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AOL/Time Warner to buy Red Hat?

By mjs in News
Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 08:58:17 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

Well, the Washington Post seems to think so. The combination of AOL and Red Hat, the most ubiqutous Internet client and the most visible Linux distributor, provides fodder for endless speculation.

Update [2002-1-22 4:16:36 by rusty]: According to C|Net there is no such merger. "Sources close to the matter" need to get their stories straight.

Start by considering what each party brings to the wedding: AOL is the largest ISP in the world: regardless of what one thinks about it, they have millions of paying customers. With their acquisition of Time/Warner they also have ready access to that magic commodity, content. Red Hat has the (arguably) most popular alternative desktop operating system to Microsoft's Windows, Red Hat Linux. Looked at this way one has to wonder, why does AOL believe that it needs its own operating system?

AOL's relationship with Microsoft has always been a bit contentous. In fact, once AOL demonstrated that there was gold in them thar' Internet hills, Microsoft went and started its own internet service, MSN, as a direct competitor to their customer, AOL. AOL eventually purchased the remnants of Microsoft's Internet browser competitor, Netscape, leading to speculation that the reign of Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the default AOL web browser was over. In the end the rivals agreed to kiss and make up and IE is still AOL's default browser, but Netscape's browser is far from dead and is now, in fact, easier to use with AOL than ever before. Microsoft's demonstrated willingness to use its desktop OS monopoly as a weapon against any target it chooses is well documented: perhaps AOL is getting a little nervous.

Linux's inherent power is well known, as is its narrow-minded pickiness and rather clumsy desktop/user interface. Windows has always been slicker, Linux more reliable. Linux has made great progress over the years but there is still a long way to go before it becomes as convenient as Microsoft's Windows for the average technology-illiterate personal computer user. Unfortunately, this is an excellent capsule description of AOL's typical customer. On the surface it seems that the marriage of AOL and Red Hat is a match made in hell.

Yet AOL's deep pockets could make a vast difference in Linux usability. If money is the problem, AOL could very well be the cure. On the other hand, it can be argued that AOL's purchase of Netscape was a bargaining chip AOL used to squeeze concessions out of Microsoft. Could an AOL acquisition of Red Hat serve the same purpose? If so, wouldn't it be logical that one of Microsoft's demands in return would be for AOL to bury Red Hat, or at least starve it into non-competition?

Or perhaps there's another angle being played. What would it be? If this isn't a mere rumor; if AOL and Red Hat do end upp hitching their stars together, one thing is for sure: they have the potential for making a lot of waves in the world of technology. "Cry, havoc! and let loose the dogs of war!" It is good to live in interesting times.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


AOL/Red Hat
o Nah, never happen. 15%
o Might be a good idea... maybe 45%
o Obviously a win! 15%
o Stupid rumor mongers! 23%

Votes: 92
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Washington Post
o According to C|Net
o Also by mjs

Display: Sort:
AOL/Time Warner to buy Red Hat? | 115 comments (114 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Oh, god. (2.11 / 9) (#1)
by wji on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 01:35:25 AM EST

Just what we need. Combination of often esoteric, somewhat confusing software and an ISP known more than anything else for computer-illiterate morons.

On the plus side... oh, wait. What plus side?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.

Huh? (2.33 / 3) (#2)
by krogoth on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 01:47:24 AM EST

Really, what does it do to you? I'm sure if AOL made it available to their customers it would be easy to install and use (but then, the customers wouldn't be able to change much). Even when something breaks, the customers will call tech support - most won't know enough to be able to bother us. The worst thing that can happen for us is Red Hat leaving the regular distro business, which is unlikely in any case.
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
[ Parent ]
Grrr... (2.00 / 1) (#57)
by miranda on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:41:37 PM EST

> The worst thing that can happen for us is
> Red Hat leaving the regular distro business,
> which is unlikely in any case.

Ah, but RedHat would have no choice in whether or not they would maintain their distribution business. Why? Because there would be no RedHat left to make any choice. It would be AOL.

Honestly, I'm disappointed. Many have said that AOL will, most likely, make alterations to RedHat Linux in such a way as to make it more user-friendly. I would have to agree, and I don't think that's a bad thing. On the other hand, AOL's Linux would probably no longer target the server market. I use Linux solely as a development/server platform, and I rely upon RedHat to release distributions which cater to those [aforementioned] needs. This is not to say that I _couldn't_ do it without RedHat -- I could. But I wouldn't want to have to. Bottom line: RedHat Linux is a strong server OS, and I feel strongly that it should stay that way.

As far as the employees at RedHat, many would probably leave, and with such a loss of so many brilliant, core developers working together on the same distribution, a lot of intertia would be lost.
Even if each and every current employee at RedHat were to stay, the development focus, as directed by AOL's corporate hand, would steer away from a 'lets make this a bleeding edge, rock-solid distro' mentality and toward a 'let's make this a dumbed-down, cartoon-like distro that's not as complicated' mentality.


[ Parent ]
GPL (3.33 / 3) (#4)
by epcraig on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:10:40 AM EST

Given the GPL, I can't see the downside for GNU/Linux.

Of course, I don't see AOL/Time-Warner making a bunch of money either.

Can Steve Case really sell a business proposal to the rest of AOL/Time-Warner's stockholders that spiting Microsoft is worth the investment in acquiring RedHat?

There is no EugeneFreeNet.org, there is an efn.org

"You've got an operating system" (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by joegee on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:37:24 AM EST

Talk about value-added. End users might not go crazy over this, but I could see OEM's being really interested. "Free" and full-featured could really win some hearts.

AOL could make a LOT of money by offering games and features as value-added packages. What could end users find and install? :)

<sig>I always learn something on K5, sometimes in spite of myself.</sig>
[ Parent ]
This is an necessary move (4.37 / 16) (#5)
by ocelotbob on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:27:49 AM EST

Let me preface this comment by saying I am a die-hard Linux user. I do not get along with windows, and prefer Linux's freedom of choice. However, I am also a realist, and know the market is firmly entrenched in the Microsoft camp.

However, that is becoming more and more irrelevant. The market is moving away from the dedicated PC, and towards the home entertainment unit. Devices such as the TiVO, and the X Box, which are basically PCs with some customization to allow them to function as a home entertainment unit, are becoming more and more common. As time goes by, even internet browsing will be a function performed on the family's TV, and this is where AOL wants to be.

Anyone who has followed technology news knows that AOL and Microsoft have had at best a rocky relationship. Both parties would love to be without the other, but are forced to deal with them because of the intertwining user base. With the entertainment boxes which will soon be coming onto the market, this relationship is soon to become irrelevant. Microsoft will be free to push it's MSN internet service on these boxes with no need to have a competitor able to access their customer base. AOL's going to need an operating system that they can sell to convergence companies so that they'll be able to remain relevant, and Linux is the obvious choice here.

Linux's obviousness comes from the fact that it's basically away from the public's eye, yet large enough that it will shake things up. Apple is too large, and has too much of a developed culture already; adapting the Macintosh philosophy to a device that's designed to run without being noticed is going to be difficult at best. Linux, on the other hand is already used in a number of postitions, like the aforementioned TiVO. The entire Linux culture is based on it's flexibility; instead of forcing the user in many ways to adapt to the environment, Linux is designed almost from the ground up to adapt the environment to the user.

So why Red Hat? Because they're who people think of when they think of Linux. They've got the mindshare with people like Alan Cox working for them. They've got several holdings such as Cygnus Development. They've got knowledge in dealing with OEMs. Most other distributors of Linux do not have these advantages.

Face it, the PC is going to fade into the background, and with it, many of the choices in environment that we now take for granted. Internet access is more than likely going to be decided by who makes your hardware. If AOL does not strike now and purchase a company with experience in creating an operating system, Microsoft will take over another market, and with it many of AOL's 33 million subscribers. AOL needs this to do this action, or else they will be in serious trouble.

Can I be your pet? I promise not to bite (much).

I worry (4.38 / 18) (#6)
by Carnage4Life on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:29:05 AM EST

On Slashdot this news has mostly been received with much rejoicing at the potential demise of MSFT's monopoly power.

I am curious as to why people don't fear AOL/TW. From where I sit they already own too much and already influence the perceptions of millions of people with their ownership of Netscape, Nullsoft, ICQ, Time magazine, CNN, WB television network, Time Warner records, Warner Bros. movies, and a lot more that I can't remember right now.

Microsoft may own the OS that most people run but AOL/TW controls the news magazines they read, the music they listen to, the movies and television shows they watch, and how they connect to the Internet as well as most of what they view while online.

Interestingly I'd like to see how a user modifiable OS like Linux interacts with AOL/TW's music and movie divisions that would like to see DRM support implemented in all software from operating systems to browsers. This should be interesting (kinda like NullSoft releasing Gnutella only for AOL to get mad)

They do (3.66 / 3) (#13)
by J'raxis on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:42:27 AM EST

They do fear and loathe AOL/TW. Read the various cable TV or broadband stories, plenty of anti-AOL/TW rants in their. Most of the Slashdot zealots are so anti-Microsoft however (a position I agree with) that they think most anything to take down Microsoft would be a good thing, even if it comes back later to bite them in the ass (a tactic I think is idiotic). It’s sort of like how the U.S. Government allied itself with the Taleban when the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, or Saddam Hussein when he was attacking Iran.

— The Cynical Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]
[ Parent ]

US allying with Taliban and Iraq? (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by brotherhayashi on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:36:03 AM EST

According to this timeline of modern Afghan history, the Taliban was born in 1994, five years after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and fifteen years after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

The situation regarding the Iran-Iraq war seems to be unclear, but, according to one analysis, the Iranians fought the war with American-made equipment (given to them in exchange for freeing those held hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran).

[ Parent ]
sloppy shorthand. islamic fundamentalists == tali (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by kellan on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:03:15 PM EST

I imagine J'raxis was trying to say, the US funded the creation of the militant Islamic fundamentalist movements that went on to become the Taliban.


[ Parent ]

OT: US funded warlords, not the Taliban (3.00 / 2) (#45)
by Stickerboy on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 04:01:47 PM EST

The US funded the warlords, the leaders of the mujahedeen, which subsequently inflicted enough pain on the Soviet invasion forces to get them to withdraw. The US then pulled out of the region, because it believed it had "no strategic interest" investing time, effort, or money in shaping the future of Afghanistan. The warlords, tried to form a governing coalition, which fell apart due to squabbling, and that led to the Afghan civil war. The Taliban was born of a fundamentalist movement within Afghani Pashtuns who had been educated in the Pakistani Islamic schools for children (madrassahs), and was formed as an alternative to the corrupt and power-hungry warlords. It's name, "Taliban", means "students", namely, students of Islam.

My point is, the US did not fund the creation of the fundamentalist movement that created the Taliban. The Taliban was created as an ultra-conservative, theocratic response to the rule of the warlords, whom the US originally funded. (Yes, some of the warlords turned and fought for the Taliban's side, but not when they first started out.) Bin Laden, who received US funding, arrived to fight on the side of the Taliban later.

