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NetScape pitching Linux?

The argument made by Hiawatha Bray for Netscape to pitch Linux and turn
it into a protected niche is interesting in that it discusses the one aspect
of Windoze which, in my opinion, turned Gates into a billionaire.

Whether the software does what you want once it gets onto your hard drive
is less important than whether it leaps easily from the store shelves onto
your hard drive.  Apple and Microsoft got that part right, and the Unix
and minicomputer markets never seemed to have a clue about ease of

Linux has never been packaged for ease of installation, in part because the
hardware manufacturers have refused to cooperate with Linux developers.  (The
graphics-card manufacturers most particularly, and this hardware incompati-
bility issue is the example cited in the Globe article.)  Does that mean
Netscape could build an installable version of Linux and achieve 10 percent
of the corporate computer network market, as Hiawatha Bray suggests?

Not a chance, in my opinion.  Linux is useful in running Internet freeware
for server applications like Apache, POP3, INN, and so forth.  So it'll hold
its own against NT for a while until those server apps become obsolete; some
of them probably never will, so Linux will live for quite a few years running
some of them.  And it's still one of the best platforms to learn certain
types of programming and ISP stuff, so home hackers will continue to be
attracted to it.  It's most useful in corporate settings to those ambitious
individuals who run up against the word "no" a lot when requesting budgets
for Internet-related technology.

Can Netscape turn it into a gold mine sufficient to finance a protracted
battle with Microsoft?  Nah...  Besides, they'd still have the same trouble
we in the freeware community have trying to get hardware manufacturers to
address the needs of a teensy market segment versus the NT, Windoze, and
Solaris environments.

I'd love to be proven wrong!


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