Linux in the news
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See also: last week's Linux History page.
Five years ago: Caldera announced its "Network Desktop 1.0" distribution.
The Call For Papers for Linux-Expo 1996 (hosted by "Linux Users' Group (LUG) at North Carolina State University (NCSU)") went out.
The main argument for the term "open source" is that "free software" makes some people uneasy. That's true: talking about freedom, about ethical issues, about responsibilities as well as convenience, can trigger discomfort. This asks people to think about things they might rather keep out of mind. It does not follow that society would be better off if we stop talking about these things.
It is the third anniversary of the (in)famous Jesse Berst Fired for Choosing Linux? article:
Okay, Linux may have a low, low cost. And many technical merits. And lots of help for do-it-yourselfers. But can it pass the all-important "cover your ass" test? I'm not so sure. There's no single company behind Linux. No single source of support. No sales rep you can call in and yell at if Linux fails unexpectedly, leaving you without an operative Web site. Nobody to blame, in other words. Except you, if you were the person who recommended this product.
It is also, more or less, the third anniversary of Don Marti's Operating System Sucks-Rules-O-Meter.
Two years ago February 18, 1999 LWN): Windows Refund Day came and went. Turnout was small, refunds were nonexistent.
Bruce Perens got fed up with "open source" and said it's time to talk about free software again:
Most hackers know that Free Software and Open Source are just two words for the same thing. Unfortunately, though, Open Source has de-emphasized the importance of the freedoms involved in Free Software. It's time for us to fix that. We must make it clear to the world that those freedoms are still important, and that software such as Linux would not be around without them.
Fortune reported on Microsoft's "Linux Defense", which was relatively new at that time.
But no moment has been quite so Alice in Wonderland as the one we're about to see.... The video begins. "Hello," chirps an effervescent young Microsoft employee. "This is a demonstration of the Caldera OpenLinux operating system." Caldera is a small company that, in a delicious irony, is currently suing Microsoft on antitrust grounds. The young Microsoftie continues: "The demonstration will show that Caldera's operating system provides effective functionality for end users."
Debian 2.0r5 was released. Glibc 2.1 was released, then withdrawn "until some political issues are worked out." The problem, it seems, is that gcc 2.8 could not compile it (it compiled with egcs). The gcc/egcs split, happily, has long since gone away.
The Burlington Coat Factory announced that it would install Linux in 250 stores; this was one of the first high-profile Linux deployment announcements.
One year ago (February 17, 2000 LWN): IDC released a study showing that Linux was the number-two server operating system, with 25% of the market. Windows NT came out on top, with 38%. Linux and Unix systems together, however, showed up on more systems than NT.
Development kernel 2.3.46 came out; included therein was Richard Gooch's devfs system. The inclusion of devfs had been the subject of flame wars for almost two years. One year later, it remains to be seen whether the distributors will set up their systems to use devfs or not.
Andrew Leonard's Free Software Project launched on Salon. A year later, progress seems to have slowed, but there is a bunch of good writing there.
The UCITA "shrink wrap software" law passed in Virginia. UCITA got off to a quick start, but appears to have stalled since then.
One way to make "open source" look good:
Am I the only one to see that Torvalds and other open-source software revolutionaries are acting out the finale of George Orwell's Animal Farm? Orwell's farmhouse is full of open-source pigs, which are now almost indistinguishable from the proprietary humans they recently overthrew. It's true that I have been unkind to the "open sores" movement. But to be clear, anyone is welcome to beat Microsoft with better software, even a utopian community of volunteer programmers. May the best software win.