Maddog Weighs In on

By Craig Newell  |  Posted 2003-08-07 Print this article Print

SCO-Linux Dispute"> eWEEK: Whats your take on the ongoing situation with SCO and Linux? Hall: As long as it was between IBM and SCO, there wasnt much anyone could do. Nobody knew what the contract was that IBM and SCO had, so basically people didnt want to do anything because they didnt want to upset IBMs case. But now SCO has taken a further step and theyre going after end users. This changes the entire complexity of the case.
eWEEK: What do you think the biggest growth area is for Linux? Hall: It makes a difference whether youre saying units or dollars. Embedded is huge, and its only going to grow as prices for hardware drop. As Wi-Fi comes in and Bluetooth gains credibility, all of a sudden youll find that microprocessors are going to literally be every place…Thats going to be a huge area, and it doesnt do you any good to have a cheap processor if you need a $29 operating system Then of course the desktop is interesting. Theres only 500 million desktop systems, and theres 6 billion people. This means that 5.5 billion havent selected their OS. Its true that 40 percent of these people will die without ever having made a telephone call, but their governments are trying to figure out how to bring them information, education, stuff like that, and theyre looking to open-source software to do that. Thats one reason why Im going to Peru, to talk about that, [as well as to] Eastern Europe, Asia and Chicago. I guess probably the dullest, most boring part is the small- to mid-range servers. IDC says [ open source ] already [ accounts for [ one-third the shipments of those, and its growing. Supercomputing is interesting, and Beowulf is involved with that. Id like to see every high school teach how to program on that. Im typically interested in the very small and the very large. Im used to programs that ... couldnt afford to be down. Where you start something and three weeks later its still running. How do you make a program that takes 10 hours run in three minutes? I think theres a lot of stuff we can teach students in high school, so by the time theyre in college theyre ready for the really advanced stuff. Open-source software is perfect for that. eWEEK: Where do you think Linux will be in 5 years? Hall: This is why I hate predicting the future. I take the year the Web and Mosaic came out; if you asked someone about the future a year before that came out, they wouldnt have a clue. I think the type of thing like molecular computing, where the switches are down to a molecule, is interesting. Accessing it is another story. How do you find your favorite MP3 on that? Im hoping Linux and commodity hardware will reduce the cost of communications even more, or allow the telephone companies to make a profit and stay in business. If that happens we may see even greater uses of videoconferencing so you can see and talk to your girlfriend over the Internet for a reasonable price. I hope in the next five years we straighten out some of these legal issues we have around the exchange of information. I hope people realize that theres a whole bunch of people who represent the bulk of people, and then theres a small group who, through their own greed, just wants to make even more money. Some of the laws that are being passed are to the detriment of many for the greed of the few. We also have to recognize some industries disappear after a while. Look at the steam car or buggy whip makers. The fact that some people are trying to keep these industries alive via legislative means may not be for the benefit of everybody. What would happen if the distribution costs became so low that an artist just set up a server with a T-3 in their home? Use PayPal to buy it, so what does the music industry become? The only thing they would do is marketing. All of the sudden the shoe is back on the other foot, where it belongs—on the artist, not the music industry. This may be the way things have to change. The same may be true of proprietary software makers. It will be a business of merit.


Craig Newell joined Ziff Davis Internet as Associate Editor in June 2003.

Prior to that, he served as a freelance editor for Ziff Davis.

Newell began his reporting at BetaNews, a site dedicated to news surrounding pre-release software.

In 2001, he joined Ziff Davis' eWEEK as a freelance reporter covering America Online Inc. where he broke several important stories including unreleased details on America Online's software client. He has also served as an online community producer for and worked on MSNBC's daytime news programming.


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