Originally Published: Monday, 13 September 1999 Author: Matt Michie
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Software from the Sky

Without rain and the precious water it provides, life would not last long. A single drop of rain by itself does not provide much nourishment. However, put together millions of raindrops and pretty soon you have a raging storm sweeping across the land.

In the Linux storm washing across the Internet landscape, each of us is a drop of rain. Only together, does our might become apparent. Scenes from Slashdot, where thousands of Linux users flood out a web server have become commonplace.

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Without rain and the precious water it provides, life would not last long. A single drop of rain by itself does not provide much nourishment. However, put together millions of raindrops and pretty soon you have a raging storm sweeping across the land.

In the Linux storm washing across the Internet landscape, each of us is a drop of rain. Only together, does our might become apparent. Scenes from Slashdot, where thousands of Linux users flood out a web server have become commonplace.

Where once existed a wasteland, a completely new community has sprung forth. Each time the Linux community gains another member, the more nourishment we can provide to the free software. We provide patches, documentation, support, training, and precious ideas on where to go next.

It's quite wonderful to have no road map and yet have a sense of direction at the same time. Everyone solves the problems that matter most to them personally. They flow to where they need to be and it all seems to work amazingly well. It's not a stretch to say that for nearly any program imaginable you can go to freshmeat.net and find either the beginnings of a project to write such a program, or a complete program ready for download.

All of these rain drops are flying from the sky and pooling into new raging rivers that are flowing to places no one would have expected. After Red Hat's debut on the stock market, even my most technically illiterate friends were asking me questions about Linux. No one has ever seen anything quite like this.

There are several new paper billionaires that have made their entire fortune completely from packaging Linux. People are drinking up Linux at a pace even the staunchest advocate could not have predicted. With the flowering of many new easy to use distributions, Linux is being prepared for the masses. At the same time, companies like SGI and IBM are bringing their years of experience with enterprise computing into the stream of code.

One can feel the excitement in the community. To me, it has the feeling of a desert before a rain fall. There is an electric charge to the air, a certain intangible smell to the air which forecasts something magical.

There will definitely be some typhoons and lightning storms in the months ahead. Some will come from within the community, and of course, titans like Microsoft will be fighting to keep from being swept away. Companies like SCO seem to be like a drowning victim thrashing about not quite sure what to do. Others such as SGI are happily drinking up the unexpected nourishment Linux is providing to them and their customers.

Personally, I'm just floating down the various streams contentedly exploring new ideas. Not a day goes by where I haven't grown somehow or helped someone else to grow. We've only seen the beginning of what this phenomenon is capable of. Already, there are some mighty interesting projects flowering. I can't wait to see where the river rages next.

Matt Michie is a student of Computer Science in New Mexico. He maintains a small web-site at web.nmsu.edu/~mmichie.




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