Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Back page page.
The Linux Internet Server Administration Guideis a cooperative effort which is developing a comprehensive manual for the administration of a Linux machine on the network. They are still a bit short on actual content, though they have a nice table of contents. This looks like a good project.
Alan Cox's linux.org.uk site serves as his soapbox in front of the Linux community. It includes some basic useful resources, including his y2k page, and also has an editorial by Alan on whatever's on his mind (currently an Atlanta Linux Showcase summary and the Halloween memo). Plus, of course, a link to his ever-interesting diary page.
November 5, 1998
Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
Of course, we should have known better than to solicit more letters to the editor; this week we have been buried in them. There is no way that we can include even a significant fraction of them. Our apologies to those whose letters were left out. Please write us again when the urge hits.
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 09:40:07 -0500 (EST) From: Jonathan C Day <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Some thoughts on the Mexican project Dear LWN, I was thinking a bit about the Mexican project to install Linux in 140,000 centers. If they installed and configured some of the distributed processing toolkits (eg: PVM, MPI), I know there are programs for administrating groups of machines in one go, using such toolkits. This would make life a lot simpler for whoever will be administrating these machines. Purely incidently, (of course! :), by doing so, they would have set up the world's largest Beowulf and (depending on how the speed calculations are done) possibly the worlds fastest supercomputer. Whilst, in practical terms, these would offer no direct advantages, it might help if they wanted or needed corporate involvement or sponsorship. I don't know what morale in Mexican schools is like, but I know in many countries including the US and UK they aren't known for their self-esteem or self-image. Getting into the world records might help a little there. Jonathan Day
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 22:09:48 +0200 From: Amos Shapira <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Mexican announcement is a call for arms! Hello, I too was very glad to hear about the new Mexican schools project, but there is a risk here too - the eyes of many other educational and corporate bodies are now watching how this will develop, any negative aspect found (or percieved) during this "experiment" might make Linux look very bad and bloated by its opponents to discredit it. I'm not saying this to discourage the project, on the contrary, I'm saying this in order to *encourage* every person who cares about Linux to do whatever they can to help make this project succeed. You should not look at this announement as a conclusion of whatever been done so far, but rather as an announcement about a certain goal to be achieved - namely to equip Mexican schools with Linux machines, make them love it, and above all - show the world it's possible. This is a call for arms much more than a pat on the back. Cheers, --Amos -- --Amos Shapira | "Of course Australia was marked for | glory, for its people had been chosen email@example.com | by the finest judges in England." | -- Anonymous
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 17:21:24 -0500 (EST) From: Clemmitt Sigler <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: You asked for it... ;^) Well, I thought I'd chip in my $0.02 worth on the current state of Linux since you asked for letters to the editor. You'll probably be *swamped* now.... It's my opinion that, since Linus has worked so hard and diligently and greatly improved SMP support, we need to turn our attention to three other critical hardware subsystems. My bet is that these will help make or break wider scale acceptance of Linux in the 2.2/2.3 phase. They are: 1.) USB support; 2.) FireWire (IEEE 1394) support, and; 3.) I2O support. We now know that with Intel coming on board with Red Hat in a modest way, I2O specs may come to Linux through, for lack of better terms, "diplomatic" or "political" channels. And, since it's a closed standard there's not much an open development-model project like Linux can do about it any way. However, USB is starting to appear (I have a Kodak DVC300 web cam that's USB that I bought in December of 1997 -- I wish it would work under Linux :^), and with the spectacular performace Fire Wire can offer its implementation is only a matter of time. To date, there's no non-alpha, non-beta support for either of these peripheral busses in Linux. I can hear proponents of NT/Windows 2000 now, dismissing Linux out of hand because it has no USB or FireWire support. We've already seen this type of press starting to appear just in the last week. We can argue about how important these will be to current Linux users, that's for sure, but to potential future users? If we want Linux to break into the desktop and home-user markets in a larger way (eventually), items like this *have* to be addressed, IMHO. The USB and FireWire project pages are located at, respectively: http://peloncho.fis.ucm.es/~inaky/USB/ http://www.edu.uni-klu.ac.at/~epirker/ieee1394.html Please, if you can, give these projects some help, even if it's only by alpha- or beta-testing for them. And it would be really sweet if a sponsor like Red Hat who has hard cash to spend on development (a la hiring kernel developers and supporting GNOME) would get behind these efforts. They could probably get these systems solidly supported even before Windows 2000 is publicly released if they start now! Thanks for letting me get this off my mind :^) Clemmitt Sigler Linux/Unix Users' Group of Virginia Tech
