandrake Linux, and 64-bit Fedora Core to what now is a multi-boot, Linux computer.

The Pogo Altura64 is an excellent PC and we will have our review of it ready shortly. It uses the AMD Athlon64 processor, a 64-bit CPU. Our Altura64 has an AMD Athlon64 3000+ microprocessor, ASUS K8V SE Deluxe motherboard, 512-MB RAM, Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 video adapter, 120-GB Western Digital serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, Teac CD-RW/DVD drive, and more.

The Pogo Linux People

During the course of our evaluations of the Pogo Altura64 and the several Linux distributions now installed on it, we had many occasions to discuss Pogo Linux, the Altura64 and other Pogo computers, and the Linux distributions (distros) with the Pogo people. They are very impressive.

The Pogo people are exceptionally professional. They are very knowledgeable about Linux, software, and hardware. The Pogo folks have a distinct commitment to excellence, an uncanny pride and honesty in their workmanship, and a profound dedication to getting things right. Oh, yes -- the Pogo Linux people are well-committed to Linux. If all that sounds to you as though we like Pogo, you got it!

The discussions we had with the Pogo people led to an e-mail interview with Pogo's Tim Lee and Jesse Keating. The interview started at the beginning of July and was completed on 19 July 2004.

Tim Lee is Pogo Linux CEO. And if the name Jesse Keating sounds familiar to you, it likely is. Jesse is a Pogo Linux Engineer and RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer), a technical editor of Chris Negus' Fedora Linux 2 Bible, and leader of the Fedora Legacy Project.

Mike Angelo Discusses Pogo and Linux with Tim Lee and Jesse Keating

Here is our e-mail interview with Tim Lee and Jesse Keating. It nicely illustrates the mettle of the people behind Pogo's metal.

  • Why Pogo is Linux

MozillaQuest Magazine: How old is Pogo Linux?

Tim Lee: Pogo Linux was founded in 1999, and is five and one-half years old.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Was Pogo a Linux system OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) from the get-go?

Tim Lee: We initially focused on low-end Linux desktops, and over time started offering higher-end workstations, servers, and storage.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Why did you choose to produce just Linux and/or Linux-Windows multi-boot boxes?

Tim Lee: We wanted to give our customers the flexibility of being able to run legacy Windows applications, as well as being able to try out Linux. When we started in 1999, Linux was just starting to make a name for itself in the mainstream, and there were quite a few people who were interested in using it. We found that the biggest obstacle for people was making a big leap from Windows to Linux, so we gave them both. If they liked Linux, they would leave it on there. If they didn't like it, they'd just repartition the Linux side and use it for Windows. Needless to say, most customers kept their Linux install.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Do you provide MS-Windows only boxes, or do you only sell MS-Windows if it is part of a Linux-Windows multi-boot system?

Tim Lee: We provide dual boot mostly. Occasionally, some customers will need a few machines that have just Windows on them because they need them dedicated for Windows applications.

  • Pogo Certified Linux Distributions

MozillaQuest Magazine: As I understand it, Pogo Linux boxes ship with only the Fedora and SUSE Linux distributions. Is that correct? If so, why only Fedora and SUSE?

Tim Lee: We mainly focus on Fedora, SUSE, and Red Hat because of support issues. We want to offer more, but we also want to do the best job possible. By offering the three most popular distros, we can focus on making sure customers get the best support from knowledgeable engineers. If we stretched ourselves too thin, our quality would suffer. However, that doesn't mean we don't load other distros from time to time as custom software loads. That does happen occasionally, when customers request Debian, Mandrake, or something else.

Jesse Keating: We support Fedora Core, SUSE Professional/Enterprise, and Red Hat Linux Enterprise. We have shipped systems with Debian, Mandrake, Gentoo, and a few others, but these are special cases. We've found that Fedora, SUSE, and Red Hat present the best of the binary Linux distros and are of high-enough quality that we feel confident in supporting our systems with these operating systems loaded.

    MozillaQuest Magazine: When you ship systems with Debian, Mandrake, Gentoo, and so forth installed, do you provide the same level of hardware and software support for those systems that you do for your Fedora and SUSE systems? If not, how does it differ?

    Jesse Keating: We offer the same level of hardware support, but we are not able to offer the same level of software support. Our knowledge base isn't as full for these operating systems as it is for say Red Hat or SUSE. This is something that has to grow over time. We do our best to help out the users though, and we do a lot of 'real-time' research on problems. That means it might take us longer to resolve the customer's problem, but that is our ultimate goal.

MozillaQuest Magazine: The Altura64 Workstation Pogo box I am reviewing came with 64-bit SUSE 9.0 installed. So far, I have added 64-bit Fedora Core 1, 32-bit Mandrake 10.0 Official, 64-bit Mandrake 10.0 Official, and 64-bit SUSE 9.1 Professional. They all seem to run nicely on the Pogo Altura64 Workstation. Actually, so far, it seems that Mandrake works the nicest of the bunch as a desktop Linux on the Pogo Altura64 Workstation. However, you all do not recommend Mandrake 10.0 for use with the Pogo Altura64 Workstation.

Tim Lee: We're open to Mandrake, and will consider it for the future. There are so many distros out there, with each having its unique advantage. It would be difficult to support all of them. We have the unenviable task of drawing the line in the sand as to which distros we can support. But again, we are always looking at new distros to see if they fill a need that our customers have.

Jesse Keating: In the past we have had bad luck with some distributions, unsupported hardware, unresponsive support personnel, buggy software, late security fixes, etc. Because of this, our resources were directed to supporting Red Hat products. Fedora Core has slipped in as being the successor to Red Hat Linux. Recently we have gone through a pretty good growth spurt within the company and we've been able to allocate more resources to our engineering department. A direct result of this is our new support of SUSE operating systems. As time and resources allow, we may start supporting other Linux distributions, but for now we can't recommend a distribution we have not put through our lengthy and thorough research, development, and QA [Quality Assurance] processes. So in summary, it's not like we DON'T recommend Mandrake, it's that we haven't tested Mandrake enough to recommend it. We remain neutral on the subject.

MozillaQuest Magazine: I did manage to get Xandros 2.0 installed on the Altura64 with much difficulty and so far have been unable to boot into the Xandros 2.0 installation, any comments about that?

Jesse Keating: The hardware we use in our workstation may be too new to be supported by the Xandros kernel and installer. Without having the operating system in hand to test, it would be very hard to make assumptions as to why it doesn't work.



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