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Jon Maddog Hall on Linux, His Life and More 42

inkslinger77 writes "In a recent interview Jon 'Maddog' Hall speaks with Computerworld Australia about his life, Linux, and the Linux world conference to be held this year in Sydney. He also talks about Linux International's new direction and the future of FOSS."
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Jon Maddog Hall on Linux, His Life and More

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  • His life? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:41AM (#14874305)
    I mean really, who wants to hear a speech about living your mom's basement?
  • Is part of Linux International's new direction to convince Computerworld Australia to use Linux servers?

    Because I 'cannot find server.'
  • by layer3switch ( 783864 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:56AM (#14874377)
    I had an honor of meeting up with him and chatted for a moment back in 2001/2002 Linux Expo at Jacob Javits center.

    While I was reading the article (and yes, I read the whole thing), I couldn't help recognizing this quote with a smile on my face.

    The word "just" normally sets me off as well, when it is applied to a person, as in "I am just a user, or I am just a teacher." Every human is unique, they are not "just" anything.

    During the conversation with Jon at the 2001/2002 Linux Expo, I've said 'Maddog, you are the master, and I'm `just` a user compare to you.' Then he gently smiled (and no, he didn't get "mad" or angry) and told me, 'No. You are not `just` a user. I am a user, you are a user, and we all are users."

    How true indeed. The article carries very good impression I had about Jon since then on, the true passion and dedication Jon has for users, not "just" users or specific group of people, but for everyone.
    • and then (Score:4, Funny)

      by SpooForBrains ( 771537 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:40AM (#14874681)
      'No. You are not `just` a user. I am a user, you are a user, and we all are users

      ... and then he threw himself into the MCP and we were all saved!
    • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @12:09PM (#14875636)

      The part that impressed me was this ....

      Finally, in 1994, I was introduced to Linus Torvalds, and my life was changed forever. I came back from that meeting and told my fellow workers "Linux is inevitable". I even put that message in a slide presentation, in 1994.

      I figured it out in 95, and let me tell you it was hell, so I can only imagine what he went thru. The thing that killed me the most was trying to tell this to managers and corporate types, and getting blown off like I didn't know what I was talking about. It was a real eye opener about how 90% of the corporate world are followers who couldn't recoginize a free market force if it ripped them a new one. In my career I have been told phrases like "the internet is a passing fad" (92), "linux is a toy os, not for the enterprise" (97), "the x86 won't work for the data center" (2001). Thankfully I ignored all of them, which is why I'm still in IT today.

      So what's the next technology that the business types haven't figured out yet. Well, I would say p2p and the death of the copyright system, but I think the real but kicker this time is not technology, but economics. The US economy has too much debt (esp in housing), too much taxes, too many unfunded obligations (like social security) that can and never will be paid off at face value. The same information technology forces that are predestining the death of copyrights are also pre-destining the death of paper and government "backed" currencies. The global transition will be very very painfull.

    • People saying, "It can't be done." Sure, some things "can't be done", but others are just "difficult". Too many times I have shown that "can't be done" stuff could be done in a quarter of a day. Imagine how fast it could have been done if it was just "hard"? The word "just" normally sets me off as well, when it is applied to a person, as in "I am just a user, or I am just a teacher." Every human is unique, they are not "just" anything.

      I'm sorry but this statement just reeks of new age, political c

      • Not everybody is motivated by money alone and actually do believe in the real value of humanity as an expression. Oddly enough as computer geeks they will also congregate around Linux and open source becuase of the value they see it brings to society as a whole, as well as to indivuduals in society, even you ;-).
  • Is this like the 'interview' with Woz? ;-)
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:28AM (#14874588) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:
    When did you start using Linux or open source?

    I was using Free Open Source Software (FOSS) in 1969, but we did not call it that at the time. We called it "software".
  • by DataCannibal ( 181369 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:43AM (#14874706) Journal
    "Microsoft's Linux developer Bill Hilf pulled out of the conference. There has been some press suggesting that this may be because Microsoft does not want to let Hilf in front of the media."

    It could be because he can longer put forth the stuff MS was expecting him to spout without curling up in embarassment and dying.

    A few weeks ago he was interviewed on the LUG Radio Podcast [] (see Epsiode 3) in which
    he was asked about how Open Source people could go and work for Microsoft.