[ Parent ]
Low Media Consumption (3.66 / 3) (#36)
by cam on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 12:40:16 PM EST

I am curious as to why people don't fear AOL/TW.

I am not a large consumer of media, our Television gets used for Final Fantasy X than anything else. I rarely buy CD's, have no DVD's, only movie I have seen is Lord of the Rings, etc. Most of my interaction with the world is done through independant channels on the internet.

I am a Red Hat user, I deploy my servers with RH as well, so am watching this all with extreme interest. If RH fails to satsify what I need I will start using another distribution, so am not too concerned about the future there.

My mother however is a Windows user and has been clobbered by virus's twice. I am on another continent to her, so hard to supply meaningful hand holding and tech support. She recently bought a new PC with WinXP, as it was cheap, available pre-installed and despite the interface being confusing to her. She needed a modern computer so things like scanners and the like work for her Museum projects.

There is no doubt mum will get clobbered with a Virus again, despite running an anti-virus software. If AOL created a well recognized, easy to install distribution based on Red Hat, I would have recommended she buy that instead. If it came pre-installed, all the better.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

I do. AOL/TW is much scarier! (3.33 / 3) (#39)
by kellan on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 01:54:46 PM EST

Somedays I sit around and wonder if MS is our only hope to save us from AOL/TW.

For right now Microsoft is still in the business of giving people choices. They are still in the computer and software business. This is a business that allows for consumer choice, and that takes the world as it finds it. Internet Explorer still runs over the Internet in a relatively neutral fashion. I can write anti-Microsoft screeds with MS Word and even save it to a plain text file.

The world of AOL/TW is one of total control. They are a media company. They are slowly building a dedicated network of cables, used to serve AOL services, and TimeWarner content to consumers who won't even realize they've slipped into a twilight zone where they are owned by the media conglomerate. Its the fantasy of any large corporation, the media giants are the closest to pulling it off but AOL/TW are the only people with the power to pull it off. (Sony is a distanct second)

That said. I'm not sure how you can build a system of control using Linux. It seems that open source naturally resists control because you always have a choice, and you always can find out whats going on.

If you stick in a CD that launches RedHat, and you find an internet totally populated with Bugs Bunny, you can go digging around in your /etc file (or somewhere) until you find the switch that has bumped you into this alternative.

I think it would be great for open source to have someone spending money on a "For Dummies" version of Linux, a stronger gene pool through diversity.


[ Parent ]

Because TWAOL can't do the MS trick with Linux! (4.40 / 5) (#43)
by Wondertoad on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:22:34 PM EST

MS got to where they are today by taking advantage of several business practices tied directly to their ability to "lock in" their users and partners. For MS, it's all about leverage, not to higher profits, but to doing what will lock in their users in ways that are profitable to them.

With Linux, that's impossible. Due to licensing and open technologies, you can't hide system calls, you can't obscure protocols or file formats. You can stamp up and down and insist that only you can change the technology, but nobody will realy listen, even if you're using an embedded box. (Thus the arise of the Tivo hacker.)

What MS has been trying to do is to extend their lock-in beyond just desktop software -- to servers (mission 40% accomplished), set-tops, portables, and now to data and the internet itself, first with MSN (where they learned it's not so easy) and now with .Net and Passport (where they'll learn they haven't learned their lesson yet, IMO).

If they were to be successful at creating a model that allows them the same sort of monopoly lock-in with set-top boxes as they have had with software, the big corporate media nonsense you see happening right now would be a pittance. Want to burn a copy of that Universal CD you're listening to? MS wants to be the company that gives you the permission - or prevents you - from doing so. Want to play XBox Madden 2005 against your friend in Springfield? MS will make it possible, with your Passport data from zone.com - and keep a record of what you've done.

This is all wild, idle speculation of course. My crystal ball has been totally wrong before. But MS is close to reaching the upper limit on the desktop, as far as how much revenue they can squeeze out of IT departments for forever upgrading Windows and Office. that's why they're now going to software "rental" plans, anti-piracy raids, and XP installation verification.

That's difficult stuff to push on a bust market that's a little skeptical of the promise of tech, but MS has no choice really; if their stock price does not continue to increase, their employees take the hit. For MS, it could be a case of grow or perish. They already gave more stock out once to counter the employee's needs when the stock stagnated for a while... they surely can't do that during an extended period of time.

[ Parent ]
Huh (3.71 / 7) (#7)
by skim123 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:32:48 AM EST

First off, I don't see how this would benefit anyone except those who own Red Hat stock. I don't know many "Linux haX0rs," but I would wager that they are not of the opinion that AOL is cool. What percentage of Linux power-users would use software written by AOL, especially since such software would not be GPLed. Yes, the Linux distro would have to be, but what's to stop AOL from writing software that competes with Office et cetera and keeping it closed source? (This isn't a violation of the GPL, correct?)

Now, consider that this software creation will take significant time and money and will still suck compared to Office and the like. How long has AOL been creating desktop software? How long has Microsoft been doing it?

Now, would the end user benefit from this? Obviously those who already use AOL already have a computer, a computer with Windows. So would they buy a new OS? Nah, they probably don't even know what an OS is. So the only market is... who? People who want to get online but don't have a computer, I guess. They might do all right in this market if they could penetrate stores like Best Buy/Circuit City, with a computer much cheaper than the Wintel box that includes Internet access and the like (a maybe a free subscription to Time, and a free pass to a Warners Brothers movie - hell, AOL should be using their media leverage against MS). But if this ever came to fuition I'm sure we'd see MS respond via ads warning newbies that if they buy the new AOL computers, they can't use Office/FreeCell/IE/play games or whatever else newbies use on a regular basis.

Personally I think AOL realizes what a sweet deal they got by acquiring Time Warner, something that is beyond fathoming in today's post-Internet craze era. They are still working on taking advantage of Time Warner properties, and I don't think:

  1. Buying a Linux distro
  2. Making desktop software
  3. Selling hardware
is really the smartest, or most profitable thing for AOL to be doing. I guess if they were to take on this enormous task Microsoft could finally, and with good reason, demand that the government leave them the hell alone, for they would no longer be that 85% desktop-monopoly.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

'leet haxors (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by br284 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:55:34 AM EST

Lots of hacker types I know use WinAmp... Doesn't that count as AOL software?


[ Parent ]
They are no 3l33t enough (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by skim123 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 03:48:23 PM EST

They should be using FreeAmp, no?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Merger Makes Sense (2.75 / 4) (#8)
by mattyb77 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:36:46 AM EST

A merger of AOL and Red Hat would be a smart move for AOL. From my perspective, it is in AOL's best interest to invest and/or acquire companies and technologies that compete with Microsoft. For Red Hat, it could possibly mean a huge infusion of cash.

Also, I don't believe Red Hat Linux is the most popular alternative desktop operating system. You forgot about the Apple Macintosh.

"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
Loss of Brain Power (4.00 / 7) (#10)
by tnt on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 04:44:29 AM EST

If AOL does purchase Red Hat, then they might loose the very thing they seek: Red Hat's brain power.

When AOL purchased Netscape, it lost a significant part of that companies brain power... due to many reasons, including a (corporate) culture clash. The same thing could happen with Red Hat.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

mrph (1.25 / 8) (#16)
by core10k on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 09:19:37 AM EST

Red Hat.

Brain power?

Does not compute.

I think you'd have to like at Boeing, Microsoft, Sun, etc etc to find the real brain power. And they're not likely to give up their little worker bees.

Just IMHO of course.

[ Parent ]
*Not* the most popular alternative desktop (4.28 / 7) (#11)
by srichman on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 05:02:06 AM EST

Red Hat has the (arguably) most popular alternative desktop operating system to Microsoft's Windows, Red Hat Linux.
Well, I think you might lose that argument. Linux overall has 4% of the desktop versus Macintosh's 5-6%. And that 4% includes all Linuxes, not just Red Hat.

An alternative? (3.00 / 4) (#28)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:11:05 AM EST

When Apple is part owned by MS, and the biggest apps on MacOS are the same ones on Windows (from companies like Adobe and MS), it's questionable whether MacOS is really an alternative.

[ Parent ]
Apple / MS (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by br284 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:53:08 AM EST

I thought that MS divested themslves of the Apple shares that they purchased... Were they not non-voting anyways?


[ Parent ]
Maybe with OS X... (3.50 / 2) (#49)
by srichman on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:04:43 PM EST

...and the biggest apps on MacOS are the same ones on Windows...
With the arrival of OS X, hopefully we'll start to see more standard Unix apps creep into the Mac user's toolbox.

[ Parent ]
MS Alternative OS's (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by TON on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 01:20:09 PM EST

Linux overall has 4% of the desktop versus Macintosh's 5-6%. And that 4% includes all Linuxes, not just Red Hat.

Don't get me wrong, I love Linux (I don't have much good to say about RH, but that is another story...), but the effective disparity between Linux and Apple may be even wider. I guess it depends upon how those numbers were generated.

Apple's numbers are quite clear. Boxes sold with OS- OS doesn't run on other hardware.

Linux' numbers are a bit murky. Counting software distributed on CD or download is easy. How many times is it installed though? This could put numbers up, especially in academic, business settings, or with geekier distros like Debian. OTOH, I've talked with a lot of consumer-type users who get a distro and struggle to install, numbers go down. Then, how many people are dual booting MS/Linux? Where do they do their work?

RH, as the end-user known and "friendly" distro is particularly succeptible to inflation of their numbers. Lots of give-away discs, lots of dual boot consumer installs.

"First, I am born. Then, the trouble begins." -- Schizopolis


[ Parent ]

location,location,location=content,content,content (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by ragnarok on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:08:59 AM EST

Anything more to be added?

If there is a plus side to this hypothetical deal, that is it.

"And it came to healed until all the gift and pow, I, the Lord, to divide; wherefore behold, all yea, I was left alone....", Joseph Smith's evil twin sister's prophecies

Good match (4.62 / 16) (#14)
by TheophileEscargot on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 07:34:20 AM EST

Warning: if you believe in the standard slashonomic idea that the worst software is always the most successful in the marketplace, you'll disagree with this post.

Firstly, AOL are really, really good at usability. When it comes to making software accessible, they're past masters. Look at the way AOL installs: if there's no modem the software probes the ports, looks for a modem, grabs an appropriate driver from the CD you hate so much, and installs it in parallel with the Windows drivers, so you can't mess it up later. No matter how painful for the developers, AOL automates everything the user might have a problem with.

AOL is absurdly easy to use, has excellent help systems, and most importantly has all its instructions in the plainest, simplest language imaginable. If anyone can help make a Linux distro easy enough for any user, it's AOL.

Secondly, the other area Linux distros tend to be weak on is marketing. Most people will agree that AOL is good at marketing. What you probably won't believe is that they're very good at targeted marketing. In spite of the apparent blitz of CDs, they do lots of research, and extensive cost-benefit analyses to get the direct mail campaigns to work. (There's a lot about that in this book) Now if Linux is ever going to get a foothold in the normal home desktop world, targeted marketing is going to be the way to do it.

