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Editors' Note: Happy 10th Birthday Linux Today!

Oct 10, 2008, 23:05 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

Ten years and going strong is quite an achievement. In that time LT has survived the dot-bomb and many changes. The archives have been maintained and are still available, which I think is pretty amazing-- you can go all the way back to the very first Linux Today story: Apache 1.3.2 is released. Check out the Talkbacks to that article:
"Time travile *is* possible. I am posting a comment to the first Article on Linux Today from four years in the future! Happy 4'th LinuxToday, four years from now. :-) "
You'll also see a familiar name, GreyGeek, who has been haunting these hallowed halls almost from the beginning. It's nice to see a lot of familiar names as I cruise through these old stories. There is a simple trick to finding the old stories: the URL for the very first one is linuxtoday.com/stories/0001.html. Of course the poor thing gets squeezed through a gauntlet of redirects, but you can increment the story number to see those original stories.

LT's physical appearance was different then. I've also been a regular reader almost from its inception, though I don't recall what it looked like back then. The Wayback Machine has partial archives, though it looks like a few page elements might be missing. It was founded by Dave Whitinger and was a successful independent publication until he sold it to Internet.com in 1999, which was later acquired by Jupitermedia. There are no flies on Dave; he went on to start several more successful ventures, including Dave's Garden and LXer.com. Dave's Garden is huge; it is one of the largest and most successful gardening sites on the Web.

Since then Linux Today has seen a number of editors pass through, but I'd say the two with the most lasting impact were Michael Hall and Brian Proffitt. Both are calm, rational men who don't hop up and down in panicky freakouts with every new crisis, but just plow their way through and take care of business. Maybe they freak out later. Me, I like to get my freakouts over with and out of the way. At any rate they're wonderful role models, so when I'm sitting here fuming with a mad desire to stab someone between the head, I ask myself "What would Michael or Brian do?" I go ahead and sharpen a knife just in case, but most times that's as far as it goes.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

But I digress. To me ten years seems like a long time, and things should be different. But some things never seem to change:
...as Linux enters the desktop arena, it is inevitable that Linux GUI alternatives will be compared to Microsoft's Windows GUI environment... The fact that I have purchased and installed a commercial software product on my computer does not give the commercial software developer or vendor the right to use my computer for their marketing purposes. The Windows desktop environment, installed on the majority of the planet's computers, has turned into the world's largest billboard." Abhijeet Chavan, March 22, 2000

"This year will see Linux finally crack the lucrative desktop market as more commercial software vendors tool up and cash in on the operating system and kernel developers improve graphical interface integration says cult hero and Linux founder Linus Torvalds." Rodney Gedda, 15/01/2004

"At the risk of being repetitive, though, I'm going to go ahead and say it: 2008 really could be the year of the Linux desktop." Joe Brockmeier, November 15th, 2007

It seems that people want a big dramatic change, but as with most things, change is incremental and depends on continual, ongoing effort.

Here is a tech support tale from 2000 that was all too common then, and is still too common now:

"Over the course of the two-hour installation, I learned a lot from the installer while I tried to pump him for information about how the service worked once a connection had been negotiated.

Linux, it turns out, is "DHCP based, which is incompatible with TCP." Furthermore, Linux "doesn't have the power to handle the fastest connections." Oh, he allowed, it might cope with a 384k connection, but the 1.5 meg service I'd ordered would slaughter it.

"Funny," I said, "I write about Linux and I was never aware of this limitation."

"Oh, yeah," he replied, "Linux is like that. Of course, it's been about ten years since I used it, but it can't be any better. It's just sorta built like that. You wouldn't be able to surf the web with it anyhow... it can't handle graphics. That's why I'm Microsoft certified now... I'm one of a special group that got to beta test Windows 98 for free!"

He's one of a special group, all right.

Good Things Don't Just Happen

It is good to remember that good things don't just happen; they take a lot of work and time and talent. I'm probably not the only grumpy oldtimer who views the rampaging hordes of Linux noobs, drawn largely by Ubuntu, with an askance eye. On the one hand, all the growth and excitement is good. But on the other hand they're bringing a lot of bad habits with them. They're caught up by free as in no cost, being cool, and don't understand free as in freedom. They make demands as though they were entitled to everything right now (I have some embarrassing memories of doing that myself), and don't understand about being part of a community where there is the expectation that everyone can participate in some way. This is a radical concept when the dominant vendors in the personal computing world are all about controlling and micro-managing what customers can do with their own property. Giving something back doesn't have to be a big dramatic thing-- I think the two most important things an inexperienced Linux user can do are to pass on what they learn to other noobs, and to support a helpful, polite atmosphere wherever they participate.

As usual I find myself rambling on too long, so I'm going to wind this up. Thank you all for being Linux Today readers and supporters, and I hope to celebrate LT's 20th birthday with you!

All-Time Top 10

Editor's Note: Beware of Suits Bearing Code
Linus Torvalds: And oh, btw..2.4.0 is out
Joe Pranevich -- Wonderful World of Linux 2.4 (Quite Nearly There Edition)
Silicon.com: Linux Hackers Crack Xbox Console
UPDATED: Richard Stallman -- Boycott Amazon!
Joe Pranevich: Wonderful World of Linux 2.4
Stallman on Qt, the GPL, KDE, and GNOME
Red Hat: ext3 information
Guest Column: Will Open Source Lose the Battle for the Web?
Spec.org: Second Quarter 2000 SPECweb99 Results [Linux beats Windows 2000 in benchmark]