Readers Sound Off
Trivial Correction

Regarding the June 2002 issue, page 8, trivia question 1—please lay this myth to rest. Yes, Grace Hopper did find a moth in a relay. That log page is now in the Smithsonian Institute, I believe. But “bug” in the current sense has been around since Thomas Edison's days. See www.byte.com/art/9404/sec15/art1.htm and/or www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/bug.html.

—Felix Finch

Suggestions Welcome?

Editor's note: The following Letter to the Editor came to us written by hand on a sheet of yellow legal pad paper.

From the Desks of Adrian and Mike: We understand that yours is a magazine that would like to appeal to Linux enthusiasts. Therefore, we have some suggestions regarding your fluffy layout:

  1. Use fixed-sized, monospaced font throughout the entire publication. All pictures must be represented as ASCII art or PostScript files, and there must be no color. You've got black; you've got white. What more do you need?

  2. The cover should not contain anything but the title and the date.

  3. The binding should be staples and not glue, which is bad for the environment and embarrassingly corporate.

  4. All type must be printed with high-impact printers to give each page a unique and profound texture.

  5. You should change the name of your magazine from Linux Journal to Linux Kernel and, under no circumstances, write about anything that is not a part of or that cannot be directly compiled into the kernel.

  6. There is no need to use English for all the articles. C and Bourne shell scripts are languages much more recognized by the global Linux community.

  7. We could go on for pages but feel strongly that if you just covered the first 6, just a half a dozen honest, down-to-earth and from-the-heart suggestions, your circulation would multiply by a factor of ten (we know we would by ten issues each month just cause they were that cool); your revenues would skyrocket, never mind the inherent irony about the relationship between your capitalist intentions and the brilliant and revolutionary open-source model that Linux embraces, and, not to mention, we'd buy you beer.

—Adrian and Mike

Social Destruction

On a whim I was reading Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin today. I was struck by how, at the time, abolitionists were considered socially destructive extremists—and the South's reflexive reaction was censorship. The essence of freedom is freedom of thought and creativity, bounded by essential (not submissive!) respect for others. I believe that, perhaps in 50 years, perhaps 2,000 years, but with the same certainty that humanity will survive, intellectual property will come to be regarded with the same revulsion and embarrassment as human beings as property.

—Stephen Schaefer

Protocol Problems

The Linux for Suits column, “The Protocol Problem”, by Doc Searls in the July 2002 issue of Linux Journal, was of interest to me because it is an issue that I think we are seeing several major issues start to develop around. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” mentality going around, at least insofar as trying to put nearly the entire world on top of IP—this is only making, what Doc Searls referred to as “the gating factor”, worse.

As technology develops, the lower layers of the technology become more and more abstracted and hidden from the upper layers. Right now, it is doubtful if many people care or concern themselves with whether their IP packets ride over fiber or copper, the particular framing or link-level protocols being used, etc. Because we can connect fiber and copper and wireless networks together, we are not limited by the individual mediums.

Eventually, this is what is going to have to happen with IP and any other protocols occupying this space—the “end-to-end (network) protocol” mentality must give way to the “end-to-end application” mentality. One day, eventually, the IP network will be replaced by something else. It's going to happen—but the general mentality seems to be that an IP network must be IP end to end. Building for that, designing for that, that attitude will slow down the deployment of any future protocol technology...like IPv6.

One day, just as most people do not care whether their data are going end-to-end over a particular physical media (as long as the desired quality of service parameters are met), they will not care about the network protocol. When data networks are not an “IP-only” club where only IP through-and-through networks can play, but a true inter-net (as opposed to the current IP Internet, which is more of a giant shared-address space Intranet) where the intra-net protocols may all be different, then the barriers will be gone. Organizations will be freer to develop and deploy new protocols and technologies internally without getting ostracized by their peers for being different.