The Future of Linux

Ron Peterson rpeterson at
Thu Feb 3 10:02:26 EST 2000

I was at a funeral a couple of years ago.  I got to talking to a couple
of grandmothers (not mothers, grandmothers).  They were exchanging tips
about how to best configure their computers for use with the digital
cameras they used to send pictures of their family around.  They were
lamenting the lack of IRQ's...

Oh, I'm sure that technophobia is more the norm.  But still, I was


For what it's worth, here are a couple of random thought I have about
the future of Linux.

The House just passed a bill legalizing the use of digital signatures. 
If such a bill becomes law, which I hope happens, contracts can be
written electronically.

I don't think that it is coincidental that *nix has fewer desktop
so-called productivity applications than Windows / Mac / etc.  Why? 
Because *nix networked years before PC's did.  So?  So you learn to
communicate electronically.  And you learn you don't NEED a bunch of
formatting balony to give your message impact.  Or at least you can
get by without it.

Maybe with higher bandwidth becoming the more the norm, the pressure
to send fancy formatted emails etc. will increase.  But I sure hope

If you're not networked, well, then you better hook up the printer,
and start wasting trees if you want people to think you're working. 
Because if you're not communicating with anybody, you might as well stay
home in bed.  Which means you'll need some paper.  And you better make
it look nice, because presentation, not content, will get you noticed.

I think one of the biggest mistakes the Linux community could make would
be to try to emulate Windows Office applications.  They just don't fit
anymore.  They are paper office anachronisms.  Also, by trying to
Office, Linux, by definition, is BEHIND.

But that's dumb.  Linux is NOT behind.  It's just different.  And it

I think the problem with Linux's newfound popularity is that people
start seeing popularity as the objective.  It's not the objective,
it's a result.  The objective is to help people solve problems.

So pretty soon now, we'll be able to produce legally binding electronic
correspondence.  How can we make that process easy and secure?  Just as
an example,
I think these are the kinds of problems that the Linux community should
address.  Not
playing catch-up with an evolutionary dead end.  But branching off into
new more productive directions.  Like maybe making secured networked
transparent to the end-user.  Or, I dunno, I use CADD a lot.  Entity
databases are
really just that, a database.  GIS applications generally store their
data in relational
database format.  Why not other drafting applications?  So multiple
people could
simultaneously work on the same data set.  And define data sets on the
fly.  Etc.

Just brainstorming a little.  The ultimate point being that I hope the
community continues to use it's own imagination, rather than turning to
Redmond for inspiration.

Ron Peterson
rpeterson at
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