Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Window Manager Confusion Spells Doom

My company sells CAD software for Windows NT, we run the company on Macintoshes, and we serve our data from Linux. I was surprised how easy Linux was to get up and running.

However, once upon a time there were two UNIX tribes: the Open Software Foundation and UNIX International. Each tribe was trying to rubber-stamp UNIX for the masses. As the two camps fought, a third tribe from the Northwest called Microsoft provided business with Windows NT. Windows NT did not provide anything great; in fact, it was largely based on an operating system from Digital Equipment Corporation called VMS. The UNIX tribes had beaten this operating system years before.

Linux has a real opportunity to compete in business beyond the server. All that is needed is a single standard desktop. Forget about KDE and GNOME. Merge them, do whatever you must with them, but get a single desktop environment for which developers can write applications and users will prosper.

I am convinced Windows NT cannot serve my business. Unfortunately, until Linux provides a common desktop, Apple's OS X may be the only way to finally bring the power of UNIX to the business user.

—Jeff Millard President, SolidVision, Inc. jeffmill@solidviz.com

Linux Certification

I am writing in regards to the article “Linux Certification for the Software Professional” by P. Tobin McGinnis in LJ April 1999. First, I have been working with PCs since I got my first Apple back in the early 80s. When I went to college, I started using the x86 platform. After finishing my college degree, the Air Force sent me to Keesler AFB to teach computers to new recruits. There I first heard the word “certification” in regards to Novell's CNE program. We were teaching Novell 4.x to our students. People started talking about Novell certification, and of how much one could make if they had this certification. A couple of years later, I was working as a contractor for the Corp of Engineers in Mobile, AL on a team that went to field sites to convert Novell servers to NT. Once again, I heard the certification buzzword, this time from Microsoft, and the buzz of big money if one had the MCSE certification.

People began to scramble to get certified at great cost to themselves—$100 US per test, $50 US per book, and in some cases, thousands of dollars for classes. Now, many of the questions and answers for these certification tests can be found on the Web. People are passing the test who have never installed the NT OS. Yet because they are certified, they are called experts—their certificate is meaningless.

Now I read in Linux Journal the buzz about Linux certification. I thought Linux was better than that. Certification has always been a way for companies to market their products. The training companies are the only ones getting rich from certification. Linux has grown exponentially without certification. I am against certification.

Please don't promote Linux certification. It will ruin the Linux movement. The movement was created by people who rebelled against the likes of MS, Novell and many other companies. Now it seems we are running to join their ranks with the same certification nonsense.

—Kyle Enlow kenlow@indiana.edu

Linux in Schools

I am writing this after reading the article “Linux in a Public High School” by Andrew Feinberg in your March issue. I am currently one of two system administrators at Bridges Academy, located in Los Angeles, California. My associate, Brook Elliot, and I run a Debian 2.0 box with the 2.0.36 kernel. The Linux box runs on a T1 line, and using DHCP, we enable students to plug in to any of the Ethernet jacks around the school and check their e-mail or browse the Web. Although most of these students are using Windows 9x machines, a select few of us use the full Linux potential.

Both Brook and I are students at this school. We currently have a web page up for the school at http://www.bridges.edu/, which runs under Apache.

—Matthew Kaufman xel@Bridges.Edu

Byte Magazine Syndrome

Many years ago, Byte magazine was a technically oriented magazine that I enjoyed reading as I enjoyed reading the December issue of Linux Journal. Early last year, Byte was publishing fluff. I hope the March 1999 issue of Linux Journal is not an indication of more fluff to come. With the exception of the GNU gettext article, where are the items that show a reader how to use a Linux system in a new or more productive way, to use a new programming library, to reduce incoming spam, etc.? One or two articles on interesting uses of Linux is fine (such as “Linux for the International Space Station Program” by Guillermo Ortega), but please don't go the way of Byte.

—Richard Film. Unix. Mirkwood@disney.com

I wouldn't call discussions of Internationalization “fluff” myself, but everyone has his own opinion. As always, we try to remain as balanced as possible between technical and non-technical articles. I hope April and May were more to your liking —Editor