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February 1, 2001
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 13:54:52 -0600 From: Michael Coyne <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Being scared of IBM There seems to be a lot being made in various places on the web about the dangers IBM could pose to the Linux community. It's understandable. As last Thursday's LWN mentioned, IBM dominated the computing industry for a large part of its period. It was only its financial woes caused it to reinvent itself as the "kindler, gentler IBM". There's a perception that IBM is going to stomp onto the lovely, free and open playground that is Linux, close all the gates, and start beating up some of our favourite kids, such as Bob Young in his little red hat, or Larry Augustin. I feel that much of this talk floating around is fear-mongering rhetoric. What we in the Linux community have to remember is that, ultimately, we're not *reliant* on any corporate entities for anything. Sure, it's nice when companies support and fund Linux development... but Linux thrived before any of that went on, and it can thrive in the future even without it. We can always take Linux as it is today, and move in a completely opposite direction if we don't like where Linux is going under the corporate sponsorship of IBM and others. And that's true on a smaller scale. If an individual doesn't like where *Linus* is taking Linux, that individual can go and make Linux be whatever he or she wants it to be. That's another aspect of "free" software. Not just freedom to see and add to the code--freedom to take that code whereever we want and call it whatever we want to. So if we want to, we can always "take our ball and go home." Or, if not home, at least to another playground where IBM isn't knocking down all the smaller kids. Regards, Michael
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 20:08:32 -0600 From: Dub Dublin <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: BROWSER good, but not enough I applaud Eric Raymond's attempt to jump-start the BROWSER environment variable, which was badly needed in 1994. Although I suppose I'd be moderately happy if it became ubiquitous in the Unix-flavored world, I'd be ecstatic if it were to become usable in other OS environments as well, since like most, I find I don't have the luxury of enforcing my OS preference on all those I work with. (I find this is particularly awkward with clients.) Of course, bringing back a reliance on environment variables will send the folks from Redmond screaming off the cliffs, but that's a small price to pay to bring them into compliance with the rest of the world. (And now that OS X is based on real OS guts, at least some of the consumer PC crowd should be able to handle a BROWSER environment variable.) On second thought, I'd just settle for some way to transparently use the same Netscape browser configuration and mail files from multiple platforms without a lot of unnatural a priori setup... Of course, we could go and build a real configuration database (a registry that works) for Linux and other Unix derivatives. Naaah, that'd be too elegant, and might require as much cooperation as a new environment variable... Oh, that's right, I already wrote that letter two years ago, didn't I? (http://lwn.net/1999/0401/backpage.phtml#backpage) Funny how the more things change, the more they remain the same... If Eric succeeds with this, I wish him Godspeed in taking it further and solving the real problem, which requires far more than an environment variable band-aid. Dub Dublin firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 16:42:46 -0700 From: "Jim Easter" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Linux to "Fall by the Wayside"? Dear Microsoft: The following is an excerpt from http://www.microsoft.com/Windows/serverappliance/kempin.asp. It is an interview by Nikkei Industry News with Mr. Joachim Kempin, senior vice president in charge of Microsoft's operating system OEM strategy at the Microsoft US headquarters. _____________________________________________________________________________ But it is true that Linux are actually rapidly increasing their market share in the US also. Doesn't this pose a threat? Linux is simply a fad that has been generated by the media and is destined to fall by the wayside in time. Windows 2000 will gradually overtake the Linux share in the server market. In fact, the advent of Linux has spurred Microsoft's developers to move up a gear. The arrival of new competitors in applications or operating systems development provides us at Microsoft with the driving force to create even better software products." ____________________________________________________________________________ This is of particular interest because Mr. Kempin's thoughts on potential competitive threats were the subject of testimony at the U.S. v. Microsoft trial, where a Microsoft defense attorney argued that Mr. Kempin had felt such threats to be large enough to justify holding off on price increases for NT, and went on to describe the Linux threat in more detail: ____________________________________________________________________________ From U.S. v. Microsoft, Trial transcript from 19 November, 1998, available from http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/trial/transcripts/ (Note that “Q” is Michael Lacovara, Esq., for the defense and "A" is Frederick W. Warren-Boulton, an economist): Q. AND WOULD YOU AGREE WITH ME THAT LINUX HAS MADE A MORE VIABLE COMPETITOR TO MICROSOFT BY THE FACT THAT IN THE BOX YOU GET ALL OF THE APPLICATIONS THAT WE HAVE JUST DISCUSSED? A. I THINK AS I SAID BEFORE, THE BETTER THE PRODUCT THAT YOU MAKE, IN YOUR TERMS, THE MORE VIABLE COMPETITOR YOU ARE. THE ISSUE IS, HAVE YOU BECOME A SUFFICIENTLY VIABLE COMPETITOR, HOWEVER YOU WANT TO DEFINE IT, SO THAT THE AVAILABILITY OF YOUR PRODUCT LIMITS THE PRICING BY THE FIRM WHICH WE ARE LOOKING AT TO SAY DO THEY HAVE MONOPOLY POWER, AND THAT'S THE CENTRAL QUESTION. AND THE EVIDENCE THAT I HAVE SEEN--I HAVE SEEN NO EVIDENCE AT ALL THAT THE AVAILABILITY OF LINUX, IN ITS PAST OR CURRENT FORM, IN ANY WAY, IS LIMITING THE PRICE CHARGED BY MICROSOFT. Q. OKAY. AND YOU DID NOT KNOW THAT THIS PRODUCT EXISTED TEN MINUTES AGO, DID YOU? A. IN WHAT SENSE? IT EXISTS AS A GENERAL PRODUCT? DID I KNOW IT WAS A RED HAT LINUX, YES. Q. THAT THERE WAS A DESKTOP PRODUCT CALLED RED HAT LINUX THAT INCLUDED ALL OF THIS APPLICATION SOFTWARE THAT YOU SAY IS THE PRINCIPAL BARRIER TO ENTRY, THE SUCCESSFUL ENTRY, INTO THE DESKTOP OPERATING SYSTEM BUSINESS. A. NO. I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS BOX BEFORE. Q. DID YOU KNOW THAT ALL OF THESE APPLICATIONS EXISTED TODAY FOR LINUX AND COULD RUN ON A REGULAR PC? A. I KNEW THERE WAS A LINUX WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS. I DIDN'T GO AND LOOK AND SEE EXACTLY HOW MANY APPLICATIONS WERE IN 5.1. Q. AND DO YOU UNDERSTAND LINUX TO BE THE FASTEST GROWING OPERATING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD TODAY? A. AS I SAID, GIVEN THE BASE IT STARTED FROM, I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED. _____________________________________________________________________________ Has Microsoft and / or Mr. Kempin changed position on whether or not Microsoft faces real competition? Just curious. Yours, Jim Easter