Subversion Hits the High Seas

Prepping for the second annual Linux Lunacy geek cruise.

Word's getting out about Geek Cruises. The latest buzz showed up this week in the St. Petersburg Times. I'll use it as an excuse to make one more pitch for Linux Lunacy II, our second annual week-long Geek Cruise (October 20-27), with ports of call in the Western Caribbean, and to solicit input from Linux Journal readers for my keynote speech on the boat.

The best pitch I can make is to point to our report on last year's cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Calling it fun would understate the matter. And speaking of (Just For) Fun, this year we've added Linus Torvalds to the speaker lineup. The good folks at GeekCruises have also made infrastructural improvements, including live round-the-clock wireless internet access.

And even if you can't make it, you can help me put together my keynote talk. Here's the title: "The Silent Majority: How Linux Got to Be Everywhere While Nobody Was Watching".

Recently Don Marti remarked that Linux business history has moved from the dot-com phase to one involving what he calls "mysterious subversive projects within large corporations". It's been clear to us here at Linux Journal (and probably to most of our readers as well) that Linux strategies undertaken by large companies in most cases involve embracing a fait accompli. Adoption of Linux tends to be made by engineers, sysadmins, programmers and other technologists long before company brass gets on the bandwagon. This is consistent with the principle Marc Andreessen described during my interview with him when Netscape made its Mozilla announcement in early 1998: "All the significant trends start with technologists."

Of course this is not the PR story any Big Linux company wants to tell. As a result there are few anecdotal stories and approximately no statistics on the matter. So I'm relying on you.

Tell me your own stories of establishing Linux at your organizations while the folks upstairs weren't watching--or any other interesting stories that corporate mouthpieces are unlikely to tell. Add them to the comments below (they default to anonymous) or e-mail me. Credit will be given where it's deserved and also where you give us permission.

Doc Searls is senior editor of Linux Journal.



Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Linux at Major Multi-National

Anonymous's picture

Originally all of our network management infrastructure around the world was based upon (over)pricey Sun and Compaq Alpha workstations. When it was time to install at my site, we just went ahead and installed the required software, but used Debian on whiteboxes and neglected to tell the folks at corporate centre. After six months of running without problems, I let them know the whole truth. When faced with the costs savings, they have now mandated that all future proxy servers and firewalls (we have hundreds) will be on Linux. The corporate pinheads had to have their kick at the can, so they spec'ed Redhat instead of Debian, but I can live with that.

Re: Subversion Hits the High Seas

Anonymous's picture

Hi there.

We are an educational provider in Singapore.

When I started as MIS Manager 15 months ago we had a sum-total of one server; an NT file server for staff use. The whole place consisted of one subnet, & within 2 weeks of beginning I was seeing attempted breakins to the server by some of the students.

Enter the first and second GNU-Linux boxes, along with a new broadband Internet line. The first being a 3-NIC firewall with Debian 2.2 to keep the students out of the staff servers, & the nasties on the Internet out of the network. I put the firewall in with minimal discussion; the student server which runs Redhat 7.1, Samba & Apache for student work was easily justified on the basis of cost. Both of these machines were built from scrounged hardware - a couple of old servers that had been sitting in the corner since I arrived, apparently not up to the task for NT fileserver duties. Since that beginning the firewall has been reconfigured with Redhat 7.2 to take advantage of the newer Netfilter firewall system (we're using NAT for several connections to internal machines at this time).

At about the time the firewall was implemented we received a new server with Win-2000 & SQL Server 2000 for our new database system. This has been mentioned to help clarify our current Linux ventures.

Next on the agenda was a request by the top brass for a mail server of our own (we had been using the services of a Web-hosting company but needed more control over who could send mail to outside parties). Upon outlining the cost of software & licenses for Exchange, & subsequently picking the boss up off the floor, I was once again permitted to put in a GNU-Linux-based solution. After tested quite a few products, and a lot of learning, we are now running XMail 1.9 on Redhat 7.2 quite happily.

We've also had a Redhat 7.2 machine doing temporary Intranet server duty until its replacement is in place. This is currently in testing & will consist of a two-computer GNU-Linux cluster to run Samba, PostgreSQL, Apache and possibly other services. Samba will replace the NT file server, and we are in the final phases of testing Postgres as a replacement for SQL Server (cost is the major deciding factor again). The cluster was requested after repeated failures of the new database server hardware, & should provide us with virtually transparent failover of the services running on it. At the same time we will be able to take down either of the machines in the cluster for maintenance without affecting access to the services in place.

As well as providing us with a much reduced licensing cost, the combination of Postgres and PHP for our database system will reduce greatly the maintenance to client machines. The current system uses a client/server approach & we spend quite a bit of time installing, configuring & troubleshooting the client software & the necessary ODBC connections.

GNU-Linux has saved us money & has proven reliable for all the uses we have put it to. In contrast we have had repeated problems with the NT machine, mostly in respect of accessing the tape backup drive, however several of the services that NT is supposed to provide will not run, & we have had to find workarounds for this, & often have to reboot to get the tape drive working.

My prediction is that within 2 years we will be Windows-free on the server side except for one NT box that acts as a Web server for ASP/VBscript work that students need for their studies.

Adrian Hicks, Singapore

Re: Subversion Hits the High Seas

Anonymous's picture

You're teaching Visual Basic? When even Microsoft says that only 40% of current Visual Basic programs will work with VB.NET, and who knows how long they will support that? I wouldn't get a long-term student loan to pay for that "education".

Re: Subversion Hits the High Seas

Anonymous's picture

That isn't their entire education! Although VB is always a bad idea and the people who invented it should be killed; we still have stupid bosses that want VB programes.

I personally hate VB, its just an easy programming langueg, but because of that it attracts an array of newbie programmers and generally lowers programming standards and all this brings the end user is a wider selection of useless programmes.

Re: Subversion Hits the High Seas

Anonymous's picture

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