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New York Times Staff Editorial Promoting Linux 414

Posted by chrisd
from the welcome-to-the-party dept.
cotyledon writes "Today's New York Times editorial (Free Blah-Di-Blah) describes Linux as good for consumers and good for programmers. It recommends "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." This is the paper's opinion, btw, and not a guest columnist."
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New York Times Staff Editorial Promoting Linux

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  • ObSimpsons (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dirtside (91468)
    <Nelson> Ha-... huh? </Nelson>

    Not that I object, but this seems like an odd thing for the NYT to just come out and say. "...the possibility of invading Iraq. By the way, Linux r0xx0rs. In other news..."
    • Re:ObSimpsons (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:31PM (#4285914) Journal
      Agreed. This is kind of an odd development -- why would the NYT suddenly write an editorial like this? It doesn't seem to be tied to any specific event or announcement. I wonder if one of the editors just installed it and fell in love.

      Also odd was:

      And outside programmers have long complained that Microsoft makes it hard for them to create software compatible with Windows-based computers.

      What? That's the one thing just about everyone knowledgeable agrees Microsoft does well. I mean, have you noticed any shortage of third-party Microsoft apps? Of course, what they will do is crush any developer whose territory they've suddenly decided should be theirs.

      Then, there's:

      Wal-Mart has started selling a home computer called Lindows, which runs on Linux...

      • by archen (447353)
        why would the NYT suddenly write an editorial like this?

        Maybe NYT is taking a hint from 3rd world nations and figure they can get extra "funding" from Microsoft by suddenly supporting Linux
      • Re:ObSimpsons (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brianvan (42539)
        It doesn't seem to be tied to an event, but why complain? It seems more sincere and provoking this way. It's not one of those "Let's kick them while they're down" kind of things, as if MS just lost a big client or case decision today. No, just as an everyday thing, Linux was given props by the NY Times.

        Besides, if you're a Linux proponent, why complain? This is a great thing to see published. Hell, I think it's a hell of an endorsement and I'm glad they did it... and I'm even a Microsoft shareholder too! (I don't see Linux as the defeat of Microsoft, rather as a challenge for ascension. Of course, I'm rooting for Linux ideaologically as well, but that doesn't mean MS can't make even more money doing their thing ad infinitum)
      • I'm subscribed to the New York Times and a page or two before the editorial, under an article titled something like "Trouble for Microsoft?" (or something to that degree, I don't have it in front of me), Linux is stated as a direct competitor and the open source innovations in Germany and the such are cited as facts of Linux success. All elementary stuff if presented here, but perhaps not to the NY times reader (and then again, perhaps yes).
      • Re:ObSimpsons (Score:3, Insightful)

        It doesn't seem to be tied to any specific event or announcement. I wonder if one of the editors just installed it and fell in love.

        No need for it to be tied to a specific event. It actually could be a case that one of the editors has gotten exposure to it and found out how good it was.. I did that to my roommate with RH6.0, and he turned into a bigtime Linux booster. 7.3 and it's non-RedHat bretheren are a good bit better, so I can definitely see a NYT editor going gah gah over it.

        Reporters can be a snarky lot. When they find out that they've been lied to for the last decade or so, then can get downright crusaderish.

      • The Times has been all over Linux and Open Source recently.

        There was the September 10th article about Hewlett-Packard firing their open source evangelist, Bruce Perens, which managed to state his case pretty well, including his outrage over the flamingly hypocritical microsoft-backed "Initiative for Software Choice" overseas lobbying group.

        And there was their original September 5th article reporting on that lobbying group (and really, if there's anything that Microsoft has done that screams "We want to go to hell in a hurry!" it's creating that organization). The times tossed in a nice zinger there that hinted pretty strongly about how they feel: "(Illegally stifling choice, of course, was precisely what the federal courts in the long-running antitrust case ruled that Microsoft did in the market for personal computer software.)"

        The Times articles may no longer be free, but we did write-ups of them here (sept. 5) [ms-bs.com] and here (sept 10) [ms-bs.com] and we quoted the articles fairly heavily.

        neslon

    • Maybe it's that they need to write 3 opinions as a staff every freggin day. Eventually, you get around to linux ;-).
  • by Professor Collins (604482) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:13PM (#4285832) Homepage
    It baffles me why Slashdot continues to post links to the NY Times with nary a mention of the NY Times random login generator [majcher.com]. It makes my perusal of the news so much nicer.
    • Man, all they ask is that you register and answer a few damn questions, all of which you can opt out on.

      I'm glad that /. does *not* promote this utility which ultimately fills the NYT db with garbage. You know what happens when they finally get pissed off? bye bye free registration.
      • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @12:08AM (#4286567) Journal
        Amen bro!

        I couldn't agree with you more.

