[internetworkers] Linux in NYTimes Editorial (!)
pjones at metalab.unc.edu
Wed Sep 18 22:43:50 EDT 2002
The New Challenge to Microsoft
As the government's antitrust lawsuit winds down, Microsoft's next battle
may be a knock-down, drag-out fight against Linux. Like Microsoft's
Windows, Linux is a computer operating system, but written and updated by
volunteer programmers in a communitarian spirit, and available for free.
If Linux spreads, Microsoft could see the first real challenge to its
dominance of the operating-system software market. For consumers, that
would be good news.
Microsoft's critics charge that its dominance of the market â more than
90 percent of home computers run on its software â results in high
prices and reduced choice. And outside programmers have long complained
that Microsoft makes it hard for them to create software compatible with
The government's antitrust lawsuit was aimed at solving these problems. If
it fails to do that â a ruling on a proposed settlement is expected soon
â the best hope may be Linux. Since Linux software is free, hundreds of
dollars could be cut off the price of a computer. No less important, since
Linux's source code â the intricacies of how it works â is publicly
available, programmers don't have to get permission or assistance from
There are promising signs that Linux, which has been around for years, may
finally be taking off. More than two dozen countries â including Germany
and China â have begun to encourage governmental agencies to use such
"open source" software. In the home market, Wal-Mart has started selling a
home computer called Lindows, which runs on Linux. Early reviews have been
mixed, but its $199 price tag shows the savings Linux could deliver.
Linux may, still, have a rough road ahead. Its informality could be a
liability for the sort of serious governmental and commercial projects for
which it is now being considered. And, not surprisingly, Microsoft has
been working to blunt the Linux threat.
Government units abroad and in the United States and individual computer
users should look for ways to support Linux and Linux-based products. The
competition it offers helps everyone.
"Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!"
http://www.ibiblio.org/pjones/ at the Site Formerly Known As MetaLab.unc.edu
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