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AOL For Linux Leaks Out 254

Thomas Charron writes: " CNet reports that has leaked a *gasp* Linux AOL client. More info can be found here: http://new Note, this isn't the AIM messenger, but the whole hog of the AOL access software.." See our last story. Debian and AOL, two great pieces of software that go great together?
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AOL for Linux Leaks Out

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  • If you strip out the GNU tools, you can't use those wonderful beasts known as shell scripts. I think it would be very difficult to develop large-scale software without using shell scripts.

    Then again, we *are* talking about "small" systems... :-) They'd probably write all those routines in C. (Re-re-re-inventing the wheel.)
  • Based on Mozilla from the look of it, and it doesn't seem to work. Anyone actually using this?
  • AOL sees a good opportunity to hook people in. Most people see and hear about linux with avid curiosity. Those who do use it really have to know their stuff (I tried showing my dad once how to log in and start X... pain). If AOL can get something running on a linux system this would be a big step towards getting linux on the desktop. The truth is the majority of people don't want to have to edit a boot script or know what a boot script is. If linux is going to be a desktop system easy accessability to the os has to happen, and unfortunately it is through programs such as AOL.

    On the other side, this may bring some better publicity for linux.

    Even the samurai
    have teddy bears,
    and even the teddy bears

  • i didn't read the silly article and won't. all i have to say is "AOL, nice try but why bother?" linux is about freedom and aol is free to use it if they wish. AOL is still the same heap of cow dung it has always been.
  • remember that AOL used to be QuantumLink, a long time ago (well, the '80s), and back then they were Commodore 64-only. M$ fans? hell no :)

    and if I remember right, Steve Case was one of the founding/early people in QLink...

  • > Linux takes a giant step in the right direction

    Does it, though? Does AOL still use proprietary software, or are they simply providing access? If they do use their own software, what are the chances of seeing the source code? If closed-source software draws millions to Linux, that'll be a giant leap in the wrong direction.

    Disclaimer: I don't know what the deal with AOL is. I've never used it myself, but I've had to help friends' machines get over it. I ask these questions because there's a lot of discussion here which seems to imply that anything drawing users to Linux must be good, and to me Linux is more about freedom than a large user base...
  • Surely the majority of people who are likely to take up Linux are the same ones that seem to abhore AOL (as suggested from the content of 90% of the posting here)

    I would say more like 99% of the postings here. Remember, though, Slashdot is read primarily by those with a technical bent. This would most likely include a few AOL'ers who are even now dowloading Gamera. (So they can try it on thier newly installed Linux partition.) I realize for the vast majority of both current Linux and AOL users this will not make the slightest bit of difference.

    I don't think Joe public really sees the need to switch to Linux because the relative merits would be lost on him. M$ (for all its many faults) runs his apps and he gets loads of support by way of the huge user base.

    For the most part, Joe public probably wouldn't switch. That's fine, his choice. I'm not advocating that anyone change anything they don't want to.

    So AOL is on Linux - its also on M$ so why change?

    Curiosity, the challenge of doing something new and different, possibly the need to feel "cool" or "1337". Who cares, as long as someone finds the combination useful for thier purposes, they'll use it.

    Flame in indignant fury if you want but it won't change the fact the most PC/net users are NOT techies.

    I never claimed they were. Most PC/net users actively fight the idea that they should learn anything in order to operate thier computers. Obviously, an AOL on Linux client will have no appeal for them. For some though, this is just what they've been waiting for.

  • Seriously. I was going to post much of the same.

    It's refreshing that someone on Slashdot is able to see past their biases / hatred for AOL and see that in the end, this is an extremely good thing.

    Mark me down as troll or flamebait, but it needed to be said. Get over yourselves, and realize that this is what Linux needs to reach a broader audience.

  • He specifically points to the previous acticle before saying this

    Check the link - it's not to the previous article.
  • Kudos on AOL's decision. This should at least double their average user's IQ.
  • You seem to forget that the US is HUGE compared to the UK. It takes a few DAYS of constant driving 65 mph to get from one coast to the other. It takes a few HOURS to FLY in a jet to do the same.and thats not counting Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska in itself is 1/3 the size of the contiguous US. national code?- ya right.
  • What's really interesting is that AOL doesn't "get it". According to techpages, this was given to them from an anonymous contact, who think they is at AOL. They imply that this is not sanctioned software from AOL. (but perhaps they are wrong, and AOL is "getting it" and moving towards Linux support.)

  • Why would any selfrespecting linux user put AOL anything on his box?
    I am a Linux user. I currently have one machine devoted to Red Hat 6.2, while my other machine multiboots Caldera 2.4 and Win 98.

    For ISPs, I use both Earthlink and, yes, gasp, AOL.

    Why do I still have AOL?

    The sophisticated, let's see if I can show how smart I am, buzzword answer: network effects.

    The practical reason: That is where *many* of my friends are. They are great people -- smart, intelligent, well educated, funny, caring, and perhaps most importantly for our purposes, diverse. Artists, musicians, political activists, attorneys, religious people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children.

    A large number of these people don't know a lot about computers, and most importantly, they don't really want to know any more than they do. To the vast majority of these people, the computer is now, in addition to being a word processor, a communcation device -- a telephone, but without long distance charges. A way to talk about common insterests. A way to socialize. A way not to be alone at night.

    In the past, I've tried to move these people to Earthlink + IRC. No way. Even with a graphical IRC client like MIRC, it is *way* too complicated for them. They don't want to learn. It's not as easy as operating a telephone. And why should they learn? Because *you* think they should? Please. Collectively and individually they learn, master, delelop and create an enormous number of beautiful, useful, and important things everyday. It just so happens they don't have any interest in doing so in the area of computers.

    Can I communicate with them via the various AOL clients for Linux? I have, and do. (I use Tik. Indeed, I found that after I installed Tik I was spending a lot more time in Linux, and a lot less time in Windows.) But I discovered something important. It is not the quite the same. I'm outside the group discussion, and not quite an equal member of the group.

