by Various

The press (present company included) loves a fight. Or better yet, a war. That's why we're eager to cast two successful competitors—whether or not they're succeeding at each other's expense—as warriors fighting over market share.

The best copy, of course, are David vs. Goliath stories. IBM was Goliath for decades. Davids came and went. There were the BUNCH (there's a memory test) then there was Digital, then Apple. Steve Jobs loved the role of David. After Microsoft took over the Goliath part, the Steve-less Apple made a pathetic David. Marc Andreessen and Netscape put in a much better performance. Now Marc has been replaced by Linus Torvalds.

But Linus isn't following the script. In the server business, Linux is turning into another Goliath, even though Microsoft isn't going away. As the latest IDC numbers show, both Linux and Microsoft are winning, big time. The losers are NetWare and UNIX. The sad news is that IDC lumps UNIX—Sun, HP and the rest of them—into one shrinking non-Linux group.

Between 1996 and 2003, IDC expects UNIX to lose half its share. NetWare was already declared dead by the press back when it led the pack, in 1996 (I remember, because I was working for those guys back then).

On the client side, the story isn't quite as interesting because there are no Davids, including Linux. It's almost all Windows.

Not that Linux is chopped liver. IDC shows Linux edging ahead of Macintosh on the desktop by 2003, leading by 5.5 to 5.2%. Amazingly, it also shows Windows gaining with almost a 90% share.

Doc Searls (doc@ssc.com) is senior editor of Linux Journal and coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto.


LJ INDEX—December 2000
  1. Percentage of Linux developers who plan to develop applications for internal corporate use: >50

  2. Percentage of Linux developers who plan to develop e-commerce applications: 40

  3. Percentage of Linux developers writing applications for mobile devices: 20

  4. Percentage of the above over the same number from six months earlier: 50

  5. Billions of dollars (US) that will be lost by record labels and book publishers by 2005 from “increased piracy and as artists and authors break away from publishers to go independent”: 1.5 to 3.1

  6. Billions of dollars (US) that will be gained by musicians in the same shift: 1

  7. Billions of dollars (US) that will be gained by authors in the same shift: 1.3

  8. Billions of dollars (US) that will be gained by third-party service companies: 2.8

  9. Billions of dollars (US) in projected on-line sales for the 2000 holiday season: 19.5

  10. Billions of dollars (US) in sales for the1999 holiday season: 10.5

  11. Percentage chance that a potential customer searching an e-tailer's site will make a purchase: 2.7

  12. Percentage of commerce-driven on-line searches that “produced results that failed basic tests such as finding all relevant information or ordering procedures”: 92

  13. Percentage of advertising that goes unwatched by TV viewers using TiVo and RePlay boxes, which both allow viewers to skip over commercials: 88

  14. Size in billions of dollars (US) of the venture fund formed by Bertelsmann for investment in “an evolving media marketplace”: 1

  15. Number of new domains registered every second, as of January 2000: 1


“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

—Pablo Picasso

“Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.”


“It doesn't matter who you are. Most of the smartest people work for somebody else.”

—Bill Joy

“Technology lies on the leading edge of life.”


“Teach a man to make fire, and he will be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he will be warm for the rest of his life.”

—John A. Hrastar

“Two rules to success in life: 1. Don't tell people everything you know.”

—Sassan Tat

“We are perfecting markets. We are back in the bazaar.”

—Kjell Nordström

“Brazil is the country of the future and always will be.”

—Carl Steidtmann

“Prediction is very hard...especially when it's about the future.”

—Yogi Berra


According to the Internet Software Consortium (www.isc.org), 72.4 million domain names were taken by this past January. That was up 16.2 million over the prior six months. That comes out to about 88 thousand a day, 37 thousand an hour or a little over one every second.

And yet some domain names are still safe from adoption. We prove that every few months by offering another list of domain names that prove untakable. Last time, we suggested “coloncam”, ''celeprosy'' and “butthook”, among others, all of which are still yours for the low, low price of 70 bucks or less for two years.

If you're one of those types that like to run with the Joneses, you're probably looking for one of those “nt” names, like Scient, Lucent, Viant, Cerent and Teligent (see http://www.enormicom.com/ for the full list). But our crack research department (that sits right here in my chair) has uncovered at least ten “nt” variants that are still available. They include: Boviant, Annoyant, Terminant, Reodorant, Cementent and Inexperient. So there you go; register at will.

Now, here's this month's orphanage, filled with children that probably will remain safe from adoption. All are available in .com, .net, .org and every other form.

  • stenchofwindows

  • missthepoint

  • carpolite

  • undertux

  • thundertux

  • teenyweenylinux

  • talktodeath

  • pantsdot

  • overpants

  • birdturbine

  • bozoretentive

  • earfloss

  • tonguewax

  • foohost

  • crapmap

  • leisuresuitlinux

  • anitadrink

  • doubtfarm

  • quarterdog

  • halfahead

  • halfawake

—Doc Searls

The Penguin

by Rob Flynn and Jeramey Crawford

Once upon a term'nal dreary, while I hack'ed, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten code--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a beeping,
As of someone gently feeping, feeping using damn talk mode.
"'Tis some hacker," I muttered, "beeping using damn talk mode--
        Only this. I hate talk mode.

