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See also: last week's Linux in the news page.

Linux in the news

Even by latter-day standards, the press coverage of Linux was heavy this last week. We'll start off, as usual, with this week's recommended reading:
  • There is a brief piece in InfoBeads which claims that corporate adoption of Linux is miniscule thus far. They have a couple of bar graphs (comparing Linux to all other Unix systems combined) which are said to demonstrate this point. "...despite the giddy enthusiasm for Linux among the developer community, the reaction in the business camp has been considerably cooler." (Found in LinuxToday).

  • The Red Herring article on free software that we mentioned last week is now available online. "...we've come to see open-source development as only the next in a series of incremental steps toward true open-standards computing. It's a trend being propelled by the success of the Internet, which itself grew out of a vibrant open-source tradition. And it's contributing to a business environment in which services and other extras are increasingly more valuable than software code."

    See also the side articles on hardware makers, Microsoft (halloween memos), software companies, MIS buyers, and startup companies.

  • Nicholas Petreley has put out a lengthy editorial on LinuxWorld; it deals with the question of whether Red Hat will ever become the Microsoft of Linux. He thinks not, and argues the point well. "The fact that Red Hat is the dominant supplier of Linux today is a tribute to its added value and its ability to market its brand. But that by no means gives Red Hat the insurance it will remain in a dominant position. Slackware used to be synonymous with Linux. Red Hat moved in and took Slackware's place. If Red Hat makes enough mistakes, someone else will fill the gap left by Red Hat."

  • Sm@rt Reseller compares three Linux distributions and NT. They liked Linux better, and came to some interesting conclusions: "According to ZDLabs' results... each of the commercial Linux releases ate NT's lunch. Our tests also revealed that Apache for OpenLinux is superior to Apache for Red Hat and SuSE. Moreover, Samba for Red Hat scales better than its counterparts." (Found in Slashdot).

    See also the chart comparing Windows file serving performance; Linux with Samba is the clear winner over the alternatives.

  • PC Week has an interview with Linus Torvalds. "I'm comfortable with the 'Microsoft killer' idea. It's kind of fun to see how people position it, because that wasn't the reason and still isn't the reason I developed Linux. I think Microsoft has been doing a really bad job on their OS, and obviously it's an interesting dynamic to people."

As might be expected, there was much coverage of the various announcements by Compaq, Dell, HP, and SGI. Here's a selection:

  • HP Linux server plan fails to excite users in ComputerWorld claims exactly that - Linux is just another boring operating system choice now.

  • Computer Reseller News coversCompaq's new Alpha/Linux-based servers. "Compaq said it will open up distribution of Linux-based systems to all current Compaq resellers, marking the first time the Alpha line has been moved into broad distribution. The new Alpha/Unix systems, however, will remain under tight certification and will be reserved for those resellers that qualify for Compaq's Enterprise Solution Provider (ESP) program..."

  • Inter@ctive Week covers HP, SGI, and Compaq. "[Compaq VP] Yeaton said Compaq has been qualifying Red Hat Software's version of Linux for both the Alpha and ProLiant servers, and it will make other Linux versions available as well. The version of Linux remains 'the customer's choice'; no single version will bundled on a system, contrary to some reports, he said."

  • The San Jose Mercury covers HP's Linux support. "Even with support from HP and Dell, however, hardware companies as a group still seem to be struggling with how best to offer the OS. IBM and Compaq Computer Corp., for example, have publicly expressed an interest in supporting Linux in some way, but have yet to detail what their plans are."

  • An article in Computer Reseller News talks about Compaq's plans to sell Alpha/Linux servers.

  • InfoWorld has a summary article about HP, Dell, and Compaq. "Compaq is announcing next week support for Linux on its Alpha Server DS20 line. Compaq resellers will have the option of providing any version of Linux on the servers, and will also provide the needed support." (Thanks to Jean-Paul Alderac)

  • News.com has a reasonably detailed article about SGI's Linux move. "[SGI VP] Johnson said SGI plans to sell servers with Linux installed, but the details of how that will happen have yet to be determined. SGI also said it will provide 'full support for Linux,' including support from SGI's technical support staff in the field and at the company. That support will be at the same level as for its current high-end server line."

  • News.com has some more information about Red Hat and Dell's upcoming announcement. "Under the alliance, Red Hat will announce that specific configurations of two Dell servers--the PowerEdge 1300 and PowerEdge 2300--have been certified to work with Red Hat's Linux, said a Dell spokesman."

  • The (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer has an article about HP's Linux announcement. "'H-P has seen a market, and they wanted to jump on it,' said Dan Kusnetsky, program director for International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass. 'I would project that once this hits the street, other hardware vendors will be following in rapid-fire succession. Compaq, Silicon Graphics, Dell and IBM will probably bring up the rear.'"

