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Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 10:24:08 -0500
From: Craig Goodrich <craig@airnet.net>
To: webletters@lantimes.com
Subject: It is impossible to ignore joy-8/31/98

[ref: http://www.lantimes.com/98/98aug/808c005a.html ]

Congratulations to the editor for this excellent
and thoughtful piece.  A brief comment, if I may: 

>> The reasons behind Linux's relatively sudden
   stardom are obscure.

At the "industry-watcher" level, perhaps.  Those
who are most accustomed to learning what's happening
in the cyberbiz by reading press releases and following
stock prices were doubtless blind-sided by the 
emergence of Linux as a suitable platform for
enterprise-level applications.

A basic fact, though, is that what actually keeps
the business network running -- from the monster 
backbone gateways to the print server in the clerical 
pool -- is actual people and actual machines, not 
buzzwords and mindshare and quarterly financials.  
And these actual people have actual problems that 
they have to solve every day in a volatile environment
under tight constraints of time, budget, and personnel.

These people are clever, resourceful, and technically
sophisticated, because they have to be.  Buzzwords
won't rebuild a crashed server at 2 am.  "Strategic
industry directions" won't get Accounting's latest
spreadsheet to New York in usable form before noon.  The 
techies who run the network care most of all about what 
works, not what has the most attention-getting six-page 
spreads in the trade rags.  If riding "the wave of the 
future" means rebooting the master customer database three 
times a week, they'll move heaven and earth to find some 
way to just stay on the beach, thank you.

And Linux works.  Why it works has a lot to do with 
the open development model and -- perhaps most of all -- 
the absence of marketing pressure to add another feature
or to get something out the door.  Anyone who scans over
the various developer mailing lists connected with Linux
will notice a preoccupation with Doing It Right, i.e. 
designing and implementing code that is robust, elegant, 
flexible, and clear.  This expression of the hacker 
craftsman's esthetic pervades Linux (and its fellows in 
the free software arena, the various flavors of free BSD,
the GNU utilities, XFree86, Apache, and so on).

So it was inevitable -- in 20/20 hindsight -- that,
given the increasing disconnect between arm-waving
marketing hype and the actual facts in the wiring
closet, these resourceful and slightly desperate people
would discover Linux' talents as a server.

Of course, it's taken the trade press a while to catch
on, and it's only now trying to make up for its tardiness
with an avalanche of Linux headlines.  But that's really
not surprising, either:  consider that the national press,
for example, typically covers elections in terms of the
"game" between the candidates, and often misses significant
developments because they overlook the fact that real issues
have real importance to real people, and when all is said
and done it's always the real people, responding individually 
to their own particular situations, who determine the final 

Thanks again for the continuing excellence of your publication.

Craig Goodrich <craig@airnet.net>
Rural Village Systems
Elkmont, Alabama