LJ Index, Earth-Shaking Harbingers and more.
Thinkful Wishing

Make it happen, or bet on when it will

iTux: I envision a Linux-based iMac. Call it an iTux (too bad, the domain is already taken). Dress it up in those handsome penguin colors (or lack of them), rather than the iMac's silly “flavors”. Use nothing but end-of-life components with no fan and no floppy so it can be built dirt cheap. Boot from the CD-ROM drive. Solder everything to the boards including memory, with the possible exception of a communications slot. Now we're talking about a black & white box: simple and reliable as an old phone. Shoot for a $500+ price point, complete with all network connections, OS and software including management agents. Put the money in memory and display, which ought to be active matrix, if there's any way. Build two classes: corporate and home. Skew cute for the home version and add a slot for a Sony Playstation module. Message: for the price of a Playstation, get a computer too.

Internet Floppies, Any Size: FTP and e-mail killed the floppy. Now it is time to unburden those (social as well as technical) protocols. Let's create Internet floppies. Create easily understood ways to create, share and manage virtual Internet file servers of 10 to 100MB (or larger). This will eliminate the need for virtual private networks, e-mail attachments and complicated remote access routines. Any user should be able to sign up for one with his or her ISP, then decide who else can use it. Versions of this already exist at dedicated sites, such as NetFloppy, http://www.NetFloppy.com/. Why not at any site, any ISP, any business, using free and open software?

ISPs would get stickier sites and happier customers. Businesses would get turn-key field file-service solutions for maybe $2 per user, instead of the $50-75 it might cost from a file-service vendor. End users would get easy ways to pass files around and back up hunks of their local directories.

The Numbers

Alexa Internet is best known for three things:

  1. A neat little browser accessory that reveals stats, domain ownership and other non-obvious information. Alexa gathered pages for 220 million unique URLs and found that only 6 percent of Web content has changed in the last three months.

  2. Regularly backing up the entire contents of the Web. “Links in” are determined from their ongoing web crawls.

  3. Selling to Amazon.com for something like $250 million.

The Alexa browser accessory does not yet work on Linux, but that didn't stop us from using it to tally up some comparative numbers for various Linux-related web sites. The results are below—we'll leave the interpretations up to you.

Figure 1. Linux Resource Sites—Links In

Figure 2. Linux Resource Sites—Visits

Figure 3. Linux Distribution Sites—Links In

Figure 4. Linux Distribution Sites—Visits

Figure 5. Linux Development Communities—Links In

Figure 6. Linux Development Communities—Visits

Notes: These numbers were collected on 5/13/99. “Links in” are from surveys of pages served across the entire Web. “Vists” are accumulated over the previous six months of activity by Alexa users, nearly all of which are on Windows clients. Some sites, such as Scripting.com and Slackware, contain high percentages of links and visits that are not Linux-related. One major site, Linux.com, went live from VA Linux Systems only in the last few days of the survey period. A follow-up survey on 6/1 showed a 24.6 percent increase in visits to that site.