    The horrible, embarrassing truth? It is worth $20 a month for me to be able to go into a chat room whenever I want, know that a number of my friends are going to be there, and talk with them. Yes, I also talk to friends on IRC. But these important friends are on, and only on, AOL.

    Other advantages: E-mail is instantaneous. Plus, you can tell when somebody has received your e-mail.

    The other surprising advantage: I frequently get better FTP throughput when connected via AOL than I do under Earthlink, or than I ever did under Mindspring.

  • AOLers can barely use windows. I can't wait for the security exploits on this. A pop up message saying "AOL needs your root password" and people will give it to them.
  • MSN has finally gotten their shit together and made themselves into a decent service, but they will never be on the level that AOL is. They came into the arena when AOL was ten years ahead of them, and they're still paying for it.

    Let us harken back to the days of ol', back when Compuserve and Prodigy were far ahead of America Online. Even though this was a different time, when the services were just connecting to the Internet, Prodigy and Compuserve, I believe, were far ahead of AOL, at least in subscribership. But eventually, AOL managed to dominate the market.

    I'm not supporting AOL or MSN in the least, but i'm just saying it's not unheard of and is definitely within the realm of possiblilty that someone (MSN, in this context) could get the lead over AOL. I don't really care, though, I'll stick to my real ISP (school!).

  • I can't believe no one else has complained about this yet.

    What are web designers THINKING when they require you to have flash to view a web page?? In lynx I get:


    Wow, that's nice. In Netscape, of course, it complains that it doesn't have flash. I even downloaded and installed it, and it now crashes on load. Wonderful...

    What makes me maddest of all is that they probably use it just for stupid special effects like text that whooshes in and out.

  • Er no. I think you forget that there are multiple local phone companies in the US, and they aren't (for the most part) controlled by the government. Not to mention how the long distance and local providers are seperate companies as well. The closest thing we have to a "natonal" local code are the 8xx (800, 888, ...) series of phone numbers that are billed to the reciever instead of the sender. Since most people pay $0/minute in the US for local phone calls this costs the same as a local phone call from the end user's standpoint. The problem is 8xx numbers are expensive for the other end to maintain. I think AOL actually offers an 800 number, but it has additional per-minute charges that quickly add up even if you are just reading email.
  • Point 5. is very valid... hell with windows you would be lucky to be able to remotely administor an NT box without pcAnywhere! BUT just imagine, trying to crack into your own damn box!!

  • At least when you install it, it can't delete your current PPP scripts....;)
  • It IS mozilla with an AOL skin and a special plugin that allows you to sign on to AOL
  • this has probably been posted before, but why the hell would anyone SMART enough to use Linux, do something as DUMB as use AOL????
  • and not "Linux" as a whole. Whether it's monetarily motivated or not, this is still a big jump for a company. I mean, AOL may not be the most popular software with Linux heads, but AOL is no light weight when it comes to programming (and I'm not talking about bloat).

    Does anyone else think it's funny that after years of nothing, we all of a sudden have *three* "official" AIM clients (AOL standalone, AOL client, Netscape 6)?
  • Q: who would want AOL if they ran Linux?

    A: Someone who doesn't know that they're running Linux... Like someone who is running an Internet Appliance. If you RTFA, you'd see this:
    The company plans to use its Linux-based service in future Net gadgets. It has already struck partnerships with chipmaker Transmeta and PC maker Gateway to produce Linux-powered appliances slated for release later this year.
  • We have Linux turning into AOL and MacOS turning into Linux. Go figure.
  • Yep, good point - it's a big name draw, and I guess Linux kinda has that power to win people over once they start using it... this makes it a question of compromise - how much are 'we' willing to compromise the GPL/FSF ideal in order to proceed? If AOL on Linux does take off and become popular, get set for more Debian inclusion debates... and hope it's not going to be a turning-the-tables thin end of the wedge...
  • AOL was *much* less expensive than CompuServe or Prodigy.

    And it was also much easier to use. I was on the Mac version in 1990 or so and it put CompuServe for DOS and the Prodigy Horror Show for CGA monitors to shame.

  • What are you talking about? There's no mention of Debian in any of the articles. Yes the last article was about Debian. But that hsa nothing to do with this one. Or is the AOL release only for Debian? If so where did you find this out?
  • Cripes, there's something about the idea of AOLer's and Linux that just doesn't mesh. Isn't it enough that they did a number on the newsgroups?
  • Heh, I've never seen an AOL client either. I have, however, quite a collection of AOL coasters and frisbees :). I'm in Canada, though, where AOL hasn't really caught on from what I hear.

    As for "high-value" content, I suspect that most things that are viewed as high-value for a mainstream audience are of absolutely 0 value for me. I'm not at all interested in the results of the latest football game, interviews with some Hollywood actor, or miscellaneous health and fashion tips. Anyway, presumably many people like such things, so AOL does have it's place, but it's probably not worthwhile for "the typical /.er", if that means a linux-using geek (though I hear most /.ers run IE).

    As for your bit about chat not being useful, well, of course chat is useless. It's a total waste of time and hardly anybody claims otherwise. Similarly, slashdot is largely a waste of time, but that didn't stop you from posting, did it :). Chat, for me, is just another form of 'net entertainment, where you get to talk to interesting people in realtime. Of course, most people in chatrooms are absolutely not interesting. It is just a matter of finding a good chatroom. Too bad this isn't really easy, since a lot of them make an effort not to be found, in order to avoid being flooded with spammers and idiots.

  • (just wanted to see how that sounded)

  • by Vigilante Moderator ( 217655 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:54AM (#855001)
    I can just see it now...

    Steve Case: "We would prefer if you would call it AOL/Linux instead of just Linux because without AOL you really wouldn't have anything there at all.. just the kernel. Don't get me wrong, I respect that Linus Torvalds guy and all, but we feel that AOL should be part of the name to give credit where credit is due"
  • Not necessarily x86-only. If AOL wanted to make really cheap network appliances, nobody's stopping them from using ARM or another architecture. After all, they still support the PPC architecture with their Mac client (which was quite trendy when AOL was growing most rapidly) and they seem committed to supporting "AOL anywhere."