"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak semester,
And college life wrought its terror as the school year became a bore.
Eagerly I wished for privileges--higher access I sought to borrow
For my term'nal, unceasing sorrow--sorrow for a file called core--
For the rare and radiant files of .c the coders call the core--
        Access Denied. Chown me more.

"Open Source," did all mutter, when, with very little flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Penguin of the saintly days of yore.
Quite a bit obese was he; having eaten lots of fish had he,
But, by deign of Finnish programmer, he sat in the middle of my floor--
Looking upon my dusty term'nal in the middle of my floor--
        Came, and sat, and nothing more.

Then the tubby bird beguiling my sad code into shining,
By the free and open decorum of the message that it bore,
"Though thy term'nal be dusty and slow," he said, "Linux be not craven!"
And thus I installed a new OS far from the proprietary shore--
The kernel code open but documentation lacking on this shore.
       Quoth the Penguin, "pipe grep more!"

Much I marveled this rotund fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help believing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird in the middle of his floor--
Bird or beast sitting in the middle of his cluttered floor,
        With such instructions as "pipe grep more."

But the Penguin, sitting lonely in that cluttered floor, spoke only
Those words, as if its soul in that instruction he did outpour.
Nothing more did he need utter; understood did I among that clutter--
Understood his command as I could scarcely do a few moments before--
I typed as furious as was willed me, understanding just a minute before.
        Again the bird said "pipe grep more!"

"Amazing!" said I, "Penguin we will conquor the world if you will!
By the network that interconnects us--by that Finn we both adore--
We'll take this very world by storm!" For now grasped I what he'd meant,
The thing I do while searching /usr/doc/* for that wond'rous lore--
Those compendiums of plaintext documentation and descriptive lore.
        Quoth the Penguin, "pipe grep more!"

And the Penguin, never waddling, still is sitting, still is sitting
In the middle of my room and still very cluttered floor;
And his eyes have all the seeming of the free beer I am drinking
And the term'nal-light o'er him glowing throws his shadows on the floor;
And this OS from out the shadows that is pow'ring my term'nal on the
        Shall be dominating--"Pipe grep more!"

Linux Bytes Other Markets: City of Garden Grove Adopts Linux

by Drew Robb

Free Linux Download Snowballs into Citywide Government Deployment.

Five years ago, the IT department in the City of Garden Grove, California faced significant budgetary constraints. Rather than continue to pay for proprietary software, Charles Kalil, acting information systems manager for the city, decided to check out Linux. He downloaded it for free, installed it and liked what he saw.

Five years later, Linux is running on six servers and 386 PCs. It serves everyone from the public works department to the fire department, and they couldn't be happier with the results. “Our citywide Linux network has operated continuously for over a year without crashing,” said Kalil.

As an experienced NT system manager, he believes that it is possible to achieve similar performance from NT. But that means limiting each NT box to only one type of service. “Linux can stably handle file/print serving, mail server and more on one machine,” said Kalil. “NT can't.”

When the city began experimenting with Linux, it was originally looking at buying an NT network. But that meant purchasing multiple servers, licensing agreements and added software costs. “Linux came as a free download that also included a Web server, mail server, Samba file, and print sharing, and Network Files System (NFS) capabilities,” said Kalil. “With the alternatives such as SCO and NT, these were either not included or you had to purchase them separately.”

It wasn't all clear sailing for Garden Grove, however. Running Linux in 1995 was much more adventurous than today due to lack of support and a shortage of applications. Despite that, the city set up a Linux database that has been running ever since.

From a cost standpoint, the difference was substantial. Garden Grove replaced a $400,000 Data General minicomputer with two Pentium 90 servers that cost $5,000 combined.

Kalil also found that certain applications could not be ported to Linux. “We still use NT for imaging software on our optical jukebox,” he said. The City of Garden Grove also maintains a GIS server running NT. Once again, the GIS software does not have a Linux port.

But as far as price, reliability and availability are concerned, the city is fully committed to being a Linux-based shop. “We found that we didn't need high-price servers due to the efficiency of the Linux kernel,” said Kalil. “Further, we can obtain the same results as NT with about half the memory.” [See LJ Issue 35 for a previous article on Linux and the city of Garden Grove—Editor]

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology issues.


There has always been a strange relationship between Cobalt's primary business model and its most obvious product: the self-branding Qube. Every time I spoke with him, Stephen DeWitt made it clear that his company's business was selling rackmounted servers—its RaQ brand, especially—to ISPs who, in turn, would sell box-resident, value-added services to their customers. In fact, Cobalt has developed a large number of third parties whose applications could be packaged with Cobalt RaQs and sold to ISPs.

