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There were a few interesting developments around the business of Linux this week. Here's an overview:

  • The new Netscape/Sun alliance has made it known that the new version of the Netscape Application Server, due out this fall, will not run on Linux. Remember that, a few months ago, Netscape was saying that Linux would be a "top tier" platform. So this is a fairly large change in tune.

    Some Linux users (or potential users) will certainly not be pleased about the lack of availability of the application server. Many others will point out that Linux does not lack for application server products, including at least two top-quality free ones (Zope and Midgard).

    It is, an any case interesting to ponder on the reasons for the about-face. Certainly a Linux port can not be a hard thing to do - though the costs of testing and support for a new platform are never that small. Also relevant here are the reports that Sun has been pushing IBM to include Solaris on all of their Netfinity server systems. Could it be that Sun, while presenting a "we think Linux is great" face to the world, is more worried about Linux than it is letting on?

  • IBM and VA Linux Systems have both jumped into the support arena. IBM will offer 90-day support with its Netfinity servers, and will have broader support offerings as well. VA will be selling support contracts with its systems, including extensive, 24x7 plans. The support business is starting to get crowded, clearly a lot of people see money to be made there. It is not clear that these fortunes have yet materialized for anybody; Linux early adoptors tend to be a fairly self-reliant bunch. That may well change, though, as the Linux user base expands.

  • Motorola's Computing Group has set up its own Linux page. Therein they state: "MCG is excited about the rapidly increasing role Linux is playing in the embedded computing and network server worlds. We are looking forward to offering our customers a low-cost, powerful UNIX operating system that can be used as a foundation for their product solutions." The site is just beginning to get off the ground; currently it includes patches for people running Linux on Motorola systems, support for "hot swap" PCI, some HOWTO information, and a forum area.

    Motorola, of course, is a major force in the embedded computing world. Their support can only help to bring about an already likely outcome: a very large role for Linux in embedded systems.

Microsoft is right, claims Eric Raymond, at least when it comes to AOL's Instant Messenger protocols. In this particular area, where AOL holds the cards, Microsoft has developed a sudden interest in open standards and protocols. Eric predicts that they will win this particular battle, and that everybody should benefit from that victory.

A Transmeta processor in the new Amiga? Rumors are easily started, but this one might just have some reality. It seems that, at last weekend's "World of Amiga" conference, a slide went up showing the logos of the companies working on the new system. On that list was ever-mysterious Transmeta. Thus starts the rumor that the new Amigas will use the processor that Transmeta is rumored to be creating.

It would be fun to watch things play out that way. The end result could be the resurrection of an old favorite platform, based on a blazingly fast and inexpensive chip, all running Linux, but having no trouble with Windows applications. Such a system might just achieve some success. If that's what is really going on.

For some "wild speculation" on what could be happening, see this posting on Deja.com. Then consider this followup by Jim Collas, president of Amiga. Maybe the speculation isn't so wild after all.

Meanwhile, it has also been announced that Corel's products will be supported on the Amiga. A lot of interesting pieces appear to be coming together here.

Problems with Red Hat's community stock offering. It seems that simply getting "the letter" from Red Hat is not sufficient for those who wish to buy their stock at the IPO price. Before being part of the IPO, it is necessary to get through a web-based test on E*Trade. It would appear that quite a few people are being told that they are not eligible to participate in the IPO. Needless to say, this is creating a fair amount of frustration, especially among those who opened E*Trade accounts for the sole purpose of buying this stock.

It's not clear where the problem is. According to some, the difficulty is SEC regulations which are intended to keep novice investors from getting burned. Others put the blame firmly on E*Trade's shoulders. And some have gotten annoyed with Red Hat, though there doesn't seem to be any reason to blame them.

For those who have not yet gone through the process, the key to eligibility seems to be to appear to be a long-time, seasoned investor. Those who are interested in more information may want to wade through this Slashdot topic.

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July 29, 1999


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