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MSNBC: Screen Wars; Eazel to affect computing the way the Mac did?

Dec 04, 2000, 15:06 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steven Levy)

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"While the job of revamping Macintosh and Windows obviously belongs to their respective stewards, the same can't be said for the upstart Linux system. Nobody owns this Unix-based operating system built around the code first created by Finnish programmer Linus Torvalds. And so, transforming Linux, whose interface reflects its roots as a geek playground where civilians are unwelcome, has been a job up for grabs. A couple of groups have attempted to produce a crude graphical interface, but until a new company named Eazel came along, no one was willing to take the step to create a world-class interface."

"The reason we started the company is simple--we felt that free software is better, in a big way," says Hertzfeld. Making Linux usable is "a huge task," he adds. "We have to start somewhere, so we decided that making a system shell was really the linchpin." Then Eazel plans to make money by hosting a suite of paid subscription services that efficiently handle the chores of managing files and updating programs over the Net."

"But what's interesting about Eazel's software, called Nautilus (now in "preview release"), is not how it tries to tame Linux, but the improvements it attempts on the good old GUI. ... Can Eazel really make the sort of dent in the universe that the Mac did? As a modest start-up company competing in the marketplace of ideas against the established giants, it faces an uphill climb, especially since Linux-based businesses have suffered crashes in valuation along with the dot-bomb crowd. Still, just this week Dell is set to announce that it will sell Eazel-powered Linux computers to business customers. So Eazel is at least in the game."

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