    He stated the Microsoft was OK really, had learned from it's mistakes and that we should judge the company on what it was doing now.

    A couple of weeks or so later Microsoft helped hound the Massachusetts guy out of office 28/0037246&tid=185 [] and the comment on a subseqeunt LUG Radio show was , "Well, we've looked at what MS is doing and it hasn't changed at all"

    The guy from Gentoo took the honourable way out and resigned. Bill Hilf's mortage is obviously more important to him than his principles. However, being a mortage paying family gut myself can't say that I blame him. It is only software after all.
  • I knew I remembered seeing this man somewhere before. It was my freshman year of college and he drove myself, Nick Walker, and Anne Wang to get some Indian food. It was some delicious food.
  • SGI? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:08AM (#14874941) Homepage Journal
    His Wikipedia page [] says he's currently funded by SGI. [] I wonder how that's going?
  • Was Usenix SandyEggo about 1996 or 1998. He was passing out RedHat Alpha CD's claiming that Linux was the first free OS to support Alpha. When it was pointed out that NetBSD had come first by almost 6 months, his reply was "You BSD zealots should give up and start working on Linux."

    "zealots" indeed. Blow me Maddog.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @01:49PM (#14876738)
      It was probably 1996. The Alpha port was finished in November of 1995, and I was passing out some CD's that Red Hat and Digital had co-produced. I do not remember the circumstances behind the comment, or exactly what I meant by it.

      I spent sixteen years of my life trying to push Unix inside of a company that (for the most part) only wanted to push VMS or NT. I had finally come to the conclusion that if the customer wanted VHS, you did not keep telling them that they should be using BETAMAX. I also knew that the hardware companies and the ISVs would only qualify on one operating system, and what that qualification meant to customers. I knew that a large amount of that was based on "marketing" and visibility in the marketplace.

      It was Linux that was getting most of the press, and it was Linux which the customers asked about. It was Linux that the hardware companies embraced.

      But the writer could not have known that in the same timeframe as I made my comment to him I was also trying to be inclusive of the *BSDs in the USENIX
      tracks. As a board member of USENIX I supported the development of the BSD conferences sponsored by that organization. I am good friends with Kirk McKusick and he will vouch for my support of the funding and execution of the BSD conferences in the board meetings of USENIX.

      I believe it was at a conference in Australia (also in the 1996-1998 time frame) that I ran into a rather despondent Theo de Raadt, who told me that for lack of $300. his ISP was going to turn off the project's servers. I took out my checkbook and immediately wrote him a personal check for $300., to keep the OpenBSD servers alive. My comment to Theo was that "your project is too valuable to let die over a measly $300." I never told people about this, simply because there was no need.

      I believe that what the *BSD people are doing *IS* valuable, and I have said that repeatedly both before and after 1996. I also appreciate the efforts of the Plan 9 people, the FreeDOS people, the TinyOS people and other OS projects.

      However, I also believe in market forces, and that when the customer says "Linux", I do not come back and say "BSD".


  • "Or having a REAL Unix licence plate on their wall, directly off my Jeep Wrangler. There is a long history behind that licence plate, and many, many copies of it were handed out by Digital (and now the Open Group) over the years, but not an ORIGINAL. And finally, a digital clock, made by my hands and signed by Linus Torvalds". Imagine that. Paying $23,000 to have a clock with Linus' signature. Or what would you give to have Mad Dog's license plate hanging on your wall? I hope this money making solutio
  • I've had the privilege of meeting Maddog on a few occasions, both at international open source conventions, and on one of the early Linux Cruises ( He's a warm and friendly guy, with nothing but smiles and nice things to say. I hope that when I grow up, I'll be more like him.
  • At the recent Linux Conference Australasia in Dunedin I had the opportunity on several occasions to wander around Dunedin with Maddog. As well as doing the tourist thing, sampling the scenery, and the food with him, it was a mind opening experience for me listening to someone with so much background and knowledge - and quite strong in his views.

    Some great thoughts in the head of his, great to be able to tap into some of it.
  • Whoa, we have something in common, I did something like that at the age of 4, the wire handle of a fly swat, I've never been the same again ;p

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.