January 2000

by Phil Hughes

Back in Linux Journal issue #2 handy, the title of my “From the Editor” column was “Linux 2000...” The abstract goes on to say:

I see Linux as a progressive movement as well as an operating system. And, with any movement you need to chart your direction. To help with that charting I decided that rather than write the April, 1994 editorial I would just go ahead and write the one for January, 2000.

“Well, here we are and it's time to see how well I did. If you don't happen to have issue #2, you can check out the original article here.”

My first idea, that Linux would turn into a movement to provide affordable, reliable, multi-tasking software, was certainly right on. Looks like my growth prediction was a bit off, though. I estimated Linux would be in 100 million homes—seems a bit high.

I also implied that few would remember an old program loader called MS-DOS. Well, I think that has essentially happened. While it continues to live under Windows, not many people seem to realize it.

Another miss on my part was personal satellite stations in the late 1990s. They exist—you can buy a system that offers a bidirectional connection to the Internet—but the price of that connection is still too high to be practical for personal computing. What has happened is that the cost of wired Internet connectivity, most specifically DSL and cable modem, has offered significant bandwidth to many at a very low cost.

I had some predictions about Linux Journal. Specifically, I projected that 90% of our subscribers would receive their magazines via the Internet rather than on paper. This could have happened, if not for two reasons: most readers want the print version of the magazine, and our advertisers want you to see their ads. We do offer an electronic version of the articles to our subscribers at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/, but we continue to print over 100,000 magazines each month.

I predicted two events that would make Linux a huge success. The first was the formation of MoAmI Semiconductor, a company that produced a chip where Linux was the first OS to run native. We're still waiting on this one. Linux will most likely be the first OS on Intel's Merced chip, with VA the first vendor to ship systems. And, well, keep watching Transmeta.

The second event was Linux becoming the most popular OS in computer science classes. I don't have the numbers, but it sure seems like that could have happened.

I also predicted that NT would become a niche operating system. Did it? We don't know yet, as its name is now Windows 2000 and, well, it really hasn't shipped yet. I still feel that most corporate customers waiting for Windows 2000 will, once they see it, decide Linux is the right answer for servers.

I also predicted those old Linux developers would still be writing code or books on Linux, rather than being CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations. Generally, this seems to be true, with some also writing articles for Linux Journal. Why? Because these people are doing what they want.

I'm fairly happy with how things have turned out. I took some rather SWAGs (Scientific Wild Guesses) and wasn't totally out of line. The good news is Linux is still here, you are still here, and we are still here. Hopefully, the only big arguments of the next five years will be about programming in Perl or Python and whether to use GNOME or KDE on your Linux system.

January 2000
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