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This issue of the Linux Weekly News is dedicated to the memory of Jonathan B. Postel. Mr. Postel, as most readers will know, died last week of complications from heart surgery. He will be much missed.
Jon Postel was one of the founding fathers of the Internet. His hand can be seen in many of the protocols we now depend on. He was, the keeper of the RFC (Request For Comments) series of documents which, in a very real sense, comprises the open source code of the net. He ran the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority for its entire history. His dedication to openness and rational network engineering had much to do with the success that the net enjoys today.
And the net is important. It seems self evident that Linux, and all that goes with it, would never have been possible without the net. Without a medium to distribute the system, collect contributions, and work with developers all over the globe, Linux would have had a hard time getting off the ground. Our community requires the net.
Jon Postel was one of the builders of the net. We all owe him a "thank you" for what he did for us.
Many other testimonials to the life of Jon Postel have been posted, some by people who knew him well. Please have a look at these messages from Dave Crocker and Vint Cerf. You may also want to read this New York Times article about Postel, though you will have to register or use the "cypherpunks" dodge.
We got a note from Andy Partizio of CMP regarding whether Oracle will be supporting a version of Linux. Recall that last week's editorial was on this subject, following an article in Computing Magazine to this effect. The word that Andy got from Oracle is that Oracle does not plan to get into the Linux systems business. Thus last week's editorial addressed a fictional situation, but it still applies to the (likely) future, when some large corporation does venture into the Linux support arena. In retrospect, more investigation on our part would have been appropriate, however.
Along those lines, expect some changes to occur with the Linux Weekly News, driven by a number of forces. First of all, as the Linux world gets larger and more complicated, LWN gets harder and harder to write. The amount of time involved in the creation of an issue of LWN has increased to the point where it is hard to sustain. We do not regret a second of the effort it has taken to do this newsletter, but our families are getting grumpy. If LWN is to continue to grow and thrive, it needs to become more of a day job.
LWN consumes other resources as well. If you are reading this on Thursday, you will be well aware of the fact that LWN has long since grown beyond what our net connection can carry. We are working on this: more bandwidth is at hand. But we'll have to pay for that bandwidth.
Finally, the Linux online publishing world is starting to get more crowded. LinuxWorld went online this week, signalling the arrival of the mainstream trade press. There are stirrings of other new publications as well. If LWN is not to fade away under a storm of well-funded competition, we are going to have to become more professional in how we do things. Better researched stories, wider coverage of the Linux world, etc. No more editorials about situations we have not been able to check out.
So LWN is at a turning point. We could retire, let the trade press take over, and regain a lot of time in our lives. But we don't want to do that. We feel we have something to offer the Linux world. We want to be here next year.
What this all means is that LWN has to earn money, somehow. The web currently allows a couple of models for online publications: subscriptions and advertising. Subscriptions, with the baggage that come with them (i.e. restricted content that could not be redistributed) do not fit well into the free software philosophy. So it has to be ads. Some of the groundwork has already been laid; expect to see advertising on the LWN pages shortly. Initially, ads will be sold through an ad network, meaning they could have little relevance to the Linux world. We will change that as soon as possible. (Companies interested in advertising with LWN are encouraged to contact us at email@example.com).
We thank you for your support over this last year, and please stay with us as we try to improve.
Speaking of needed improvements, we forgot last week to mention that the nationwide Linux installfest in France was a rousing success. Stéfane Fermigier reports that things went very well despite the highly improvised nature of the event in many locations, and that many new user groups will be formed. Interested parties can read the reports (in French) from the many events spread out over the country.
Stephen Adler has put up a full report of his experiences at the Fall Internet World 98 conference. Quite a bit of fun to read (warning, it's long).
Keep an eye on our daily page this week for reports from the Atlanta Linux Showcase.
October 22, 1998