Subject: Re: why Linux is popular (was Re: the walls have ears)
From: hecker@netscape.com (Frank Hecker)
Date: Sun, 06 Jun 1999 21:16:38 -0400

craig@jcb-sc.com wrote:
> Linux is finally doing what no combination of other UNIX variants
> was likely ever going to be able to achieve: convince high-end vendors
> like, if not specifically, Oracle, to port their server software to
> UNIX, not *just* WNT.  Oracle might have already been doing that,
> but lots of vendors weren't, until Linux hit.)

Not to nitpick, but Oracle and many many other "high-end" vendors have
been selling their server software on Unix for years; in fact some
high-end server software (e.g., some of the high-end e-commerce software
sold by Netscape) is available only on Unix and not on NT.

I still think your overall point is valid though: Linux is significant
not because it is Unix-like but mainly because it is an alternative to
NT with potentially comparable (or even greater) market share, and one
resistant to monopoly control by any single vendor. This makes Linux
attractive not only high-end vendors like Oracle (who already had Unix
ports) but also to mid-range and low-end vendors who otherwise would
have released products only for NT.

In general I agree with Nicholas Petreley's opinions (expressed in his
LinuxWorld columns) about why Linux is attractive to software vendors as
a platform for their products; see for example

http://www.linuxworld.com/linuxworld/lw-1999-06/lw-06-penguin_1.html

Petreley emphasizes both the free/gratis aspect of Linux (which protects
it from price competition from Microsoft) and the free/libre aspect
(which protects non-OS software vendors from unfair competition from a
monopoly OS provider).

This distinction between Linux and NT also has implications for FSBs who
are not Linux distributors: an FSB supplying software for NT would not
be as vulnerable as a vendor of proprietary software to price
competition by Microsoft, but would be just as vulnerable to Microsoft
bundling competitive functionality in NT itself.  On the other hand,
while an FSB supplying software for Linux could be negatively impacted
by a Linux distribution vendor bundling competitive functionality with
their Linux distribution, the FSB would still have opportunities to
provide software to users of other distributions and could (if desired)
pursue bundling deals with other Linux vendors. 

Frank
-- 
Frank Hecker            Work: http://people.netscape.com/hecker/
hecker@netscape.com     Home: http://www.hecker.org/