    Already you can get some features on a Palm platform (68000-like) Windows CE (MIPS, ARM, or SH-3) and just about anything with a web browser. I've even seen Sprint PCS commercials touting AOL on cell phones.
  • Probably referring to the possibility that one can use Debian/Hurd as well as Debian/Linux and still call it Debian.
  • I predict that a lot of script kiddies will be very disappointed when they get to Linux and are surrounded by free software. Already I've seen a few clueless groups proudly touting their "l33t 0-d@y l1nu>< d!$tr0z" on message boards and newsgroups, but there just isn't that much software people can pirate on Linux.
  • Well, Ask Slashdot has an article [] on cleaning your keyboard.
  • While I wouldn't use AOL, not without first having had a lobotomy anyways, this is actually good news.

    A Linux AOL client gives those who've been holding off of trying Linux one less excuse. From those that like what they find once they convert, we'll get more people contributing to Linux. From those that don't, they'll go back to M$-Windows, and we'll just see a few more trolls.

  • I guess the script kiddies can run there scripts on the same machine they get there email on.

    The question is, will aol collapse under the weight of "I got ROOT" messages?

  • by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:23AM (#855017) Homepage Journal
    I showed this to a couple of Cow Orkers and they did understand why this is such a huge deal. Most of the opinions I heard were basicly "Why would someone smart enough to use Linux use AOL?" Let me break it down:

    AOL is competing with Microsoft. Microsoft is yet again pushing MSN, which means that the two are in direct competition. One thing you don't want to do in business is give money to your competitors. AOL recognizes that Linux is a viable option, and are building a strategy around this.

    AOL is also working on a set top box (with Gateway IIRC). The TiVo proved that Linux works on the TV, and AOL can't wait to get to the people too dumb to click Start. Remember, newbies are AOL's bread and butter. If AOL can break into the WebTV market, they're going to soar.

    Now obviously they aren't going to set the user in front of a Login: prompt and expect the user to log in, type startx, and figure out how to start AOL and run pppd with a chatscript. They'll be using the Linux kernel, without most of the GNU tools that Linux users are used to. One of the things I could see them doing is distribute the AOL client with their own AOL distribution of Linux on those coasters^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H CDs that they give out to everyone in the US. Then you just boot from the CD-ROM and voila! Instant AOL.

    I'm just glad that a big company finally "gets it" about what you can do with a stable, open source operating system.
  • Go to this page []. The front page uses Flash (for mouseovers, basically), but the page about AOL for Linux uses html.

    Here are a couple direct links to download the AOL for Linux software, so you can bypass the web site altogether:

    I haven't attempted to install or even download this program, so if it's a virus or a hoax, don't blame me. ;-)

  • Did you know that AOL offers almost all of the services that any other ISP uses, and then some?

    The only thing they don't provide (last I knew) was POP3 service, but they may offer that now.

    I think I have missed the advertisements for the AOL shell account.

    A shell account is something I look for in an ISP, IMHO any good ISP has shell access.

  • Screenshot of my KDE desktop with the AOL client running is here. []

    Only shows the login screen since I don't actually have an AOL account.
  • by ( 217783 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:25AM (#855040)
    This is for the embedded/appliance market. It is unlikely that AOL cares much for the relatively small number of Linux desktop users (compared to their 50 million Win/Mac users or whatever they have). This not only gives MS a preview, but the Netpliance et al guys a look at what their biggest competition is going to be in a short time. If those guys can adjust quickly enough, they might be able to grab some of AOL's big slice of the pie.

    What I am wondering is whether we will see anyone try to do with full client software what MS and others tried to do with AOL IM - make a client that can connect to AOL's networks. That would be a big step forward in getting people to switch from AOL to something else.
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:25AM (#855041)
    "Debian and Linux, two great pieces of software that go great together?"

    I know *I* never use Debian without using Linux.
  • 1) My advisor from grad school days had an AOL account from home that he used a lot, but also had a school-provided email account. He was out alot on trips so it was easier to point people to use the AOL account and access it anywhere than pay the long distance for the dial-up into the school's email. However, because of the large amount of email, he used the AOL client for Mac at work to check on this periodically through the day, and then forwarded any work related messages to the school inbox. I can see a similar situation where if you are on the road significantly to use a anywhere-accessible mailbox that's more secure than Hotmail, and still have access to it from your all-linux shop.

    2) As GNOME Linux is visionized, and we move towards having a true out of the box install of Linux that is geared towards home users, those home users with AOL accounts are probably going to want to keep them, and the AOL/Linux client is a necessity for this given some of the protocols AOL uses.

    3) AOL still offers unique content to members only. Some linux people may really want to access this (I don't see *why* myself :D).

    4) This could be related to the lawsuit on AOL regarding blind and vision-impared people unable to use AOL. Many of the web-to-speech programs exist for Linux or such, and maybe this is AOL's way to try to accommodate that.

    5) Maybe they want to see how cross-platform compatible their software is. Of course, considering how fast AOL 5 was out for the Mac compared to the PC version, this is very doubtful :D

  • Well, if they strip out all the GNU tools, which they probably would for a net appliance, then this would be justified.

  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @07:14AM (#855049)
    Wouldn't that be:

    (Sappy AOL Guy Voice)"You've Got Root"
  • Ok, here is one experience that I have had with AOL to use as an example...

    I was building a computer for my friend's mother. She had a 386 at the time, and I was upping her to a Pentium Pro 166. As you can see, this was several years ago. For some odd variety of issues (SCSI scanner I think), I was forced to install Windows NT for her. Oops, AOL is not supported for WinNT.