        The NYTimes is asking *so* little for their content and use of their servers. Abusing their registration system is being extremely unreasonable IMHO, since for one we are not *forced* to use it.

        If you don't want to give the information then don't read the articles!!

        I for one would perfectly understand if NYTimes some day decides to banned links from slashdot.

        *continues laments about sense of fairness in todays society...*
  • by serps (517783) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:14PM (#4285839) Homepage

    I can see the testimonials popping up on distro sites...

    "The competition it offers helps everyone" - New York Times (registration required)

  • Solaris != Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cubeman (530448)
    I find it interesting that according to Netcraft [netcraft.com], nytimes.com is running on Solaris. Perhaps they should switch to Linux :)
  • by CommandNotFound (571326) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:16PM (#4285851)
    Now, if we can get BusinessWeek or the Wall Street Journal to start saying things like "...businesses should begin investigating Linux to remain cost competitive", the C*O's in America would start herding over to Linux (regardless of its merits and/or limitations, but that's another story).
  • by chip2000 (513030) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:17PM (#4285862) Homepage
    I've not come here to bash Linux in any way shape or form, but...

    There is no doubt that Linux supports the cause of breaking the MS monopoly (a good thing, whether or not MS itself is bad..that's not a debate I'm about to start). It's good for the industry, it is definitely a nice operating system for servers, programmers, and sophisticated computer users.

    But Linux (in my opinion, at any rate) is NOT appropriate for the consumer as the articticle claims. The average American (and probably European too, but I can't say) consumer can run word, e-mail, the web, e-mail, and probably a few games. They are blissful on Windows, have no desire to switch over and dont really know about (nor do they care about) the Windows vs. *nix vs. whatever.

    Until Linux comes to a level of user-friendliness much more advanced than it's at now, Linux is not going to enter the general consumer market. The programs are not what people are familliar to, it's not supported by ISPs and a lot of technical help groups, the installation is still complicated (we're talking about people who generally have neither the ability nor desire to so much as reinstall Windows), and neither the CLI (obviously) nor the major interfaces (Gnome, KDE, etc.) are really as user friendly and simple to use as Windows.

    I generally like the NYT, but I wish they'd put a little more general thought into some issues.
    • by lunenburg (37393) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:30PM (#4285908) Homepage
      Until Linux comes to a level of user-friendliness much more advanced than it's at now, Linux is not going to enter the general consumer market. The programs are not what people are familliar to, it's not supported by ISPs and a lot of technical help groups, the installation is still complicated (we're talking about people who generally have neither the ability nor desire to so much as reinstall Windows), and neither the CLI (obviously) nor the major interfaces (Gnome, KDE, etc.) are really as user friendly and simple to use as Windows.

      You do realize that the more support that gets behind Linux, the more quickly and easily familiar programs will get written and/or ported to it, right? And the more people who use Linux on a daily basis outside of the developer world will result in a greater push toward the user interface?

      The NYT isn't advocating the government yank out everyone's copy of office and stick them on "ed" - they're advocating that governments look at throwing support Linux's way, thereby resulting in increased competition and, by extension, better advances for the end user on both sides.

    • Said it before, say it again, blah-di-blah:

      Red Hat Linux 7.3 + Ximian GNOME = computer my mother can use. She doesn't do a thing besides email, web, Yahoo! and AIM. She's not what you'd call computer literate, although she's not a moron by any means.

      She loves it.

      Give it a shot before you say it's not hard to use. I am a technical user (programmer by trade), but I wasn't a new user too long ago (7 years). IMO, [RH] Linux is as easy to install and use as any Windows OS.
    • by Fugly (118668) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:41PM (#4285951) Homepage
      If you were paying more attention, you'd notice that your argument is rapidly becoming outdated.

      Until Linux comes to a level of user-friendliness much more advanced than it's at now, Linux is not going to enter the general consumer market

      Linux is very quickly becoming ready for Joe (or Jane) User. Look at recent deveopments such as Lindows or OEone's HomeBase Desktop. The momentum is building. Look at Open Office and Mozilla. Linux is not all that far away from being viable as a desktop operating system my grandmother could use. In fact, I'm convinced that I could already set up a system for her that would allow her to do everything she does now on her windows box with close to the same level of ease.

      They are blissful on Windows, have no desire to switch over and dont really know about (nor do they care about) the Windows vs. *nix vs. whatever.

      Well, first off, I don't know any novice users that would describe their experience as "blissful". Secondly, you're right. They don't care about windows vs. *nix. However, they do care about buying the same PC for $100 less. That's what's going to drive Linux into the consumer market - not users suddenly getting the urge to become a hard-core linux hacker.
      • by NamShubCMX (595740) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:00PM (#4286001)
        I too often hear what "average users" are according to /. posters so I wanted to tell you a story.

