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Salon: The Free Software Project

Mar 06, 2000, 16:59 (1 Talkback[s])

[ Excerpted from a the text of a book to be published by the author - LT ed. ]

"Chapter 1: Boot Time
Part 1: Linus Torvalds at the Villa Montalvo"

"So perhaps the half-eagle, half-lion stone griffins that guard the narrow winding road up to the Villa Montalvo were not too surprised to see, one rainy morning in January 2000, a horde of journalists, analysts, chip designers, money men and high-tech industry flacks invade their peaceful territory. For this was no ordinary press conference; this was the ultimate Silicon Valley dog-and-pony show. A company named Transmeta -- notorious, on the one hand, for being the most secretive start-up in the valley, and on the other, for employing one of the world's most famous programmers, Linus Torvalds* -- was about to raise the curtain on its tomorrowland product. The next little piece of the mythological Californian future was at hand. Who would dare miss it?"

"Splayed out across my lap, as I sat in the small theater where Transmeta execs, grinning from ear to ear, declaimed upon their unique 'code morphing' software and the astonishingly low power consumption of their chips, lay my own cherished gadget, a brand-spanking-new Sony Vaio laptop computer of which I was inordinately proud."

"It wasn't just the sleek, burnished design or the feather-like weight that pleased me about my laptop. My laptop made me happy because, in microcosm, it exemplified some of the changes sweeping through the software industry that were personified, on a much larger scale, by Transmeta's products and Torvalds' code. When I bought the machine, it came installed with Windows 98. But with surprisingly little trouble, I was able to transform it into a 'dual-boot' system: Depending upon my whim, I could choose which operating system the computer loaded, or 'booted up,' first -- in this case, Windows 98 or Red Hat Linux 6.1."

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