From the Editor

In a rare opinion column, our editor turns Socrates and asks: “What is success?”
Perspective

There was a time when Linux existed, but there was no such thing as a distribution. You had to put a Linux system together from scratch—a few floppy images, including kermit for file transfer, or tar to pull more files off floppies, or maybe mtools to read DOS-format floppies. Individual binaries were available from tsx-11.mit.edu and ftp.funet.fi. Distributions weren't necessary; it really was possible to build your own. I've done it several times. I would even consider doing it again—for fun. But when I want it done right, I get one of the Linux distributions and install it in a matter of minutes, or at most hours, most of which is consumed by the computer quietly pulling files off a CD-ROM without my assistance.

What I'm suggesting is very much like these distributions: the basic problem already solved, ready for site-based customization, provided in a convenient format. If you think that is a simplistic view of the need, remember that Slackware was created by one person who customized and bug-fixed SLS for his friends and college professors. Although it evolved from there, and doesn't meet everyone's Linux needs, Slackware was useful from the start.

Many of the advertisements in Linux Journal are for CD-ROMs with new versions of Linux and Linux tools. That is important; an easily-available supply of new tools has helped Linux spread even faster than it could over the Internet alone. However, based on my belief that Linux is growing and evolving, I suggest that in five more years, we will see more and more advertisements touting Linux-based products intended to solve a business problem, rather than impress geeks like me.

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