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Second "Bonus" Interview: Jon "maddog" Hall 98

As head of Linux International, Jon Hall is one of the highest-profile people in the Linux community. He's also one of the nicest. He's wanted to do this interview for a long time, and we've wanted to have him as a guest for just as long. Finally we got the schedules to match. Yay! Suggested interview theme: "The next 100 years of Linux," but what you actually ask is up to you. One note to clear up a name misunderstanding that has been causing problems for Jon "maddog" Hall lately: Please do not confuse him with VA Linux Vice Presedent (and recent "on paper" mega-millionaire) John T. Hall. (Note the spelling difference!) They are not, repeat not, the same person! Anyway, usual interview rules - with one difference: we're going to post Jon's answers Saturday instead of Friday. Who could be better (and what topic could be better) to kick off the New Year?
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End-of-Year Bonus Interview: Jon "maddog" Hall

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  • How exactly does Linux International work? What sort of services do they provide to the Linux community? What are you planning to do in the future? Do you think that if Linux becomes a truly major player, that the scope, membership, or or mission of LI will change as a resuly?

  • by coreman ( 8656 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:08AM (#1442383) Homepage
    There have been lots of articles on what is the future of the current Linux projects... What do you see as the NEW, non-current directions that Linux will embark on in the near future/next century?
  • Do you think that after the ending of the Microsoft trial, the company will begin its FUD tactics to undermine the open-source model? And do you think Windows 2K can become a real threat to Linux when launched on february?
  • Oh crud! Bested again!


  • by Gurlia ( 110988 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:10AM (#1442386)

    Do you think GNU/HURD might one day take over Linux's place? It certainly has a more modern design, although it is currently still in the works. Do you think it's a plausible alternative to Linux when it is ready for general consumption?

    Or does Linux have a drive in the Open Source community that HURD doesn't? Linux seems to have generated a lot of enthusiasm, fandom, (and zealotry?). Could it be this drive that made Linux so successful and the lack thereof make HURD take such a long time to get developed?

    (Disclaimer: I am NOT trying to start a flamewar between Linux and HURD supporters.)

  • What, in your opinion, what will it take for the Linux OS to establish itself on the desktop market as we are moving into the next century?

    Will the release of Win2000 affect Linux's quest for "world domination"? If so, what should the Open Source community's counter strategy be?

    - JoJo
  • by Signail11 ( 123143 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:17AM (#1442388)
    Is it inevitable that Linux one day become obselete and cosequently be superceded by the Next Great OS? The obvious answer to this question is yes: all things must eventually come to an end and computing is not a field where any one technique can retain supremacy in the face of continual technical improvement. The equally obvious reply is that the methodology process used in Linux and other open-source operating systems such as *BSD and Hurd represent a new paradigm in software developement that self-perpetuates itself and adapts to new advances by incorporating them into its own infrastructure while creating new innovation. What view do you subscribe to?
  • by kanaka ( 9693 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:21AM (#1442392) Journal
    Could you explain your rational for moving from the Tru64 UNIX group at Compaq to VA Linux? Was it a financial decision? Do you like Linux technology better? Was it ideological (Open Source)? Do you just like the location better? Was it just for a change? Etc.
  • How do you know all things must come to an end? C hasn't, neither has Unix. It's too early to say anything. Linux could very well last throught the Y3K problems in a 1000 years.
    I'm not saying that it will, but the computing field is too young to make such assumptions. After all, software can grow in ways that previous engineering projects never could. In the end: who knows?

  • What are you predictions for the next two years in relation to technology, Linux, Compaq, VA Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, etc.
  • by Kamelion ( 12129 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:26AM (#1442395)
    What ever happened to get the nick name "maddog"?
    Must have a pretty interesting story behind that, eh?
  • Could you describe your work life at VA Linux.
    What are your pet projects?
    How many hours each day do spend at work?
    Do you work from home?
    What other noteworthies do you interact with on a daily basis?
    What's your work space like? (Number of Linux computers, number of computers without a case, number of Windows machines (and why), number of monitors, etc).

  • by perigeeV ( 115833 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:28AM (#1442397)

    ...are being touted as the next great evolution of the internet and computing in general. As ASPs are becoming more sophisticated, both home and business boxen will supposedly become little more than an embedded web client. It seems mod_perl on Linux is perfect for the server and Mozilla on Linux will be perfect as the client. If this is in the near future how can/should Linux improve its utilities for this segment of the internet?

