Originally Published: Thursday, 18 May 2000 Author: Jeff Alami
Published to: columnists/Jeff Alami Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

A Year in Review

On May 18, 1999, Linux.com opened its virtual doors to the Linux community. Since then, the Linux world has seen an incredible number of developments -- a testament to the fact that everyone's favourite OS runs on "Internet time," or possibly even faster. Let's take a look at what has happened since the site's creation on this day in 1999.

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On May 18, 1999, Linux.com opened its virtual doors to the Linux community. Since then, the Linux world has seen an incredible number of developments -- a testament to the fact that everyone's favourite OS runs on "Internet time," or possibly even faster. Let's take a look at what has happened since the site's creation on this day in 1999.

Just days after Linux.com went live, another Linux community site found itself in peril. Jim Pick, a prominent Debian developer, was running the LinuxHQ site for 2 years -- until the original owner of the linuxhq.com domain decided to pull the site without notice. Linux Weekly News called this "a poor way to treat somebody who has provided such a valuable site for so long." Since then, Jim Pick has started up KernelNotes.org for information about the Linux kernel.

On June 16, 1999, the Open Source Initiative, led by Open Source advocate Eric S. Raymond, lost its application to the "Open Source" trademark. While this was a setback for the Open Source movement, the OSI organization continued on with another certification mark, called "OSI Certified Open Source."

Winmodems have been one of the biggest obstacles to Linux hardware support. In September of 1999, we finally saw the beginnings of Winmodem drivers for the operating system. Pavel Machek was able to figure out some of the aspects of the Lucent Winmodem chipset's hardware interface. Since then, Lucent themselves have created a binary-only kernel module for its PCI Winmodems. More information about Winmodem support for Linux can be found at Linmodems.org. Maurice Entwistle provided Linux.com with a 7-part series of editorials about Winmodems and Linux -- check out the Winmodems -- Friend or Foe? series.

After a rather long development stage, the highly-anticipated version 4.0 of the XFree86 X Window System implementation became available on March 7, 2000. Some of the new features of XFree86 4.0 include much better multi-head support, the direct rendering infrastructure (DRI), and TrueType font support. XFree86 4.0 still hasn't found its way to any distribution releases, mainly because distribution makers are still waiting for the code to stabilize. [Correction: SuSE Linux 6.4 includes XFree86 4.0, but not by default, for the same reason mentioned above: SuSE wants to wait until the major bugs are flushed out so that they can integrate it better with their distribution. --Ed.]

When Linux.com went live, Wall Street had barely heard about Linux. In the 12 months since then, Linux has been hyped, taken to unbelievable heights in the stock market, and just as quickly taken back down to the ground. The market frenzy began with Red Hat, and its IPO announcement on June 4. On August 11, Red Hat did its IPO, forever changing the Linux world. Other Linux companies followed suit, with Cobalt Networks offering stock in October, VA and Andover.Net hitting the market in December, and Caldera Systems in March 2000.

Acquisitions were the name of the game in the last year, especially when you look at Linux Web sites. Andover.Net acquired Slashdot on June 29, then Freshmeat on August 12, making the company a leading Internet resource for Linux and Open Source users. On February 3, 2000, VA Linux Systems announced their plans to acquire the whole of Andover.Net, including its freshly-acquired Linux sites. LinuxToday.com was acquired by internet.com on October 21, 1999, and Linux Weekly News was acquired by Tucows on April 4, 2000. This string of acquisitions speaks for itself, as the most blatant example of the commercialization of Linux.

What about the changes within Linux.com? Like any community project, the first attempt had to be thrown away, and restarted, with an idea of the practical problems involved. Armed with experience and a new determination, Linux.com switched its focus. When a user comes to Linux.com, they don't expect another lame portal Web site. They don't want to be deluged with opinions. They are typically new users. They are typically people curious about Linux, and logically stick the word, www, and dot com together into a URL line to find out what this thing is. Instead of being bombarded with commercial advertisements, they get to hear about it from the source -- the people who created it.

A year before I started working for Linux.com, one of the current staff writers and I had a conversation, about the future of Linux, and what would happen in the months coming. What would happen next? Could we even have imagined at the time who would announce, and even actually back up, support for Linux? We didn't imagine then that Linux would run on IBM's S/390 mainframe. We couldn't have possibly guessed that a full-featured office suite would come out of the woodwork. And the year since then has proven even more interesting.

A year before I started working for Linux.com, I couldn't have imagined myself where I am today, and I couldn't have imagined Linux coming so far so quickly. Now let's see what the second year of Linux.com brings, and what events we, along with the rest of the Linux community, will be witness to in the future.

Jeff Alami (jeff@linux.com) is the Editor-in-Chief of Linux.com, and can't believe it's already been one year since this site started. He would like to acknowledge the help of staff writer Rob Bos with this retrospective.





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