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What will happen to the Linux VARs? That is an interesting question, if Bob Young's prediction (from this PCWeek article) that six out of ten of the major PC server makers will be offering Linux on their boxes in the first quarter of 1999. Up until now, Linux Value Added Resellers have had only minimal competition. The number of well-known Linux VARs is small and the demand high enough that business was available for all. Expect that, with the introduction of pre-installed Linux systems from vendors like Gateway, IBM, Dell or others, the number of people searching out a Linux VAR in order to get a pre-installed Linux system will rapidly dwindle.
This is likely to shake down the Linux VARs. Will it kill them? Many of them, perhaps, but certainly not all of them. The essence of a VAR is in the name, "Value Added Reseller". Up until now, much of the value of a Linux VAR may have come from helping users avoid the potential pain and agony of integrating hardware and getting Linux installed and running smoothly. However, that is not all they have to offer. They also offer personal service, customized installations and high levels of support. Given that the Linux VARs are likely to have more highly qualified Linux technical staff than the large PC vendors, many businesses will prefer to continue working with them.
The list of nominees for the GNU project's "Free Software Award" has been released. It is a long list. The winner will be announced on October 9, perhaps before many of you read this. We will, of course, put the news on our daily updates page as soon as we hear it.
There will soon be many more online Linux magazines to choose from. We have already mentioned LinuxWorld, which will start producing content sometime this month. It has been announced that the first issue of ext2, produced by Rob Kennedy of linux-howto.com fame, will come out at the beginning of November. Finally, the folks at 32bitsonline have announced that they are going to change focus and become a Linux-centric publication. And don't forget LinuxToday, which started up just over a week ago. (There are also rumors that the Linux Journalhas an online magazine scheme in the works, but we've heard only rumors). The Linux publishing field is starting to get crowded.
We are also seeing an increasing number of Linux conferences being scheduled. Some newly-announced ones include the Singapore Linux Conference (Singapore, March 5-6, 1999), and Linux and Open Source Software (London, January 20, 1999). The latter includes a keynote by Eric Raymond.
The other conference which had been announced recently, of course, was LinuxWorld Expo. Some folks noticed that the timing of this conference (March 1-4, 1999) and it's location (San Jose) were awfully close to those of LINC Expo. So the two groups started talking to each other, and a merger was arranged. It turns out to be a good matchup. The LINC folks know all about Linux, and rather less about running conferences, while IDG (the LinuxWorld sponsors) are in the opposite situation. So the new conference will feature the LINC group handling the conference program, while IDG does logistics and exhibits. The merged conference will be in the March 1-4 slot. It will feature a bit more tutorial space than LINC had, and a bit less general session.
Here are some more of the writings of Richard Stallman. He recently posted an essay on UDI (the Uniform Driver Interface) which is pretty negative about the whole idea. He sees it as a way for proprietary software writers to easily get something out of the free software world, without giving much back.
RMS also jumped into a discussion on the cypherpunks list about how to best license crypto code, with an idea toward preventing the imposition of government or corporate "back doors." This piece, unsurprisingly, puts forward free software and the GPL as the solution. Those who are interested in the topic may also wish to see Perry Metzger's response, which claims that rms has confused the free software and cypherpunk agendas.
Jim Pick sent us an article describing the forces driving both Intel and Microsoft, and why he thinks they could lead to a bright future for Linux and for the StrongARM architecture. Here is his well thought-out piece.
October 8, 1998