Subject: Re: Your article in the globe (2/5)
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 20:43:06 +0100 (MET)

> There were a few errors (notably
> that linux is developed under the auspices of the FSF), but they 
> pale in comparison to the service that you've done for free sofware.


The exact text of the paper is:

> The heart of Linux is a kernel of software written by a Finnish
> graduate student. Most of the rest was prepared by hundreds of
> programmers worldwide, working in their spare time, under the auspices
> of the Free Software Foundation in Cambridge.

and as far as I know this is largely true. I will not dispute
percentages, but the FSF owns a lot of the credit for Linux
environment (and certainly for the economic model), and some goes to
people who were neither in the FSF nor included directly in the Linux
effort.
  
 But I am prepared to stand corrected if my understanding of history
is wrong.

  The article is very good, but could sometimes do with a bit of
context (though I do realize that such articles have space and
technicality constraints). I recently installed Linux, Red-Hat 5.0 and
all I had to do was to press carriage-return (except for disk
partitioning, which is required by all operating systems, and is
fairly easy with Red Hat 5.0).

> But for all this, Linux is condemned to a narrow slice of the
> market. Want to know why? Try installing it sometime. I've tried three
> different CD-ROM versions of Linux over the past several months, and
> setting them up has been an experiment in terror.  Even the best of
> them, offered by Red Hat Software of Durham, N.C., went blooey when it
> encountered the video card in my IBM Aptiva test machine. There are
> solutions to nearly every Linux problem. But to find them, you have to
> hang out on the Internet and hope for the best.

  But:
   - windows comes pre-installed, and most users have no problem
because the work has been done already (advantage of market
domination, not related to technology)
   - some drivers are missing, because the Linux community must
program them. Microsoft never has that problem, because card makers
will provide the necessary drivers.

   The day Linux has a sizeable part of the market and card makers
become aware of it, and that may be soon, the drivers will be provided
by card makers. And if resellers start selling Linux preinstalled, the
former problem disappears too (as well as the latter, of course)

  And at this time, from the figures I have, Linux is already a larger
market than all commercial brands of Unix put together, on all
platforms, by a large margin. On the Intel platform alone, it is at
least 4 or 5 times as large as the others, probably much more.

 But I do agree that Netscape could possibly enter the game and speed
things up. This would significantly change the structure of the
market, and make it a lot more competitive.

Cordialement

   Bernard Lang





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