  • by Wiktor Kochanowski ( 5740 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:29AM (#1442398)
    Linux, and in general the Open Source development model, has been accused in the past of "chasing the taillights" -- of always catching up to features that other commercial programs have, because they are results of vision rather than of a creeping evolution.

    Myself, I think there may be something in this view, when I look e.g. at the emerging UI input methods like voice recognition and pen input/handwriting recognition on the client side, and various goodies on the server side.

    Do you agree with this? If so, is Linux condemned to always be a few steps behind of the current state of the art of OS design, at least as far as features go?

    If not, what examples of vision and features unique to Linux would you provide as examples?
  • In certain subtle, but certaintly quantifable ways, C's use as a language for large-scale non-systems programming applications had already begun to wane with the advent of a) a standard for C++ that most compilers reasonably complied with and b) improvement in computer speed such that squeezing that last cycle out of a loop isn't that neccesary for most applications. While there are some exceptions, most GUI developement widget sets/packages are intrinsically object-oriented, and as such, IMHO, the use of C for them would, in most cases, be detremental to coding clarity and efficiency. C is a great language, but it lacks even the lamentably week type checking of C++, not to say more strongly typed languages.
  • by Sibelius ( 123685 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:32AM (#1442400)
    How can Linux be brought into the mainstream when it's still not as easy to install as Windows? This may seem like a moot point to the readers of Slashdot, but at the same time, Slashdot is hardly a representative cross-section of (an) America (lacking the tech know-how / desire to work with a complex OS)?
  • Let's say Microsoft opens its source code... how is Linux (in general) affected?
  • One of the possible settlement arrangements that could be made between US and MS would include the release of the Windows/Office source code under a modified license. In that event, would porting the Office applications to Linux be a net positive or a net negative for the future of Linux as an independent OS?

  • As Linux continues to gain momentum over the next decade or so, it seems plain that OS vendors will have to contend with it. What strategies do you think Microsoft, the various UNIX vendors, etc. will use to compete?
  • I realy hate to say this but I am kinda glad that your back from the dead.

    But with that statement it begs this question..

    Can MEEPT repress his innate MEEPT-ness; or will it spire into complete banality like last time?

    If it's banal, stop now, obsessive-compulsive is not good for you, or slashdot.
  • So how goes it between you and Alan Cox? Do you get along, do you talk as often as with Linus? Most of all when you visit England do you 2 go out into the sun and dance around ?

    For those who don't get it the saying goes "Mad Dogs and Englishmen dance in the midday sun". Apparently there isn't soposed to be much difference between them.
  • Agreed, and moreover, I think languages like C++ will probably see their end too. Strong memory-management languages like Java (although, not Java in particular) will probably replace it and other OO systems


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What will it mean for the future of Linux as the number of users who have an interest in putting something in that /contrib directory become outnumbered, watered down? Do the majority of Linux users and proponents still feel a need and/or obligation to work towards making Linux the OS (as opposed to the kernel ~ GNU/Linux if you must) better than it is currently? Sentiments coming from SGI (and elseware) have seemed to imply that Linux has completely succeeded in making a useable UNIX system, but without having solved any problems of its own. Where will Linux be when an insignificant number of users make up the code-base while virtually the entire user-base is made up of the those that don't make up the code-base? Hasn't Linux been successful because its users have called "theirs"? I really doubt that the same progress can be made when its is called Linus's, RedHat's, or Jon Hall's OS, kernel, community, movement, etc. Its ours!
  • by Zurk ( 37028 ) <zurktech&gmail,com> on Monday December 27, 1999 @08:59AM (#1442409) Journal
    regarding the recent community linux certification efforts etc, can we expect to see LI take a part in this ? Are we going to get free community certification for Linux ? Especially since all PHB's now seem to want certification...
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Monday December 27, 1999 @09:00AM (#1442410) Homepage Journal
    As I mentioned in a recent article thread [], the Linux kernel is braving new waters in several areas which UNIX has traditionally shunned in the kernel (graphics support, http server, game support for network management, etc). These features raise the eyebrows of many people, but is this the way you see operating system design moving in the future? Are we so bound by the dreaded user-mode context switch that we have to plow every service as deep into the kernel as it will go?

