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CNN Dollars & Sense Segment Highlights Linux

Nov 15, 1998, 21:41 (1 Talkback[s])

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James T. Dennis, of Starshine and Linux Gazette's Answer Man fame has written about CNN's TV coverage this weekend.

CNN Dollars & Sense Segment Highlights Linux

This weekend CNN, the world's largest and most widespread Television/Cable news channel, put a brief segment highlighting Linux as the lead item in their "Dollars & Sense" coverage. This played every hour for most of the weekend.

The story prominently featured video clips of many stuffed penguins and red hats.

"The penguin stands for Linux, an operating system that's competing with Windows to run your computer."

There are a few innacuracies ("it's not owned by anyone") and damnations by faint praise ("`I think it was two and a half months without having to reboot'"). (I've had servers with uptimes of over a year!)

There is also the statement by one user (Jim Allen),

"Everything on this computer is free. I paid for nothing."

... which, while probably true, is not what we mean by "free" and is secondary to the reasons why most Linux users have adopted the platform.

Technically savvy Linux users can't help but raise an eyebrow at the CNN reporter's attempt to understand open source in the statement:

"Unlike Microsoft, that closes the blinds to anyone wanting to know the nuts and bolts ... Linux is open and shares it's [sic] so-called source code with everyone"

Oh well! They're trying. (This passage is accompanied by some amusing graphics of the MS Windows logo with a set of venetian blinds closing over it, and then with our mascot, Tux, showing some kernel sources scrolling over/behind his white tummy).

Playing up the Microsoft angle they made an oblique reference to the "Hallowe'en Document" (not by that name, of course) and showed a clip of Mr. Bob Herbold, COO of Microsoft,saying:

"It's up to us to, once again, put an offering out there in the marketplace that makes them hesitate, and say, 'I really should consider Windows'"

I also can't help but note that "hesitation" is the desired effect of FUD --- hesitate to try anything new, go with the flow, accept whatever your vendors ships with etc.

The transcript of CNN's story can be found at:

(Use your "Find in Page" (Navigator) or "Search Text" (Lynx's [/] key) to look for "penguin" to find the start of the story; it' about ten screens down in my layout).

There was also an earlier LinuxToday article pointing to:

... which is apparently an electronically posted precursor to the televised coverage).

The "Hallowe'en Document"


... was covered by LinuxToday at (

... and has resulted in a flurry of press activity, online and in other media. In only a couple of weeks it has been given it's own section on Yahoo!

Will this story bring us a raging new band of Linux newbies? Will Microsoft try to exploit this story as a refutation of the DoJ claims in their ongoing anti-trust investigation

(Ironically the growth of Linux *as free software* might owe quite a bit to the fact that the overwhelming consensus among many aspiring young programmers has been that they couldn't commercially compete based on code quality --- bringing many to the conclusion that "giving it away" was the only option that would make quality operating system software available for their own use. That this has opened up some business opportunities for secondary and derivative businesses -- such as Red Hat, and Caldera to package and enhance the core free systems, is merely a footnote. We can only hope that our judicial representatives can see through this flavour of FUD and fog).