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 00:45:30 -0500 From: Aaron Sherman <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Letter re: recent Anti-Linux flame on ZDNet ZDNet recently published a rather rabid anti-Linux rant, from a company called "The Butler Group". I've composed a public response, which is open for others to copy or quote. It's at http://kr.com/~ajs/linuxresponse.html -- Aaron Sherman Safety Net Solutions firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Perl Snob (and bottle-washer) www.ajs.com/~ajs finger email@example.com
Date: Mon, 02 Nov 1998 10:37:49 -0800 From: "Roy P. Ammeraal" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Screenshot of WP regarding Microsoft France Reaction Folks, That text within the screenshot of WP, running on Linux, regarding the Microsoft France reaction, does not look very professional. I understand that we're all very enthusiastic about Linux, but I don't see why we should react with mud, if another (opposing) party is throwing with mud. I think we all should be professional in our responses, even if the other party, Microsoft in this case, is not being professional. I suggest that this screenshot be either removed or replaced with a more professional screenshot. Otherwise, I have been enjoying LWN very much. Thanks, Roy P. Ammeraal
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 17:09:20 +0100 (MET) From: Maurizio de Cecco <Maurizio.de.Cecco@ircam.fr> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Why Microsoft forget about commercial Applications ? In the Hallowen report there is no single word about commercial application running on Linux. This make the whole competitive analysis of Linux vs NT or vs Windows 98 useless, beacause based on the restrict view of the OSS reality. On the server side this is already happening with the Data Base editors: they realized that Linux can be a market for a more open competition, and now the Linux choice is not a pure OSS choice anymore. It is happening on the desktop; Linux already have the Applix suite, the Corel Office Suite will follow, and may be Lotus stuff also. Software editors realize that Linux can be a market for a commercial competition, a clean start over the current monopole situation. I wonder why this threat, a lot more real and incombent that a world with only OSS solutions, have be completely ignored in the report. Maurizio -- Maurizio De Cecco Real Time System Team IRCAM, Centre Georges Pompidou 1, Place Stravinsky 75004 Paris, France tel: +33-(0)1-44784779 - fax: +33-(0)1-44781540 - email: email@example.com
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 10:03:50 +1030 From: Stephen Donaldson <Stephen.Donaldson@adelaide.on.net> Subject: Tied to the Monster To: firstname.lastname@example.org Its not easy to finally bite the bullet and make my presence known to the linux world at large, however, needs must as the saying goes. I have watched the tide of linux swell up in the media like a wave of titanic proportions and wondered why? Why is it easy to set up and go go go? Can I quickly install software and get on line with little or no hassle? The answer from 'me' is not really, YET. I am using my NT machine and it runs well, good software and easy connections to the net mail etc. etc. Now please don't go jumping on to me and telling me all sorts of things I already know....yes I have put redhat5.1 onto my other machine, curiosity is my weakness and I feed it constantly. However, I don't want to spend hours and hours...and hours getting my machine up to speed and I mean by me learning the ropes of linux. But I do, YES, like lots of my friends and colleagues want to give Microsoft the heave (colloquialism for the boot) I desperately want a machine is not microsoft dependent, has the latest software and I can use to develop business notes on, web pages with the latest software (easy stuff to use). Am I expecting just a tad too much? I hope not. I want all that is good morally and at the leading edge of development. I want my cake and I want to eat it. And I want it now. I want Microsoft to feel the heat from good honest people like me. (smile) because that's where linux will win, when people who know how microsoft operate and don't like it one little bit suddenly find they don't need a year of sleepless nights coming to grips with linux and vi (shudder) and who can easily switch with as little pain as possible and find the final transition to be nothing more than a couple of days readjusting to a few key strokes. Make it easy for me guys and I'll come over, give me the good software and I'll be there tomorrow. Thanks for reading my rant. (Give me a mate who knows linux and I'll buy the beer) Stephen Donaldson An ordinary user
