Linux on Holiday?

by Emmett Plant

Wouldn't that be nice? I'm sure it would be. You won't get that kind of sympathy from me. I'm going to take this chance to tell you about the less fortunate. While it's nice to talk about how great Linux is, and how wonderful the ideology is, I wanted to make sure you knew that a lot of Linux people are unemployed this December.

It has not been good for Linux recently. When Linux enthusiasts all over the world waved their flags when VA Linux had their massive initial public offering, they didn't expect to see the stock drop to today's 9 and three-sixteenths points. There have been layoffs all over the Linux sector. LinuxMall has been in strange financial water, even TheLinuxShow has been plagued by cash flow issues.

Let me tell you about my friend Andrea.

Last year, on the fifteenth of December, Linuxcare announced the acquisition of Prosa, a consulting firm from Padua, Italy. Not long after the acquisition, Davide Barbieri offered Andrea a position at Linuxcare Italy. In May of this year, Linuxcare announced prominent layoffs after management insanity. It's December again, and Linuxcare Italy doesn't exist anymore.

Fortunately, Andrea has used his downtime to work on a number of fun and interesting projects, from building his home network to working on software agents. More importantly, it looks as though he's about to take a fantastic job with a European Linux service company.

Okay, I'm not trying to Grinch away your happiness, but as far as Linux is concerned, it seems as though the market has settled into a rut. There's a lot less flag-waving now.

Why? I was never driven to use Linux because of the market share or size of the industry. My friends didn't come to me and say, "Hey, Emmett, check this out, this is going to be worth billions of dollars in the coming year!" They said, "Here, you won't crash anymore."

And I didn't.

One of the keys for the coming year is going to be in building Linux-based businesses at a slow rate of speed, if you're interested in the business end of Linux. The opportunity for a fantastically huge IPO isn't as present these days. It's going to be an interesting year. A lot of the "bandwagon" people will have left, leaving only the hard-working kernel-smashing ingenues who will make Linux a better place for all of us.

Meanwhile, if you're just a Linux user, keep doing the things you do to give back to the Linux community. Hack more code. Write more scripts. Keep being clever. After the boys are done playing Parcheesi with Linux on the stock market, we'll still have a really cool OS to do the things we like to do.

The one thing that struck me the most about Andrea's story is that he didn't run away. If you get canned at Apple, I'm sure it's going to be a little while before you want to buy a Macintosh. If you're escorted out of the building at Ford, you might just buy your next car from GM. Still, Andrea sat at home and hacked on Linux for a while, because it was something he loved to do.

That's the fantastic thing about Linux. In the end, community spirit and ingenuity will win out over any major financial straits that Linux companies find themselves in. I think it's time to stop looking at the stock market as a barometer of Linux success. At the end of the day, my computer still hasn't crashed, and that's the greatest testament I can think of.

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