Week of March 27-April 2

Rook"er*y,n. 1. a gathering place for certain gregarious birds, such as penguins. 2. the best place on the Web for Linux news, notes and reports from the field.
March 30

Vocalizations! "Instead of choosing valiantly to fight, Mr. Gates should just call it quits. Though his company won't be struggling any time soon, thanks to its still-impressive control of the desktop software arena, neither is it cutting-edge enough to warrant Mr. Gates' attention. With its huge market capitalization and massive cash reserves, Microsoft could keep its current position with Homer Simpson at the helm. But it's hardly a place for technology innovation, not when the company still considers a new operating system a really big deal." Paul Kapustka, in his article, "Big Fish: Time for Gates to leave", from Red Herring.

Anybody Wanna Buy Some Red Hat?  The world's top computer maker, IBM, is as committed to Linux as ever, as Big Blue's recent moves have shown. But that doesn't mean that IBM is beyond making a few fazools by dumping a total of 400,000 shares in Linux stalwart, Red Hat, over the last 30 days. The company filed to sell 250,000 shares of Red Hat stock on March 23, having sold 150,000 earlier in the month. The combined value of the stock sale is estimated at nearly $23 million. Red Hat's market performance, more specifically the company's fourth quarter results, has been in the news lately and, while slightly beating analysts' expectations, much of that news has consisted of hand-wringing over the company's inability to turn a profit and speculation that the "Linux bubble" (as represented by Red Hat, apparently) was only inches from the needle. While IBM has not commented on its sale of Red Hat shares, it is worth noting that while buying stock is almost always indicative of confidence in a given stock's performance (at least in the short term), there always are a hundred reasons to sell.

Can Linux be the OS in POS?  Actually, the "OS" refers to "of-sale", as in "point-of-sale" terminals, which are rapidly replacing the old-fashioned cash register as seamlessly as PCs replaced typewriters a few decades ago. But Linux is increasingly moving into this POS terminal space, a territory presently dominated by operating systems from Microsoft in particular, according to a study by IHL Consulting Group. According to Group president Gary Buzek, though Linux is "getting a lot of press" and software from both Red Hat and VA Linux is being considered by a number of POS vendors, "this will be an uphill battle ... Right now there are hundreds of POS software solutions that run on the Microsoft Win-32 architecture, while there are only a handful that run on Linux." The long and short of IHL Consulting Group's report, titled "2000 North American Retail POS Market Study", is that Linux will make inroads into the POS market, but that the "adoption rate will be slower than the hype would suggest." As for the hype, we don't know nothing about that. But as far as Linux and POS is concerned, check out Linux Journal coverage with more and less technical takes.

"We Love VA! Yes We Do! We Love VA! How About You?"  Just when Linux companies were getting their chops busted for not living up to market expectations, for not being as big and bad as Microsoft, for not making bucketloads in earnings ... up steps WR Hambrecht & Company, an on-line investment bank, to not only initiate research coverage of VA Linux Systems, but also to kick that coverage off with a brand, spanking new "buy" rating for shares in the Linux hardware maker and SourceForge steward. What makes VA Linux a "buy" in WR Hambrecht's eyes? Company analyst Keith Bachman pointed to VA Linux as offering a "complete Linux solution set" and strong branding in the Linux market. "We believe that an investment in VA Linux is an investment in one of the strongest competitors in Open Source. VA Linux is involved in virtually all parts of the Open Source market including systems, services, portals and software, and we believe it has opportunities to enhance its position in each of these markets," Keith added. VA Linux has increased its value over the past few months through acquisitions of companies like Andover.Net and through projects like SourceForge, an on-line repository and directory of open source development projects. This may help VA Linux not only live up to its fat market capitalization, but also may help it withstand competition from larger, established hardware companies such as IBM, through an increasingly diversified approach to the open source business model.

Clued-in/Clued-out "This is a double-edged sword. The bad guys have access to the same source code as the creators. They can use that information to exploit the code and make it do what they want it to do." Scott Hissan of Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute, on the subject of Linux security, as quoted in The New York Times