It's already been reported that AOL have been working internally on an AOL client for Linux. One thing to bear in mind though is that AOL may be mostly interested in embedded systems, rather than PCs. AOL may be more interested in grabbing Red Hat expertise to help them build some kind of web-TV box, rather than assisting Red Hat with their PC business.
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

So there I am... (3.50 / 14) (#15)
by wiredog on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 07:52:41 AM EST

Sitting at the kitchen table, eating my oatmeal, (give me a break, I'm 36) when I pull out the businrss section to read Dilbert and see, on the front of the business section, at the top even, "AOL in Negotiations to Acquire Red Hat".

After I cleaned up all the oatmeal that had sprayed all over the table...

I don't know what to think. Send them a resume? AOL is, after all, only half an hour from where I live. Panic? Switch to slackware?

Nah, I think I'll just go for a long walk.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"

Bad.. (2.00 / 13) (#17)
by mstich on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 09:35:51 AM EST

IMO, I think this is a bad idea. AOL will just ruin the Linux scene (yeah, I know, redhat isn't the only player). But they will make it so much more commercial and ruin it for the rest of us.

I personally use Slackware, and have been for four years. I am very comfortable with it. I don't feel that it is necessary for Linux distributions to be more user friendly, Linux is for power-users, not people who don't know any more then where their "start menu" is.

People like that, whom are so ignorant, and have no willingness to learn, should just stick with Windows, or MacOS.

Sorry if that sounds kind of rude, but whatever.

-- Mike D. Stich

Kinda strange (3.50 / 4) (#18)
by Nickus on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 09:51:07 AM EST

That is like saying that because AOL buys Toyota they will ruin the "car-scene" and therefore my Ford will no longer work good.

The nice thing with Linux is that you have freedom of choice. If you really have used Slackware for the last four years I don't think an AOL/RedHat merger will change anything for the worse. On the contrary, this could be mean more money for Linux development (and utilities) which only can be a good thing.

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
As long as it keeps new dev open source (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by inerte on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:43:42 AM EST

But they will make it so much more commercial and ruin it for the rest of us.

I see no problem that RH or any other company makes a lot of money from Linux or that code and applications development is directed to a commercial way.

I know one poster already commented that Linux does have an ability to diversify the target and flows to any direction. It can, and it should because it means freedom, to work on servers, desktops, pdas and satellites.

I am fine with the idea that AOL buys Red Hat, as long the new or improved code is kept free (as in freedom, of course).

We could all beneficiate from this situation.

[ Parent ]
Who says it will be UNIX like anyway? (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by DrEvil on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:03:34 AM EST

They could do something like Apple did with OS X, but use the Linux kernel instead. This could be very user friendly in true AOL fasion.

Of course if that is their plan, I don't know why they chose RedHat as the distro to by. RedHat was known as the newbie distro back in the day, but Mandrake has taken over that role today.

Then again, who's to say that AOL plans to put this on the desktop, maybe they want to focus on enterprise solutions. Or even embedded devices (more likely). Although I don't see RedHat as the choice distro for embedded devices either.

[ Parent ]
Yup. (3.00 / 2) (#52)
by rebelcool on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:37:25 PM EST

I just love the contradicting comments some people write.. "Linux will rule all one day!" and then "We must never let linux be ruled by corporations!"

In order to become popular, you need massive commercial backing and support. By the time you get that, linux will hardly resemble its grand old face.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

This bothers me (3.90 / 10) (#19)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:27:10 AM EST

This bothers me, not because I like Red Hat Linux (I find it embarassingly bad), but because of the other things RH took over. In particular, RH bought Cygnus, so this would mean AOL would own gcc development. You've got warnings!

If I were a GNOME user or developer I'd also worry, as RH has been the backstop projects fall against when other companies like Eazel fail.

As far as AOL is concerned, it's a good fit. GTK development, something RH is really centering on for UI, works better for them than Qt because of the LGPL vs GPL/QPL difference. And AOL, unlike its smaller bretheren, realizes that the government isn't the answer to competing with Microsoft, so the solution is not to rely on their competitior for their OS. Enter RH.

I don't see this being good for free software communities, though. Other software developers have really had trouble working under the AOL umbrella (See nullsoft, and the GPL TOC AIM clients that disappeared without a trace one day)

Why do people hate RedHat so much? (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by sto0 on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:48:08 AM EST

Whilst RedHat is by far not the best distro objectively speaking, I get the feeling that the fact I have the RedHat flavour of Linux installed on my system somehow makes more more l4m3 than most because of its commercial bent. A distro is just a distro, and nothing more. Some may be more prone to security risks out-of-the-box than others, but come on -- if you know how to administer a Linux system, then this is a bit irrelevant.

The bottom line is that whilst distros do have differences, in the end the strength of the system is really down the to owner. I've altered my installation by quite a lot, and it doesn't really resemble a standard RH installation anymore, so besides the discs it came on, how is it any different from a similarly altered distribution of, say, Debian?

Having said that, if Linux is to be promoted in the way Windows is (i.e. an OS for everybody), then basics like security are essential. If RH became a very well-promoted distro of Linux via AOL, then these issues become important, and I'm not saying that they are irrelevant in this case.

[ Parent ]
its because they're popular (1.75 / 4) (#51)
by rebelcool on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:35:21 PM EST

geeks have this bizarre hatred of anything that's popular. I think it comes from being picked on in school by the more popular folk...

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Hmm...I've heard this logic before... (3.80 / 5) (#59)
by Shovas on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 12:07:08 AM EST


If I may stretch the comparison a little bit, this type of logic is used in many, many situations, including anti-Americanism abroad.

There are those who would apply this logic and extrapolate that, because of the US' great wealth and liberties, some people are just jealous and wish they had the same. "They have no reason to resent us, we've never done anything to them!" Wrong. You don't see this type nor level of resentment towards, say, Canada. American foreign policy for the larger part of the last century has lent itself to generating anti-American sentiment worldwide. And, yes, one bad action will spoil ten good deeds. That sidesteps the point, however. The fact is, some actions _have_ generated this resentment. It's not enough to say "Well, our actions are largely benign." One must come to realize that it is still the same group of actions and same driving force which has caused the ill.

Similarly, in the world of software, you can not simply use the excuse that, because 'its' popular, some people don't like it. I'm positive I've heard little of this rhetoric posed against BSD users, and their general distaste for linux. There is also no excuse to generalizing the populace of the linux community through assuming their background.

It is not possible to utterly refute the possibility that it may be the answer you propose driving this dislike. The foolishness, though, of your logic leads to much greater ills than simple disto-wars.

Redhat has made its share of mistakes in the past, some viewing this as enough to warrant a dislike of linux. Remember, generalizations and assumptions lead to Bad Things(tm).

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Call me a pedant but ... (none / 0) (#89)
by Kalani on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 07:03:33 AM EST

Remember, generalizations and assumptions lead to Bad Things(tm).

Um, is that ALL generalizations (and are we to assume this statement true without proof)? That's a self-referencing warning then.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
A sharp eye, add "may" in there :) N/T (none / 0) (#110)
by Shovas on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 06:41:37 PM EST

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[ Parent ]
Disliking Red Hat Linux (none / 0) (#95)
by PresJPolk on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 08:05:06 AM EST

I don't hate the company, I hate the OS. Red Hat says linux is stable, yet they do everything they can to ensure that their Linux-based OS *isn't* stable. That's why I don't like Red Hat Linux.

There have been a lot of instances (including the big three compiler, libc, kernel) where Red Hat has chosen to ship their own custom, relatively untested versions of software, or versions of software labelled as unstable by their developers. Every time it has caused problems for users, leading them to have to go upgrade their while RH system to get around it.

[ Parent ]
"...would own gcc development" - What? (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by Shovas on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:51:53 PM EST

This bothers me, not because I like Red Hat Linux (I find it embarassingly bad), but because of the other things RH took over. In particular, RH bought Cygnus, so this would mean AOL would own gcc development. You've got warnings!
Pardon? How would they 'own' development? A `man gcc` reports the Free Software Foundation(GNU) as the development backing for GCC. Redhat may have developers contributing to the project, but they could, in no way, high-jack the project.

I don't know why you would make that statement...

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[ Parent ]
Cygnus (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by PresJPolk on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 02:41:10 PM EST

Cygnus, a Red Hat company, maintains gcc for GNU. They maintained their own version as "EGCS," and that branch of development has been the "real" gcc ever since version 2.95


[ Parent ]
Well, doesn't that just knot your knickers... (none / 0) (#76)
by Shovas on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 10:44:07 PM EST


I'm looking into it. You're correct in the assertion that Cygnus' EGCS replaced GCC, and is now called GCC. That's fine.

I'm not yet of the belief that Cygnus still maintains monopoly-level dominance in the project, however. From GNU's pages, it would appear the EGCS tree was handed over to the development environment GNU had in place for the GCC tree, and now the team behind the old GCC works in a combined team with the Cygnus team.

It does not appear that a sale of Redhat to AOL would mean AOL having any kind of dominance, let alone full control, of GCC.

But, perhaps I'm missing something? Farewell,
Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
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[ Parent ]
Control, Dominance (none / 0) (#93)
by PresJPolk on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 07:57:24 AM EST

AOL wouldn't need any formal control - they'll be paying the programmers.

gcc is free software, so AOL won't be able to take it away, but AOL will be able to destroy what has been built over there at Cygnus, and slow down gcc development for the community.

[ Parent ]
Oh goody! (1.16 / 6) (#20)
by quartz on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:35:39 AM EST

Now I'm going to receive Redhat software in the mail. Binaries only, sorry. I can even see the first error message: "You must be logged in as root in order to run this program". And 45 hours of free internet access with a provider that sucks camel balls. And a browser that's totally incompatible with anything else. How could I refuse such an offer?

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
OT: referring to companies (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by brotherhayashi on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:44:24 AM EST

Don't flame me as a grammar nazi; I really am curious.

Are companies singular or plural? The evidence suggests:

AOL is the largest ISP in the world
With their acquisition of Time/Warner they also have ready access to that magic commodity, content.
regardless of what one thinks about it, they have millions of paying customers.
both again
Microsoft went and started its own internet service, MSN, as a direct competitor to their customer, AOL

Is this ambiguity one of the paradoxes of the English language?

OT: Singular, gender neutral? (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by roystgnr on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:30:54 AM EST

I don't know that everyone considers it acceptable practice yet, but I've seen at least one grammar text list "they/their" as pronouns which may be used (instead of "him/his") to refer to people of unknown or unspecified gender. I'd want to use "it/its" in this case myself, but if you think of a corporation either as a supposed "Artificial Person" or as an actual group of people it would be easy to slip into "they/their".

[ Parent ]
OT: What about the police? (none / 0) (#101)
by Ranieri on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 10:32:57 AM EST

In English (or at least, in the British variant they taught me in school :) there are a number of words that look singular but are grammatically plural. The most famous one is undoubtedly "the police".
This produces sentences of the type "The police are looking for a young man with greasy hair."

I have no idea what is considered to be proper for companies though. "Microsoft" didn't make it into the latest Oxford English Dictionary yet. I presume however that similar rules might apply.
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

As usual, it depends. (none / 0) (#115)
by haflinger on Wed Jan 23, 2002 at 06:33:30 PM EST

America OnLine, considered as a corporation, is singular. One would never say that America OnLine are a few corporations.