    Now I have to try Win95. I set her all up, and boom, AOL crashes in Win95. I call them up and the dolt tells me that the version that I have is old and there is a revision available for download. I explain to him that I cannot download unless I can connect. My firend's mom cannot wait a few days for the new CD to arrive because she misses her 'AOL Buddies'. (The chat people on her 'Buddy List')

    I go to the store, buy the CD (only $1 tho), and take it back to install it. New errors! At least this time it works enough for her to chat with her buddies. Mind you, this is a brand spanking new install of Win95!! WTF?! The AOL dolt tells me this time to wait for the next version, it will work. When is the new version due out? Oh, just a few months!

    I never did find out if that thing ever worked...All I know is that it was slow, it was bloated, and it was not flexible at all.

    I will never understand what is so difficult about setting up a simple PPP connection to an ISP...but people want it to have fancy pictures and neato voices telling them that they have mail...

    Oh, another thing about AOL. I am willing to bet that it automatically turns on the Caps Lock key, and it induces the users to join in flame-wars that they have no clue about. Just my opinion though..
  • You say: "I built my Linux machines to have a choice..." Okay. Now you have another choice: To use AOL or not to use it. AOL for Linux is NOT bad news. It's just not necessarily good news either. This will do a number of good things: 1. It will speed Linux's acceptance as a desktop operating system. 2. It will give computer dealers (particularly the Mom & Pop computer stores) a greater incentive to bundle Linux with their computers rather than MS Windows. 3. Not only will more Windows users be more inclined to run Linux, but more Macintosh users will be inclined to switch as well (Yes, there are a lot of macheads who run AOL also.) On the downside, 1. New Linux users tend to leave their computer in it's default security configuration (i.e. all sorts of services and ports running WIDE open) These folks will get onto AOL and find themselves under constant attack from script kiddies. 2. Running IRC as root is stupid. Can you imagine what running AOL as root will leave you open to? **GASP**!! 3. A lot of people who are used to Windows will try Linux and decide that it sucks simply because a lot of the media clips that they download are in formats that can't be displayed on Linux (ASF, Quicktime 4.0, etc.) AOL for Linux has a lot of potential. I just hope that they do this right.
  • So if AOL is such a nightmare, what browser do you use? Most of us Linux users are using the AOL-owned netscape browser. Maybe AOL has already taken over?
  • I think I'm going to curl up with some milk and cookies. And an IPV6 book. The only thing preventing IpV6 from wide acceptance is the lack of support at the desktop.

    Throwing in a few million of lusers with ipv6 stack changes the balance drastically. And AOL will have much less problem with MS calling for a standard.Standards, sure, here is a standard, but it operates via IPV6. Oh you do not support it. Sorry, you lost...

    Just random thoughts, but that is what I would have done with this boxes...

  • I downloaded a copy of AOLforlinux beta. But now that I have downloaded it, I don't know what to do with it. I'm afraid that if I install it, I'll be screwing something up REAL bad. Even when it's out of beta, I'll be feeling the same way.
  • Exactly. I keep a couple AOL freebie offers around just in case I have to go traveling and want a network to my machine. Having Linux will make it easier for me to suck my mail down from my home machine using an AOL preview cd.
  • Steve Case: "We would prefer if you would call it AOL/Linux instead of just Linux because without AOL you really wouldn't have anything there at all.. just the kernel. Don't get me wrong, I respect that Linus Torvalds guy and all, but we feel that AOL should be part of the name to give credit where credit is due"

    ...for such a system as you describe, that wouldn't be unreasonable at all. Certainly no less appropriate than Tom Christianson's BSD/Linux.

  • As long as I don't start getting AOL Linux CDs in the mail... I can't put a Linux CD to use as a coaster... I just can't... =P
  • Sure AOL is not the ISP of choice for most Linux users, but it certainly has its place.

    One of the most overlooked features of AOL is its widespread availabilty. If you are anywhere near a moderate to major city in the US, you are basically guarenteed to have a local AOL dialup number. If you are in a rural area/small town, you still have a good chance of having a local dailup. This means when you travel/go on temporary assignments, your AOL account can follow you. Even better is that AOL will automatically find local dialup numbers for you, so you don't have to scrounge around the phone book or anything.

    Of course you have to put up with all of the lamerz on AOL, but if you are just using it for dailup access it isn't so bad.

    I'm sure many of you are sitting with your cursor over the reply button ready to flame me. "What about the FreeISPs!" you might say well if you know of one that works in half as many areas as AOL, I'd love to hear about it.
    Disclaimer: I only use AOL when I travel (my parents account), so YMMV.
  • by Dman33 ( 110217 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:37AM (#855075)
    *disclaimer* I cannot stand AOL client, it is a disgusting mess. Furthermore, I really do not care for AOL in general, and I would even feel sorry for my worst enemy if I discovered that person used AOL. So there.

    Now, with that out of the way, I would like to express that this might be what we are looking for. Kinda. You see, many of us want Linux to become a nice mainstream desktop OS for the average user. Many average users use AOL. Now this might work well to bring the average users to Linux.

    Ok, not that the average users are starting to use Linux, they realize how nice it is to not crash all the time. As time goes on, they progress to better users of Linux and realise that they do not need AOL anymore. Thay blow the client away and start using regular PPP connections and there ya have it, the desktop userbase that Linux needs so desperately.

    What we (the developers etc out there) need to be aware of is that people like a pretty GUI, ease of use, intuitive controls, and NO TECHNICAL JARGON! If Linux distros can evolve to include even MORE internet tools that have an emphasis on ease of use while still containing the flexibility that a power user can use (some are getting there already!) then I really see Linux becoming a great desktop OS in the next year or two. Like I said before, the AOL thingie might be a blessing in disguise because it will look familiar. The scared average end-user will like this familiarity and be that much more comfortable with this OS.

    Note: this may just be for net-appliances, and if so, you may throw everything that I just said out the window...
  • If AOL is to ever make a net-appliance, what do you think they would have it run?