        The story of my parents... :P

        They are definately what could be called "average users"... They don't know exactly how their computer works except for the few programs they needed, and don't want to know more. Even using a "totally user-friendly OS such as MS Windows", they often feel dumb when in front of the computer because it won't do what they want it to do, for most of the time.

        They didn't care about windows vs. *nix either, until I told them about Linux, which is what I run. They asked me the obvious question: What is Linux?. I tried to avoid "tech" talk with my parents because I know they hate it and it's really hard to always try to explain everything that seems so obvious to you because you spend so many times in front of your machine... So I just said it was an OS, like Windows, only better in my opinion, and that it's Free. Notice the capital F, instead of going all-tech, I started telling them the story of Open Source, Free Software, how MS is "evil" (they read the newspapers, they already knew that) etc...

        Well guess what, a month later they ask me if they would be able to use Linux, and ask me to install it for them.

        So what's the moral of that rather long story? I don't know, some folks care more than saving a hundred bucks... :)

        • So what's the moral of that rather long story?

          That your parents love you and could tell that Linux and Open Source ware very important to you, so they decided to give it a try because they knew it would make you happy?

      • Linux is very quickly becoming ready for Joe (or Jane) User.

        I still don't understand how ANYONE on /. is qualified to make this assertion. Our perspective is incredibly skewed because of our expertise. Sure, every "Linux on the Desktop" article comes with posts about peoples moms, wifes, grandpa's using Linux just fine, accept not everyone has a relative that can install and support them on it either.

        However, they do care about buying the same PC for $100 less.

        Not really, because you do get a lot less. First point, by most counts, Windows OEM (aka the Microsoft tax) is nowhere near $100. I've heard that the Windows+"Office Home" (or Works or whatever new name they have for it tomorrow) costs anywhere from $115-$150 per box for OEM's - so THERE you have a point IF they're getting a good office productivity package as well. However, you can also get Open Office for Windows as well so this doesn't give a one up on Linux.

        Finally, I still think it won't take long for companies like Sun to stop putting money into applications that no one is paying for.
        • by Fugly (118668)
          Linux is very quickly becoming ready for Joe (or Jane) User.

          I still don't understand how ANYONE on /. is qualified to make this assertion. Our perspective is incredibly skewed because of our expertise. Sure, every "Linux on the Desktop" article comes with posts about peoples moms, wifes, grandpa's using Linux just fine, accept not everyone has a relative that can install and support them on it either.


          Yes, I'm sure I'm biased by my technical expertise. However, it's also one of the reasons I feel I can make that assertion. I'm a software developer. I work with users every day to assure that the programs I've written are easily usable and understood. I've sat behind one-way glass and watched users interact with my software. I have a pretty good handle on what's easy for a novice to use and what isn't. Developments like Lindow's "click and run" are breaking new ground in linux's ease of use for general consumers even though we may scoff at them. If you don't think that usability has been improving and improving rapidly, go ahead and pick up an old linux book with an early version of slackware off a discount book rack then download the latest readhat .iso's. Install both of them on a machine. Find somebody who has installed Lindows or HomeBase Desktop and try it out. Compare where things were 5 years ago to where they are today. The difference is impressive.

          As for Windows OEM fees, while I was in college, I worked for a music store that also custom built PC's and sold retail/studio accounting packages (don't ask me how they got into that business). At the time, an OEM copy of Windows 95 was $99. I have no reason to believe this has changed [walmart.com]
        • Our perspective is incredibly skewed because of our expertise.

          Not to be overly cynical, but I think the perspective is rather skewed due more to an enjoyment and willingness to learn when confronted with the unknown. Which is something I've found somewhat lacking on average in most people. It's not just in tech, but I think in most aspects of life where we find ourselves ignorant the more geekish will enjoy digging up information and figuring it out. While most people would much rather remain ignorent and have the solution handed to them.
      • However, they do care about buying the same PC for $100 less.

        $100 is a small price to pay for a Disney-compliant computer running a genuine made-in-america copy of Microsoft Windows XTE (Xterminate-Terrorism Edition). And remember: It's the law! ...wait, what year is it? ;)

        --

    • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:44PM (#4285966)
      There is no doubt that Linux supports the cause of breaking the MS monopoly


      No. It doesn't. Never has. Never will. Linux is a kernel, not a political platform, no matter how RMS and a subset of its users try to turn it into one. I get really tired of people assuming that all Linux users support some particular goals.


      As for the tired "Linux software must be user friendly before anyone will use it" line (no matter all the evidence to the contrary) ... it looks like you've got plenty of responses on that subject. And you can find two or three discussions of it a day on slashdot.

      • Linux is a kernel, not a political platform, no matter how RMS and a subset of its users try to turn it into one.