Unfortunately, like many corporations, America OnLine employs more than one person. The people who work for America OnLine are a plural noun. Therefore, when people refer to The Team as "America OnLine" they are using a plural noun.

However, the two examples which you give under "both" are both grammatical mistakes, involving some kind of antecedent error that I could probably analyze if I was anal enough and this was actually on topic. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

riiiiiiiiiiiight (2.85 / 7) (#24)
by jonboy on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:45:53 AM EST

I'm very skeptical of this. I can see why aol/TimeWarner/BigMonopoly would buy RedHat, but I really can't see what would be in it for redhat, other than loads of money. But then, loads of money seems to be all that matters these days, so who knows.

If this does happen, my switch from redhat to mandrake will once again be vindicated. Why would I not use an aol/TimWarner distro? I don't trust them. They're too big. They already have too much control, and I don't want them using any more of it on me. I already watch their movies, listen to their music, and watch their tv stations. Using their linux distro would be a bit much.
The above post is overrated.
Money is the thing (3.50 / 2) (#37)
by Nickus on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 12:59:22 PM EST

Why do you think Red Hat exists? Mandrake? SuSE? Yes, the people there belives in Linux but the companies are here to make money. Plain and simple. When you can't make money on the stockmarket anymore you have to find new allies. If the commercial-part of the story is too much you can always go with a more politically correct version of Linux, e.g. GNU/Debian.

This could actually be a chance for Linux to compete on the desktop market. But ofcourse, we don't even know if this "rumour" is true :-)

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
[ Parent ]
money (none / 0) (#112)
by jonboy on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 11:54:08 PM EST

I never said making money was bad. But if there is one thing I'm afraid of, it is monolithic corporations. I can think of few bigger than aol/TimeWarner.

As for linux competing on the desktop, I really don't see aol pushing it as a desktop platform. If this story turns out to be true (which I still doubt), I see linux being pushed places where it could be hidden in the background, in set top boxes and the like, as I believe some other people here are saying. Going against Microsoft on the desktop has not been historically profitable, and if companies only exist to make money, as you claim, this would not be a very wise move.

It will be quite awhile before linux competes on the desktop. But not because the software is not ready. The software is very ready. Once it is configured, it is as easy, if not easier, to use than windows. It is of course very difficult to set up, but very few end users set up their own systems. Most people can't get through a windows installation. Mandrake's install program, imo, is easier than windows. But end users will always have a hard time installing an operating system. That's why consumer models come with an operating system already installed.

Linux isn't on the desktop because Microsoft has an iron grip on that market. Hopefully this will change sometime in the future, but whether in five, ten, or fifty years, I'll not venture a guess. As for me, I'll stick with linux as long as it is practical to do so.
The above post is overrated.
[ Parent ]
Things that might be in it for Red Hat (5.00 / 2) (#50)
by TheophileEscargot on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 06:12:28 PM EST

  1. AOL marketing database. AOL seem to have the mailing address of practically everyone who owns a computer.
  2. Usability research. UI design experience.
  3. Testing. Sure, hackers will test your betas for free, but it's hard to keep finding novices to observe getting to grips with your software.
  4. Shared resources. Typical problem for a manager at a small software company: what do you do with your analysts during the testing phase, your testers during the analysis phase, etc etc? A bigger company with more ongoing projects can share them around.

Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
What is AOL after? (4.61 / 13) (#26)
by maynard on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 10:48:49 AM EST

Given that the vast majority of users run Windows, and that there's little profit in selling Redhat boxed to a usercommunity that expects the OS to be preloaded by their vendor, what is AOL after? It could be political -- a threat to MS that AOL might attempt to migrate some number of their users away from Windows... but I think that would fail pretty quickly.

Speculating, I think they're looking for an OS to run AOL on the PS2 and other set top boxes. Perhaps with a strategic relationship or investment in Tivo (or a nextgen PS3 with video record/playback capabilities) they're looking to integrate these functions with AOL access. Linux is a good cross platform solution to this problem, unlike Windows. They may have chosen Linux because it's already ported to MIPS and StrongARM, a likely target for set top hardware.

I strongly doubt AOL plans to attack MS head on with an OS war on x86 turf -- they will lose. To win they need to change the rules by changing the game. A new hardware platform at the below $300 mark which plays games, performs video playback, and runs AOL might be the solution to mass acceptance. Maybe.

As for what affect this might have on the Linux community I don't think much bad can come of it. Linux users still have Debian, Mandrake, Suse, and plenty of other distributions. The code is still free. What could happen other than AOL might fire a bunch of community coders as a cost saving measure? The community will be fine no matter what happens to Redhat's employees. And their employees will have no trouble finding a new job should the axe come down. I don't see this merger as a lose at all.


Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.

Mixed feelings (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by Zeram on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:12:41 AM EST

like everyone else who likes/uses linux this is a bit disconcerning. However there are two points to seriously consider here.

As has already been stated, it's seems quite likely that AOL/TW's big world domination plan, is internet appliances. Stop and think for two seconds about AOL-OS. Do you think that the millions of Joe Snuffy (Joe Sixpack, Aunt Tille, whatever) AOL users are going to want to throw a whole new OS on their system? Well the truely clueless probably wouldn't notice the differnece (wow this update is taking forever!). But the people with a "familiy computer" will never stand for it. What happens when little Johnny can't play Quake10 Or UT9 Christmass morning because the packages wouln't be out for another month or so? And what happens when Joe tries to send his resume out and it's not in word format?

There are probably five million more examples like that to go on with, but the point is, why create extreme confusion in the customer? All AOL needs to do is dangle RH in front of M$ to keep them playing nice, while they whip together a 300$ internet appliance that gets you AOL net access and ostensibly "does whatever a computer can". The PC market is flat right now. We all know that. And because of that most big hardware vendors are looking towards the embedded space as "the next big thing". So a couple of hardware vendors slap together an internet appliance and licence out through AOL/TW to slip out from under the weighty spectre of M$. AOL/TW wins by looking competitive and getting lots of product out there.

Another thing to think about is: what makes more sense, putting DRM into an OS like Linux where people will hack it to death and render it next to useless. Or to include DRM into a internet appliance where you can't really muck around with the low level OS pieces. Also what would be easier to keep up to date, a web pad type of device with some flash RAM, or a whole operating system? I certainly don't want to be on the AOL help desk (well, who would want to now anyway, I know) when Joe Snuffy calls up because his computer suddenly wouln't boot with this new fangled AOL-OS, dispite the fact that "he didn't do anything".

And if AOL/TW isn't going to make AOL-OS and are aiming for the embedded market, then it's in their best interest to let RH alone to do it's thing just like it has been. AOL/TW has shown more of a willingness to let their different branches work at will, than pretty much any other megacorp I can think of. There is nothing here to point to them doing anything different with RH than they did with Netscape and Nullsoft. No matter what your personal feelings are about the AOL/TW buyout of those two companies, AOL/TW hasn't been anywhere near as heavy handed with them as they could have been/as anyone at the time expected them to be. So basicly when all is said and done and the dust clears, RH will gets a win here for it's business (pushing Linux as far into the enterprise as it can, because now it'll have marketing dollars out the wazoo), and AOL/TW will most likely get a big win for their business (delivering content with out M$ hand in the cookie jar).
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
You misquoted shakespear! (3.75 / 4) (#33)
by tiamat on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 12:06:13 PM EST

There is no higher crime a mortal man can commit.

If only I had seen this in the queue, I would have said

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy
(Which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue)
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds,
And Caesar's spirit ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

That is of course (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by tiamat on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 12:08:02 PM EST

Jullius Caesar, ACT III. SCENE I. By Shakespear

[ Parent ]
And you, you! (2.50 / 2) (#41)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:06:27 PM EST

You spelled incorrectly the sacred family name of the immortal bard!

Outrageous .

Where is a sharp blade when one needs it! I need to cut my veins now.

Those who sleep can't sin.
Those who sin, sleep well.

[ Parent ]
Sheakspeer couldn't spell Shakespier (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by itsbruce on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 04:37:45 PM EST

He famously spellt his name 27 different ways.

--It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]

Shakespeer *didn't* spell his name differently (none / 0) (#54)
by kmself on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 07:54:49 PM EST

...it was just one of many feuds between Bacon and Marlow, fabricated by Sidney Lee....

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

O well... (none / 0) (#86)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 05:13:01 AM EST

It must be that I am not a native speaking person, so I did not know that most famous detail...

Those who sleep can't sin.
Those who sin, sleep well.

[ Parent ]
That is what happens ... (none / 0) (#87)
by Tezcatlipoca on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 05:14:06 AM EST

... when you type in a hurry.

Don't do it, it is bad for your reputation.
Those who sleep can't sin.
Those who sin, sleep well.

[ Parent ]
So early in the year, too. (none / 0) (#92)
by mjs on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 07:51:57 AM EST

There is no higher crime a mortal man can commit.

I don't usually begin being dastardly until the cloudy, gloomy days of February but perhaps this will be a good year. I'll check this one off my list... :)

[ Parent ]

Havoc will be fine (none / 0) (#94)
by PresJPolk on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 08:00:15 AM EST

A guy who does as much as Havoc Penningon will be able to find a good new job if AOL were to lay him off.

[ Parent ]
Non-geeks don't install operating systems (4.00 / 7) (#35)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 12:26:16 PM EST

Contrary to what many people think, the Linux installation is not the main impediment to Linux' success on the desktop -- SuSE Linux, for example, has a step-by-step graphical setup, whereas Windows XP's setup is still mostly based on NT's (a very primitive text-based install with almost no features). What is more, Windows XP's install even requires the end users to "activate" their copy, which is a long and idiotic process if you do it on the phone (quite likely for people who have not yet configured their Net access). Linux installers are by now rather simple, and Linux CDs are bundled with every magazine, yet people hardly use them, because they still require advanced computer knowledge, as the installation of an OS, especially in a dual-boot configuration (which is the norm) likely always will. Consider that Windows XP uses a new version of NTFS by default -- as far as I know, there's not even a free tool available to resize NTFS partitions, which would be necessary for a semi-automatic dual boot install. MS can update NTFS silently in the background to foil automatic Linux installs.

As I already explained, what is essential are Microsoft's secret deals with PC manufacturers, especially dual-boot deals. If AOL can make inroads with PC manufacturers to offer Windows/Linux PCs, they can slowly take over the desktop (consider the average PC lifecycle). When Linux is installed and properly configured(!), it is absolutely competitive on the desktop, minor quirks (mostly lack of standardization: clipboard, package management etc.) notwithstanding. Consumer PCs will then offer a choice: Run Windows, with all the activation crap, .NET, and hardly any applications (not even an unzip program), or Linux, with no activation and free, powerful applications for almost every thinkable purpose, including a free office package which is competitive to MS Office (OpenOffice, which, in professional reviews, has consistently been rated mostly functionally equivalent to MS Office).

