Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Single case anecdote. (Score 4, Interesting) 274

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:All aboard the FAIL train (Score 1) 549

by smooth wombat (#49613641) Attached to: Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Announces Bid For White House
Or maybe just ignored all warning signs and calls for help... denied doing so...

Which are of course patently false. Even the first Republican-led investigation stated as much and a former member of the CIA who was involved with the investigation categorically stated no such orders were ever given.

Even those in the military who were on stand by said no such order to stand down were ever given.

But hey, anything to keep the lie alive, right?

Comment: Re:No matter what Uber says ... (Score 1) 175

You forgot to add that people who are employed by Uber need to be investigated to make sure they have the added insurance required when you are transporting people for money.

What should happen is insurance companies should use the service then cross-reference the driver with their insurance policy. If they don't have the required insurance, send them a bill.

Same goes for the state department of revenue. Since these people are operating a business they need to claim the money on their tax returns, though they can still deduct expenses just like any other business.

Comment: Re:Rely on the counterfactual. (Score 1) 210

by aussersterne (#49589491) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

Yes, in practice it's usually a mix of the two, so the principle is more an abstract model than an argument about real, concrete thresholding.

But the general idea is that by the time someone stops being promoted, if they continue in the job that they are in while not being promoted for an extended period of time, it means that they are likely not amongst the highest-merit individuals around for that particular job and responsibility list—because if they were, they'd have been promoted and/or would have moved to another job elsewhere that offered an equivalent to a promotion.

Comment: Rely on the counterfactual. (Score 5, Informative) 210

by aussersterne (#49588929) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

The best way to understand the principle is to imagine the counterfactual.

When does a person *not* get promoted any longer? When they are not actually that great at the position into which they have most recently been promoted. At that point, they do not demonstrate enough merit to earn the next obvious promotion.

So, the cadence goes:

Demonstrates mastery of title A, promoted to title B.
Demonstrates mastery of title B, promoted to title C.
Demonstrates mastery of title C, promoted to title D.

Does not manage to demonstrate mastery of D = is not promoted and stays at that level indefinitely as "merely adequate" or "maybe next year" or "still has a lot to learn."

That's the principle in a nutshell—when you're actually good at your job, you get promoted out of it. When you're average at your job, you stay there for a long time.

Comment: Re:Not sure this is deserved in this case (Score 1) 437

by smooth wombat (#49584537) Attached to: Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules
Less government regulation is pretty much what Libertarianism is all about, so this is more him sticking true to his ideals.

Except this the government going back and undoing what it had previously done. Originally ISPs were to be treated as common carriers but the government got bigger by using its power to say they weren't common carriers.

If the government had the power to say ISPs weren't common carriers, it most certainly has the power to say they are. No contradiction or overstepping of authority.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter