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UNIX Systems Diagram

One of the old objections to UNIX was there were so many variants. The fact that lex, yacc, vi, troff and other commands ran uniformly across all of them didn't cut the ice. The plate of spaghetti here represents most of the variants and the cross-fertilization. Minix shouldn't be free-standing: it arises out of V7 from Bell Labs. I miss Dell UNIX, the best n86 version of SVR4.

The really important thing is the fact that every one of these streams is used for web hosting, and that the UNIX+Linux systems total a remarkable 64% of all sites. In other words, just about two-thirds of the Web is powered by UNIX or Linux.

Not bad for an upstart.

—Peter Salus


After I took part on a panel at the FreeBSD conference in October, an attendee invited me to test the honesty of both Linux Journal and its community by looking at exactly which operating systems hosted the most popular Web sites. So I did. The server and host columns below contain exactly the data yielded by Netcraft at its “What's That Site Running?” page (http://www.netcraft.com/whats/) on October 26, 1999.

The source list of top 25 sites (in the U.S.) comes from Media Metrix, which is the primary source of web-site popularity figures.

Indeed, the results look good for BSD (5). They look better for Solaris (10). They perhaps look best for Bill Joy (18), whose genius is behind the Berkeley, Digital (3) and Sun breeds of UNIX. Although only Real Networks and Angelfire were found to be running on Linux (2), Netcraft informs us that other Linux sites include Deja.com, eToys, Go2Net and The British Royal Family (we knew those folks had taste).

Since we're being utterly fair here, Microsoft's NT (5) doesn't do too badly, either.

Next, the necessary disclaimer. “There's no sure way to tell what OS a host is running,” says our top tech wizard, Dan Wilder. “Indeed, there are lots of ways to fool people about what host is running. OS names are easily spoofed. We used to spoof them here at SSC, to foil hackers.” To find a fun hack on the supply side of this information, look at the server finding for Real.com, below.

Consolation: as we see elsewhere in this section, Linux is gaining rapidly overall and now hosts about one-third of all web domains (according to The Internet Operating System Counter).

—Doc Searls



ALS '97 had about 20 vendors and a few hundred attendees.

ALS '98 was like reverse time travel. It had both the atmosphere and the feeling of USENIX conferences before the mid-80s, with about 40 vendors and over a thousand attendees. (Atlanta USENIX in 1986 had 1200 attendees.)

Slashdot Booth

ALS '99 was still full of talks and demos and corridors and dinners. But now, after only three years, there was active cooperation between the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts and USENIX: it had two days of technical tutorials; the show floor was over double the size of what it was in 1998; and there were 3,000 attendees.

The discussions were intense; the atmosphere was friendly; more got done in the hallways, bars and lounges than in the sessions. There was a feeling of intellectual ferment.

Eric Raymond was there. Maddog was there. This was the Linux geek event not to miss. My favorite hardware display was Compaq's Beowulf cluster; software was from Hummingbird Communications, Ltd., (http://www.hummingbird.com/), a Linux version of their Fulcrum search server and OpenSales (http://www.opensales.com), a neat e-commerce solution.

User Friendly Booth

But I have to admit that the product of choice was Raymond's The Cathedral & the Bazaar, just published by O'Reilly (see my review in this issue of LJ).

Marc Torres and his crew did a splendid job. I hope they invite me back next year.

—Peter Salus