[linux-elitists] Are we Dead Yet? (or "For every sprinkle I find, I shall kill you!)

Phil Mayers p.mayers@imperial.ac.uk
Fri Jan 21 00:57:15 PST 2005

On Thu, Jan 20, 2005 at 09:34:21AM -0500, Greg Folkert wrote:
>I am just wondering how other list members felt about 2004.

[Hmm - message rejected by filter match, I was under the impression 
Thunderbird was Free. Oh well]

Pretty good, though some of these are a bit nebulous and some even 
contentious to "power users" (Gnome? :o). And obviously it's from my 
personal PoV and thus does not mention e.g. the good progress the *BSDs 
have been making

o) 2.6 kernel with some very useful stuff (udev+hotplug, sysfs, better 
power management, better IPv6, IPSec, SElinux) and the first round of 
2.6-based distros (see below).

o) Ongoing maturity of desktops (Gnome, KDE, XFCE as the primary trio) 
and the applications (OpenOffice became useful, Firefox and Thunderbird 
to 1.0, Evolution and the Exchange Connector being FOSS)

In particular, the freedesktop.org portfolio including thing like HAL 
and interoperable session management

o) Early progress in some promising directions e.g. desktop search - 
Beagle/Dashboard, it's Mono dependency aside; and Mono itself, which is 
less of a conflicting viewpoint than it might seem.

o) Strong progress in some server environments such as Apache, 
mod_LANGUAGE, general Perl/Python/PHP progress, Zope, Twisted, etc.

o) People started to realise that ActiveX and so forth were a really, 
really bad idea, and thus that locking into an IE solution was worse 
than worthless, it was actively harmful

o) Related, the rise of very credible XMLHttpRequest-based webapps like 
gmail, google autocomplete, etc. - and frameworks to implement such like 
mod_pubsub, Twisted's nevow+LivePage (check out the chatola sample 
application - it's a *sample* and in some ways more promising than 
thick-client IM systems!)

o) Again related, the web standards wrangling is more or less over for 
the current generation. XHTML+DOM+CSS is finally a credible platform to 
implement serious applications on, and if the SVG folks can correct 
their mis-steps, we're gold. Care is needed to not be surprised by XAML 
or whatever, but for the moment I'm pleased.

And most amazing of all

o) In stark contrast to a couple of years ago, time-to-crack for an 
average Unix system went up to 3 months (I'd seen instances of 20 
minutes ~2000/2001), while that for XP dropped into the single-digit 
minutes range. Partly of course that's based on economies of scale for 
the new, organised cracking botnet "salesmen", but bear in mind: For 
that period both Windows and Unix systems have been fixing bugs, but one 
has got better, the other worse

Less obvious happenings include the progress on Xen and virtualisation 
in general; recent results showing 2.6 scalability to 64 cores for some 
workloads; various vendors shipping not just FOSS-based solutions, but 
solutions that aren't crippleware e.g. you *can* access and modify the 
underlying systems, and warranty aside are often encouraged to do so.

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