        Wrong. Linux is a kernel, and therefore is in competition with Microsoft operating systems. Anything which attempts to compete with Microsoft operating systems supports the cause of breaking the MS monopoly. The original poster did not say that Linux was written for the express purpose of destroying the MS monopoly, just that it served that end.

        And remember that one of the goals of Linux, expressed by Linus, is "World Domination".
    • The article wasn't saying "Linux is good for the consumer" in the sense that "everybody with a computer should go install Linux now". All the article is saying is that if Linux can offer challenge and competition to the Microsoft monopoly, that THIS would be good for the consumer. For example, presumably if Linux starts making inroads into corporate desktops Microsoft will lower the price of some of their products (if nothing else). Better yet, maybe we'll see more interoperability between the MS, Apple, and Unix worlds, which would also be good for "consumers". Don't try to force what the paper said into such a narrow-minded view.
    • by jsse (254124) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:03PM (#4286013) Homepage Journal
      I beg the differ. Besides being an excellent choice for small-to-medium size servers, Linux is also an excellent choice for office environment.

      What I'm referring to its tight control and consistency in functionalities(you might argue with this but it's true). When I want to setup a machine for my secretary for word processing, I can make sure she can only use that and nothing else. This is exactly like office computers during 80s, a box standing there for a sole purpose. Most clerical clerks are not educated with the computers knowledge, fewer functions in a tool would only help them improve their learning curve and eventually increase productivity.

      You may also argue that modern computer should be general purpose and user-centric. Can you imagine exactly how many hours has been wasted on handling virus outbreaks? I'm not even going to start the problems with allowing users to install their own stuffs in office computers, but you get the idea.

      The modern desktop computing concept promoted by Microsoft is not as productive as the terminal-based idea promoted by IBM in 70-80s, in my opinion.
    • try again.

      My dad was born the day the bismark sank. (he's old) He knows that you can play solitaire on a computer. That, mahjongg and email is all he cares about. He uses linux now. It's stupid simple for him to use. It doesn't crash. Despite all records to the contrary XP does in fact crash reading email.

      People that say linux isn't user friendly are people that just gave up on their brains. I don't have any computer training whatsoever. I do have a normal life of parties, beer and friends. I have slept with several women. I am not a geek stereotype (who is anymore?) It does not take a computer science degree to use linux or any other operating system. Don't give up on your brain.

      also, what is so simple about navigating windows? Windows has never been "point and click" it has been "click and guess".

      there is nothing intuitive about the Windows ui. or the mac ui. or gnome or kde or any of the others. There's nothing intuitive about a steering wheel either. You have to learn it.

      I'm on a roll now and have karma to burn. what is intuitive about the file menu? file is a menu on every program I've ever used with drop down menus. why is "print" under file? why is "quit" under file? its doens't make any intuitive sense but that's the way we've always done it and we've learned to do it that way.

      windows isn't user friendly. its just never changes. you know what happens with something that doesn't change? it stagnates and dies.
      • by mpe (36238)
        People that say linux isn't user friendly are people that just gave up on their brains.

        "user friendly" is probably the most abused term in computing. Usually what people mean by saying something like "Linux isn't user friendly" is that it dosn't work exactly like Windows. Regardless of if XYZ "feature" of Windows actually makes much sense to the "average user" in the first place.
    • [Average Americans] are blissful on Windows
      What!?
    • A year ago, I would likely have agreed. Much has changed since then.

      I have Mandrake 8.2 running here at home. My wife and I use it for watching DVD media, listening to Mp3 files, word processing, spreadsheets, basic scheduling and general Internet usage. (Web e-mail and such.) I am very technical, but she is not. Linux works nicely in this respect. We have different logins, mine is customized to the hilt and setup for more than basic computing, hers is clean and easy to use. The nice thing is, with Linux, it is easy to keep things that way.

      Guess what? This machine works fine! Heck, it is not even that nice of a machine. E-machine (ewww..), Matrox G400 video, 500 mhz PIII, 192Mb ram and some HD are not much these days. I can get another machine and do the same thing for just the cost of Closed Software licenses alone! That has got to be good for the consumer.

      The only configuration I needed to do with this machine that did not work easily with the GUI is the DVD setup. Ogle is great, but due to some lame law decisions in the US, I have to get this somewhere else. If this were not the case, I know Mandrake would have intergrated this program in with the others. It is likely that, given the freedom to include DVD support, I would have had to do almost nothing to begin really using my machine.

      Now I know not everyone can do this yet because of the time it might take to learn how to set things up properly, but each revision of the various distributions seems to reduce the need for this by quite a bit. One more iteration and things will work very nicely for most of what we need to do day to day.

      Soon we will be able to buy a very nice workstation ready to handle all day to day computing tasks for the price of that other OS. Now with all that extra money laying around, don't you think that people will be interested in buying some additional products since they got such a deal on their base computer? I do, particularly when they realize they are spending their money for new things, not the same things over and over again each year.