    Mind you, I'm all for the khttpd idea as a single example, but it seems like the beginning of a trend that will end up making the original Linux kernel look like a wristwatch driver, and leave a lot of low-end users in a bind....

  • What does it take to get you to speak somewhere? I know you've spoken for the local Compaq User's Group here in Philly (missed it. Argh!!!), so it can't be impossible or anything.
  • by joshkerr ( 2450 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @09:15AM (#1442412) Homepage
    I don't understand how Linux can complete in the upper end server market, especially against competitors like Microsoft and Sun.

    Microsoft is about to release Windows 2000 datacenter which will allow up to 64gig of ram and 32 processors. How can any one company afford that kind of equipment for the development of Linux?

    Do you have any plans to recruit companies like Compaq and Dell so that they are major players in the development efforts of Linux? It seems to me that it would be benificial to have companies like this helping to direct the future development of Linux in terms of large scale applications. I realize that these companies are developing drivers and the such, but that isn't really what I'm talking about..

    Apache running on Linux on a machine with 32 processors and 64gig of ram, able to out perform anything MS can throw at it. That is what I'm talking about...
  • Y3k??? thres a year 3000 problem, great. I gotta ge back and rewrite all my code

    Man, this is impossible. I just got everyone calmed down about a Y2K problem, and now some freak starts a new hoax.

    They must not have sold all their snake oil kits yet. I guess they figure 1000 years will be enough to pawn off their surplus inventory.


  • How can Linux be brought into the mainstream when it's still not as easy to install as Windows?

    Windows isn't really easy enough for the non-tech tye to install themselves. It's just preloaded.

    Think about it...

  • by Skinka ( 15767 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @09:21AM (#1442416)
    Do you think it's wise having Linux ported for pretty much every architecture ever made? It may be fun and a source of pride to have an OS that can run everything, but is it really sensible to spend time and resources porting Linux to lets say S/390, when we pretty much know for sure that OS/390 will run that hardware better?
  • Linux supports 64 gig of ram. Dell donated a machine to a kernel developar (Molnar Ingo, I believe) to add support. Hardware vendors will donate hardware to linux developers if they think it will sell machines. It also appears that many hardware vendors are hiring kernel developers to insure that there stuff is supported.

    I wasn't aware that ia32 supported more than 8 processors. Has this changed?
    Mike Mangino Consultant, Analysts International
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Do you see any Linux distro maker ever producing as coherent, integrated, and well-tested Linux operating system release as we've traditionally seen from vendors like Sun or DEC, or, in the freeware world, from the OpenBSD etc distributions? Won't the current thrown-togetherness of all the commerical Linuxes hurt them in the commercial sector? Will these huge IPOs provide funding to create a better distro?
  • READ, READ, READ! Jon "Maddog" Hall != John T. Hall.
  • Where would you like to see Linux in a level playing, one where a user can easily choose between, say BeOS, *BSD, Linux, Windows 2000/98++ on their new systems.

    Or simply, in a level playing field, what niche do you see Linux occupying?


    ...Linux User/Evangelist since kernel v0.12
  • Yes but there is a difference between something not having ended yet and the certainty that it will end. In a billion years, do you think there will still be C programmers?
  • by dattaway ( 3088 )
    Did you have a good Christmas? What are you doing for New Years?
  • Hi, Jon.

    I've always wondered when, where, and why you first became involved in the Linux community. When I started using it (around 1996), you were already "well known." How did you get involved? Is it related to your nice nickname? What is your Linux story :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    interface aware programmers?

    I mean programmers like Dr. Mark Pauker, whose Ansa Software turned into Paradox for DOS, a wonderfully productive language for businesses. Or even DbaseIII, or maybe the guys who wrote TornadoNotes could be persuaded to recompile for Linux.

    I suppose Tcl/Tk or php could be offered as examples, but they have too many loose ends. Don't mention Python, its apps crash, and there's nothing there to meet the needs of business logic.

    Infomagic has been persuaded to re-issue the Workgroup Server. What would it take to get Borland to re-issue PDoxDOS or Sidekick under Linux?
  • by hautis ( 83345 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @09:49AM (#1442426)
    Is Linux's popularity a threat to other open OS projects? Even now, it seems all other free (and even non-free, I guess) unices will want to have binary compatibility with Linux. And as more and more users just use binary software distributions, there will probably soon be no reason for anybody to actually create BSD, Hurd or whatnot binaries. Except that Hurd doesn't run Linux binaries at the moment... right :)

    Linux has been made to run on top of a microkernel and one of Hurd's frequently asked questions seems to be if Hurd could be run using Linux as microkernel. The answer doesn't actually say it couldn't.

