upFRONT

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
POLITICS AND THE LINUX PLATFORM

Let's talk about a campaign platform that really matters: the operating system that supports each presidential candidate's official web site. Can you guess who runs on what? Let's take a look. (Cue the drum roll...)

  • Running on Windows NT or Windows 98: Republicans Gary Bauer and George W. Bush, Democrat Al Gore and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. All serve pages with Microsoft IIS.

  • Running on Solaris: Democrat Bill Bradley and Republicans Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch and Alan Keyes. All but Forbes use an Apache web server. Forbes uses Netscape-Enterprise.

  • Running on BSD: Libertarian Harry Browne. Uses Apache.

  • Running on IRIX: Republican John McCain. Uses Rapidsite.

  • Finally (intensify that drum roll), running on Linux: Independent candidate Bob Smith and Reform Party candidate Donald Trump (arguably the poorest and richest guys in the race). Both use Apache.

While it shouldn't count, the domain squatter who owns johnmccain.com and patbuchanan.com runs Apache on Linux.

Our source for this trivia is Netcraft (http://www.netcraft.com/whats/). If you have time on your hands, it might be interesting to see if any of these guys have swapped servers since we took this survey.

—Doc Searls

THE INCENDIARY

Back when I did market consulting, I filtered client candidates by asking them to agree with my marketing logic:

  1. Markets are conversations.

  2. Conversation is fire.

  3. Marketing is arson.

I've never met a marketer with a better instinct for arson than Donald B. Marti, former proprietor of Electric Lichen and now a Technical Marketing Manager with VA Linux Systems. Don is a gonzo marketer of the highest order. Talk about starting fires; Don is the guy who discovered the silly Unisys patent on the .GIF compression algorithm, made a lovely stink about it, then staged “Burn all GIFs Day”, along with a web site (http://www.burnallgifs.org/) to coordinate and commemorate the event.

Don was also a prime mover behind “Windows Refund Day”, and he's the skilled hacker behind one of the Web's great memes: the operating system sucks-rules-o-meter (http://srom.zgp.org/).

More than a great incendiary, Don is a revolutionary thinker. Here are just two lines he dropped in a recent conversation:

“Now it's time to hack the real world and let other people write web sites about it.”

“The Sucks-Rules-O-Meter is the first crude attempt to do the opposite of advertising—in which the customers do the writing and the supplier does the reading.”

Here at Linux Journal, we are adopting the sucks-rules system to keep tabs on what people really say about the various Linux distributions Hey, it's too good a hack not to use.

—Doc Searls

THE NEXT OPEN SOURCE VICTORY: INSTANT MESSAGING

While Microsoft and AOL were joined in an Instant Messaging (IM) “war” last fall, the open-source development community did what it does best. It hacked together a working alternative that outdoes both rivals by doing what neither party seems to know how to do: work with everybody else for the benefit of not just the customer, but the whole marketplace.

The project is Jabber. Think of Jabber as the Linux of Instant Messaging. Then think of Jeramie Miller as the Linus Torvalds of Jabber. About two years ago, Miller became annoyed with the popular but inflexible and proprietary messaging systems from AOL and Mirabilis (since bought by AOL), and came up with the idea for an instant-messaging system that would be open and able to do things the other systems could not, such as keep up with multiple clients running at once.

Just as it happened with Linux, a devoted group of developers and users quickly joined in and got to work. Using XML, they created a “transport” between any and all IM platforms. Among other things. osOpinion calls it “the end of instant messaging as we know it”.

At the most practical level, this means users of AIM (AOL Instant Messaging), ICQ (AOL's own alternative) and Microsoft's new messaging system will all be reconciled by a new, independent, open-source IM platform. It also means Linux users, still ignored by AOL and Microsoft, can not only participate in the instant-messaging movement, but clear its evolutionary path as well.

Looking ahead on that same path are at least two commercial companies: Webb Interactive Services and Corel. Webb's president is Perry Evans, perhaps best known for creating Mapquest a few years back. Mr. Evans liked Jabber so much he hired Mr. Miller for similar reasons as Transmeta hired Mr. Torvalds. Webb and Corel are now partnering to include Jabber in Corel's new Linux distribution, among other things.

To join the Jabber development conversation, or to participate any other way you like, visit http://www.jabber.org/.

—Doc Searls

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