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Recommended Reading:

This October interview with Jon "maddog" Hall ranges over a bunch of topics, but also mentions what he got out of speaking at a recent IBM Linux summit in Austin, Texas, USA. "What did I get out of it? I was particularly struck by the bullet on the slide that said something along the lines of "software inside IBM would now be considered to be Open Source unless there was some reason to make it closed." This was an awesome statement, more powerful than a lot of people might realize, and I used it at a meeting of scientists at Brookhaven National Labs the next week." (Thanks to Christof Damian)

Inspired By Work is an article in November's issue of Fast Company featuring Eric Raymond. This is probably the start of a press blitz on Eric, to highlight attention on his new book. However, the focus of the article does remain on open source, not Eric. "One of the most powerful features of the open-source model is its capacity to hold down global complexity. The structure of work and communication in the hacker community is decentralized and distributed. Also, many different groups of people are working on many different software modules, each of which is relatively small and simple, and all of which have to be compatible in the end. That's a good way to write software." (Thanks to Evelyn Mitchell)

Alan Cox writes about the risks of closed-source computing in this osOpinion piece. "No company now would commit to a closed hardware strategy. It would cost them more than using commodity components. Just as importantly, it would commit them to a single source for support and parts. Why then do they commit to a single software supplier? A closed source strategy exposes the company to serious business risk. As many telephony companies have discovered, your OS supplier might suddenly decide to be your competitor."

Richard Brandt at UpsideToday.com has been following and reporting on Sun's recent moves with regards to Linux for a while. The latest indepth article takes a look at the Sun Community Source License (SCSL), with feedback from Sun's Bill Joy and comments from Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman. It is a long, but worth reading, article. The debate clearly wasn't settled and people seem unlikely to budge. "After considering the views of some people who actually know what they are talking about, including Joy's, I have changed my opinion a bit. Sun does "get" the open source movement. It is simply unwilling to embrace it. "

Open Source:

The Open Source mystique, written by Art Whitmann, takes a look at open source and then tells Microsoft, Sun and Apple to learn the real lesson: "So my advice is simple. Sun, Netscape, Apple, Microsoft: Forget about opening up your source code. No one gives a damn about seeing how your applications were built. You won't even offer any assurances that modifications made to any particular version or source code will even be possible in the next version, so why bother? Instead, take the time to talk to the people who love Open Source and figure out why they do. You aren't close enough to the users in the trenches and you certainly aren't responsive enough to their needs. That's why the vast majority love Open Source."

A second article on the role of academia in open source was recently published by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle is a subscription only site, so we can't provide a URL for the article on-line. However, we can quote a few relevant paragraphs:

In the realm of software, only open-source tools make their underpinnings readable. In many ways, only open-source software fits philosophically with the fundamentals of scholarship.


If our graduates are predominantly trained in open-source tools, the world's open-source library will grow and improve. If every grant from the National Science Foundation presumes that the resulting programs will be open source (unless a case is made against doing so), better resources will be developed. As our university programmers develop open-source solutions to common problems (such as developing the underpinnings for a data base of sound clips, or a self-teaching spell-checker, or a content-mining software agent), then other people at other institutions can see how it was done, be saved the expense of reinventing the wheel, perhaps improve the code, and help to create at least a slightly improved world.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Red Hat's upcoming Linux news site, called "Wide Open," which will debut sometime next month. "[Chief editor] Mitchell and Red Hat say the site -- to debut early next month at www.wideopen.com -- will be an independent look at all things open source. If that means writing something flattering about a Red Hat competitor, or negative about Red Hat, so be it."

Reviews and Interviews:

LinuxPlanet has a review of "The No B.S. Guide To Red Hat Linux". "This book will, of course, age quickly. It's full of references to Linux applications that are currently state of the art, so in a year's time it won't be as great a guide.

But if you need to convert to Redhat 6 now, rush out and buy! "

The latest in sendmail.net's flurry of interviews is this one with Kirk McKusick. "The way it was characterized politically, you had copyright, which is what the big companies use to lock everything up; you had copyleft, which is free software's way of making sure they can't lock it up; and then Berkeley had what we called 'copycenter,' which is 'take it down to the copy center and make as many copies as you want.' You want to go off and do proprietary things with it? Fine, you can do that."


Mike Gerdts pointed out this article and, in particular, the quote, ""Gateway needs a service provider for low-cost Internet appliances, and AOL's confidence in Gateway, given the other PC makers they could've invested in," is probably due to whatever technology Amiga is developing, surmised Richard Doherty, president of consulting firm Envisioneering Group." Remember, Mike mentioned, the new Amiga is supposed to be running Linux ...

This article in Computer Reseller News claims that Lotus will release Notes for Linux in November. "After initially snubbing the open-source-code operating system, Lotus President Jeff Papows said last January that the Cambridge-based company would ship a Linux version of the groupware/messaging system by year's end. This week's announcement at Lotusphere Berlin, and availability of the software next month, make good on that pledge."

LinuxValley covers (in Italian) the presence of Linux at the huge SMAU technical conference in Milan, Italy. "Sicuramente la presenza di maggiore impatto 'scenografico' e stata quella di Red Hat Italia, con uno stand accattivamente, colorato, ricco di materiale pubblicitario (compresi i palloncini rossi e bianchi, che i meno distratti avranno potuto notare in giro per tutta la fiera)." ("Certainly the presence with the most 'scenic' impact was that of Red Hat Italia with an attention-grabbing, colored booth rich with publicity materials (including red and white balloons, which the more attentive will have noticed all around the event" - editor's translation). English text (sort of) available via Babelfish.

Here's a Reuters article on Corel's stock price swings. "'The Linux sector was dead as a doornail for a while and it's coming back fairly strong today,' [fund manager] Stewart said."


AboutLinux.com has published Mailbag #4. Mailbags are a collection of letters from readers and responses, cataloguing people's experience with Linux, their successes and their problems.

Salon Magazine reports on the University of Michigan study. "It can't be very much longer before free-software hackers start regretting how high their media profile has become in these open-source software crazed days. How are they supposed to get any work done?"

Here is a well-considered opinion (read sarcasm here) on Linux in Windows NT Magazine. "Finally, even if the software were free, I wouldn't revert from Windows 98 to DOS, so I can't imagine why Windows NT users would want to switch to Linux. This way of thinking is like saying, 'The latest, most advanced stone-age flint chips ever sold. Trade your gas furnace for one today!' I'm sure I'll see where Linux actually performs once I get it installed, but I doubt I'll find anything interesting or new." (Thanks to Joerg Danne).

The Straw Man behind the Straw Poll takes a look at the recent resurgence in "slightly hazy, non-rigorous reportage and un-checked, un-verifiable opinion pieces". What's behind them? "In short, that the detractors are often clutching at straws, and that there are less and less issues of substance which can be invoked against Linux and Open Source. We can be comfortable (but not smug) in the knowledge that if this is the best that the competitors of the platform can muster, by way of obfuscation or FUD, we are slowly but surely pulling ahead. Let's keep at this in a steady, reasoned and confident manner. "

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol

October 28, 1999


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