      A large chunk of the problem has very little to do with the performance of the Open Source / Free Software whatever method of development, it has to do with lawyers profiting off of the fear that some companies have for their withering business models.

      So right now I would agree with the Times, Linux is good for consumers, not all consumers mind you, but an increasing number of them.

      So really, I don't think for a minute that the editors of the Times are stupid. Like it or not, a lot of thought goes into the production of the Times; otherwise it would not have the name that it does today.

      They see what I see; namely, that Linux is ready now and improving at a very nice clip. We are seeing Linux leave the early adopter stage about to enter the early majority. This is a great time because all the really good stuff happens now. Applications are being ported, new ones in process are showing up now, early ones are maturing to a very usable state.

      I work in the MCAD field. Did you know that Pro Engineer is coming to Linux next year? That is major software supported by not one, but two large companies, PTC and HP/Compaq. These types don't port unless there is demand. I would say that the Times has it just about right at the moment.

      How is the whole thing supposed to progress if it does not get some press at the key time? I believe that time is now. I just don't think the Times are that far off --I could be wrong, but I hope not.

    • This is a load. Linux is impossible for Joe or Jane average only because it must be installed on their system. When the MS OEM strangelhold gets broken (someday), Linux will be just as happy a place as Windows. I set up a Linux based system for my mother-in-law and she send e-mail, IM's her niece, and surfs the web just fine. She doesn't know Windows. She doesn't know Linux. She's just using her computer. So what's the big deal? It's not Linux that needs big improvements, it's the oft debated monopoly of a company whose name shall remain Microsoft that is the real issue.

      And just to deflect some of the counter arguments sure to come my way, yes, indeed, Linux is deficient in a couple of areas, notably games (games are a big deal, I know that) and personal finance software (there's a lot of good finance software for Linux, but they aren't hot on the service side -- direct support for on-line reconciliation and such -- that come with business relationships between the ISV and financial institutions). But as a general internet console and word processing platform, my mother-in-law does just fine.

      Also, as others point out in this same discussion, the Linux market must grow before the applications base grows. There's a chicken and egg thing here. But little progress will be made so long as MS has their OEM pricing agreements and they threaten to stomp anyone who doesn't toe the line.
  • From the article:

    If Linux spreads, Microsoft could see the first real challenge to its dominance of the operating-system software market.

    It would be nice if the writer suggested why Linux has the potential spread where others, most notably MacOS, have so far been steamrolled. Instead, MacOS isn't touched on, and we aren't given any new arguments why Linux could succeed on the desktop.

    It's great to see Linux being taken seriously by the Times but it would be better still to see this editorial add something fresh to the pro-Linux argument.

    • by chill (34294) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:37PM (#4285935) Journal
      MacOS doesn't run on cheap, available-everywhere, commodity, x86 hardware.

      Until it does, Apple will remain a niche. Period. The End.

      Hell, even SUN is getting in on the game!

      There are 100x the number of Intel-type machines out there than PPC-based. OS X would require a total new hardware investment, Linux does not.
    • Despite the fact that my home machines run linux, I still have a major objection: Linux isn't nearly the only good alternative to Micro$oft. FreeBSD and OpenBSD are equally good (and about 99% compatible with linux). OSX is, by all reports, an excellent system, if somewhat pricey.

      Imagine the quality cars we'd have if people were afraid to drive anything that didn't have, say, the Ford dashboard layout. "The headlight control is on the wrong side; how can people ever possibly learn to handle that?"

      This is the reasoning we're hearing for why people can't learn anything but Windows. And we're getting the crappy computers that you'd expect in such a market.

      But I don't think that people are that stupid. They can learn to drive Toyotas and Hyundais and Volvos and Saabs. I think they are mostly smart enough to handle KDE or Gnome or OSX.

      Maybe we should be encouraging them to try something that just might be better than the worst system on the market.

  • Individual Support (Score:2, Insightful)

    by I_am_Rambi (536614)
    As more and more home-networks become popular, it will be easier and easier to support and get the home user into Linux. The reason I dove into Linux was because I wanted a home network system that I didn't have to monkey with the settings on all the computers. Set 1 server, and let it run. This server would also be a modem and printer share along with a file share. I didn't want clock cycles being wasted on a gui, so Linux it was.

    Linux was easy to configure for the Network with DHCP, Samba, and printer share. I don't think it could have been much easier. Even though I ran out of funds before every thing was done, it did prove very helpful on getting to know Linux. Now Linux is on my laptop, and I am starting to get into it more and more.

    Even though the majority of home users don't know that much, I have found, that Linux is not only for the geeks. Linux is quite easy to setup and run.

    "My cpu runs cooler with Linux"
    EI
    Halt
  • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007NO@SPAMstoryinmemo.com> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:24PM (#4285892) Homepage
    (Reuters - AP) The New York Times has had all of its Microsoft licenses cancelled today. Microsoft was unwilling to give any comment, but a senior level staff member did state on the condition of anonimity, "We feel that it is Unpatriotic for them to promote Linux... and we won't support terrorists like them with the benefit of our software."

    This stupid, fake comment brought to you by my boredom.

  • ..since Linux's source code -- the intricacies of how it works -- is publicly available, programmers don't have to get permission or assistance from anyone.

    That's what I love about Linux, I can just use it without asking help from anyone! - sarcasm

    The best part about linux is that there is a ton of knowledge out there for any newbie that wishes to delve into the mysterious world of Linux. Although, if you don't read the docs, you'll get a lot of RTFM.

    I took the plunge back in 95 and have been using it every since. I tried making it my primary OS for desktop applications but that never seemed to work with where I worked and what I needed to do. However, I finally found a perfect place for Linux as my home web server/mp3 player/recipe database/caller id logger/weather station reader/firewall/etc None of which I couldn't have done without the help of the Linux gurus out there. Thanks.
  • by mikosullivan (320993) <miko@idoc s . c om> on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:27PM (#4285899)
    I'm glad the NYT is publishing good stuff about Linux and open source in general, but they lose a little credibility in my eyes by calling it the new challenge to Microsoft. Linux is older than most of the OS's MS is currently pushing. It's been considered a serious threat to MS for at least four years. By what information-age criteria is a "new" threat?

    Ah well, I shouldn't complain. Like they said the summer after Seinfeld had its finale: if you haven't seen it, it's new to you!

  • by StArSkY (128453) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:28PM (#4285902) Homepage
    Has anyone ever wondered why so many Newspapers dedicate so much of their time providing obvious answers rather than answers to complicated questions that might actually enlighten their readers. Every day I pick up the newspaper and am convinced they are written for teenagers.

    I would so love to see an article like this answer questions like "What would be the effects of government adoption of Linux on employment in the technology industry?" or even "What would be the economic and social consequences of wide spread adoption of 'free software' in government?"
    or maybe "Will Linux help you pick up chicks?"

    ok.. maybe not the last one... but really. I think the public needs some serious media coverage of in depth issues aroun linux, "free software" and open source to help stimulate thought, and not just come off as a marketing campaign for "choice".

    It is like the abortion argument. You can argue that women have rights, or kids have rights, but when people ask and answer tough questions it stimulates thought rather than emotion.

    • Has anyone ever wondered why so many Newspapers dedicate so much of their time providing obvious answers rather than answers to complicated questions...?

      Because inside every journalist beats the heart of a wannabe politician.


      • They think they're the fucking "fourth estate," arrogant bastards. They "make the news," rather than "report facts and events." The "news" exists as either a way to push an agenda, as entertainment, or both. Local news is especially crap. Every night, local news runs a "Be afraid! Tune in to figure out about what!" story. "News" outfits think their job is to tell you what to think. Right down to Peter Jennings' smirk when he mentions things he doesn't like.

        "The three branches of government: Money, Television, and Bullshit" -- P.J. O'Rourke
    • by guttentag (313541) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @10:06PM (#4286022) Journal
      Has anyone ever wondered why so many Newspapers dedicate so much of their time providing obvious answers rather than answers to complicated questions that might actually enlighten their readers. Every day I pick up the newspaper and am convinced they are written for teenagers.
      As someone who has worked for one of the largest U.S. newspapers...

      Metropolitan newspapers are intended for a wide variety of people -- not just engineers or CEOs or marketing managers. They can't assume that everyone knows what you (as a Slashdot reader) consider "obvious." If you want more in-depth info, usually you will have to look to a specialized publication. Some papers like The NYT and The Washington Post take something of a stab at specialized, more in-depth articles, but they relegate them to weekly sections (Circuits and Fast Forward, respectively) because there just isn't enough demand among their readers to justify that kind of depth on a daily basis on the same topic. Other topics, such as Business or Sports, get daily sections because they have the necessary following.

      Papers do target certain minimum reading levels with their writing. For example:

      • The New York Times is written for someone at least a sixth-grade reading level.
      • Newsday is written for someone at least a fourth-grade reading level (and it really pushes to put its papers in New York area classrooms).
      • USA Today is written for someone at the picture-book reading level.
      Incidentally, this editorial is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it validates Linux in the eyes of many people who never would have considered the OS and alternative to Windows. On the other hand, Microsoft can now point to this article and argue that there's no need for government intervention in its affairs because the company "obviously" has serious competition from Linux.
      • by XNormal (8617)
        Metropolitan newspapers are intended for a wide variety of people -- not just engineers or CEOs or marketing managers. They can't assume that everyone knows what you (as a Slashdot reader) consider "obvious."

