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 29

Vocalizations! "If those in the open source community can avoid a potential split in Linux, if POS drivers can be written, and if vendors step up for support, Linux could make some significant impact in the market. But these are some major challenges for a product that has no clear owner." Greg Buzek, President of IHL Consulting Group, talking about Linux and the POS (point-of-sale) Terminal market.

Linux's eBiz Leader Ships eDesktopCaldera Systems, Inc., fresh off its moderately successful yet widely dissed IPO last week, has announced that its "Linux desktop product for the Internet", eDesktop 2.4, is shipping. In calling eDesktop 2.4 a "product for the Internet", Caldera is referring to the software's ability to provide quick Internet access by way of preconfigured, preinstalled browser plug-ins and ISP access numbers. eDesktop 2.4 also comes with the Citrix ICA client and Webmin, which lets system administrators manage both software and configuration remotely through a Web browser. The software, which runs on top of Caldera's OpenLinux, also comes with application developing tools; the Java Development Kit from Sun Microsystems, JDK 1.2.2 is included. For more information about Caldera's "Internet obsessed" eDesktop 2.4, which retails for $39.95 USD, visit Caldera's eDeskTop Web page here.

"We're Here! We're Geeks! Get Used to It!" Maybe it took the eve of the millennium for geek consciousness to elevate to that of other socially maligned groups, but now that we're here ... Andover.net and VA Linux are sponsoring a "Geek Pride Festival" this weekend in Boston. "Do you smile like this :-)? Do you chat more online than you do in person? Have you ever argued the merits of old Star Trek vs. new Star Trek?" asks one promotional piece for the Festival. "If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, you're probably a Geek." The Festival begins March 31 and ends, appropriately enough perhaps, on April 1, and there are a bevy of activities in between: from the Switchhouse Swap Party on Friday to the anti-trade show and lectures on Saturday, featuring folks like Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda and Jon Katz, from Slashdot. For more information, check out the Geek Pride Festival Website. Contrary to appearances at the Website, however, there will be no Jumping Castle. Sorry.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ... shares of Corel?! TechWeb is reporting that shares of Corel Corporation rose by as much as 17.5% yesterday on news of Corel's acquiring the source code to International Microcomputer Software, Inc.'s FLOW and TurboProject (the press release from IMSI is here). The rocketing share price is also somewhat startling given the difficulties the Canadian software maker is facing in try to digest Borland/Inprise, which announced a merger with Corel last month (check our interview with Borland/Inprise's Dale Fuller here). As of this writing, however, the ride is over. Corel stock (Nasdaq:CORL) is down to $10.50 a share USD, after being up about $2 yesterday. It should also be noted that, while shares of Corel have not revisited the depths of their 52-week low of $2.61 USD, Corel's stock has languished ever since a dizzying plummet from its 52-week high of over $40 a share USD in early December.

Clued-in/Clued-out " ... the point needs repeating as open source spreads its message (or hype, or evangelism) beyond the OS and into other realms. The further away you get from generic OS functions and into industry or task-specific work, the harder it will be to sustain--let alone complete--a good bazaar project." Evan Leibovitch, from "Finding Itches to Scratch" at ZDNet.

March 28

Vocalizations! "Let's see, I count more than a half a dozen significantly different current versions of Windows: three W2Ks, three NTs, Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows CE. There are fundamental incompatibilities between all four major variants. Funny, I don't see any stories predicting Microsoft's fall because of forking ..."--Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, in his commentary, "Linux--Fork you!" posted at AnchorDesk UK.

The Stallman Cometh: New Yorkers soon will have the pleasure of sharing their gleaming metropolis with one of Free Software's finest on Monday, April 3 when the Columbia University chapter of ACM brings Richard Stallman to campus. Titled "Copyright versus Community in the Age of Computer Networks," Richard's talk is free to the public, and will take place on the Columbia University campus at 301 Pupin. Directions and more information is available here. If you've heard aboutRichard Stallman, but not yet heard the Stall-Man himself, you can read his most recent proclamations on the UCITA legislation here, and a biography and background information from his Web page here.

Is the Hat Half Full? Perhaps it was inevitable that the mass hyping of Linux would be followed by much tongue-clucking about the fortunes of Linux companies once the E wore off and everyone had to stumble home like a group of seratonin-depleted ravers. And perhaps it was the fact that Caldera, Inc.'s IPO only popped 80% on its first day of trading (as opposed to the near 700% pop of VA Linux), that gave license to the naysayers to start pooh-poohing the prospects of a variety of Linux companies. Red Hat, once seen as the sturdiest of public Linux companies, is starting to get a few knocks--one of the more interesting coming from the open source financial site Motley Fool. What seemed like good news to many--Red Hat's announcement of fourth quarter losses that were somewhat less than analyst expectations--was only cause for deeper suspicion for some. "(Red Hat's) 28% revenue growth, at a time when a young company should be seeing hyper-growth, seems disappointing ... " noted TMF Tardior Brian Lund, and he has a point, at least if we compare companies selling free software (and services!) with other small companies in the high-technology arena. But however much the open source/free software industry has managed to erect a variety of business models that may or may not be viable over the long-term, what the industry (and its analysts) have yet to develop is a reasonable, contextual method for evaluating the real value of these Linux companies in the here and now.

Clued-in/Clued-out "Similarly, hackers have a highly-developed desire for accuracy and precision in language; spending so long learning to avoid and correct badly formed input in computer languages spills over to their use of human languages as well. This leads to a lot of programmers being labelled as incorrigible pedants, something which is a source of pride to many of them. Never argue with a programmer, as they saying goes: you both get dirty and the programmer loves it."--Simon Cozens, from his commentary posted at osOpinion.