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Salon: The Linux jihad

Dec 15, 2000, 13:09 (14 Talkback[s])

"...As the year 2000 limps to a close, the days when Slashdot's name was at the tip of every tech pundit's tongue, and Linux's rise to world domination seemed a foregone conclusion, are suddenly long gone. The prominence of free software in the tech and financial press has sharply declined. I mean, you know the buzz is fading fast when media outlets become so bored that they can't even muster the energy to harp on the declining stock prices of Linux companies. Sure, the dot-com downturn is responsible for a lot of the deflation, as is the normal news cycle that treats yesterday's news as, well, yesterday's news, but was it really only a year ago that VA Linux was breaking all records for IPO debuts?"

"The funny thing is, Macleod's recapitulation of present-day hacker society as the cyberpunk science fiction past is a signal that, even while stock prices and media buzz are down, the cultural spread of free software and hacker social mores is alive and well. And that's not just because of the natural synergy between science fiction and programming. On the contrary, it's yet more fallout from the ascendance of the Internet. Free software hacker culture is at the heart of the Net, and now that the Net is at the heart of daily life reflections of that reality are popping up in all kinds of expected and unexpected places."

"It's not just in science fiction novels written by former programmers that we find jokes about firewalls, cross-platform integration and Unix. The same kind of stuff is turning up in academic journals, interwoven with references to Derrida. And even though cynics are now busy decrying the end of open-source software as a business strategy, and are even going so far as to lament that the thrill is gone, the sense of fun that is at the core of hacking something new -- that got people hacking on things like Linux in the first place -- is still vital. You just have to know where to look for it, and right now, that place is not in Red Hat or VA Linux's quarterly earnings reports."

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