    AOL already has a net-appliance imaginitively titled AOLTV []. I don't know much about the specifics of what it runs, nor do I care very much, but I do know that AOL has licensed TiVo's technology for use in their boxes and guess what TiVo runs on right now? That's right, Linux. That's not to say that TiVo couldn't port their service to some other OS (and they would if AOL asked them to as AOL owns a good chunk of TiVo), just that this tips the scales even more in favor of AOL using Linux.

  • I've actually been looking forward to this. Hoping that AOL would someday make a linux client.

    Not for me. I have a DSL line myself, but for my family.

    My family dosen't know much about computers, but they spend a lot of time on AOL. If I do the administration of their machine, and all they need to do is click the AOL icon, what does it matter what OS they run?

    Time to see exactly how far along linux has come. Time to perform the "mother" test.
  • Resolution on tv sucks. Text is hard to read.

    True. But with HDTV around the corner, this may get better - higher resolution means crisper text.

    Now that I think about it, the problem with TV resolution is that TV is meant to display MOVING pictures - you don't really notice the poor resolution, even on a huge screen, because of the motion-blur effect.

    So...for now, LARGE text and/or moving text can make things easier to read for WebTV-type viewers - but in the future, HDTV and such should help out a lot.

  • Don't blame the web designers. Sometimes management makes us do it.

    Heh, sorry, I've never done web pages in an environment where I'm not the designer, coder, and manager all at the same time--I have no concept of the division of labor in such a situation...

    Woe to the clueless managers of the world!

  • by juuri ( 7678 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:10AM (#855090) Homepage
    Why the hell does linux NEED commercial acceptance?

    Why has practically ever new linux/bsd user in the past two years decided their favourite flavour of unix clone HAS to dethrone microsoft?

    I for one don't give a rats ass about Microsoft. I have to use them at work, but you know what its not so bad to use windoze to fill out expense reports or look at badly formatted documents. I'm directly responsible for about 60 servers running mostly equal parts solaris and linux (with some osf and freebsd thorwn in for good measure). They *ALL* have their place.

    You people really need to stop looking for some new war to fight everyday... if you got that much energy to spare why not waste it on something that matters almost as much but is more fun, sports teams. Or better yet it spend it on a PERSON you care about.

    hope this helps,

    Solaris/FreeBSD/Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • It's obvious AOL needs a product to compete with
    WinCE. How about a palm device preloaded with
    AIM. Boots into Linux to bypass the WinCE
    licensing fees. AOL sells them for $150
    to get get them in people's hands and build
    market share. AOL did a similar thing before
    with their $9.95 internet offer. Makes sense
    to me. I might even consider buying one.
  • I use linux, my fiancee uses AOL. Now she can get to AOL without rebooting my machine. Also if I get a NiC from and put AOL for Linux on it I will have a nice cheap computer for her.

    Her parents also use AOL, it crashes alot with Win95, (GPF) hopefully this will be more stable.
  • Wow.. Instead of cowing to Microsoft for everything, we can be using our Transmeta laptops with AOL running on top of Linux, using Netscape 6 to browse the web, and AIM (and possibly ICQ) for instant messaging!

    Sounds good, right? Well, what's the common denominator here? Except for Transmeta, it's all AOL. This could be just a shift from one behemoth (MS) to another (AOL). It's a shame that probably the only way to beat MS in the home-user market is with another potential monopoly.

    But at least now I will be able to get all the Time-Warner content I've been lusting after! ;-)

  • by Kevin DeGraaf ( 220791 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:15AM (#855101) Homepage
    I definitely agree. My family is semi-computer literate, and my younger brother has expressed an interest in learning Linux (cool!). My family uses AOL exclusively for connectivity (parents are dumb) and they couldn't care less which OS the use, so long as AOL works. AOL for Linux would allow me to give them a much more stable machine, and let my brother screw around with Linux as well.
  • by irongull ( 9022 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:29AM (#855102)
    The distant rumbling sound you hear is simply the average IQ of the Linux user base dropping to half its former value. There is no cause for alarm.
  • What's the matter with capitalism? I understand that open source, gpl projects are not focused on making money, but rather on creating a product useful to the community (and the creators). This type of thinking, however, does not have to be ANTI-capitalist. I mean, open source stuff is great, but what do you want, without capitalism? Open source tomatoes? Open source gerber custard? Somewhere along the line, if we want to be more than an agrarian society, we have to BUY things. I personally don't want to have to grow my own food - I like being able to perform my various jobs, then have that performance converted into a common transferable medium, whihc I can then exchange for stuff that I need/want.

    Btw, I just want to point out that I REALLY don't like AOL or steve case. I just dislike the idea of a market bound in chains by its very nature even more. Now I understand that AOL does this to a certain extent, but I have my doubts that it has a stranglehold on the market. I know a number of people who left AOL when cable modems became available. (I'm on a T1, so I am better than them anyway :) Okay, /rant


  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:31AM (#855106) Homepage Journal
    Hmm. I wonder ... if you install AOL for Linux, does it 'accidentally' un-configure your eth0 and ppp0 interfaces, leaving only 'aol0' active?
  • There might be more than a few PHB's who start using AOL/Linux at home.

    And if they like it, and find it's more stable than M$ stuff, they might be more amenable to considering Linux in the workplace. Which can only be a good thing.

  • Hi. We're We crash Netscape on Linux and on Solaris, for no reason at all.

    When will webmasters learn to test their websites on as many platforms as possible before deploying? I bet these bozos just loaded it in IE 5, said "Yup, looks good," and headed home for the day.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • Oh the humanity!
  • by TheLocustNMI ( 159898 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:15AM (#855127) Homepage
    If AOL is to ever make a net-appliance, what do you think they would have it run? They don't really hold that much of an alliance to Microsoft. So, i think the obvious choice for an OS in a net-appliance would be Linux.

    So, no, i don't think this is aimed at you or me, but perhaps the iOpener crowd.

  • by gi_wrighty ( 152031 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:16AM (#855129) Homepage
    What about the current AOL users currently tied to the Microsoft Way? Would you not like to see them using a proper operating system? Think of the publicity and mindshare something like this could generate.