  • Network Computing coversSGI's upcoming Linux announcement and HP's Red Hat deal without adding a whole lot new. "Even with all this momentum, Red Hat doesn't have a lock on the Linux market. Pacific HiTech announced the availability for the first time in the U.S. of TurboLinux 3.0 -- the most popular version of Linux in Asia, with more than one million units sold."

  • News.com also has an article about HP and SGI. "The rapid ascendance of Linux clearly was a surprise to computer heavyweights, and the companies have been scrambling to figure out how to fit the operating system into their product lines."

VA Research was the subject of a fair amount of press attention this week as well.

  • This (short) support-oriented article in ComputerWorld claims that VA Research is about to launch a support program of their own.

  • This San Francisco Chronicle article is a lengthy piece about VA Research. "As Linux continues to pick up steam, VA Research no doubt will face increasing competition from other computer-makers eager to cash in by putting Linux on their systems. But Augustin feels that his company can more than hold its own." (Thanks to Mike Wittman).

  • InfoWorld also ran a brief article about VA Research and their new management team.
Other corporate Linux coverage included:
  • The Industry Standard ran an articleon the server market, with lots of charts showing market share and such from the latest IDC reports.

  • AsiaBizTech has a lengthy article on the increasing adoption of Linux by Japanese companies. "A Shimizu staffer responsible for installation said the reason why Linux was chosen is the stability of the operating system, its robustness without needing a high level of hardware performance and inexpensive cost of coupled hardware and software."

  • Network World Fusion talks about Linux with Sun's John McFarlane. "The movement back toward open systems is superb for Sun. It's a revitalization of open systems, a revitalization of Unix. People have come to the conclusion that NT just may not make it." (NW Fusion is a registration-required site).

  • This ComputerWorld article talks about support options. "[Canadian National Railroad] uses Linux on about 75% of its Web servers and has needed little support."

  • VAR Business has an article about Red Hat's new VAR programs. "There are also high-end, yearly service packages that cost up to $60,000 a year."

  • This article in EE Times talks about the use of Linux in the EDA world. "Until the major PC-based workstation suppliers are willing to support a single, standard version of Linux, it does not make sense for an EDA vendor to embrace the OS. It is prohibitively expensive to take the risk of support, particularly when we factor in the limited budget that most Linux proponents seem to have." The idea that being able to get Linux from more than one vendor is a strength, not a weakness, has yet to get through to a lot of people. (The article as a whole is more positive than this quote suggests).

  • TechWeb the release of Sun's Jini, comparing it to Linux and talking about Sun's licensing. "'Reaction to it in the open source community has been a loud pthfthfthtfht! and rightly so,' [Eric] Raymond said. 'It betrays an utter failure to understand either the community or the dynamics of open source development.'"

  • ZDNet UK ran an article about the Empeg MP3 player for cars (which runs Linux). "Empeg hopes to avoid the wrath of the music industry which is still moaning about Diamond's Rio: the empeg-car's software has been designed to prevent copying onto other media and the company states clearly on its home page that the unit is 'a player and not a mechanism to support music piracy'."

  • Salon Magazine has a brief article about Loki Entertainment Software (scroll down a page). "The inability to play state-of-the-art games under Linux has long plagued Linux-lovers desperate to completely turn their backs on Microsoft."

  • Linux hits Microsoft where it hurts claims News.com in a purely price-oriented article. "Compare the costs of a file and print server for a 25-person group using Linux or NT: NT Server has a street price of $809, including a license for 5 clients. Two more 10-client packs, at $1,129 apiece, brings the total to $3,067. A copy of Linux from Red Hat--one of several companies that offer Linux support--costs $49.95, and the cost doesn't go up if clients have to use the server. Or, for that matter, if you want to install the same copy of Linux on another server, or five other servers, or 50 other servers."
A couple of articles about the "Open Source '99" conference held in London last month:
  • The BBC has some coverage of the conference, with the usual emphasis on Eric Raymond. It also features a number of RealAudio clips from the talks. (Thanks to Ian Danby).

  • The (London) Sunday Times coversthe OpenSource '99 conference and Eric Raymond's talk. "'Our development community sees itself as having been persecuted for a long time,' says Raymond. 'We have continually written better software and lost out to idiots with better marketing. It's made us very angry.' Raymond himself flew into a rage and stormed out of the room when it was suggested that the Open Source culture embodied the communist ideal." There is also a seriously ugly picture of Eric. (Registration required, "cypherpunks" works).

    Le Monde Informatique briefly examines (in French) some European corporate Linux users, including Mercedes-Benz. For non French-capable readers, here's the Babelfish page. (Found in NNL).

