My friend Alan sent me a very interesing link. I don't think it was inspired by my "Looking Back 25 Years" article but it certainly fits in. The link is to Blinkenlights Archaeological Institute's pop quiz titled "What Was the First Personal Computer".
While there is nothing out there that would have run Linux (and many of the items were built before Linus Torvalds was born), it is an interesting look back in history. It's a little scary to be that I remember most of the "wrong answers". For many, I expect you will find some surprises.
Ok, why? Because I have had quite a few people who aren't programmers ask me about learning to program. So, here is my typical answer. In English. I suppose I can then just let Babblefish (or Babel Fish) translate the answer to Spanish as the majority of the people asking me recently don't speak English.
There are really two questions here:
- What programming language should I learn?
- Where can I get the software I need?
Let me answer the second one first. The answer is almost universally "it comes with most Linux distributions". This tends to be a shock for the non-Linux people asking me but it also offers a lot of them the incentive to give Linux a try.
Section 8: Compile and Install Source Code
Installing prebuilt binary packages, as I discussed in Lab 5.3, "Install and Upgrade RPMs," is a fine way to extend your SUSE Linux distribution. However, sometimes you'll come across an application for which no binary package is available.
One of the complaints I often hear from users new to Linux is the seemingly endless choices available. I'll admit it is confusing when you are presented with 10 browsers, editors, or email programs. And wouldn't it be great if there were only one way to install applications across all distributions! With out a doubt, it would significantly increase the usability of Linux, in general, if everyone used a best of breed installation process.
However, as I've said before, so I'll say it again. These dreams of the one "whatever" to rule them all within Linux and open source will NEVER happen. In fact, I believe that this diversity is actually a BETTER model. Ultimately, Linux and open source will continue to expand and there will eventually be a small ratio between the number of users of a particular distribution or application and the number of developers of that software. With more choices, we increase the likelihood of one of the choices meeting best what we want from our software.
More interesting to us was the software side of the story. IBM wanted to sell hardware and found a Harvard drop-out named Bill Gates that said he could supply the operating system on the required timeline. Gates bought the software from a local Seattle company and then customized it to meet the needs of IBM.
Which of the following systems cannot run Linux:
- IBM mainframe
- Mac G4
- Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
- Sharp Zaurus PDA
- Linksys WRT54G router
If you said none of them, you were right. Beyond that, the last four do run Linux as they come from the factory. And this is just a small sample. My point is that while Linux isn't everywhere it is in places you may not expect and, well, it could be everywhere.
Issue number 16, August 2006, of TUX now is available. Subscribers, you can download this issue here or simply follow the Download TUX button on the right to download the current issue. If you're not yet a TUX subscriber, consider subscribing today for instant access to this issue and many more!
Today, I'm still trying to recover from my week at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON). If you've never had the good fortune of attending OSCON, then I highly recommend trying to attend one in the future. It is the coolest collection of geeks, information, projects, and speakers under one roof. There is now even a free track that allows access to some sessions, OSCamp, the exhibition hall, and of course, one of the most important aspects of the convention, the hallway track. While there, however, there is a distinct feeling of being swept away in a whirlwind of interaction and information. At least for me, it takes a few days upon my return to gain enough perspective on the event.
This week I was speaking and working at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Portland Oregon. It was an amazing show with representation from some of the largest open source projects and dignitaries in the world. Rubbing elbows with them in the hallways, in sessions, and in parties really leaves me with a sense of hope for the future of software innovation. One theme that came through in several of the presentations was that things change. Open source is changing, software is changing, the people that make up the community are changing, but regardless of the changes it is important for the community to remain true to its ideals. This week we announced a major change for TUX, true to this OSCON theme, I want everyone to understand that regardless of this change, the magazine will remain true to its ideals.
SSC Publishing, the magazine publishing company dedicated to Linux and Open Source since early 1994, today announced that it is converting its magazine for new and desktop Linux users, TUX, from a controlled-circulation to a paid-circulation magazine, beginning this summer.
Mark Irgang, the company's circulation director, assures current TUX subscribers that they will continue to receive their favorite magazine complimentary for several months after the paid conversion. "Our goal is not to abandon our loyal subscriber base. We appreciate our long-term readers very much and will ensure they continue receiving their complimentary subscriptions into 2007. Individual letters will be sent to each subscriber informing them how long their complimentary subscription will be extended. We, of course, want to reward those that have been with us longest." Irgang mentions that any current subscriber who has yet to receive such notification should contact him directly.