  • by Hairy_Potter ( 219096 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:16AM (#855135) Homepage
    Just port AOL to Linux, put it into a sealed network appliance with a few neat user apps like greeting card printing and a few games, and voila!

    Microsoft has lost a significant portion of their audience.

    AOL is planning to control the internet in the next 10 years.

  • Wow does this mean that I will be getting AOL skeet shooting fodder (CDs) in the next Linux mags that I get? I will have to say that excluding stand alone AOL boxes this is probably not a good move on AOL's part. What user that uses Linux on a normal basis would pay for AOL's service?

    Ohh well at least it is a token gesture from the worlds largest ISP.
  • I think the release of AOL for Linux is more about buzzwords now than anything else. When they release their netpliance, they will already have their (soft|bloat)ware ported to Linux so that's a plus, but as for right now, they just want to be able to toss the "LINUX" buzzword around.

  • I had the same thoughts at first. But if you read the article, you see that the primary purpose was to indisputably show security holes in AOL software which AOL refuses to acknowledge (allegedly). To whit: "This proves AOL has done very little to fix there security problems." But there could be larger implications. Many are complaining about "AOHell" and "AOLusers" and such. It's this narrow-minded, pseudo-elitist attitude that prevents Linux from becoming mainstream more rapidly. When Linux offers mainstream solutions to mainstream problems, then mainstream users will be interested. You can't get any more mainstream than AOL. Until then, it's just another bit player losing to the commercial big boys
  • Now I'll get twice the spam disks. :)

  • This could have one important side-effect: AOL could make self-booting CDs. A user could literally turn on their machine and be runninng AOL off of the CD. Forget about installation problems, OS corruption, or anything else. AOL could even use their own distribution if they wanted. This would be a tech support dream: Doesn't work? Boot a new CD.

  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:43AM (#855155) Journal
    They don't really hold that much of an alliance to Microsoft.

    I'll go one better here. AOL disklikes Microsoft in a pretty big way, and the feeling is mutual. First, they co-existed in a sort of uneasy way. Then, Microsoft rolled out MSN, which competes directly with AOL. Then, AOL bought Netscape, even though they were ostensibly pushing MSIE, a move which couldn't have given the Redmond crew many warm fuzzies. Next, we had the Instant Messenger Wars [], which enabled us to witness the bizarre spectacle of Microsoft calling for standards.

    What chafes AOL so badly is that no matter what they've done , they've been stuck with Microsoft, because the vast majority of their clients use MS operating systems. For the first time, it looks like they may have the opportunity to change that.

    If I were Steve Case, I'd be thinking very hard about funding Linux development in a highly public way, or making an alliance with some OEM which sells Linux systems. That would pave the way for OEM boxes running Linux, preconfigured to use AOL.

    In fact, now that I think about it, I'm starting to scare myself. Little Linux boxen, stripped of their "nonessential" functionality, all set to connect the average joe into a world of happy AOL-Time Warner content. I think I'm going to curl up with some milk and cookies.

  • Okay, so you don't like AOL. I completely understand.

    But so much discussion here focuses on how to get Linux into the limelight, into some serious competition with MS in terms of desktop.. Isn't this a great step in that direction? Despite the fact that you're a l33t hax0r, 90% of desktop users are not, and having AOL for Linux can draw a whole new crowd, and perhaps greatly help it into the mainstream.

    Man, Linux takes a giant step in the right direction, and everyone screams about it...

    I don't get it.
  • by danfromdesborough ( 218504 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:36AM (#855159)
    Is this right?

    Surely the majority of people who are likely to take up Linux are the same ones that seem to abhore AOL (as suggested from the content of 90% of the posting here)

    I don't think Joe public really sees the need to switch to Linux because the relative merits would be lost on him. M$ (for all its many faults) runs his apps and he gets loads of support by way of the huge user base.

    So AOL is on Linux - its also on M$ so why change?

    Flame in indignant fury if you want but it won't change the fact the most PC/net users are NOT techies.
  • by Bad_CRC ( 137146 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:45AM (#855161)
    very cool news.

    I realize there are a lot of people on /. who won't be able to see through their "l33tness" to realize how this will benefit everyone, but this is exactly the kind of thing that Linux needs to begin to have commercial acceptance.

    I want to use linux. I want to be able to buy games on linux in a store (not choose from 6 3 year old ports I have to mail order) and other software.

    To get all of this to happen, Linux needs a larger user base. The number of AOL users is huge. I know several, and almost all of them use AOL because it is the only affordable choice in their area.

    The worlds largest ISP (isn't it?) is going to begin to support Linux. Other companies will see this, and have no choice but follow. You'll soon see PC makers just starting to realize they can actually make money selling linux machines to the masses, not just servers.

    This is a major victory for linux, and anyone who is intelligent enough to quit the "redhat sucks, aol sucks, newbies aren't worth pissing on" bullshit attitude which is so prevalent here, and in the Linux community, (and has done more to hurt Linux than anything else ever could) Should be really exciting at how big this step is, and how broad the benefits will eventually be.

    I'm no AOL fan, and certainly the first few versions of this will be buggy and broken, but in the perspective of things which can happen to benefit linux in the long run, this is well up on the list. Put away the elitist geek comments, and look at the big picture here.


  • You can actualy test this out without being a beta tester. AOL simply blocked this particualr revision number. To sign on, all you need to do is change your revision number.

    To find the revision number and change it, copy record # 20-0-6 from main.adb to a working AOL 4/5 main.idx. Use an FDO script to look for a possible revision number. Once you know what the revision number is, open main.idx in a hex editor and go to the offset of record # 20-0-6. Find the revision number and change it to a working one of AOL 4/5. (you need to log on to a windows version of the aol software, go to help>about aol, and then hit "ctrl r") Once the revision number is changed, Gamera can sign on like a normal AOL client.
  • I dont think they expect the current linuxcrowd to use it, rather they'll use it with internet appliances running linux + the aol client, and nothing else, thus getting rid of any OS license cost.
  • [] distribute the AOL client with their own [] Linux [distro] on those [] CDs [.] just boot from the CD-ROM and voila! Instant AOL.

