UpFront

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
Distro Shares: the Voluntary View

Linux Counter (counter.li.org) is a voluntary effort. It only counts people who bother to register (and their machines). As of October 19, 2001, Linux Counter had attracted close to 200,000 individual registrations from nearly 200 countries.

Here in Upfront we try to show various Linux statistics: from Netcraft, Tucows, Evans Data and other sources. This month we thought it would be a fun idea to see what users themselves are saying about their distribution choices, including DIY: do it yourself.

The pie chart shows the results. If you don't like 'em, go vote with your own registration at the Linux Counter site.

Linux Counter Report: October 19, 2001

—Doc Searls

LJ Index—January 2002
  1. Millions of people who watched streamed media of the September 11, 2001 terrorist events: 21

  2. Billions of dollars in federal relief requested by New York City: 54

  3. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in billions of dollars of Peru: 54

  4. Thousands of Korean Air pilots and flight attendants checking schedules using IBM's Linux-powered eServer: 3

  5. Billions of e-mail accounts anticipated by the end of 2001: 1

  6. Years it took TV to reach 1 billion viewers: 50

  7. Years it took telephony to reach 1 billion users: 100

  8. Position of Germany among countries with highest penetration of Netscape browsers: 1

  9. Netscape browser share percentage in Germany: 20.26

  10. Netscape browser share percentage in the US: 15.79

  11. Netscape browser share in the world: 13.17

  12. Number of countries with users registered to Linux Counter: 188

  13. Number of persons registered with Linux Counter as of October 19, 2001: 195,900

  14. Number of machines registered with Linux Counter as of October 19, 2001: 111,942

  15. Low end of Linux Counter's estimated number of Linux users: 3,918,000

  16. High end of Linux Counter's estimated number of Linux users: 97,950,000

Sources

1: USA Today, quoting Nielsen/NetRatings

2-3: Time Magazine

4: IBM

5-7: Strategic Policy Research, Inc.

8-11: StatMarket (www.statmarket.com)

12-16: Linux Counter (counter.li.org)

Stop the Presses: Mixed Happenings on the Legal Front

Two unrelated legal developments are taking shape as we go to press—one DVD-related and one involving Microsoft. In the first, a California appellate court unanimously shot down a trial court injunction that banned publication of DeCSS code that decrypts DVDs so they can be played on any computer, and not just on players manufactured by members of consumer electronics cartels. This case is actually one of two DVD-related cases. The other, Universal Studios and United States of America vs. Corley, is now in the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. At the original trial in New York City, the publisher of 2600 Magazine lost the right to publish source code and information about DVDs, in front of a judge who used to work for Time Warner. In the Microsoft case, the US and Microsoft came to a preliminary agreement that likely will bring their longstanding legal battle to an end.

At issue in the DeCSS case were the first ammendment rights of those publishing the code vs. the trade secret rights of entertainment companies distributing the DVDs. Those companies objected specifically to the publication on the Web of DeCSS software written by programmers in the fall of 1999 as part of an effort to create a DVD player for computers running Linux. In early 2000, the DVDCCA, the movie studios' DVD licensing organization, filed a lawsuit against hundreds of programmers and web publishers seeking to ban DeCSS publication. Santa Clara County Judge William Elfving granted the injunction request on January 21, 2000. The appellate court ruled that Elfving violated the First Ammendment rights of defendant Andrew Brunner by ordering him to remove the code from his web site. The lower court based its rulings on trade secret misappropriation, even though Brunner had found the program in the public domain (on Slashdot) and simply republished it. The case is still expected to go to trial next year before Judge Elfving.

In the matter of the US vs. Microsoft, most pundits agreed that the settlement favored Microsoft, which the original judge on the case, Thomas Penfield Jackson, had called for breaking in two. Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News wrote:

This deal, assuming it takes hold, is a love letter to the most arrogant and unrepentant monopolist since Standard Oil. It's an invitation to keep on plundering and whacking competition in the most important marketplace of our times, the information marketplace.

John Borland of CNET called the settlement “a reward, not a remedy”. Dave Winer of Userland, an independent commercial developer that worked with Microsoft on the SOAP and XML-RPC protocols, wrote:

It clearly doesn't go far enough and requires the government to be involved in the architecture of Microsoft's operating system and network services, such as SOAP, in an intimate and impractical way.

While the settlement would leave the company intact, it would end Microsoft's practice of forcing its hardware OEMs to distribute Windows. It also would force the company to share elements of its operating systems, giving competitors a little more room to actually compete with Microsoft's own applications. Winer's “intimate and impractical” remarks refer to a “Technical Committee” that will be co-appointed by Microsoft and the Court and installed at Microsoft to oversee compliance.

The one apparent upside for Linux is the release of hardware makers from Microsoft OEM contracts that require distribution of Windows. At least conceputally this leaves a much more open hardware channel for Linux distribution.

—Doc Searls

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