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See also: last week's Linux History page.
Three years ago (May 21, 1998 LWN): The question for the week was, "How should open source software development be funded?" Of course some people weren't even convinced that such a thing was necessary, but as we pointed out:
... people need to eat. Programmers need their supplies of soda and chips. Many of us would produce a lot more free software if we didn't burn ourselves out on our day jobs first. Unfortunately, we have to keep said day jobs, lest we become another one of those people out there with "will write visual basic modules for food" signs.
Three years later...well...we're still working on that one. Nonetheless, an awful lot more people are paid to write free software now than were back then.
As a sign of where the general understanding of free software was three years ago, consider this introductory article in the Ottawa Citizen:
The spread of the Linux operating system is governed by a constitution called the GPL, which stands for "GNU Public License." The GPL states that anyone can become a distributor of Linux, as long as it's not sold for profit. It must always be redistributed for free. In short, the capitalists of the software world are not welcome in programming circles where the GPL is the holy word.
The first Questions not to ask on linux-kernel FAQ was released.
Two years ago (May 20, 1999 LWN): LinuxHQ, once a central point for kernel development information, was abruptly yanked off the net by the domain's original owner. The site made a quick jump to kernelnotes.org, where it stayed for almost two years. Kernelnotes appears to have vanished off the net as of a month or so ago however.
Both CoSource.com and the SourceXchange launched. Two years later, the SourceXchange has been recently shut down, and CoSource appears to be headed in that direction.
The current stable kernel release was 2.2.9, which was put out in a bit of a hurry after some ill-advised buffering changes made 2.2.8 into a rather dangerous thing to run. Not quite what people had been expecting in a stable kernel release.
The Open Source Who's Who site was announced. This is a reference site for finding out who is associated with what project and to commemorate people who have given their time and resources to enrich the Open Source community. Two years ago there were over 900 in the database, now there are closer to 1250.
Linus Torvalds was granted a Doctor of Honors from the School of Mathematics and Science, Stockholm University. The press release from the University (in Swedish) is still available. Unofficial interpreter Tim Lundstrom pointed out that the press release mentions that Linus is one of the youngest people ever to receive this recognition and that Linux, for which he is responsible, is praised by scientists around the world.
One year ago (May 18, 2000 LWN): The Open Group announced the Open Motif toolkit had been released under a public license. With an odd twist to a roughly GPLish license, the X toolkit would be open source when used with open source operating systems, and proprietary when used with a proprietary OS. Though there was talk of making Open Motif more compatible with the GPL, this has not happened. However there is still LessTif which is licensed under the GNU LGPL.
A W. R. Hambrecht analyst on open source companies predicted the future of Linux distributions in a position paper run in Red Herring. They said:
Approximately 140 distribution companies exist across the globe. We believe all but the top five will be bought, will go out of business, or will be relegated to insignificance. Market-share leaders are currently defined around geographic boundaries. Red Hat has the largest global brand recognition and leading North American market share, SuSE leads in Europe, TurboLinux leads in Asia, and Conectiva leads in South America.
One year later, the situation has changed very little - and the list of distributions certainly has not gotten shorter.
The Corel/Inprise merger was canceled. This paragraph from Corel's press release summed it up:
Because of significant changes since the merger was agreed to more than three months ago, Corel has concluded that it is in its best interest to terminate the agreement at this time. Corel and Inprise/Borland are parting on amicable terms and will continue to pursue opportunities for ongoing partnerships.
The CBC wondered if Corel would survive, or go into a "death spiral". The merger was originally to be an exchange of stock. But Corel's stock price had fallen from $64.65 Cdn on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down to $8.90 (which looks pretty good at this point).
SuSE announced support for its distribution on the IBM S/390 server. Turbolinux, too, announced support for the S/390 architecture.
May 17, 2001