    Considering that Linux doesn't support many winmodems, that might not go over very well...

    If there's one company with enough pull go get the Winmodem manufacturers to do a Linux driver, or at least release enough info on the chips, it's AOL.

    Maybe we'll get Winmodem support out of this. B-)
  • by Raymond Luxury Yacht ( 112037 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:17AM (#855167) Homepage
    There is AOL for Linux! There is AOL for Linux! There is... ummm... AOL... for... ummmm... there's..... ummm... oh crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:17AM (#855168)
    *sigh*, too bad you're so simple minded you can't say anything good about this matter. You're giving the typical knee-jerk reaction I'm confident many posters will give, and it's sad, it really is.

    Don't you see, a huge provider with millions of customers is now supporting Linux. Love or hate AOL, it's things like this that are helping to bring Linux into the mainstream.

    Now you can go over to mom's house, granny's house, even your niece and nephew's house, install Linux, Star Office and AOL and they have the same functionality as Windows!

    Don't knock AOL because it's for "dummies" or anything like that, look on the bright side. This has the potential to bring millions of users over to Linux.
  • by heliocentric ( 74613 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @05:17AM (#855172) Homepage Journal
    Why would any selfrespecting linux user put AOL anything on his box?

    It's not necessarily for linux addicts, but if granny talks to her family via AOL, and you want to setup a system for granny to use that she will be familiar with and you do not have to worry about paying an extra Franklin+ for an OS.

    Anything that takes Linux a little closer to mainstream, anything that makes one more person standup and say "now linux has everything I use, I think I will try it," anything from a major internet company that makes people take notice of Linux is a good thing for the Linux community.

    Who knows, this may attract the next Linus who currently is 8 years old using AOL to check email to let Daddy show them Linux and open their mind.

    I really doubt I'm going to run out and sign up for AOL just because they have a linux product - but I will have a little more respect for them and I will definately consider them the lesser of two evils (in comparison to MSN).
  • I do confess, I find the idea of AOL for Linux slightly... ah.. discomforting.

    But then again, and I can't say as it really shames me to confess, I use AOL with a BYOISP account. I'm sorry that people think of the content, chat, and groups on AOL as complete drivel. My major reason for using it - that I think is good enough to pay for! - is the huge, varied, and almost completely freeform roleplaying community that makes its home there, in AOL chatrooms and forums. Also, the medical forums on AOL are very good, well organized, and the feedback that you can get about problems of various drugs and illnesses; I know my father still uses AOL in his cancer research, especially, because there are many easily accessible "Survivor Forums" and new drug research articles. The AOL stock portfolio, as well, is very user-friendly and organized.

    When the nerdier people at my school (including to some degree myself) went to national science competitions in backwards places in other states, and the internet connections in the dorms didn't work, the major way for them to ease their /. and email cravings was to sign on through one of our teammates' connections to AOL.

    And then there are all the younger teenage Linux users who are forced to use AOL as their connection to the internet because it is more convenient for their entire family. With AOLinux they could switch over the computers in their household to Linux and most likely, their parents would barely notice at first. ;)

    Hmm... "Linux: The Family OS."

    Anyway, while I acknowledge that some of the effects will be winceworthy and... distasteful, to say the least, AOLinux could be what it takes to start weaning some potential new Linux blood step-by-step off of Windows.

    I know that almost anything and any information that can be had on AOL can also be found on the real internet (and AOL does, in fact, link to a lot of web content). Truth of the matter is, AOL is, for the non-tech-oriented community, more efficient in a lot of ways. On the one hand, I can see how people who are concerned only with efficiency and not with spending time learning about what they're actually doing "have no right" to use Linux. On the other hand, if Linux is only "The Superior OS for Superior People," then what's the point? Most people will never have the time, energy, brainpower, and dare I say, personality required to be a "power user." And in that case, MS will always hold a definite edge over Linux, regardless of the comparative quality of the products. Linux can be intimidating as hell for the new user, and it seems to me that a lot of people out there are saying, "And that's how we like it..."
  • You'll now see the following showing up all over the place:
    d00d - | jus+ 1n5+@113d @ 1|nu>< p@r+|+|0n 0n my 1337 C313r0n m@ch|n3! #0w d0 | 63+ +h3 A0L +h|n6 n0w?
    God help us all.
  • Unless AOL is going to be GPLing their client, then they need to dynamically link against the libc library. Otherwise it would be a violation of the license.

  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:22AM (#855183)
    Time to play the devil's advocate here...

    To all of those who say, "AOL on Linux will help us destroy the evil Microsoft that we must all help to destroy," don't get too excited yet.

    Let's face it, MSN really was never a viable competitor to AOL. MSN started out rather quickly, hoping to capitalize on all of the new Windows 95 users (remember the MSN icon on the desktop?). But they ended up getting hit by all of the problems you'd associate AOL with: busy signals, poor service, etc. MSN has finally gotten their shit together and made themselves into a decent service, but they will never be on the level that AOL is. They came into the arena when AOL was ten years ahead of them, and they're still paying for it.

    And BFD if we get AOL on Linux, that's NOT going to bring more newbies over to Linux's side to warrant a dent in Microsoft's revenue. Do you want to dent their revenue? Rather than drooling over having some 15-year-old lamers using Linux because it can run AOL, focus your attention on the office suites out there. StarOffice anyone? While it's true that a lot of people use AOL, a lot more use Microsoft Office. And while Johnny Q. Newbie can check his AOL mail on Linux, he can't open, and work with, his Word documents or Excel spreadsheets on Linux either.

    Let's not forget getting support for all of Johnny Q. Newbie's peripherals either. Sound card doesn't work? Video card doesn't work? Digital camera doesn't work? Scanner doesn't work? Printer doesn't work? Then what's the point of jumping to Linux if your major components don't work?