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 15:25:48 +0100 From: David Kastrup <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Recent attention for Linux The last year or so has featured a lot of surprises from the corporate world. The latest being the announcement of Corel for providing a no-cost version of Wordperfect for Linux non-commercial users. We have a no-cost version of Netscape (and an upcoming free version of Mozilla, which might be more important). We have no-cost versions restricted to non-commercial use of Staroffice, several databases and so on. We have quite a few promises of commercial versions of several other software. We have a lot of media attention, mostly due to it. Linux is getting employed a lot for internet solutions by now. We have a few players not traditionally Unix-centered investing in RedHat. We have even the recent announcement that Mexico will go Linux in its educational system. What's in it for Linux? Mostly trouble. But a lot of chance to get vastly faster ahead from where one is currently than anticipated, too. The big problem is that Linux is still very much evolving. It is not yet ready for high-performance serving tasks (work on consistently supporting SMP as well as better networking performance are ongoing, but much is scheduled for 2.3 which will probably turn into a stable version about 2 years from now). Fortunately, this gets somewhat obscured since what mostly counts to people is just performance as compared to NT, a sitting duck, and there is quite lot you can make Linux do with even a single-processor Alpha workstation (and, of course, despite of working suboptimally, a two-processor machine under Linux can still deliver quite a bit more serving power than a single processor). Yet it is already now that Linux has to encounter enormously rising demands. In the server market, I suppose it will grow to meet them smoothly enough. But the expectations with regard to userfriendliness and application availability frankly cannot be met in a whiff. A lot of development will need to be done to satisfy even a fraction of the people reacting to Linux hype. The current calls for applications are what has caused a few players (including the major database vendors) to experiment with offers for Linux. But in the long run they will want to see whether Linux gives a successful path to revenue for them, and that is when we might be experiencing some serious backlash, at least with the availability of evaluation copies, if not with whole product lines. I'll skip commenting on the office sector which is largely monopolized, even though Linux currently provides a small uncontested niche for alternatives. In the gaming sector, Linux is currently not an attractive platform. Kernel sound support leaves much to be desired (even just compiling the drivers in current stable kernels can be a nightmare, much less getting them to run). Hardware GL is supported only sketchingly, and mostly by commercial Xservers not in wide circulation. Good GL implementations would be very important to have, not only because this means support for high-performance graphics, but also because it enables easy multi-platform programming and porting and thus lowers the cost of side-entry into the Linux market. So what's the gist? In the serving section, Linux is pretty much up to demand except under highest strain, and will probably prove mature enough to reasonably comply with demands, or at least be able to react to them satisfactorily and adapt properly in time. For this reason I believe that it will be able to provide a satisfactory platform also for database servers, so it is reasonably probable that the current database server excitement will not cause much trouble when abating. To the average user, expectations will not be met soon. It is only a question of time until people trying it out will come to the conclusion: "yes, it does not crash, but it really does nothing else worth noting, too". This could be changed if application and game vendors were to join the quest. They just might, if not the environment was as dissimilar to Windows as it is, making the porting quite a lot of work, and if it was not yet as immature (no established desktop up to now, no serious GL support...). Yet at least there have been encouraging ports by large players, such as Corel and Netscape, and lots of announcements. Will Linux be able to ride the crest? A lot of people are placing their bets on Linux, and Linux is not yet ready to deliver. It is crucial for the long-term success of Linux that it *will* deliver before people get turned off. I would have said that we could stand vendors currently trying out the Linux market eventually turning their back again, and we could at least pick up the truly free scraps that happen to fall from their tables sometimes (like the things RedHat develops with an interesting set of sponsors, like the Mozilla browser, like a set of developers getting familiar with Linux and quite a few other things). Even if the tables get cleared one day, these things will remain with us. But what we cannot afford is having something like the project for equipping Mexican schools and high schools fail. Having a whole country's educational system hedge its bets on Linux and failing is press Linux will not be able to put aside anytime soon. And you can bet on it that a lot of people are eagerly waiting just for this to happen. Currently Microsoft can still say "oh, just try out Linux and see where this will lead you" for scaring people. Now that somebody indeed seriously is going to try just that on a large scale, we better take care that they'll end up better than anybody anticipated. The pioneering is not yet finished. Having this succeed will set an example for free software systems that will literally change the world. It will also create markets and infrastructures that will make Linux a major platform for developing for. But for this to happen, the usability aspect (including word processors etc.) has to be tackled much more vigorously than before. In addition, hosts of *new* developers need to be supported. This means that both online help for applications and programmer's documentation for GUI programming must be forthcoming. Right now, both are sadly lacking almost anywhere. Just try to press a "help" button in some GNOME application. Can we take the heat? We better should. And we'll need all help we can muster, including what parts of the software industry one can persuade to join the ranks. And we'll need a lot of work in order to catch up with free offerings eventually for what may be temporarily available only proprietarily, if we want to finally reach that old dream that started the GNU project decades ago: the availability of a completely free system for the generic needs of computing. David Kastrup Phone: +49-234-700-5570 Email: email@example.com Fax: +49-234-709-4209 Institut für Neuroinformatik, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany
From: "maskatron" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> Subject: article submission Date: Wed, 4 Nov 1998 20:05:01 -0500 Hello, I'd like to submit this editorial about Linux for possible inclusion in your magazine (which I enjoy very much; thanks for doing it). It is called Politics, Money and Linux, as it discusses the recent media success of Linux & where I see things going in the next couple of years. I hope you enjoy it. thanks Shayne White http://curvedspace.org/html/shayne.html Politics, Money and Linux Let me just preface this article by explaining that these views are entirely my own. They are based on my distorted view of the world. If you disagree with me, take a deep breath, send me an email and we can discuss it. I'm not out to start a flame war with anyone. What do I see when I look into my crystal ball and utter the word "linux". Well, it looks something like this... I see some very chaotic times ahead. There are many forces at work in the rapidly growing linux community. I see more and more developers working together, sharing ideas and sharing code. I think this is great. It never fails to amaze me what can be accomplished when people get excited about something and work together to make it happen. Linux is the poster child for open source, and it should be. It keeps getting more and more press. It seems to be the newest media darling. The up and coming OS. The greatest threat to Microsoft's dominance. This is all well and good, but what people that are new to Linux don't understand is that it is much more than a piece of software. It seems to have a character all it's own. And everything is just great. The plan of world domination is right on schedule. Or is it? Personally, I don't think things are quite that rosy. Because of it's success, Linux as we know it is headed for trouble. Now hold on...before I get labeled as a non-believer, listen to my reasoning. Linux will become wildly successful, but during this trip to the top, it will change. Thus, it won't be the Linux we know and love. The Linux community is currently made up of developers who do this as a hobby in their spare time. They do it because they love computing. They do it because they want to give back to the community of developers that has given them so much enjoyment. Most don't get paid for it, and that is fine with them. For some, they actually prefer it that way. But along comes politics and money. In the current model, Linux is truly free. From both an economic and political standpoint. Anyone who is reasonably technically proficient can download and install Linux. For free. It is written for developers by developers. Anyone is free to make changes and generally these changes get thrown back into the pot. This system works and works quite well. It has resulted in perhaps the best OS in the world. So what the fuck am I talking about? Well, many people are excited about some of the big companies jumping on the Linux bandwagon. They see this as a good thing for the Linux community. It makes it legitimate. They see it as big companies who are changing their ways and are getting into open source and free software. Well, I think these companies are merely latching onto something that can enable them to compete with Microsoft. These companys exist to make money for themselves and their shareholders. They have a very different agenda than the average Linux developer. Today they are embracing the Linux community, but it is a community that they don't really understand, nor will they ever fit into. Today it is a political move. Tommorrow it will be an economical one. That's when the problems will start. Personally, I don't think developers will be as excited about coding up feature X for Linux so that XYZ Corp can make money off 'supporting' it. And no, I'm not talking about Redhat. They understand the Linux community. Thus, XYZ will support their own version. What will happen? My guess is that Linux will split into different groups. XYZ will lag behind in features once the politics of a big company get in the way and hamper progress. The mediocre masses will use the XYZ version, while technical users will stick with a more grassroots version, like today's Debian. Like so many things, the whole thing will come full circle. This is not an article against commercial development for Linux. I believe that people should be compensated for their work. I just think that Linux does not fit the mold of a typical business software product, and when push comes to shove, the 'real' Linux will go back 'underground'. Things have already started in this direction. Just look at the UDI project by Intel.... -Shayne White