AOL/Linux, if it happens, is probably not a threat to consumer freedom, although AOL, if totally successful (I don't think they're smart enough), could become a monopoly in many services areas (instant messaging, authentication/payment processing, default portals ..). But having a GPL'd OS as the basis for these services would be a minimum requirement for fair competition.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

Your post is misleading. (4.20 / 5) (#47)
by theantix on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 04:53:10 PM EST

While you didn't post anything out rightly incorrect, you twist facts beyond comprehension to demonstrate your point. Very eloquent, but not helpful.
SuSE Linux, for example, has a step-by-step graphical setup, whereas Windows XP's setup is still mostly based on NT's (a very primitive text-based install with almost no features).
Each Windows XP type (professional, home) comes in two version: the full version, and the upgrade version. Your comments about the WinXP installation apply only to the full version, which non-geeks will never install. The setup for the upgrade that a non-geek would purchase and install, the retail upgrade -- it is a very pretty and simple gui install. Now I've never used SuSE, but I have installed Mandrake, which also has a gui install. It is quite pretty and helpful, but it is more complicated than a Windows OS upgrade is.

Obviously, it has to be. People that are moving from Windows98 to WindowsXP don't have to answer too many questions. But people moving from Windows98 to a Linux installation have to answer a bunch more questions: what about your old data? Dual-boot or Linux-only? It's not as simple as a 98-XP installation, that's an unfortunate side-effect of the reality of the situation.

What is more, Windows XP's install even requires the end users to "activate" their copy, which is a long and idiotic process if you do it on the phone (quite likely for people who have not yet configured their Net access).
Again, this is too misleading. You have 30 days to activate the product, and most users will have enabled an internet connection within a month of installing their OS. Once the PC is connected to the internet, it is a two-click process that is as easy as pie. You don't have to volunteer any information, you just hit "OK" and you are done. After all the hype I was shocked at how easy it was myself.

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]
Wrong comparison (4.25 / 4) (#55)
by Eloquence on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 07:59:23 PM EST

I don't know why you raise the point that upgrading a Windows to another Windows is simple -- upgrading a Linux to another Linux is simple, too (there are even binary kernel packages that can be graphically installed). I correctly pointed out that installing Windows from ground up is more complex and less sophisticated than installing Linux from ground up -- if we were in a situation where Linux was the dominant operating system, the Windows XP installer would be clearly far inferior to the current Linux installers, not even able to recognize existing partitions correctly. That is all I was saying -- complaints that Linux is too difficult to install are unfounded, it is no more difficult to install than other operating systems (depending on the distribution, of course -- Debian is still way behind, but not nearly the nightmare it is often claimed to be).

That doesn't mean that Linux installers shouldn't get even better, it just means that the problem really lies elsewhere, as I explained: the normal end users don't take care of the base install, as you yourself admit. If they do anything at all, they upgrade an existing version of their operating system to a new one, which is a process that can be executed automatically.

The problem therefore is that Microsoft still has deals with PC manufacturers that prevent them from creating dual boot machines, so consumers do not really have a choice (if you've been using MS for years, a quick total switch is not an option: you want to try before you buy -- even if you use Linux as a main OS, you may want Windows for games).

Regarding Internet activation, yes, this is a fairly trivial process, that's the way it's intended to be: Make phone activation so tiresome that nobody will do it a second time, in spite of privacy concerns with sending unknown information to MS in encrypted form. I'm pretty sure that the current activation is harmless, its only purpose is to get customers used to it. That's the way Microsoft has always handled things, gradually increasing heat. Boiling the frog takes patience, you know.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

graphical install (4.00 / 4) (#67)
by guinsu on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 03:54:53 PM EST

Actually, I installed the full version of XP, several times in fact (no, not on the same computer ;) Its as grahpical an install as Windows 98, it appreaed rather similar to the 98 install in fact. the only text mode part is Scan disk, but since the user rarely interracts with scan disk, I don't see that as a big deal.

[ Parent ]
Dual Boot (none / 0) (#84)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 04:38:15 AM EST

Microsofts OEM agreement specifies no dual boot machines. You can either buy:
  • a preinstalled windows box
  • a pre-installed linux box and a windows CD which won't install as a dual boot - Microsoft operating systems don't recognise the existence of any other OSes
  • a blank machine and 2 operating systems on CD
And also nobody buys windows machines without any software. If you dont buy the full Office you get Microsoft Works which is a not-bad micro-office (I've not used it for years now though although the latest version includes a full Word 2000).

[ Parent ]
AOL should buy BeOS from Palm (4.22 / 9) (#42)
by hansel on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 02:20:00 PM EST

Am I the only one who's first thought was "why buy Red Hat when there's a great OS available for cheap?"

The vast majority of AOL users don't care about the plumbing, they care about the experience. BeOS has, by far, the slickest user-experience of an OS that's available for sale (assuming Palm would pony it up, which is likely for a small amount of money (i.e., what they paid for BeOS) and rights to use the parts of it they want).

If AOL wants to offer a complete platform experience, port mozilla as AOL 8.0 onto BeOS (most of the work is done, I believe), and sell that. With their money and installed base, a lot more manufacturers would start coughing up drivers (one of Be's habitual problems). Applications would also follow pretty quickly, up to and including Office, once some significant portion of AOL's customers bought into it.

That's not what they're looking for. (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by Gutboy Barrelhouse on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 05:11:33 PM EST

If this acquisition were to happen, it would not be because AOL merely wanted an OS. RH Linux is GPL'ed: if AOL just wanted the OS, they could take it.

Acquiring the company along with the distro wouldn't let them do whatever they wanted with the distro, either, since it would still be GPL'ed.

Either it's primarily political/symbolic (which makes Linux a much better choice than BeOS, due to Microsoft's frequent public anxiety about the former), or they want an OS along with a particular talent base, image, infrastructure, etc. At least, those are the reasons that make sense to me.

[ Parent ]

Not So Much With The OS (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by hansel on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 11:03:58 PM EST

I don't think AOL wants an OS, I think they want a complete platform. As another poster here suggested, AOL might want to make a go of Internet appliances.

There's another possibility, too: in the 5.0 version, I believe BeOS could run as a virtual machine from a file inside of Windows. Perhaps AOL 10.0 could be for browsing, and email, and online games, and the fabled Internetworked office suite that marketing droids love to hype so much. You're still only installing the AOL package, not reformatting your hard drive. But once you open it up, you've got a much wider range of applications than just browser and email.

If this worked, I bet Microsoft would port Office. They may see a coming showdown with AOL, but they're not stupid when it comes to selling stuff.

Of course, all this could be done with Linux. I just think it would be easier (and present a much slicker user experience) with BeOS. They could do it with Linux without buying Red Hat, but like their purchase of Netscape, they're buying expertise, more than rights.

I understand Be engineers are *ahem* available these days...

[ Parent ]
What they wanted (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by Orion Blastar on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 12:54:11 AM EST

apparently was a company that can write an OS for them and support it. If they just made another Linux distro, they would have to hire the programmers and support staff to do it. Much easier to hire a company that is already doing it.

BeOS does not have the popularity that Linux does, and BeOS was bought out by Palm. True that BeOS, because of its multimedia abilities would have been a better choice, but Linux has more marketshare.
*** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
[ Parent ]

Wait and See (none / 0) (#85)
by duxup on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 05:04:44 AM EST

I think AOL has time on its side. I believe they can wait a year or so and they can buy BeOS and Palm all at once. In my opinion Palm has fallen so far behind MS in hand held computing that they'll be quite weak soon enough. Giving AOL more than just BeOS for a cheap price.

[ Parent ]
Bad for most (3.66 / 3) (#53)
by psicE on Sat Jan 19, 2002 at 07:50:19 PM EST

If the merger was solely between AOLTW and RedHat before the Cygwin buyout, then it would be good; AOL would be able to use RedHat's distro to use AOL software on set-top boxes and other embedded devices, and even to offer an AOL PC that had no Microsoft software on it, but could still browse the web, use AIM, use AOL email, run Office-like (probably StarOffice) programs, etc. However, RedHat owns Cygwin. A very large number of lead Linux or GNU developers are employed by RedHat, and while one would hope that there would be a mass exodus of developers from AOLTWRH to other, smaller companies, some would probably stay and there would probably be some legal issues that made it harder for the project developers to continue their program development (trademarks if nothing else). Also, AOL could find it hard to convince people to get an AOL PC that didn't run Windows. If they continued to have a Windows version of AOL, people would keep using that. If they switched to AOL Linux-only, then people would be more willing to switch to MSN, which means they don't need to install lots more new software onto their computers, then to keep using AOL with a different OS. This would only mean that Microsoft would switch from the 2nd largest ISP to the biggest, and I'd rather see anybody, even AOL, be bigger than Microsoft in that category.

If there was a way for AOL to successfully pull it off, and if they could buy only selected assets from RedHat (i.e. buy the consumer distro and team, and leave RedHat with the enterprise and Cygwin software and team), then I support the acquisition; AOL, especially using Linux, is IMHO a better company than Microsoft.

My prediction... (4.20 / 5) (#60)
by dvena on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 12:32:22 AM EST

AOL is a rather unique system in terms of how it's viewed by users. Users think of AOL as a place. AOL has gone to great lengths to make their application transparent to the operating system, so that users don't believe AOL is just an application, but an integrated part of their computer experience.

The next step is, logically, an AOL computer. While it'd be entirely impractical to make a desktop PC that does nothing but run AOL, it makes perfect sense to develop a thin-client like this. Add wireless internet, and you've got something truly incredible.

Buying an operating system that can easily be embedded into a thinclient easily and inexpensively is the perfect thing to do if AOL wants to go this route.

A unique matter of degree (none / 0) (#69)
by kmself on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 04:39:33 PM EST

"Rather unique" is, well, at least a somewhat distinctive variant of "very unique" -- which is, if not unique, significant in its standing as a language peeve.

Uniqueness is without degree. A singular thing cannot be, well, more singular than another. "That's even more one-of-a-kind than this!". "He's one of a kind, but only slightly".

A thing is uniques. Period. If it's not unique, it's an outlier, notable, distinctive, abberent, significant. These are all attributes which can have a level of degree associated with them.

Pardon me while I sign off -- I've got a bigger infinity of tasks to accomplish today then yesterday.

Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

bigger infinity (2.00 / 2) (#96)
by wiredog on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 09:20:33 AM EST

Actually, mathematically, you can have different "sizes" of infinity. That came into play in some proofs I did in college. Since n+1>n, then infinity+1>infinity. They are, of course, different infinities.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Not quite (5.00 / 4) (#97)
by zakalwe on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 09:57:48 AM EST

Since n+1>n, then infinity+1>infinity. They are, of course, different infinities.
Actually, although you are right in that there are different "sizes" of infinity, this example is not one of them. The set of natural numbers (1,2,3...) is the same degree of infinity as the natural numbers with one extra exement("foo",1,2,3,...). Even more bizarrely, the number of natural numbers is the same size as the number of EVEN natural numbers.

The reasoning behind this lies in how we determine things are the same size. There are two ways we can do this. For example, if you have two bags of stones, you can:

  1. Count the number in each bag. If your totals are the same, they are equal. Unfortunately this doesn't work for an infinite bag, since you never finish counting the first one.
  2. Take a stone from bag 1, and pair it with a stone from bag 2. Continue until all stones are paired, or one of the bags is empty. The mathematical equivalent of this is called a one-to-one function. It "maps" all elements in bag 1 to all elements in bag2, with no element mapping to more than one result, and all elements having a mapping.
We can map all natural numbers to even integers with the 1-1 function "f(x) = 2*x" - thus we can pair every integer with a single even integer such that no element from either set is left out. The same is true for the Integers, rationals etc. These sets are usually called "countably infinite"

This is all a bit mind warping, but is a really fun concept to confuse people with. Various examples concerning infinite hotels exist to complicate the matter further. I remember emerging from that math lecture more than a little confused.

To get back to the original point - there is another category of infinity "larger" than the cardinality of the set of integers(aleph 0), equal to the cardinality of the Real Numbers(aleph 1) There is a supposition that there may exist other degrees of infinity between these (called the continuum hypothesis) but I think this is unproven either way.

[ Parent ]

Infinity doesn't work that way (3.00 / 1) (#106)
by alkaline on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:25:11 PM EST

Infinity is an abstract object that results as the solution to some equations. (as is "Not a Number") You can't "add one" to it. There are 2 types of infinity, though, that refer to the sizes of sets:

There's countable infinity, which means, you can enumerate the set. The most obvous example is the positive integers. In fact, the set of all integers is countable, as is the set of all rational numbers.

Then, there are uncountable infinities, which means there is no way to enumerate the set. Or, equivalently, if you define a relation that can be used to sort the set (such as "less than"), and pick any 2 members of the set, there will always be an element "between" the 2.

[ Parent ]
Please, god, no....... (2.33 / 6) (#63)
by n0mj121 on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 02:55:04 PM EST

AOL is the ISP for fools. Linux is the OS for people who can use a PC. Red Hat is a rather good distro. AOL is a heap of shite. Please let someone at Red Hat see that this is not good...

Data requested. (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by mjs on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 07:44:49 AM EST

You've made some interesting broad characterizations. Could you please provide reliable data supporting your assertions:

  • AOL is the ISP for fools.,
  • Linux is the OS for people who can use a PC. and
  • AOL is a heap of shite.

    Oodles of thanks,


    [ Parent ]

  • You've got Linux, Welcome! (3.00 / 1) (#64)
    by headlemur on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 03:03:02 PM EST

    You've got Linux, Welcome!

    According to a Single Source  unconfirmed, AOL is in talks to buy Red Hat, probably the most recognizable Linux company on the planet.

    Holy Panic, Pixelman! The last time I remember this much traffic about a single web issue was the Web Standards Project Upgrade Campaign. The comments range from the end of life as we know it, to this will get linux on the desktop for sure.

    AOL on Linux? Get Serious. Linux is an operating system for general purpose computing machines. It is beginning to receive acceptance as a serious contender not only on the individual level, but as a robust network level operating system. The applications that most people use on a computer are coming online now in Linux versions with the same growing pains that windows users suffered when they switched from DOS.

    AOL is nothing but propriatary software. From the browser itself, (built on the Internet Explorer core) the  image formats, mail services, instant messaging and all of the other components that make up the AOL universe. NO clearer indication of the clash of culture between Open vs Closed Source computing exists than the Mozilla Project. With AOL's purchase of Netscape, the Mozilla Project was underway. It didn't take long for the corporate culture to gut the core of the Mozilla Project. A lot of the best programmers left the project. It continues, but it's future is uncertain.

    Red Hat is a company attempting to make the Linux experience as painless as the Windows experience has become. Red Hat is a service company just like AOL. It packages components and sells service for them. Businesswise, this is an attractive match, as AOL would like nothing better than to be the Internet gateway for everyone on the planet at 20 bucks a month. Add Red Hat support for an additional fee of course and investors will weep with joy, business publications will profile these visionaries, and the face of personal computing will achieve a new level of world peace and understanding. Yeah Right!

    The average Linux user has a higher level of  geek than an average  Windows user. The last thing that Linux users would accept would be proprietary applications that were not able to be futzed with. The last thing AOL wants to do is allow anybody to futz with it's vision and software.  Just think back to every attempt to integrate other instant messaging with your AOL "buddys".

    I see this report as FUD from AOL to hammer Microsoft and it's MSN network.

    AOLServer is opensource (3.00 / 1) (#88)
    by galileo on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 05:56:31 AM EST

    In a previous article, I found the following statement
    AOL is nothing but propriatary software. From the browser itself, (built on the Internet Explorer core) the image formats, mail services, instant messaging and all of the other components that make up the AOL universe.
    That is not quite true and fair. Thanks to the effort of Philip Greenspun, the excellent webserver software was handed over to the open-source community in 1999. Here is the original C-net article. AOLserver is the backbone of the largest and busiest production environments in the world. AOLserver is a multithreaded, Tcl-enabled web server used for large scale, dynamic web sites. You may also check OpenACS, an open-source toolkit for building community-oriented websites and applications. OpenACS relies on AOLserver, among other things.

    [ Parent ]
    Sick of the Windows user bashing... (3.00 / 2) (#65)
    by guinsu on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 03:44:44 PM EST

    Why do people always post comments like when discussing Linx/Windows:

    Linux has made great progress over the years but there is still a long way to go before it becomes as convenient as Microsoft's Windows for the average technology-illiterate personal computer user.

    I choose to use Windows and guess what, I am not technologically illiterate. I don't use Windows b/c I am dumb, but that is the assumption every Linux article writer makes, that we are all still using windows b/c we are too fucking stupid to figure anything else out. Not true. I have been using computers for most of my life (got a C64 in 2nd grade, a PC in high school), I program for a living and am the sole develper at my own company.

    I use Windows b/c Linux is too much of a hassle for me, a techno geek and full time programmer, to want to deal with. I use Windows at home and on the servers at work. And I am sick of the lack of respect Linux advocates give people like me, assuming we are dumb and thats why we stick with Windows. There are those of us who are very comfortable with computers but in order to get our work done quickly and to actually enjoy working with computers, have found Windows to be the best fit.

    No (none / 0) (#68)
    by Zeram on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 04:36:53 PM EST

    you have it all wrong. They assume you are lazy and love having a serious lack of control over your OS, thats all.
    Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
    [ Parent ]
    and (none / 0) (#70)
    by senjiro on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 06:20:55 PM EST

    for those of us with any systems administration or security background, we assume that when you say something like

    >> '...and on the servers at work. '

    that you mean that your servers handle less than 5 hits a day, and are connected only to a private network that includes them, and perhaps a crossover cable.
    Either that or you employ 6-8 admins a year, half of which update the operating system weekly, and that your budget for those two servers is somewhere around $100K to keep them secured with a variety of network hoolabooloos. Or, you're just running all warez.

    We all make assumptions. That's great that windows is the best fit for you. However, I think that a pretty fair number of average users would gladly try something else, but they are intimidated. I speak from experience. "When are you going to install Linux for me? You're always going on about it" "As soon as I grow 4 more of me to support you" . The bottom line is, man, that most people are on windows, and don't know anything because windows doesn't make them, and they don't want to know.

    Bottom line: The assumption that _most_ people use windows because they are not technically savvy enough to try alternatives is valid.

    it is by will alone that i set my mind in motion
    [ Parent ]
    By that logic.. (none / 0) (#72)
    by DeadBaby on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 08:04:40 PM EST

    I can say most people drive cars because they're too stupid to ride a tri-cycle. The only fact I have to back it up is that most people have not tried using a tri-cycle as their main form of transportation.

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    [ Parent ]
    Oh Jebus (none / 0) (#73)
    by skim123 on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 08:31:14 PM EST

    ... and on the servers at work. that you mean that your servers handle less than 5 hits a day

    Please. You know that there are a plethora of large sites with insane traffic run Windows. Also, you can sign up with Microsoft to get security patches automagically downloaded to your server whenever they come out. (You are left to install them.) You're just trolling here.

    A lot of people use Windows because it has the software people want to use! I am using Netscape 4.crap right now in Linux - yes I can upgrade to Netscape 6.whatever or go to Mozilla, but I don't, because I am on Windows 95% of the time because Windows has the software I find easiest to use. Such as IE. Such as Office. Such as Visual Studio. This rings especially true for novices. Yes, they may like to try another OS (not that they give a care, IMO), but if you say, "Oh, BTW, you can no longer play the games you enjoy or use the software you enjoy (and have paid for)," how many do you think would be eager to move to Linux. No matter how easy it is to use.

    Windows is better than Linux, overall, IMO; Linux may be a more secure OS and allow for more control, and is a hell of a lot more fun to tinker with, but when it comes down to it I can get so much more done in lesser time with Windows because of the software library it supports. So there.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum

    [ Parent ]
    my severs (none / 0) (#80)
    by guinsu on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 01:20:54 AM EST

    Well, actually we get anywhere from 10,000-20,000 unique sessions a day (I forget how many hits that is exactly) and have peaked at 30,000. We run our mail, DNS, SQL database and web server all on Winodws 2000. Go check it out at www.dealcather.com if you like. And we built the machines ourself for a hell of a lot less than 100K and I share the admin responsibilites with one other person, neither of whom need to admin the machines full time. In 2 years of operation things have crashed, but mostly due to either quirky backup software, a bug in our mail server (imail, not exchange and its been ptached since) or a buggy firmware on the motherboard.

    And I did try Linux for a while, I wanted to give Apache a shot and do a second DNS server. After a few weeks of messing with it I decided Windows worked better for me.

    [ Parent ]
    url: dealcatcher.com (none / 0) (#81)
    by guinsu on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 01:23:33 AM EST

    its dealcatcher.com, i typed it wrong.

    [ Parent ]
    Blame that on MS... (none / 0) (#83)
    by The Amazing Idiot on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:12:24 AM EST

    I tried to do a similar thing using a 2k DNS server and BIND secondary server. They won't work well at all because Microsoft uses non-standard record types to store info in their DNS DB. Essentially, when a Zone Transfer occurs between the two, BIND can't recognise many of the records and BIND just throwns them out.
    I love standards... There's soo many to choose from.

    uhh... The Amazing Idiot

    [ Parent ]
    m$ (none / 0) (#100)
    by senjiro on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 10:29:56 AM EST

    That's great. How much did you pay for all that software/OS? My point is that I get more performance, less security headaches, and more stability at a fraction of the cost. Argue what you will about desktop, but linux is superior on the server market. Period. And for that post below that assumes I'm living in a whole and not knowing that tons of sites are running MS (albeit less than linux), it's not that I make that assumption, I assume that the sites runnign MS have paid WAY MORE than they have to for the same functionality.
    it is by will alone that i set my mind in motion
    [ Parent ]
    Linux bashing (4.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Chrisfs on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 10:38:25 PM EST

    >>Linux has made great progress over the years but there is still a long way to go before it becomes as convenient as Microsoft's Windows for the average technology-illiterate personal computer user. <<<br>
    Funny, I didn't take that as Windows bashing, but as Linux bashing.
    If you are comfortable with Windows, then keep using it
    but in response to your post
    What was the last distribution and version of Linux that you used (if ever)?
    Everywhere you go, you hear "Well, Linux is not as easy to use as Windows"
    This is crap !
    if you CHOOSE to run without a GUI or if you are talking about an older version, that was true, but now there's Mandrake and Suse Linux packages. Both are just as easy to install and use as Windows. Check out recent articles in the Register about exactly that subject. (www.theregister.co.uk) Note, they have stuff in different places and do some things differently than Windows, so they will be some transitioning and learning that you will need to do, but this is not due to any inherent lack of userfriendliness, just because they do things differently .
    If your defintions of "easy" is :
    Easy == Exactly like Windows,
    than no OS , not even the Mac OS could be called easy. But if easy means a clear and acessible layout of menus and features, then I can say with all honesty that Linux with a GUI (KDE, Gnome, IceWM take you pick !) is as easy as Windows

    [ Parent ]
    GNOME/KDE vs Windows (none / 0) (#108)
    by KnightStalker on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:36:33 PM EST

    If you limit yourself to what you can point-and-drool at in a default install of Mandrake or RH, then it may be as "easy" as Windows (that's a matter of opinion), but it's nowhere near as feature-rich or consistent.

    Example: I recently discovered that there's no way, in Gnumeric (1.0.1), to adjust the scale of printed output. There's a greyed-out box called "Print area" but no way to turn it on. I guess the developers are working on it.

    Another example is keyboard control. There are many things that are simply not possible to do from the keyboard in Gnome and KDE, or that work in strange ways. The tab-order in dialogs is often somewhat random, reflecting, I expect, the order the developer added them in the IDE. You don't find this to the same extent in Windows, which is almost 100% keyboardable.

    The default menus for Gnome and KDE also include lots of other useful apps that don't behave the same way as native Gnome/KDE apps. This is not necessarily a problem for you and me, but consistency is the most important aspect of usability.

    This sort of thing is of course always improving, and it doesn't apply, or it applies to a lesser extent, if you know what you're doing. I don't think there's anything that would prevent Aunt Betty from using the system, but there's a lot of little things that will be frustrating.

    If new users end up reading howtos, and digging deeper into the system, then it'll be a different story, but how many people have time to do that?

    [ Parent ]
    Try to get the best of all the worlds. (4.00 / 2) (#82)
    by The Amazing Idiot on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 01:55:42 AM EST

    First, in the linux community, DON'T ASSUME we're trying to insult you. You should know that many of us techies have problems 'sugar coating' stuff. We just say whatever and leave hurt feelings aside.

    As a little background of what kind of computers I have (and use on a daily basis): 1gHz Athalon running Win2k, 333mHz p2 running slackware Linux, and a Sparc 5 running solaris. I know most of the good's and bad's of each just by sheer usage.

    Win2k is stable as linux (when using registered drivers) and has superb gameplay when using downloaded corporate drivers. Bleeding edge net tools aren't usually on this platform, since it's easier to control raw transmission on Linux, but most software is found here. However, Office worries me, since that it rewrites the kernel (and adds about 2 mb), and of course the obvious that source isn't available to normal users. These computers are best used as workstations.

    Linux is very stable even running a heavy load (cpu intensive and lan intensive). The drivers are fairly complete (when compaired to Windows), yet there are still companies who won't issue linux drivers. Most LAN cards, Creative's products, and ATI's products are WELL supported. As a substitution platform for Win2k (eg: cost), Samba can take care of the Windows File Sharing Server. Apache is a rock-stable web server. On my home network, I need to use the GUI (XWindows) remotely, so I use VNC (www.research.att.co.uk) and have that set up so that I can 'VNC' into a login graphic similar to Win2k's. Be aware that this is very similar to a Windows2k solution to Citrix server/client. However, one of the most annoying traits of Linux is that there's a million-and-a-half distros, and each has thier own little idiosyncracies. Essentially, stick with one, and just practice with it. Overall, these computers are best suited to take the place of a WindowsNTServer(or 2k server).

    Solaris is kind of a neat platform. When running the standard install on their hardware platform, it is crash-proof. I took Nessus (a very good scanner suite for linux and windows, for free) and 'hit' it with every trick I could. Nothing. I then wrote a script to recursivly log in to telnet, hoping to kill resources.It just got a little more sluggish. These computers are 'hardened' against large amounts of users, and I mean in the range of thousands of users. Bad sides of this platform is that it is NOT x86 binary compatible. You must compile if said program is for linux and source. There's not much software tailored to this platform, except the commercial stuff. That's in to thousands of dollars.

    Quoth Guinsu:

    "And I am sick of the lack of respect Linux advocates give people like me, assuming we are dumb and thats why we stick with Windows."

    Dumb? For running linux for the sake of running linux? Well, that's understandable. How about not having to pay Windows Server liscenses? Would you call 'throwing money down the drain' dumb? I sure as hell would. Setting something like a Samba (windows file sharing server) is laughibly simple. And there's even a Web Administration Tool. You don't even have to touch that box after the meager installation. The only main tools that would justify keeping a Windows server is for ASP or MS-SQLserver.

    Main point in article: If you care about saving a decent amount of money, learn the very basic of linux as operating as a server.

    uhh... The Amazing Idiot

    [ Parent ]
    Keep it for ASP? (none / 0) (#105)
    by NicholasRP on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:19:16 PM EST

    Are you mad? check out http://www.apache-asp.org :) I am currently learning ASP and perl to redo the LUG's web pages. And I have it talking via DBD::ODBC to MySQL...There simply is NO point in keeping MS on the servers when all your windows l33to tools are available for free to the unix world. God even the unixODBC driver manager has a gui configurator...how easy does it get?!

    Friend: "Hey, Nick. What's this NIMDA thing on my computer?"
    [ Parent ]
    Didn't realise there was such a project. (none / 0) (#113)
    by The Amazing Idiot on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 12:04:17 AM EST

    I just saw your article, and thanks. I really didn't know that some reverse engineers were taking apart ASP.

    uhh... The Amazing Idiot

    [ Parent ]
    Group hug! (none / 0) (#90)
    by mjs on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 07:38:58 AM EST

    I choose to use Windows and guess what, I am not technologically illiterate.

    Nobody said that you were. The point being made was that the typical AOL user is not particularly technical (yes, of COURSE there are exceptions, I'm one of them.) The difference between a typical AOL user and a typical Linux user (if there can be said to be such things,) could not be more glaring simply because you have to be at least somewhat technical to successfully install and use Linux. If AOL/Time Warner has some kind of grandiose vision of trying to feed Linux to their vast legions of Windows users, they're going to have some real problems. Not because one is "better" than the other but rather because Linux and Windows don't, for the most part, serve the same group of users. People happy with Linux probably wouldn't be happy if they were forced to use Windows; likewise, those contented with Windows would object to being forced to use Linux. As someone who uses both I personally think that it boils down to an innate human resistance to change, but people are quite clever at constructing the most absurd chains of argument intended to definitively 'prove' the reasonableness, nay, absolute necessity, of their doing exactly what they want to do in the first place. se la vie.


    [ Parent ]

    Just what we needed! (1.66 / 3) (#66)
    by MightyTroll on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 03:51:32 PM EST

    Finally. Linux is saved. With a solid company such as AOL, with millions of users and the experience it has with running a business and generally adding quality to the internet in general, we can bring Linux to the masses again.

    With a beginners OS such as Lanux, and an online service such as AOL - the marriage of the two is expected increase the average computer user into a savvy, tech oriented, computer guru.

    New AOL9.0 Better than Ever! (4.25 / 4) (#71)
    by senjiro on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 06:28:13 PM EST

    Thank you for choosing AOL 9.0!

    Please wait while your system is updated.


    Press any key to reboot


    it is by will alone that i set my mind in motion
    I just had to! (1.60 / 5) (#74)
    by CmdrPizza on Sun Jan 20, 2002 at 09:20:21 PM EST

    To quote from the article on the Washington Post's site

    Red Hat makes its money by packaging Linux for commercial and consumer use and by providing services and support to customers who use it. The operating system itself is freely available on the Internet ? thanks to an initiative by a programmer named Linus Torvalds who organized volunteers to write the original source code. Unlike Microsoft, which does not fully divulge its code, the blueprints to Linux are available to anyone who agrees to make modifications publicly available.


    Linus Torvalds wrote the linux kernel, Red Hat packages a GNU/Linux (often abreviated to simply "Linux") system of which the kernel is only a part, other major parts are comprised of software written by the Free Software Foundation, and software written by other projects/people.

    aaahhhh... I just had to get that off my chest.

    p.s. Please don't quote esr's definition of "Linux". You can probably guess already what I think of those "Open Source" people. :-)

    Content protection (3.66 / 3) (#77)
    by Weezul on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 12:17:32 AM EST

    They could just want to get content protection into the biggest Linux distribution. I don't know why they would care since Linux is such a small part of the desktop market and tehy need to pass laws for it anyway, but it's worth mentioning.

    "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
    RobLimo thinks AOL buying RedHat would be good (4.00 / 1) (#78)
    by skim123 on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 12:27:23 AM EST

    In an editorial, Robin Miller (do you find him attractive?), argues that AOL buying Red Hat would be a Good Thing. It seems that his major point is that the Red Hat purchase would take a chink out of Microsoft's browser dominance, reducing the pseudo-Web developers who use FrontPage, etc. Of course one might assume that this would have happened when AOL bought Netscape (as one alert commenter to the editorial pointed out).

    Personally I think Rob has it dead wrong here. As many folks before here and on /. have mentioned, no novice user wants to install an OS. People just want their Operating System there running on their computer when they buy it. If it weren't for the media coverage Microsoft gets, your average computer user wouldn't have the faintest idea what an operating system was.

    Furthermore, Linux is a crappy subsitute for a desktop for novice users who already have a core set of Windows-specific software applications they have become quite accustomed to (games, their word processor of choice, their email client of choice, their browser of choice, etc.)

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum

    Also.. (none / 0) (#98)
    by DeadBaby on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 10:04:19 AM EST

    The main reason people use AOL is because they're set in their ways. Their friends use it, their family uses it, it comes with their new computer, they pay about $5-$10 more per month so they can use it over a standard dialup ISP. Why?

    Becuase they're set in their ways. AOL could cost $40 a month for dialup and most people would stay with it. It's familar. Why in the world would we expect those people to switch to something else when they already have a working OS?

    Security and stablity and all those other Linux myths aren't nearly enough to force a change, even if they were true.

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    [ Parent ]
    Questionable Motives (4.00 / 1) (#79)
    by spacefrog on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 12:56:04 AM EST

    While I have to admit that having somebody the size of AOL pushing Linux sounds very tempting at first, I for one have to seriously question AOLTW's real motivations in this.

    If it's a Linux distribution that they want, there are far easier and cheaper ways to come to that end then to buy RedHat. Even if they wanted something RedHat-based, there is nothing other than logistics to stop them from shipping it next week. Buying the company is the most expensive way to get the "AOL Linux Powered by RedHat" that I can think of.