    What about the EROS operating system []? I read once about it in Slashdot and on holidays I've spent some time reading its documentation. Seems very interesting, the whole capability system concept, no traditional filesystems, persistence and all. Yeah, they seem to be designing a Linux environment hosted under Eros or something like that.

    But what if Linux people just somehow weave the capability model and persistence into the Linux kernel? What will that do to EROS? Is Linux so popular, that people would blindly use it also for tasks for which it doesn't suite at all?

    As a GPL-protected project, Linux can never become a new Windows, but could it become a threat to natural diversity in the open source world?

  • Certainly, in the next 100 years we will see the departure of Linus as head honcho. Alan will probably step down around the same time. I mean you can only do so much for so long. Do you think that Linux has a suitable leadership path concerning the kernel? If not, how might you solve the inheritance problem?

  • I don't know where it came from, but it always makes me think of my old drunken buddies from long ago who drank a lot of "Mad Dog"... M/D (Mad Dog) 20/20 wine, a really cheap horrible brand good for nothing but a cheap drunk. They told me the reason for its superiority is that Mad Dog spelled backwards is God Dam!!

    chars is barely sufficient
  • Linux has been made to run on top of a microkernel and one of Hurd's frequently asked questions seems to be if Hurd could be run using Linux as microkernel. The answer doesn't actually say it couldn't.

    *Ahem*. It would be unnecessarily slow and inefficient for running Linux on HURD. The whole idea behind a microkernel is to enable a user to run whatever interfaces he'd like for his programs. You can have a POSIX interface and a Win32 (shudder) interface running at the same time if you want. HURD is about flexibility.

    Isn't HURD currently being developed to provide a POSIX interface?? If so, why can't you run Linux binaries on it? You won't need to run the Linux kernel on top of HURD. The binaries can probably run native. The only thing you need to do is to replace the dynamic libraries with HURD-compatible versions! (Unless I'm really missing something here???)

    And running HURD on top of Linux would be senseless. HURD is just a collection of daemons and interfaces to add a POSIX interface to the Mach microkernel. Besides, the Linux kernel clearly doesn't have the flexibility Mach has.

  • One note to clear up a name misunderstanding that has been causing problems for Jon "maddog" Hall lately: Please do not confuse him with VA Linux Vice Presedent (and recent "on paper" mega-millionaire) John T. Hall. (Note the spelling difference!) They are
    not, repeat not, the same person!
    I doubt he knows much about life at VA Linux...


  • Actually, the saying is "Mad Dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun", and comes (I believe) from India and the colonial days, when the English would happily walk, in full atire, in the baking summer sun, when all the locals (who had sense) were either in the shade or (at the very least) not under their own body weight in clothes.

    (The English, myself included, have this delusion that climate is a thing of the mind. That it's eminently sensible to walk around in thick shirt, sweater and fleece-lined jacket when the temperature is in the 100's. What could be more natural?)

  • I'd like to add a follow-on, to that. Are there any -utterly- new directions in computing, maybe only just now coming over the horizon, which you could see Linux embarking on?
  • I share the nickname although I don't use it in computing circles. Mine comes from an afternoon in the dorm where I won a bet by "treeing" a cat, running after it on all fours, barking. My wife's nickname has been Minou, a french variant for cat. You do stop chasing once you catch the right one...
  • Do you think Linux will ever reach the point that Ma & Pa Hall will be able to buy a version of Linux Install it and be able to do what ever they want with out calling up their "Son Jon" for support?
  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @11:03AM (#1442439) Homepage

    How about the software no one wants to write?
    By this, I mean the software that most programmers would consider "boring", yet is truly essential to the further growth of Linux as a desktop and server OS. It's great that we have so many window managers, office suites, browsers, etc. both existing and coming down the pike, but what about the other stuff that's just not as exciting? The stuff you really have to pay people to write? Maybe third party vendors with paid employees are the answer, but will all of those companies want to make their software truly Open Source?


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • Yes, but Java certainly has it's roots in C. Likewise, it is concievable that future systems would have their roots in Linux, and thus, in some way it would still be in use sometime in the future (though probably not the 1000 years I had (jokingly) quoted).

