February 17, 2019

The StartX Files: The Linux Uncertainty Principle

In Which The Author Tells Doomsayers To Go Jump in a Lake

  • May 22, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

This is not the first column I wrote for this week, which should tell you something right away.

Looking out from the LinuxPlanet bullpen it looks like this incredible frenzy has swept through the Linux community, crippling anyone and everyone it touches.

"Look out!" we cry, "another barrage from Craig Mundie! Oh, heavens, what will we do?"

Or (my personal favorite): "Company X is gone/acquired/laying people off, the end of Linux is coming!"

Tomorrow it'll be something other thing to whip ourselves into a frenzy about.

I know I have been advocating calm, reasoned responses to all of these crises, so we don't trip up over our own panic. But people, enough is enough!

If it makes anybody feel any better, here's my gut reply to Craig Mundie: you can beat on the GPL all you want, sir. And you can try to co-opt it for your company's use. But the GPL is not going anywhere. It's too elegant, it's too efficient, and it's too powerful a license to just roll over and die just because you want it to. So get over yourself.

I know, not very calm, but I thought if I got it off on behalf of the community, we might be able to move on. I know I will.

As for all of the corporate crashes and mishaps of late, this is what most concerns me. Not that any of these events taken individually or as a whole will lead to the demise of Linux. They cannot, because Linux the kernel started as a community effort and it will live on, if worse comes to worst, as a community effort. This is the big difference from OS/2, because that operating system was initially a corporate effort and once that disappeared, it was too much weight for the valiant community effort that surrounded OS/2 to bear.

No, Linux is not dead, nor will it ever truly go away.

But Linux can fail to succeed, which in many circles is just as bad.

It all comes down to this: all of the doom 'n gloom surrounding Linux these days is going to distract us from putting our best efforts into the implementation of this operating system. It's ridiculous to even worry about this stuff. Linux will still be here tomorrow for us to code, test, use, document, or kibbitz about.

Now if we can only figure out what the hell we want to do with it.

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