There were a few articles on the 2.2 kernel release:

  • PC Week ran this article on how companies are reacting to the 2.2 kernel release. "The new multiprocessor support and advanced caching features in Linux 2.2.0, coupled with the timing of the new kernel, released last week, seem to have given apprehensive mainstream system vendors and many enterprise users the excuse they need to support Linux."

  • PC Week also ran a mostly positive, not entirely clueful review of the 2.2 kernel. "Look out, Microsoft: The new Linux 2.2.0 kernel adds enterprise-critical SMP capabilities to the operating system's proven reliability, flexibility and irresistible price, giving users weary of Windows 2000 delays and shortcomings strong reasons to seriously investigate the platform."

  • "The community developing for Linux moves at a snail's pace" adds this short, critical piece.

  • More hardware support fuels Linux momentum is a general article in TechWeb about the 2.2 kernel, HP, Dell, Compaq, etc. "Like the Energizer bunny, the little penguin that symbolizes Linux keeps on going."

  • Here's an article in the UK-based ComputingNet about the 2.2 kernel release. "This is the release that many industry analysts believe will launch Linux as a viable commercial server operating system." (Thanks to Dave Killick).

  • Multimédium has run an article (in French) that ranges over the 2.2 release, HP, SGI, and more. They also ran AFUL's French press release about the 2.2 kernel. (Babelfish links: for the article and the press release). (Found in NNL).
Folks looking for introductory pieces may want to check out some of the following:
  • Small town press: The Boulder Weekly covers the Linux mini-expo held by the Boulder, CO, LUG last December. The bulk of the article is standard introductory fare.

  • More small town press: The Newtown Bee (Connecticut, U.S.) ran this introductory article a little while back. "The ground ground shakes. A soft rumble is heard two valleys over. The noise, although faint, steadily increases. An army is on the move. Linus Torvalds, a 20s something Finn, leads a rag-tag determined band of mad-as-hell unpaid volunteers. They are on the march" (Thanks to Robert Brand).

  • The Age inaugurates its new "Openline" column, a weekly segment on free software. The initial column is predictably introductory, and well done. "In the near future, auditors may require companies to disclose their degree of open source exposure before a friendly merger. This may greatly reduce the cost to integrate systems."
  • The Age also ran this introductory column on free software in general. "It has even been suggested that open source could have evaded the Y2K issue by encouraging deeper scrutiny and may yet be able to mitigate it in installations where it is a problem. The Millennium Bug may even further drive open source efforts as desperate enterprises turn to it in panic."

  • There is an introductory article in the Saint Petersberg Times. It's quite positive, though the author pushes the "hard to install" theme a bit hard. "...if you work in an office and see your system administrator walk down the hall with a smug, my-servers-never-crash look on his face, there could be a reason for it. It could be called Linux." (Thanks to Douglas Ridgway).

And here's a set of miscellaneous, hard to classify articles.

  • Golgotha Forever! Salon Magazine has written about the effort to resurrect Crack Dot Com's "Golgotha" game, which was released in source form to the net after the company went broke. "Crack dot Com's deal with Red Hat called for the development of a Linux version of Golgotha; producing portable code contributed to the delays that plagued Golgotha and thus to the demise of Crack dot Com. But now the Golgotha programmers are benefiting from the project's cross-platform approach."

  • The Windows Refund story has gotten as far as Malaysia, with this article in The Star. "WHAT if every restaurant served you a Pepsi with every single meal, even if you didn't order it? And what if you have to pay for that Pepsi even if you don't drink it?" (Thanks to Kenny Lim).

  • Ars Technica ("The PC enthusiast's resource") has put together an article about the "arcane" Linux command line interface, and why it exists. "...what often makes Windows and the MacOS seem so easy is something that users often take for granted: they come pre-installed."

  • LinuxWorld ran this editorial by Bob Young on why Linux will not split apart like Unix did. Somehow he manages to say that Linux will stay unsplit because all of the distributions will grab the good stuff, while saying that the distributions will remain different because people like choice. (Found in Slashdot).

  • FrankenLinuxis the title of a ZDTV segment on how to put a system together from old parts. "Turn that crusty old machine into a killer Linux box-- you don't even need a blowtorch."

  • Robin Miller has put up this Andover News Network column about his troubles with cable modem access from @Home, which include incompatiblities with his Linux system. The article is mostly an ISP rant, but his frustrations are certainly shared by a number of Linux users.

  • Salon Magazine has an article about the rewards of getting code into the Linux kernel. "The roster of contributors to the Linux kernel has become a kind of pantheon of respect -- not unlike the academies in various intellectual fields. Linux software is well-built, in part, because a team of dedicated programmers tests new code and guards the kernel with a fair degree of pride." (Found in Slashdot).

February 4, 1999


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