    I don't think they would be doing it to acquire people with Linux expertise. With the boom-bust that the Linux "industry" has undergone, I don't think hiring a bunch of talented Linux geeks would be all that difficult. Come on, VA alone has laid-off how many people?

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that the GPL has never been challenged in court and is thus considered somewhat legally dubious.

    AOLTW has undoubtedly one of the largest collections of intellectual property lawyers yet amassed in the civilized world.

    We are talking about the same corporate mentality that dispatched the legal department to go after 12-year-olds running Harry Potter fan sites.

    I just don't see AOLTW fighting to uphold an open-source license, quite to the contrary.

    Gobbling up the largest and most visible player is simply the beginning.

    The pros and cons of a RH/AOL merger (none / 0) (#99)
    by jd on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 10:10:43 AM EST

    First the cons:

    Well, most of the Red Hat customers will have been well and truly conned. AOL understands the concept of freedom about as well as it understands the concept of humility. Expect many MANY GPL violations, should this come to pass.

    Secondly, there is very little evidence that AOL considers this move as anything other than strategic. In other words, Red Hat, et al, are merely expendable pawns in this chess game. AOL just happens to need that particular pawn to be in a particular square, right now. But don't assume it won't sacrifice it, later in the game.

    The pros:

    Uhhhhhhhhh. None.

    What you say????? (1.33 / 3) (#102)
    by Bob Abooey on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 12:06:05 PM EST

    Linux's inherent power is well known, as is its narrow-minded pickiness and rather clumsy desktop/user interface.

    Here I go, picking a nit...

    LINUX IS A KERNEL. LINUX IS A KERNEL. Linux doesn't have an desktop/user interface. It's a kernel. You can put whatever desktop/user interface you want on top of it[1].

    Now then, it might be your opinion that all the window managers/desktop environments available for Linux are clumsy, but there are many users who would disagree with you. In fact given that most of the "many choices"[1] available for a desktop option focus on configurability[1] one would be hard pressed not to be able to cook up something that meets there needs, in an elegant simple fashion if that is what one wishes to do. But alas, all this is actually a moot point because AOL isn't discussing the purchase of Linux[tm] (remember, LINUX IS A KERNEL) or or any of the desktop environments[1], they are looking into purchasing a company who makes a popular distribution of Linux. Quite a horse of different color.

    Now then, WRT your narrow-minded pickiness remark... uh.. even I can't quite figure out what you are babbling on about. Perhaps you would like to expound on your thought process there so I can complete the picking of my nit with you.

    [1] In the traditional capitalist free market, choices are typically considered a good thing for consumers

    America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about ki

    Nit Picking: Coming to PBS in March! (none / 0) (#107)
    by mjs on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:28:49 PM EST

    I'm gonna do these in reverse order, 'cause it's Backwards Day! Or so my kids tell me, lounging about at home because school is closed. Work? No, work isn't closed. Work never closes, damn their evil plots...

    Perhaps you would like to expound on your thought process there so I can complete the picking of my nit with you.

    Thought processes? Thought processes? I think I see your problem: you assumed that I was thinking. No offense: it's a common mistake, easily made. Actually, I was just babbling, as you so perceptively noticed. Still, I never was one to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of such a thoroughly modern sport as nit picking, so here goes...

    Let me paint a mental picture here. An average AOL user is sitting at his dining room table in front of his brand-new e-Machine computer just unpacked from the trip home from Best Buy. (Or it could be an HP, just home from Wal-Mart. Same thing, really.)

    All of the cables are color coded in soothing pastels. Why is that? Because pastel colors have been proven to calm users frustrated by the challenges of attaching at least three cables to their respective sockets, all of which have unique connectors which not only can't be plugged into the wrong sockets, they also can't be plugged in backwards, upside down, or sideways.

    Eventually the system boots, its first and final act of usefulness before being set out in the garage with the microwave oven (carefully wrapped in aluminum foil to keep the microwaves from leaking out and making the cat lose all its fur. Ever see a naked cat? Unnatural, I say.) and the VCR with black electical tape over the clock blinking its eternal "12:00". Why is the computer banished to the haven of future garage sale bargains, you may ask? Because of that first, infuriating display, generated by the Lilo bootloader. "Boot?" Type 'Yes' and see what happens. Hmm. How about "Yes, damnit!". Nope, that doesn't work too well, either. Other responses are attempted, none of which can be reported verbatim in a family forum but many of which can be approximated using the time-proven all-American wholesome placeholders, "#@*!" and of course the ever-popular "%".

    How about your average config file, where fields often must be separated by the correct number of spaces. Unless that particular file requires tabs, of course. We won't even get into the quotes thing. Good thing all those config files are stored in the same directory so they're easy to find, eh? Not to mention exhaustive use of easy to remember keystroke combinations, such as CTRL-A-W or the even easier to recall ".". I can just see the typical AOL user trying to exit VIM... No, wait: emacs. Yes, emacs: that would be fun. How else are you going to get them to diddle with all those configuration files? Pico? :)

    your opinion

    Why yes, thank you for remembering. The whole thing was my opinion, actually. I can't recall having ever promised not to lie to you. Heck, I never even promised not to lie to my kids (endless source of entertainment, actually. Their fresh young faces returning home from that first day of school, the first hints of betrayal in their eyes. *sigh* Oh, the happy memories...) Where was I? Oh, right.

    So, the eager new AOL user fiddles with the desktop widgets and thingies and has a problem. Who ya gonna call?

  • "Hello, AOL support. How can I help you?" (You know this is fiction, right? Having gotten to a real live tech support person at AOL should have been a big hint.)
  • "Umm, yeah. How do I start the internet thing?"
  • "What operating system are you using, sir?"
  • "What? Oh, it's an e-machine. Or maybe HP."
  • ...
  • "No, sir: I don't care how many yard gnomes your wife has planted in the front yard. I'm talking about Gnome, the desktop. What's that? No, sir: you can't buy Lord of the Rings clothes for it and you don't have to bring it in out of the rain. Sir, let me get my supervisor: it's time for my Tylenol break..."

    Here's another opinion: choice is for people who give a sh!t. The average AOL user does not give a sh!t about anything but getting their e-mail, shopping on e-bay, and scarfing up as much e-porn as their little hard drives can handle (God, I love double entendre!) Sweeping generalizations, I know, and I'm not unconscious of the irony in using it having just this morning given someone (mild) heck for doing the same dratted thing but doggone it, I'm at work, the kids are home having fun without me, and I'm pissed! Giving people choice is fine so long as you remember that one of the choices should be "I don't want to make any choices. Just do it!". Linux has yet to recognize that philosophy.


    *grin* I know. I love setting people off by shortcutting references like that. Actually, I figured I'd get at least one "It's GNU/Linux, dummy!" comment but I haven't seen that one yet. I get the giggles just thinking about it.

    Ok, I knew that. Technically Gnu/Linux is the Linux kernal wrapped 'round about with thick swaddling layers of Gnu utilites, etc. It's too long to type, frankly: haven't you people ever heard of Repetitive Strain Injuries, carpal tunnel, that sort of thing? I'll bet that when you refer to the COBOL programming language you don't say, "Common Business Oriented Language", do you? Come on, admit it: you call it COBOL. Along with various additional epithets unprintable in a family forum (see above. 'way, way above.) We all take shortcuts, this in mine. Got me there in half the time, too. Know what's even more fun? I've heard that BSD is better than Linux... :)



    [ Parent ]

  • Earth? Do you live on planet Earth? (none / 0) (#109)
    by Bob Abooey on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 04:21:59 PM EST

    Well, for someone who is concerned about getting RSI you sure do type a lot. Ahem.

    Let me paint a mental picture here. An average AOL user is sitting at his dining room table in front of his brand-new e-Machine computer just unpacked from the trip home from Best Buy. <Great big snip>

    Let me stop you right there. The whole AOL is considering the purchase of RedHat story has some interesting angles but your making a great big leap of faith if you imagine AOL would simply package the latest RH distro with the cool AOL logo on an eMachine. Silly is the word that comes to my mind. Are you trolling here? Cause you know, that's not allowed on this site.

    Because of that first, infuriating display, generated by the Lilo bootloader. "Boot?" Type 'Yes' and see what happens. Hmm. How about "Yes, damnit!".

    Hrmmmmm. Are you one of those iMac users?

    So, that's what your deluded reference to your narrow-minded pickiness was all about. Well, of course even though this is a moot point I'll address it. You don't see the lilo prompt unless you want to. Linux boots up in any fashion you want it to, including right up to a graphical login screen if you're coming from the Mac world. And WRT editing config files with VI or Emacs that's silly again. Oh say, I would ask you what you recommend for Windows users to use when they are editing the registry... heh.. how many AOL users even know what a hex code is. Heh. But alas, that is fairly beside the point because that's not the issue here, is it? However if you wish to debate the merits of a real OS like a *nix and a nintendo OS like windows I shall be happy to take you to task at a future date.

    Lets say that this great big conglomerate AOLTW wants to make a cool little all-in-one computer that is catered towards the the simple-minded low IQ market, the one currently targeted by Apple. It's fairly obvious that the current state of Linux on the desktop will not work, for whatever reason. (I think that's what you were trying to say in your misguided way, so I'll cut you some slack here) So perhaps they want to build an uber-AOL internet device or something. Starting with a linux kernel and the knowledge of those RedHat guys would be pretty good, technically speaking. Eh? Then you take all the marketing saavy of those AOL noodnicks, put a nice dress on it, then attack their huge user base and who knows....

    Now just cut it out, okay?

    America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about ki
    [ Parent ]

    Why'd y'all name your planet "dirt", any (none / 0) (#111)
    by mjs on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 08:07:54 PM EST

    Now just cut it out, okay?

    Ok. BTW, I've still got a '386 running Slackware with a 1.2-something kernel. My First Linux Box. I just keep it for sentimental reasons... and it makes a passable firewall to keep the kids out of my machine on our household network. :)

    [ Parent ]

    Top 11 Reasons AOL is Wanting to Buy RedHat (2.00 / 1) (#103)
    by skim123 on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 01:01:06 PM EST

    Check out BBSpot.com's Top 11 Reasons AOL Wants to Buy Red Hat. Some of the funnier ones are:

    10. Fears Red Hat may use its monopoly of the 12 Linux using AOL subscribers against it to keep it off the KDE desktop
    -and- 3. Because Red Hat said they would give them the source code to Linux if AOL Time Warner purchased them

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum

    Hey, Can We do a Test Distro? (none / 0) (#104)
    by courtfive on Mon Jan 21, 2002 at 02:05:54 PM EST

    Why not have AOL distribute a test distribution with AOL and Linux mixed together. If they work well, maybe we'll let them buy the company. (Not that I have any right to use the royal 'we'.)

    IBM (none / 0) (#114)
    by gawi on Tue Jan 22, 2002 at 01:59:52 PM EST

    I've under the impression that IBM would also be interested in acquiring RedHat. I wish...

    AOL/Time Warner to buy Red Hat? | 115 comments (114 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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