The Qube was a great little product, easily put to use anywhere one could find a constant Net connection and an available IP address, basically for SOHO settings. It was an easy product to love—a bright blue cube with a wide greenish light in the front. But the server appliance market was yet another one of those zero-billion dollar categories that would get around to delivering their promise when broadband was less the exception than the rule. As Qube observer Luke Tymowski puts it, “There's more money to be made selling RaQs to ISPs than Qubes to you and me.”

But when Cobalt sold itself to Sun Microsystems a few days ago (I write this on September 30, 2000), the Qube and the Appliance Category seemed to be the whole story.

The San Jose Mercury News told a typical story. Under the headline “Sun to Buy Cobalt for $2 Billion” ran the subhead “Deal gives company market for low-cost server appliances”. In the first sentence, Cobalt was identified as “the maker of a compact server-in-a-box”. The obvious manifestation of that label is the Qube, but the practical one is the RaQ. And Cobalt has done a remarkable job of productizing RaQs as appliances—as plug-and-serve devices. Its on-line literature says, “Now in its third generation, the Cobalt RaQ is a mature, proven server appliance already in use in 1/3 of all the Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers around the world. In fact, Cobalt RaQ is the server of choice globally because the Linux-based system does not require the constant attention of very expensive IT engineers.”

Cobalt has had very good marketing instincts from the beginning, playing the Linux label much the same way as it played the appliance label. The question now is whether Sun will tamper with that success. Sun has always gone out of its way to say it “supports” Linux but remains anything but a “Linux company”. Now with Cobalt it has bought one of the most familiar Linux companies in the world.

However, Cobalt, unlike VA Linux and other Linux hardware companies, has been a Linux company only to the extent that it employed Linux as a small, handy commodity OS. It also used a small, handy commodity microprocessor. Any idea what it is? Hint: it's not Intel or Motorola. There's marketing at work for you.

Among all the literature provided to me by Cobalt during the Spring Linux World Expo in 1999, the only mention of Linux was in 6-point type on the back of the company's data sheets. But, Cobalt quickly welcomed identification as a “Linux Company” and surely benefitted from that association with a big IPO in the fall of 1999. Around that time, “appliance” was becoming a hot term. Cobalt soon wisely identified nearly all its products as “server appliances”. Looks like it paid off.

Once Cobalt is part of Sun, there won't be much semantic leverage left in the word Linux, simply because of Sun's antipathy to the commodity OS. And sure enough, Sun is already reportedly thinking about dumping Linux from Cobalt servers and replacing it with Sun's own appliance-specific version of its operating system, Solaris. One wonders if they'll also insist on SPARC processors. But Luke Tymnowski says the fact that “they are making noises about moving the RaQs over to Solaris from Linux doesn't mean much. It wasn't the OS that was remarkable, it was the web administration interface.”

Indeed. It's hard to imagine a simpler UI for a server than the one Cobalt designed for it's appliances. Let's hope for their sake that they keep it that way.

Tech Tips

Debugging Tip

Handy for debugging and watching what's going on while it's going on. Use tail with the “f” option, which lets you read the end of a growing file. Examples:

$ tail -f /var/log/messages$ tail -f /var/log/syslog
$ tail -f /var/log/mail.log
$ tail -f /usr/local/httpd/logs/error_log

Need to capture some output to a terminal that can't be redirected easily to a file with “>”? Use script. At a command prompt type script, then do what ever you need to log and exit. The log of _ALL_ the stuff sent to your terminal finds its way into a file called typescript! Example:

tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ scriptscript: WARNING: script session is not secure against
script: read /usr/doc/bsdutils/README.script for details.
Script started, output file is typescript
tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ python
python commands
tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ exit
Script done, output file is typescript
tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ cat typescript
Script started on Thu Oct 12 12:03:22 2000
tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ python
Python 1.5.2 (#1, Dec 15 1999, 11:15:06)  [GCC] on linux2
Copyright 1991-1995 Stichting Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam
>>> 45+89+12.25+63.21
>>> 70/12
>>> 70%12
tux@coollinuxbox:/home/tux$ exit
Script done on Thu Oct 12 12:04:43 2000
Dolly the Hardisk

Wanna make a clone of one hardisk to another? Use tar. Hook up your soon-to-be-cloned hardisk to your system (power off during this operation). Boot your box. As root, cd to /. Mount the new hard drive on /mnt. Then run the following command:

$ tar clf - . | ( umask 0; cd /mnt; tar xvf - )

c = createl = stay on local filesystem (don't cross filesystem boundaries)f = file (the next argument is the name of the tarfile or “-”)- = write to standard out or read from standard inx = extractv = verbose

“umask 0” ensures that the new files have the same permissions as the old ones.

Load Disqus comments

Firstwave Cloud