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Computer Reseller News (AU): Tux Looks for a Bigger Bite

Apr 16, 1999, 09:47 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Stuart Kennedy)

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BY STUART KENNEDY

Tux the magic Linux penguin appears set to bite far larger pieces of human anatomy than Linus Torvald's finger. Like Bill Gates' increasingly exposed rear end.

Linux legend, Torvalds, came up with the penguin moniker for the OS he sired after being bitten by one of the birds during a visit to Canberra zoo.

Since then, the chilly birds have been migrating north, south, east and west. Linux, in less than a decade, has moved from being an underground plaything for hard core geeks, to respectable Internet server O S, to dark horse NT competitor, to desktop operating system contender.

In a frenzy, which demonstrates the software industry's hatred of Microsoft as much as it represents a love of Linux, software vendor after software vendor has rolled out or pledged Linux ports. Oracle, CA, Corel, Lotus, Adobe, Novell are all madly porting away while brand name hardware vendors like IBM, Dell and Compaq will ship Linux boxes.

This activity has not gone unnoticed in the Redmond bunker. Late last month, while droning on about his new book and giving Microsoft's latest buzz marketing term "The Digital Nervous System" its weekly hamm ering, Gates took time out to slip the shiv to Linux.

"There has certainly been a lot of free software out there for the last 20 years," Gates said. "The main thing that has held that back is that it's free software, there's no central point of control. So wha t you see with Linux, and other things, is you get a proliferations of different versions and everybody can go into the source code, and everybody does.

"But what creates confusion regarding which applications work with which versions," he said, "because there is no central testing organisation."

A pretty poor FUD from Gates, especially from someone sitting in an antitrust court charged with abusing his "central point of control." And Gates' statement contradicts Microsoft internal memos conceding th e open source meritocracy writes robust source code.

But Gates was only getting warmed up. Next came a spruik on the wonders of Windows system management software, a stab at Linux's supposed lack of a GUI and shot at driver support.

"We put things into our system like systems management that's not that much fun for university developers," said Gates. "Linux doesn't have that stuff. It doesn't have the graphics interface. It doesn't ha ve the rich set of device drivers

"So certainly we think of it as a competitor in the student and hobbyist market. But I really don't think in the commercial market, we'll see it in any significant way."

"Gates should spend a weekend educating himself with a Linux install or two. To his shock and horror he would find numerous window managers and graphical interfaces, such as Gnome, which make Windows look du ll, boring and featureless. He would also find any number of system management tools, but he does score a point on the drivers - it often takes months for the Linux community to code drivers for fresh hardware, especially when manufacturers won't disclose their firmware details to open source zealots.

But after all it was a start in Microsoft's anti-Linux campaign. I expect much more penguin baiting from Bill and the troops in the months to come.

Reprinted with permission from Computer Reseller News (Australia). Here is the original article. (75K size) -lt ed

Copyright Stuart Kennedy, Computer Reseller News DWR publishing, http://www.itnews.com.au