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This week in Linux history

Three years ago (April 30, 1998 LWN): People began to spread the word about proposed changes to the Uniform Commercial Code. This effort eventually evolved into the proposed law known as UCITA, which remains a threat, though it seems to have bogged down in the last year.

Red Hat launched its first attempt at a commercial support program, which would be implemented by numerous "support partners" worldwide. LWN publisher Eklektix, Inc. was one of those partners...it seemed like a good idea at the time...

Linus's absence (due to the birth of his daughter) brought much kernel development work to a standstill; we commented thusly:

Nonetheless, this episode has pointed out that the "Linus model" has an important single point of failure. When Linus is out, nothing happens, and people's time is wasted. Linus should really have a deputy, somebody he trusts to put in patches and generally help with the whole process.

Three years later, it's nice to be able to note that, when Linus leaves town, development continues nicely via the "ac" patch series.

Salon Magazine said that, sooner or later, Microsoft would have to think seriously about releasing the source to Windows.

For the open-code Windows scenario to come true, Microsoft would have to be in a much weaker business position than it's in today. But somewhere down the line, the company may be staring at a growing mountain of legal trouble. It may confront an unmanageably vast load of user support problems. Its engineers may face an impossible-to-meet calendar for debugging Windows 2001 or Windows NT 6.0. And somebody in Redmond just might throw up his hands in dismay and take a big, brave risk.

Does the new look-but-don't-touch policy count?

Eric Raymond released The Rampantly Unofficial Linus Torvalds FAQ.

Two years ago (April 29, 1999 LWN): Richard Stallman confirmed that the gcc and egcs projects would merge. One of the more unpleasant free software rivalries came to a happy ending.

Red Hat 6.0 was released.

InfoWorld reported that SGI would announce a Linux strategy soon.

Some companies that have announced Linux strategies are opportunists, looking to cash in on a hot industry trend, according to Belluzzo, and the SGI CEO said he wonders "how aggressively are they going to contribute technology" to the OS. Will companies actually help develop the OS or "will they just throw a Red Hat CD in a box," he added, referring to Red Hat Software, a premier Linux developer and distributor.

SGI's strategy turned out to be quite a bit more than "just throw a Red Hat CD in a box", as can be seen from the SGI and Linux website.

SCO's CEO Doug Michels sneered at Linux in this ComputerWorld interview.

Linux is a religion. It's like considering the Catholic Church a competitor. I'm not a religion; I'm a commercial operating system. Companies like Red Hat ... take Linux technology with a lot less value added, and they package it up and say, 'Hey, this is better than SCO.' Well, it isn't. And very few customers are buying that story.

Looks like Caldera bought it ... SCO's Unix division that is.

One year ago (April 27, 2000 LWN): Red Hat's "piranha" tool turned out to have been shipped with a default password enabled, leading to a security vulnerability and charges that Red Hat had included a "back door" in its product. The charges were overdone; it was a simple mistake that was found and fixed quickly.

Red Hat's acquisition of Cygnus finally came to fruition with the announcement of the Red Hat Embedded Developer's Kit (EDK). Source-Navigator, one of the tools in the kit, had been a proprietary product. Red Hat released Source-Navigator and the entire EDK under the GNU GPL.

Applix launched VistaSource, a spin off of its Linux division. According to this News.com article, VistaSource was planning an IPO. Of course the IPO never happened and Applix recently sold VistaSource to Parallax Capital Partners. Now VistaSource will focus on tools for analysis of real time financial data.

Salon's Andrew Leonard added Chapter 6 to his "The Free Software Project" book. This chapter was actually the second to be posted and covers Mr. Leonard's trip to Finland.

Finland's love affair with high technology runs deep. The closer you look, the less remarkable it seems that a 21-year-old undergraduate at the University of Helsinki cooked up some code that ended up throwing the entire software industry into turmoil.

The LWN Penguin Gallery had grown to no less than 233 unique penguins. Over 300 penguins roost there now. [Pingoo Tux]


April 26, 2001


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