    Now, I expect that people will tell me, "But Linux is OPEN SOURCE, so people will flock to it!" Folks, if people wanted to use Linux because it was open source, they'd be using it by now. Pardon me if I sound inflammatory, but a lot of people out there couldn't give a shit if the OS they were using was open source (or free as in speech, depending on what distro you use). They want to be able to get their work done, to be able to do the same things they could do on Windows.

    I'm sorry to bust your bubbles, but while AOL on Linux is certainly a good step, you've got a long way to go before Linux can become comparable to Windows in the home user market.

    Think about it.

  • You don't even need a hard drive, you could just boot an initrd image, and load AOL directly from that. You wouldn't even need the system utilities like cp and ls, just the C library, linux kernel and AOL. It's scary, but it's a good idea:

    They send you a bootable CD, you pop it in and AOL comes up, you login... after a couple days using thier ASP based services, say throw in a SpreadSheet, WordProcessor, blah blah, all the usual AOL services. Then you give them an option in a couple days. "Would you like to use AOL permanently?". Then give them a button that says Okay on it, and it formats there harddrive and installs linux/AOL on it. MUHAHAHAHA!
  • by peterthomas ( 178802 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2000 @06:28AM (#855190)
    ....switch to BSD!

    I can see it now - OpenBSD the last bastion of defence against the (other) evil empire!

  • It seems that AOL has made itself known by it's "easy to use" client software for accessing the internet, giving computer-illiterate users confidence in being able to actually use that "3000 dollar machine they only know how to turn on". I'd like to see a poll. How many linux OS users currently use AOL, or would like to. As for the factor of speed and reliability, other ISP's have been rated over AOL by many review zines. Even local ISP's can offer a just-as-good if not better dialup connection as AOL's.

    How can the biggest ISP user-base, which I am assuming 99.9% of it's userbase is either using Windows or MacOS make any benefit over a Linux client? While Linux *does* rock, it is definitely not ready as a desktop replacement for AOL user-types. Perhaps the only use of this software would be for script kiddies and carders to spoof through AOL accounts using linux instead of windows. Doesn't seem like a big move for AOL in my opinion, however releasing it's messenger client (and netscape for that matter) for the linux platform was a smart move, but is totally irrelevant to compare it's client software to.

    - Slash
  • Why the hell does linux NEED commercial acceptance?

    Because the drivers to my new HP930C suck. If I want to print a photo quality picture, I have to boot to Windows and waste about three sheets of expensive photo paper before it prints without Windows crashing. If Linux had commercial acceptance, HP would write and distribute drivers better than those in Windows. I've never wrote a device driver, but knowing what I do of programming in Windows, it has got to be easier to write one for Linux.

    Because I want to pick up the cheapest scanner I can find (who wants to pay a lot of money for a seldom used peripheral), and have it work out of the box. The $50 flatbed at Circuit City doesn't have Linux support and (again) I have no experience writing device drivers.

    I want to sign up for any ISP and have it work from the get-go. Reading 50 pages of doc is cool and all that, but sometimes I just want it to work so that I can concentrate on other things. I still want to be able to tinker under the covers later when my wife's not wanting to check her email -- right now. "But, Honey, I've got to read the PPP and IP-Chains HOWTO before we get online, and then I have to hack a sendmail filter before you can read your email," just doesn't cut it with her. (You married guys know how it is.)

    And there are a thousand other examples of neat things that you can do easily with your computer if you are running Windows, and willing to give up security, configurability, robustness, stability...

    Where are the childrens games for Linux? Where are the DTP apps for Linux? With some commercial acceptance, these apps will appear. Lots of things that tend to be used by non-technical people appear. I still want to program and hack, but I'd also like to play with some of the newer dodads that all seem to say, "Requirements: Windows 95"

    When other companies see AOL using Linux and not paying the Redmond tax, they'll take a look at their own accounting spreadsheets and see what they're paying. After they clean their pants, they'll figure out a way of ditching the Redmond tax themselves. Hopefully, before long, enough companies will have switched that the OS power will be back in the hands of the market (ie, the people).

  • I think this deal with AOL being for linux is great. Sure, I've used about 20 minutes of AOL ever at a cousins house, and don't use it at home, but seeing AOL starting to work on the linux operating system means a much bigger user base if this project does indeed take off.

    I downloaded the file hoping I could try it out on my Debian based linux system, but was dissapointed to find a bunch of RPM's. Now I understand this file wasen't even offically released, so we should not all expect it to work good, or work at all, but I just hope they don't plan on making it RedHat-only based.

    I am unable to use AOL due to not having a local access number, but if I did, I honestly think I would at least try it out. Heck, they've probably given me a million hours of free service, why not? I see this news as something really good for the linux community, because now, all of those people who use AOL and want to try linux, can do both!

    Secondly, think about the number of users who are itching to use linux but have AOL straining them back. I know for sure the linux community will benefit greatly from an AOL client for linux. I know there is the fair share of people who hate AOL with a passion, but you have got to admit, after this client starts to get rolling, there will be the snowball effect with the positive side facing AOL.

    * Just a side note, can someone explain to me why AOL dosen't want the linux client released before it's offically done? Besides the small security concerns, AOL should be glad the client got out and have it's blessings that we're trying to improve their product.

    Scott Miga
  • Don't blame the web designers. Sometimes management makes us do it. I just redesigned my company's page, and I lost the battle on Flash, saying it was not needed and what we wanted could be done with regular HTML, and have better support with older browsers.

    The part that irks me so much isn't that, but the damn embed tag you have to use. IT ISN'T VALID HTML. Which means if I want to use Flash in a page, and have it viewable by NS and IE, I CAN'T MAKE IT HTML VALID. That really pisses me off, I pride myself on coding HTML, and I can't do it now.

    Thanks, Netscape.

  • if there are people who use aol when using linux, i pity and do not ask forgiveness of their souls.

    "Charlie don't surf!"
    -LT Colonel Kilgore

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.