        You must be confusing knowledge with intelligence. Most people are ignorant about technology issues relative to slashdot readers. It does not mean that they are stupid.

        Important issues can be discussed in a way that does not insult the reader's intelligence and without requiring a lot of background knowledge.

        All people are born ignorant. They are made stupid by education.
    • >> I would so love to see an article like this answer questions like "What would be the effects of government adoption of Linux on employment in the technology industry?" or even "What would be the economic and social consequences of wide spread adoption of 'free software' in government?"

      I'm not one to get over-excited about the quality of journalism anywhere, not just in the U.S., but I think you're posing questions that are more appropriately addressed by specialized press outlets, not "general purpose" publications like the NYT. Don't forget that the concepts of open source, closed source, free software and all the rest have next to no exposure or impact outside the IT industry.
  • that every computer at the New York Times office runs linux. Somehow I don't think there is professional newspaper making software for linux. Not that I've seen anyways.
  • Ah, good (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @09:33PM (#4285923)
    This is the paper's opinion, btw, and not a guest columnist.

    So when did the paper itself become self aware?

    • Soon as they installed Red Hat and Alicebot on it, silly. I guess the editorial would fall under the "shameless self-promotion" category.
    • BEWARE! (Score:2, Funny)

      by evilviper (135110)
      Beware, wood-pulp has been genetically engineered. Soon they will gather together with their brothers, and turn into a giant, man-eating blob.

      Fortunately, I have a lighter. I don't think the paper has thought that far ahead, but what would you expect from ground-up trees? You've seen how the rainforest protects itself: "Hey, everybody! Hold still and play dead... I'm sure they'll all go away."
  • This editorial appears in the print edition as well. Needless to say, the NYT is quite a prestigious publication. While I am surprised its editorial board has taken such a strong stance on such a geeky issue, the positive press will surely be good for open standards and free competition.

    We mustn't forget that competition is the cornerstone of a free economy and that Microsoft makes a significant contribution to technological innovation. Without Microsoft's constant competitive pressure on OSS developers, the quality of open source software would suffer. Certainly Microsoft has shown that it is more than willing abuse its monopoly status and it is the duty of the Department of Justice to protect the consumer against economic hegemony. Under the Bush administration, the DoJ is failing to perform its duty. In spite of this, my sincerest admiration goes out to the OSS kernel and application developers who choose to challenge the Giant rather than merely whine about its existence.

    sm
  • login: spamfree
    pass: spamfree

    This was posted some time ago in the discussion of another NYT article. I've been using it (for reading articles linked by /.) successfully since. Enjoy!

    Russ
  • Communitarian... Would you trust someone's opinion if they use undefined words like these?

    However, ...
    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.
    That last comment is definitly worth highlighting as the only useful thing in the "Editorial".

  • ... but a wildly successful beginners guide is another thing altogether.

    You know that if all the movie critics in the world give props to this year's hot indie film, almost no one will go see it. Put it in wide release, and get some hype behind it, and you've got yourself a blockbuster.

    I think it's about time we got a "desktop distro" that nears the foolproof quality of Windows, has a tremendous user guide, and has easy to use dumbed down setup tools involved. It's about time everyday people started recommending Linux because "it's easy" and "its better than Windows".

    We knew this already, though. Just repeating it for emphasis, cause I feel that strongly about it.
  • The article claims that now that Microsoft has won against the government, it's next big challenger will be Linux.

    That's a joke.

    The people who think that Linux will rise up to crush the oppressor are either delusional or horribly misinformed.

    While Linux has made, and will continue to make inroads due to its technical superiority, Microsoft still has the lion's share of market share, and an absolutely enormous amount of money.

    Really, to think of Microsoft and the Linux community as fighting for supremacy is like imagining a battle between a human and an ant colony. The human may not be able to destroy the ant colony (or may get one colony, while many others remain in the yard), due to its diffuse nature, but the human will never be seriously threatened by it.

    --
    http://ragnar.nilmop.com [nilmop.com]
    • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alienmole (15522) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @11:50PM (#4286500)
      Will Microsoft ever go bankrupt because of Linux? Hardly. Will it be forced to change it strategies, modify its pricing, target some markets rather than others, because of Linux? The answer to every one of those is that it already has been forced to do those things, because of Linux, and that's the point of competition, and what the NYT editorial is saying.

      Linux has had more success than Microsoft in the embedded space. It's giving Microsoft a run for its money in the server space - at least keeping market share away from Microsoft, if not actively grabbing it. It completely dominates in the supercomputer space, where Microsoft has no presence. So far, Linux has had very little impact in the desktop space, but that seems likely to change over the long term.

