Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment: Single case anecdote. (Score 4, Interesting) 313

by aussersterne (#49632059) Attached to: Why Was Linux the Kernel That Succeeded?

I had been trying to afford a Unix installation at home as a CS student. All I knew was the Unix vendors. I was not aware of the social structure of the Unix world, various distributions, etc. I was crawling university surplus lots and calling Sun and DEC on the phone to try to find a complete package that I could afford (hardware + license and media). Nothing was affordable.

I was also a heavy BBS and UUCP user at the time over a dial-up line. One day, I found an upload from someone described as "free Unix." It was Linux.

I downloaded it, installed it on the 80386 hardware I was already using, and the rest is history. This was 1993.

So in my case at least, Linux became the OS of choice becuase it had traveled in ways that the other free Unices didn't. It was simply available somewhere where I was.

This isn't an explanation for why Linux ended up there instead of some other free *nix, of course, but by way of explaining the social diffusion of the actual files, I saw Linux distros as floppy disks around on BBSs and newsgroups for several years, with no hint of the others.

For someone with limited network access (by today's standards), this meant that Linux was the obvious choice.

As to why Linux was there and not the others—perhaps packaging and ease of installation had something to do with it? Without much effort, I recognized that the disks were floppy images and wrote out a floppy set. Booted from the first one, and followed my nose. There was no documentation required, and it Just Worked, at least as much as any bare-bones, home-grown CLI *nix clone could be said to Just Work.

I had supported hardware, as it turned out, but then Linux did tend to support the most common commodity hardware at the time.

My hunch is that Linux succeeded because it happened to have the right drivers (developed for what people had in their home PCs, rather than what a university lab might happen to have), and the right packaging (an end-user-oriented install that made it a simple, step-by-step, floppy-by-floppy process to get it up) while the other free *nix systems were less able to go from nothing to system without help and without additional hardware for most home and tiny lab users.

For comparison, I tried Minix around the same time (I can't remember if it was before or after) and struggled mightily just to get it installed, before questions of its capabilities were even at issue. I remember my first Linux install having taken an hour or two, and I was able to get X up and running the same day. It took me much longer to get the disks downloaded and written. Minix, by comparison, took about a week of evenings, and at the end, I was disappointed with the result.

Comment: Re:What has been leaked is not encouraging either (Score 2) 160

by Opportunist (#49630993) Attached to: Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

Basically what this means is that corporations can hold governments hostage. "Pass this law or we claim we lose a billion bucks. Oh, and if you want to challenge it, we have of course also established an international arbitration court, which is also the ONLY place where you may challenge it. Yes, we staffed that, why do you ask?"

Comment: The problem is.... (Score 1) 160

by Opportunist (#49630899) Attached to: Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

...if they were NOT secret and people would know what's in those contracts, the support would certainly not rise.

The mere idea alone to circumvent the judicial system and instead establish an "arbitration system" that's basically controlled by the international corporations should already be enough to ensure opposition by pretty much anyone.

Bluntly, any government in favor of this is basically giving up the sovereignty of the country entrusted to them and should be treated as such with the relevant laws. As long as the judges are still in charge.

Comment: Seeing is believing (Score 1) 103

by Opportunist (#49630665) Attached to: Europe Vows To Get Rid of Geo-Blocking

Before I believe anything being done like that by the EU (and Juncker, of all of them), I want to see this being cast into a EU regulation and then I want to see them breathing down every country's neck to turn it into laws. Just like they do with all the anti-consumer laws they invent.

And then I might ponder thinking about just what loophole they left open and what agenda this should actually serve.

Comment: The question ain't "is it on the rise" (Score 1) 257

by Opportunist (#49622159) Attached to: Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?

The question is "is it here to stay".

Take Ruby on Rails. Was the craze not even half a decade ago. Everyone was on Rails. Too bad they led to the chasm and nobody bothered to build a bridge over it.

So learning a language because some startups are crazy about it isn't worth it. But what is? How can you tell whether a language "gets big" or is a tempest in a teapot?

Easy. It ain't the language, it's the people using it. It's the movers and shakers of an industry that decide what will grow and what will perish. If Bruce Schneier started writing his code snippets in Splfurt (I sincerely hope there is no such language, I just made that word up) and if people from Metasploit pick it up and code their stuff in Splfurt, Splfurt is the new big thing in IT security and every framework, scanner, tool and whatnot will have to have Splfurt plugin support and new exploit PoCs will come written in Splfurt.

It's not the language. It's the people using it.

Comment: Re:Money! (Score 1) 346

That makes little sense. If money is what you're after, the very LAST thing you should do it try to dig into climate change. Let alone finding proof for it. If money is what you want, you should slap together some research in a field that is under less scrutiny and where there are bigger stakeholders willing to pump money your way as long as you prove them right. Genetically altered crops, and how safe they are would be a great field. Less controversy and big players with deep pockets that would certainly love to have "scientifically proven" how their stuff is great for you and your health.

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

Working...