    At any rate, both C and Unix are really concepts rather than implementations now (that is, there are multiple C compilers and 'Unix-like' systems, even though there is a real Unix(tm)), where as Linux is a real, concrete thing, so I guess the comparisons aren'y very valid anyway.


  • Linux has taken the world, so Linus says. World Domination we want. However the Desktop at the office and at home stays behind. Corel has put some horses on Linux and the Desktop. In my opinion this won't last long, as long the big PC Vendors don't ship pre-installed Linux workstations and home/gamer PC's. I think we need to take much more effort like Microsoft has done for win9x to force Linux as a valid OS pre-install option with the PC-vendors. Whats your opinion on that?

  • The short story on the nickname is here. []
  • Because POSIX is a source level interface spefication, it has nothing to do with binary compatibility.
    Mike Mangino Consultant, Analysts International
  • Voice recognition has been "a year or two away" since the mid eighties, where "faster processors" like the mighty 386 would allow voice recognition to be accurate and speedy enough to be adopted by the masses as preferable to typing.

    While I haven't used a voice recognition system, it appears that they're still not accurate enough (95% accuracy means that the system stuffs up one in every 20 words), and that composing anything (be it an email or C code) by dictation is in itself a quite difficult skill to learn. Do you know anyone that uses voice recognition on a daily basis?

    Pen input/handwriting recognition are quite dead as input methods for desktop use. Handwriting recognition is far too slow and inaccurate to be of any use, and pen input onto a vertical screen places too much stress on the hands. Pen input's one and only use is for freehand drawing.

    I don't mean to take away from your general question (which is a good one), but just make some comment on the specific examples you have chosen.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just ran into a fellow whose employer still uses Q&A in a big way. For you weenies, it's an old DOS database, accessible only from the computer on which it's installed. It's still used because the database creation, data entry, and mail merge is still the best thing going, bar no operating system.

    His comment was, it isn't so much installed as marooned on the computer. It is amazingly useful to organize client records, but only one person can access it at a time, a hideous bottleneck. "Isn't there some way I can web-enable Q&A? And how about email access? Think we can do that?"

    I thought about this, and my answer is no and yes. Symantec, has of course, pounded a stake into the heart of Q&A and its well-heeled customer base.

    It's too bad Suse or Applix can't figure out a way to make mail merges easy with MySQL or PostgreSQL, in a way that can be understood by business users, who are more than willing to pay for this, along with a way to easily create and query databases.

    How about it, Jon? You must have learned something about marketing and interfaces during your decades at DEC. Want to spearhead a user-friendliness effort for Linux?
  • SO did you, or anyone you know of, actually spoofed their boss by using Linux instead of Windows?

    Sincerely SlashDread
  • by Mike Hall ( 13227 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @01:54PM (#1442448) Homepage
    I have had the chance to meet you at several LinuxWorldExpo's and USENIX etc.. At each of these events, you were always present at the parties with a large glass of beer.

    My question:

    What is your favorite beer? and why?

  • by Jude ( 18761 ) on Monday December 27, 1999 @03:18PM (#1442449) Homepage
    I stumbled across an interesting story about a
    recent adventure you had in India. (Sorry I lost the link - it had something to do with a fudster who didn't like logging onto his home machine.)
    Based on your experiences in India and other parts of the non-West, what do you think needs to be stressed, advocacy-wise to make Linux more acceptable outside America and Europe ?
  • No, not really. Putting "sendmail" in the kernel would be about as bad as putting "apache" in the kernel. On the other hand, adding very simple SMTP capabilities (as an optional module, of course) to the kernel might speed up sendmail quite a bit.

    The goal of khttpd was to get around certain performance bottlenecks at very high throughput that apache simply could not solve in user space. The result is a kernel module that apache can optionally use to speed up certain types of static content generation.

    Is speed a bad thing?

    My concern was that if every application is treated this way (as X has been, as video is, etc) we begin to turn the kernel into swiss cheese. But, I think cool heads are prevailing so far.
  • With the incarnation of Corel Linux and others like Mandrake (seemingly a dumbed down version of RedHat) where do you see the Linux community going in terms of maintaining a true "hacker" ethic, while at the same time becoming increasingly inclusive to a not-so-technical user base? Do you think we're approaching a trend, much like DOS and Win3.1, where the user base becomes too dependant on ease of use? How is the linux community going to cope with an influx of ex windows users who don't know much about the actual workings of a *nix environment?
  • I couldn't agree more, but that's the way it's headed. In PHB thinking why buy a $5000 shrinkwrap solution when you can "pay as you go" with an ASP? You gain infinite flexibility and the market will become perfectly Darwinian. Don't like the service? There's a dozen contenders dying for your cash, and you have no prohibitive set-up costs. How many companies/institutions are running bogus systems just because, well, they're paid for. My local library system is still running VMS for goodness sakes!

