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This week in Linux history

Three years ago (May 28, 1998 LWN): The Linux Weekly News moved to its own domain at lwn.net. If you haven't updated your bookmarks yet, it's probably about time.

Perhaps one of the more important events that took place at Linux Expo was the BOF on the proposed Linux standard base. The LSB was seeking to create a standard for Linux systems, such that an application that runs on one compliant system will run on them all. This worthwhile effort is alive and well. LSB 0.9 was released a couple of weeks ago, and the 1.0 release is expected in the next few months.

Our nomination for FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) of the week went to PC Week's Case Against Linux.

... Linux is a communist operating system in a capitalist society. Its popularity is going to lead toward its fragmentation. There are several for-sale versions of Linux available. For example, both Corel and Interbase said they'd support Red Hat Linux. Does this leave Caldera in the dust? What about the other for-sale Linux distributors, each of which has access to the original source code, and each of which can modify it to their liking?

The author was our old friend John Taschek; anybody who wonders if he has learned anything in the last three years need only look at his comments on the Mundie affair.

Transmeta was still a mystery. Salon Magazine ran The Transmeta Enigma.

Once upon a time, only a Pynchon would have dared such silliness. And only a Pynchon could have conjured up the Transmeta scenario: A start-up company backed in part by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen attracts international attention by hiring one of the most famous programmers in the world -- free-software hero Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system. Then it refuses to say a single word about what he or the rest of the company is cooking up behind closed doors.

According to the The Star Online in Malaysia, IBM had no plans for Linux. The Star wrote, "...our customers are concerned about liability issues when using public code for mission-critical applications." Perhaps, but that obviously has nothing to do with IBM's plans for Linux.

Red Hat Linux 5.1 was released.

Two years ago (May 27, 1999 LWN): Linux Expo '99 had just completed. LWN commented:

Nothing is written in stone, but it seems unlikely that Linux Expo will be able to recapture its former position as the primary trade show for Linux.

In fact, the 1999 event was the last Linux Expo.

Alan Cox released 2.3.3ac3 with some small changes. Alan had said, previously that the "ac" patches would go away when 2.3 became active. Now the "ac" patches are an established part of Linux kernel development.

SGI announced it would release their XFS file system for Linux under an open source license. It was almost a year later before the first developer release, and XFS 1.0 only came out a few weeks ago.

The LWN distributions page wondered if Mandrake had a future. Linux-Mandrake started out as a version of Red Hat with KDE integrated. Red Hat's latest distribution included KDE. Mandrake already had a loyal following of users though, who appreciated Mandrake's greater use of Pentium optimizations, more current software, and better responsiveness to its users and with the Lothar project, a nicer system for the configuration of hardware. Two years later, MandrakeSoft is in the news again, but nobody really doubts its place in the Linux community or the Linux commercial arena.

InfoWorld reported that Pacific HiTech was on the move, attempting to carry its dominance in the Asian Linux market to the U.S. Actually, this was when Pacific HiTech changed its name to TurboLinux after its Linux distribution. (They now spell it with a small 'l' - Turbolinux.)

A partnership with IBM was part of the plan, with IBM optimizing DB2 for the TurboLinux distribution and the two companies working together on sales and future development. IBM also announced it would provide support services for TurboLinux. The deployment of over 600 IBM Netfinity servers running TurboLinux at Kyoto Sangyo University provided an impressive start to the IBM / TurboLinux partnership as well.

Two years later Turbolinux has all of 1.2% of the American Linux market.

Slackware 4.0 was released.

One year ago (May 25, 2000 LWN): EBiz Enterprises officially acquired LinuxMall.com, in a deal that was intended to be the reverse. EBiz, best known for TheLinuxStore.com, was already a public company. LinuxMall wanted to be one, but the market wasn't going to let that happen. The initial plan was for LinuxMall to be the controlling company after the merger; Forbes called it A Marriage Made In Linux Heaven:

Under the agreement, LinuxMall will end up controlling the new company, even though it is being acquired. "They're buying us, but it's not quite a one-for-one stock swap," says Shaw, who will be CEO of the merged company. "We ended up with a larger share of the stock, as well as control of the board." Jeffrey Rassas, founder and CEO of eBiz, will become president of the combined company.

By the time the deal was completed, however, EBIZ had a rather stronger position than had originally been contemplated.

Lineo, Inc. went ahead and filed for an IPO, in spite of the market. This Open Season column in Upside compares Lineo to Linuxcare.

Finally, there is the issue of growth. Like Linuxcare, Lineo has emerged out of the woodwork within the last 18 months thanks to an aggressive campaign to grow over the 200-employee mark by IPO-time. Since the beginning of April, the company has tripled in size, acquiring no less than six new companies. The company spent $6.7 million on UK competitor Zentropic, adding another $1.2 million for smaller engineering shops such as USE, Fireplug and RT-Control. Such costs do not include the discount equity packages offered to the new engineers coming on board.

Lineo is still waiting for the market to change.

Eric Raymond hacked up a new kernel configuration scheme.

Caldera Systems reported second quarter results. It was the first time since the company went public. For the quarter ending April 30, they brought in $1.4 million - up from $544,000 a year ago. They managed to lose $9.2 million during the quarter.

VA Linux Systems, meanwhile, announced revenue of almost $35 million. One year later, the same quarterly announcement proclaimed revenue of just over $20 million. Ouch.

PHP 4.0 was released.

May 24, 2001

LWN Linux Timelines
1998 In Review
1999 In Review
2000 In Review
2001 In Review


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