Stop the Presses

Some breaking news, some old news in a new light, and some shameless preaching...

Have you ever wanted to send e-mail to a Linux developer, but not known what e-mail address to send your mail to? Mike McLagan, with help from Liem Bahneman, has created a new Internet domain called linux.org. If you want to send e-mail to Alan Cox (who is in charge of Linux networking development), but can't remember his e-mail address, you can send it to Alan.Cox@linux.org and it will be correctly forwarded to him. You can send mail for me to johnsonm@redhat.com, and for Linus himself to torvalds@transmeta.com. Pat.Volkerding@linux.org is the maintainer of Slackware, and Mike.McLagan@linux.org maintains this service. If you need to find out what aliases exist, you can get a list of the aliases from ftp.linux.org in the file /pub/info/alias-list. Linux developers only may request an alias from alias-request@linux.org.

Other Services

World Wide Web (WWW or W3), a distributed hypertext application which organizes information across the entire Internet, (see the article by Bernie Thompson on page 9 for an introduction to WWW which explains of all the terms in this paragraph) includes quite a bit of information about Linux. linux.org provides a set of Linux documents all together in one place. The URL is www.linux.org. [The site can now be found at www.linuxresources.com] I was very suprised as I browsed the WWW pages on www.linux.org to find connections to a HTML version of my own book, the Linux Kernel Hackers' Guide, available. There is a lot out there, and it is worth exploring if you have a connection to the Internet.

Another service that linux.org will provide is ftp service from ftp.linux.org. As I write this, the ftp directory on ftp.linux.org is mostly empty, but Mike is asking for help from Linux developers to change this. Mike is considering several other services, which will be announced in forthcoming issues of Linux Journal, and is taking suggestions at Suggestions@linux.org.

Non-Intel Linux

When Linux first came out, Linus said that Linux would be very difficult to port to other architectures. Everyone paid attention when he said this, but no one appeared to notice when he later said that Linux had become much more portable; as portable as most versions or clones of Unix.

For over a year and a half, work has been under way on a port of Linux to the Motorola 680x0, specifically the Amiga. Work went in fits and starts until Hamish MacDonald announced his first port, but since then progress has been rapid. It is now starting to work well, at least for hackers, and supports many common devices. The X Window System has not yet been ported, but Linux/68 compiles itself, has shared libraries, and runs emacs. Join the 680X0 channel of the mailing list if the Linux/68 port interests you. Send an empty mail message to linux-activists-request@niksula.hut.fi for instructions on how to do this.

In the last few weeks, a version for the Atari TT and Falcon has been begun, and now is booting itself. Soon all of these 680x0 platforms should be supported by a single kernel, or at least be built from the same source. Linux/68 has most of the features of Linux/i86 (standard Linux), and is still under development. It requires a 68020 with a seperate MMU or a 68030 or 68040. 68000 and 68010 are not and will not be supported.

Recently, Jim Paradis of DEC announced that he has started work on a port of Linux to the DEC ALPHA chip, and two college students have announced that they have begun work on a port to the PowerMac. DEC has offered to loan Linus an ALPHA to work on an ALPHA port, and IBM has offered to loan Linus a PowerPC to work on a PowerPC port. There is a lot of interest in ports of Linux to new architectures; not only on the part of hackers and even general consumers, but now also by some of the largest companies in the industry.

Brave New Linux

The Linux groups (especially comp.os.linux.misc) have been aflame in the last few weeks with rumors about Novell developing a complete Unix-like environment based on the Linux kernel. These reports, mostly fueled by reports in PC Week, have not been confirmed, but they do demonstrate that interest in Linux is spreading in the “conventional” market and that the “major players” the the computer industry have taken notice.

Even if the rumors are not true (although they sound convincing), the fact that PC Week named Linux its “Product of the Week” is major recognition, since PC Week is heavily oriented towards DOS and Windows, and has historically shown little interest in Unix or unix-like systems.

What can you do to encourage this recognition? I suggest that whenever you order hardware for your Linux box, that no matter who the vendor is, you explain that you will use the hardware with Linux, and ask if the hardware is supported under Linux. Be willing to explain what Linux is if they don't know. Several times, I have had an experience something like this: “Does that work with Linux?” “What's Linux?” “A free Unix-like operating system.” “Free?” “Yes, free.” “How can I get a copy?”...

If you are interested in commercial software applications being made available for Linux, call the company and ask if a Linux version is available. If enough people ask, the company will get the message—software companies do not make a living by ignoring large groups of potential customers. On the other hand, remember that they do not make a profit by making a port that only one person will buy.

Michael K. Johnson is a linux activist, programmer, minor systems administrator, and author who lives with his wife in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Michael is the new editor of Linux Journal.

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