    We'll always have hacker's OS's because we'll always have hackers. Linux flying in the face of Windows proves that much. And if not, Finland has plenty of grad students :)

  • did you try running it under dosemu/vmware? you could at least hack something together for it.. or, hell, nab that data (unless it's well encrypted) and pop it into an sql database..

    blue (it's a lot like mewtwo) :)
  • by jflynn ( 61543 )
    Do you miss Digital Equipment Corporation? And how do you think DEC would be reacting to Linux and open source, were they still around?

  • shell or xterm?
    vi or emacs?
    compiled or interpreted?
    keyboard or mouse?
    boxers or briefs?
    IDG or O'Reilly?
    By the way, Linux For Dummies? I know you want to reach out to the forsaken Windows users, but I think you need to call O'Reilly just to mend your karma! Also you might want to expand the shell programming chapter. My brother is calling me every 15 minutes.
  • How many "mainstream" people install their OS?

    Most people buy a computer that already has everything installed on it, or they buy an upgrade and pay $50 for Joe CompuGuy at CompUSA to install it. Most small businesses do the same thing, and when they are large enough hire a part-time or full-time tech to do it for them.

    And for an exception to the rule...
    One of my co-workers has some friends at a small company here in town. They bought a copy of Corel Linux a month ago, but never got around to getting him to install it and set up samba (they wanted a file/print server, but didn't want to shell out the $$$ for NT). He called them the other day, and they had the secretary (secretary, mind you) installing it "just to see how easy it was"! She had made it all the way through the installation and was using Corel's "Windows Filesharing" configuration tool. Now I haven't used Corel, but the secretary didn't appear to have had any trouble installing everything (using the defaults, I assume). He is going to go over there after a few days to see how secure and "correct" the installation and setup are.

    Nuts to the "Installing Windows is easy...Installing Linux is hard!" crowd!
  • Please anwser these however you see fit:

    Where do you see Linux 5 years from now?

    Where do you see Compaq's Alpha platform, running Linux or not, 5 years from now?

    Where do you see Compaq 5 years from now?

    Do you think HURD will have any effect on Linux 5 years from now?

  • is it really sensible to spend time and resources porting Linux to lets say S/390

    Recall that all but one of the listed contributors of the S/390 code in 2.2.14 gave email addresses. My guess is that they are affiliated with the S/390 group in some fashion, which would suggest that someone there thinks that it does make business sense to have Linux/390. Also, it's unlikely that those people would have been orking on Linux in any other (official) fashion, so it's not really time and resources which could have been used elsewhere.

    Beyond that, I think that a major part of the strength of open source is that, for the most part, developers are volunteers, and they work on problems that they find interesting. It's possible that they find the problem interesting because they expect to learn something from it, and a practical application of their results is secondary. I've often thought that Linux on a Palm isn't very useful, but then I consider that their are Palm devices with 8MB RAM that accept Flash cards, and I wonder...
  • As the Executive Director of Linux International, and a member of the Board of Directors of USENIX, what sort of overlap do you see between the two communities, and what sort of overlap would you like to see?
  • Frankly, any resemblance to an old hippie is coincidental. I merely stopped going to the office to work on Win95 boxen. since the move to Linux, my commute is all of 2 seconds from my bed to my chair. Hence, I look like crap when I wake up. That explain's the funky hair and the (checking stubble) three day's beard growth.

    Please don't confuse that with just being a dirty hippie. I get paid to look like this.

  • Isn't it true that Linux is presented to the mass too soon? For example, Netscape seems to be the mainstream browser to come with the mainstream distributors. But Netscape is awfully buggy, it crashes rather frequently.

    Another example is quake3, I bought the game, installed it and it crashes when I try to alter the system settings.

    Won't this hurt the public opinion of Linux?
    Since, the mass will mostly use such programs.

