Subject: Re: So, tell me this is a stupid service to try to sell
From: (Bruce Perens)
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1999 20:16:52 -0800 (PST)

From: Russell Nelson <>
> (I have sinned, St. IGNUcious, forgive me!)

First, let me point out a bit of partisanship for Tim's sake.

> I just want to rent a machine for a period of time, knowing
> that it's got a secure vanilla installation of one of the above OS's.

I've always been able to get free net access to any flavor of machine from
the people who develop the system or distribution. So, your service would only
be of help to people who need the machine in front of them, except that in the
case of proprietary OS like SunOS, the vendors run free loaner programs for
developers. I have worked on free loaners from DEC, Sun, Apollo, HP, IBM, and

So, what you are left with is Linux. And the answer there is that it's so
easy and cheap to install a bootable Linux system on a Jaz disk that nobody
shops this out.

The best way to do this is by subscription. Sell PC systems with Jaz and CD
drives. Keep them as homogenous as you can as far as their hardware details
are concerned. Sell subscriptions where you get a stack of CDs every month,
and thse CDs can be copied, quickly and noninteractively, to the Jaz disks
to create a known vanilla version of a distribution. That way, you can always
quickly and easily recover to the vanilla system.