Free For All - How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High Tech Titans
Peter Wayner (2002-12-22)


1. Linux Weekly News keeps a complete list of distributors. These range from the small, one- or two-man operations to the biggest, most corporate ones like Red Hat: Alzza Linux, Apokalypse, Armed Linux, Bad Penguin Linux, Bastille Linux, Best Linux (Finnish/Swedish), Bifrost, Black Cat Linux (Ukrainian/Russian), Caldera OpenLinux, CCLinux, Chinese Linux Extension, Complete Linux, Conectiva Linux (Brazilian), Debian GNU/Linux, Definite Linux, DemoLinux, DLD, DLite, DLX, DragonLinux, easyLinux, Enoch, Eridani Star System, Eonova Linux, e-smith server and gateway, Eurielec Linux (Spanish), eXecutive Linux, floppyfw, Floppix, Green Frog Linux, hal91, Hard Hat Linux, Immunix, Independence, Jurix, Kha0s Linux, KRUD, KSI-Linux, Laetos, LEM, Linux Cyrillic Edition, LinuxGT, Linux-Kheops (French), Linux MLD (Japanese), LinuxOne OS, LinuxPPC, LinuxPPP (Mexican), Linux Pro Plus, Linux Router Project, LOAF, LSD, Mandrake, Mastodon, MicroLinux, MkLinux, muLinux, nanoLinux II, NoMad Linux, OpenClassroom, Peanut Linux, Plamo Linux, PLD, Project Ballantain, PROSA, QuadLinux, Red Hat, Rock Linux, RunOnCD, ShareTheNet, Skygate, Slackware, Small Linux, Stampede, Stataboware, Storm Linux, SuSE, Tomsrtbt, Trinux, TurboLinux, uClinux, Vine Linux, WinLinux 2000, Xdenu, XTeamLinux, and Yellow Dog Linux.

2. “Where are those reports I asked you to copy? You're doing a great job. Thanks for all the help,” on one day. “Are you ever going to copy those reports? You're doing a great job. Thanks for all the help,” on the next.

3. Everyone in the community, including many who don't know him, refers to him by his first name. The rules of style prevent me from using that in something as proper as a book.

4. Microsoft now acknowledges the existence of a bug in the tens of millions of copies of Windows 95 and Windows 98 that will cause your computer to 'stop responding (hang)'--you know, what you call crash--after exactly 49 days, 17 hours, 2 minutes, and 47.296 seconds of continuous operation . . . . Why 49.7? days? Because computers aren't counting the days. They're counting the milliseconds. One counter begins when Windows starts up; when it gets to 232 milliseconds--which happens to be 49.7 days--well, that's the biggest number this counter can handle. And instead of gracefully rolling over and starting again at zero, it manages to bring the entire operating system to a halt."--James Gleick in the New York Times.

5. The kernel of f(x)=x<sub>2</sub> is (-1, 1) and it illustrates how the function has two branches.

6. He numbered them starting at zero because that was what computer scientists did. Someone figured out that it was simpler to start numbering databases at zero because you didn't have to subtract 1 as often.

7. Lawyers just watch their clients go to jail.

8. Linux does have many marketing opportunities. Torvalds chose a penguin named Tux as the mascot, and several companies actually manufacture and sell stuffed penguins to the Linux realm. The BSD world has embraced a cute demon, a visual pun on the fact that BSD UNIX uses the word “daemon” to refer to some of the faceless background programs in the OS.

9. At this writing, Microsoft has not released its source code, but the company is widely known to be examining the option as part of its settlement with the Department of Justice.

10. In fact, the federal government already considers encryption software to be a munition and often tries to regulate it as such.

11. At this writing, version M13 of Mozilla looks very impressive. It's getting quite close to the proprietary version of Netscape.

12. Er, I mean to say “add Linux” or “add GNU/Linux.” “Red Hat” is now one of the synonyms for free software.

13. Apple is an old hand at the T-shirt game, and internal projects create T-shirts to celebrate milestones in development. These images were collected in a book, which may be as good a technical history of Apple as might exist. Many projects, including ones that failed, are part of the record.

14. 1The legal system is not perfect. Too many cases are now filed under seal, and the courts are too willing to act as private dispute agencies for big corporations. When the law is locked up in this way, it is not a great example for the free software world.

15. The author recommends that you read this on the Stairmaster or a stationary bike, but only after checking with a registered doctor and consulting with a licensed exercise specialist who is thoroughly familiar with your medical history. These medical specialists will be able to tune your workout to provide the optimal fitness benefits so you can live long enough to get Alzheimer's disease.

16. The GNU project has already worked around many of these impediments. Their Privacy Guard package (GNU PG) is released under the GNU license.

License: Free For All is Licensed under a Creative Commons License. This License permits non-commercial use of this work, so long as attribution is given. For more information about the license, visit

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