    Also, XFree4.0 will be out in february or so. This is a major re-write of XFree with enhanced 3D support. I doubt if this won't come with a lot of bugs... that's just plain normal for such a new product.
    This also might very much hurt the public opinion about Linux since the mass is just now getting aquinted with Linux. I think most people think of switching to Linux because of stability issues, so this might very well be a disappointing factor.

    Don't get me wrong however, I do love Linux :) And I do know Linux itself is stable. Just concerned that public opinion will fail though.
    1. As I have heard of the "Tree of Knowledge" plan for the United Nations from your speech in the Bazaar's "Future of Free Software" discussion, where can I read up on this?
    2. What should be the proper steps in introducing Linux to academia (ranging from computer labs, to teaching StarOffice or Applixware, to GCCs in non-Unix boxes for the CIS majors)?
    3. "Wowing" a college administration to give Linux a chance would involve the use of calling Free Software "Free [Beer] Software," but that was never the purpose of "Free [Speech] Software." What should I keep in mind to make a compromise to discuss the ideals of both of these meanings of the word "free" to the administration?
    4. Have you taken the offer to play the role of Santa Claus this month?

  • Actually, I would be more concerned about y2100. A lot of systems that have been "made y2k compliant" have been so "fixed" using a sliding date-window technique that will not work after about 2070.

    I.e. the algorithm they used looks something like this:

    if y > 70, then y = 1900 + y

    else y = 2000 + y
    Really, really short sited.
  • And running HURD on top of Linux would be senseless.

    That's just my point. But Linux is so hot right now that people seem to try to use it for just about anything. Linux may become a legacy just like DOS; you cannot write a new operating system for the same user group without a Linux compatibility mode.

    Of course this doesn't apply to real gurus, who anyway compile all their binaries themselves and have a dozen computer architectures represented in their 1-room apartment, but the average Linux user. Those that use the system and buy the books and the expensive versions of the distros. And they will be important from the market point of view, too - and yes, the business side matters even in the open source business and will matter more and more.

  • In a billion years, do you think there will still be C programmers?

    No, but there still will be COBOL progrmmers.
  • So, maddog, now that VA Linux has gone public, what are you going to do with all that money you made in the IPO? ;-)

    (To the readership: The above is a joke. maddog says that if you think you have trouble with spam, try being mistaken for a newly rich VP at VA Linux.)
  • I doubt he knows much about life at VA Linux...

    I might say, "Learn to check your facts!"

    From maddog's signature:

    Director of Linux Evangelism
    VA Linux Systems
    1382 Bordeaux Ave.
    Sunnyvale, CA 94089

    In fact, most of the email he sends to GNHLUG [] as of late comes from his VA Linux address.
  • Jon "Maddog" Hall != John T. Hall.

    The fact that (maddog != JohnTHall) does not mean that (maddog.employer != VALinux). Jon Hall is "Director of Linux Evangelism" at VA Linux Systems; you can email him there at [mailto].
  • Is there any truth to the rumor that the Greater New Hampshire Linux Users Group is the greatest LUG in existence today? I understand that this is due to the incredible good looks and outstanding technical excellence possessed by all current and former members. :)

  • How do you feel the recent IPO's have effected the opensource community? Also with the great successes these two companies have had (RedHat and VA) what do you see as potential responsibilities of these companies to the opensource communities, if any? Granted they both employ a great number of developers and have been helping support projects and develop new you see this as a definite plus in the world of opensource or will commercialism and capitalism swallow the principles of the community as the financial rewards become great.???
    I suppose simply put, what do the linux related IPO's mean to the world and the linux community...whats going to be the overall effect???

    Thank you for everything you do and taking time out to answer a few questions from the community at large...
  • We haven't heard much news lately about the LSB; now that Linux is quickly gaining mainstream, the need of a distro agnostic Linux standard is becoming more and more urgent, before it's too late !. As I understand it, LI is an organisation devoted to the promotion of Linux, and has among it's members many important users of Linux, how can LI help the emergence of a such Standard by blessing it, and encouraging it's members to adopt it ?
  • Grolsch! Do you dare be caught drinking the other brand? That is like using Windoze. Use M$ in Europe? Gotta be kidding.

    (too many tonight)
  • While Americans, being of an inventive but mentally undisciplined bent, invented air conditioned malls so we could walk around our marketplaces in thick shirt, sweater, and fleece-lined jacket when the temperature is in the 100's.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.