      Over time, it's actually very likely that Microsoft's traditional sources of revenue will erode significantly, because of Linux and open source in general. Office suites are a case in point: on the one hand, you have Microsoft experimenting with licensing schemes where they try to charge consumers $100's per year for the use of their product, while on the other hand, you have very competitive free alternatives that have been improving at a dramatic rate and are increasingly being noticed by organizations ranging from the governments of the U.S., Germany, and Peru, to colleges and companies with specialize needs. If Microsoft fails to get the world to switch to an office-suite-as-service model, and I think they will fail, Linux and open source will have played a big role in that.

      That doesn't mean Microsoft is doomed. But they'll be forced to focus on and stick to spaces where they can compete effectively against "free" software - such as the big business world, where the consultants you can deploy are at least as important as the out-of-the-box software you provide.

      In fact, Microsoft has been moving "upmarket" in this sense for a long time, which is one reason they began losing the support of small developers and companies: back when it sold DOS and early versions of Windows, Microsoft needed all the support it could get, and big business treated it as a minor side issue; now, big business loves Microsoft, and vice versa. If you're not a Fortune 1000 company, you're effectively little but a potential annoyance to Microsoft, a source of revenue that can't be supported in a cost-effective way.

      Because of this, you can expect to see small business moving to Linux also, in servers to start with but later for workstations also, as Microsoft products become less and less suitable (Exchange, anyone?) and Linux becomes more and more off-the-shelf and automated (a la Red Hat network.)

      In short, the New York Times is a little behind the times - they're acknowledging a grassroots trend that has been building for years, and that is already a reality. But they're quite timely in another sense, in that the effectiveness of Linux as a competitor to Microsoft has only just begun. It's only been four years since the Halloween documents opened many people's eyes to Linux, and the landscape has changed dramatically since then. Check back in 2006, and see how Microsoft has changed as a result. My bet is it'll be dramatic, although the specifics are hard to predict.

  • Conspiracy theory (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Perdition (208487)
    You know, the closer that I see Linux approaching MS parity in form and function, the more articles that I read declaring Linux' "real competition" being Solaris, MacOS X, etc. Am I high? How can you compete with your co-defeated marginal players? Why do it? I think that the majority of these opinions are cleverly designed ruses planted by trolls trying to make Microsoft's truest competitors beat each other to death. Then, when a publication the caliber of the NY Times (whatever caliber you assign to them will do) says, however marginally, that Linux is a threat to MS, so many people line up to point out how behind the, um, times they are. Microsoft wins not because of superior product or customer service, but rather on the power of the vain, factious, cowboy (no offense sir) mentality that sticks to Linux like a bad smell. Microsoft is not 30,000 people off thinking on their own, but one man thinking with 30,000 brains. He is not a guru or some neat guy, he's a billionaire with 300,000,000 plus private lines to the computer consumer market. The consumers may be sick of the geek, but they see no alternative (unless you take those Mac ads seriously). The rest of the computer world looks like an episode of Little Rascals. Cute, capable, plucky rebels trying to win the soapbox derby with two ladders strapped to three baby carriages. Granted, I've seen sparks of hope with Lindows, Lycoris, EOne, and the voices for tighter standardization, but unless 30,000 brains begin following one idea to completion (no matter how imperfect), the Linux commune-ity might as well be fighting the Nimitz with a tennis-ball cannon firing 100 shots a second. It's impressive, but ultimately comical. I propose everyone using Linux, no matter the flavor, send 100 dollars (or an equivalent in Yen or those big stone coins) to one place and call THAT Linux. Otherwise, we may just have to hand ourselves the dubious title of the toughest cripple at the street fight.
  • by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @11:07PM (#4286309)
    If you have Opera, Konqueror, or Mozilla, you shouldn't have to register. If you have IE, make you register. If you have AOL, make you wait five minutes while they 'download new artwork.'
  • The NYT's editorial will give Linux's profile a bit of a nudge, but I have to think that the biggest single push toward consumer popularity would come from an AOL client for Linux. I know the combination of Linux and AOL is anathema to a lot of folks, but tens of millions of AOL users won't consider moving to Linux until AOL does.
  • why and ui (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tim_maroney (239442) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @12:31AM (#4286647) Homepage
    The obvious reason the Times said this today was the Sun announcement about Linux PCs [com.com].

    As for all the people saying, "yes, Linux used to be unfriendly, but now it's just as good as Mac or Windows," that would have a lot more credibility if the same people hadn't been saying exactly the same thing for the last seven years or so. The fact is, it hadn't caught up then, and it hasn't caught up now.
  • As a Linux user, programmer, writer, and advocate, I'm interested in this. But what I'm wondering is has a major newspaper used its editorial page to endorse a product before? A candidate, yes. A stand on an issue, yes. But a product? Or do people see this differently? Is choosing an OS a matter of public policy?

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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