Well.... the fact that there is no “Linux Company” really disturbs some people and amazes others. This question shows how many people misunderstand the Linux development process and how people expect all products (except for maybe shareware) to be developed inside companies and then sold. The people who make up the Linux Community (as close to an all-inclusive organization as Linux has come) showcase the power of the Internet to bring people together to produce something useful and are the antithesis of the crackers who use the Internet for vandalism and destruction.
The answer to this is “sort of”. Most free software for Unix is available for Linux. In addition, many software companies are selling their products for use under Linux—for example, the advertisers in this magazine. Finally, Linux has SCO, SVR3, and SVR4 emulation, so it is possible to run SCO, SVR3, and SVR4 binaries under Linux.
See the articles “The Roger Maris Cancer Center—Depending on Linux” (Issue 5, Sept. 1994), “Linux in Antarctica” (Issue 7, Nov. 1994), and “Virginia Power—Linux Hard at Work” (Issue 9, Jan. 1995) for real life examples of how people are using Linux. (These articles—and more—are available in The Linux Sampler published by SSC.) This is not to say that they grab the newest patches off the net as soon as they arrive and install them willy-nilly on their systems without testing, but that with ordinary caution (all systems are breakable, no matter what the operating system) Linux is viable.
No one really knows, since no one is required to register their copies. However, the CD distributors are shipping approximately 30,000-40,000 copies a month, which does not include the people who download Linux from the Internet or who borrow their friend's distribution. Some have estimated that around a million people currently use Linux; whatever the number is, it is growing every day.
Answer: “Um, I think that I see one of the speakers from the Linux conference coming this way. I'm sure he'll be able to answer your question.”
Kim Johnson is a graduate student in mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She spends her spare time keeping her husband from spending more money than they have on excess computer equipment.
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