London bus syndrome I guess…

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Saturday January 19 11:43 PM ET

AOL in Talks to Buy Linux Distributor Red Hat
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Media and Internet titan AOL Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:AOL – news) is in negotiations to acquire Red Hat Inc.(Nasdaq:RHAT – news), a distributor of the alternative computer operating system Linux (news – web sites), the Washington Post reported citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter.

The talks were fluid and it was unclear how much AOL, which runs the biggest U.S. Internet service provider and the second-largest U.S. cable television system, would pay for Red Hat, the newspaper said.

Red Hat is the leading distributor of Linux, which unlike software such as rival Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq:MSFT – news) Windows operating system, is an “open source” platform that anyone can change to suit their needs.

Spokespeople for the three companies declined to comment on the negotiations, the newspaper reported.

Linux has gained growing favor with businesses, especially to power the heavy-duty server computers that dish up Web pages and run corporate networks.
The attempted acquisition is the latest indication that AOL is seeking alternative software to that made by rival Microsoft, the maker of Windows which runs 90 percent of the world’s personal computers, the Washington Post said.

To counter Microsoft, AOL could couple its Internet service with Red Hat’s operating system technology and could be configured to override Windows while launching a version of Linux, sources told the newspaper.

The geeks and nerds gather to get their hands on OS X
Chris Gulker
21 January 2002

They’re the geeks, the dweebs, the nerds. They’re sporting greying ponytails and bald spots, sandals and sneakers, thick eyeglasses in unfashionable frames, Linux PDAs and BlackBerry pagers. The scene was San Francisco, where I stood in a mobbed Moscone Convention Center, sallow cheek by unshaven jowl with this scruffy crew.

It’s not that a bunch of hardcore geeks is anything new in my life; indeed, I’m proud to count myself among those who’ve curled up with 900-page tomes with titles such as Linux Unleashed and DNS and BIND (3rd edition).

And these guys are hardly strangers to Moscone, where events like Linuxworld and the Bluetooth Developers’ Conference are routinely held.

It’s just that the event in question was Macworld San Francisco, the western version of Apple’s two annual high holy events. (The eastern version is in New York, mid-year.) And while the Macintosh can claim its own nerdly community, it tends to attract a crowd that’s more Picasso than Einstein.

The Macworld regulars, sporting expensive suites and coiffures, edgy body jewellery and expensive leather, even tie-dye tops and ragged jeans, surround these hardcore geeks like girl scouts at a Taliban convention. It’s weird, it’s, uh, almost unholy.

What brings them together is an operating system: Apple’s new Mac OS X. The nerdly are here to grok (absorb) OS X’s BSD underpinnings (BSD: a free UNIX clone that will run most of the stuff written for Linux, the other, if more famous, free UNIX clone).

The good-hygiene set is here to inspect the radical, if super-hyped, new iMac, and maybe learn how to do snappier computer graphics and whizzier special effects, the Mac’s forte.

I have a foot in both camps: I became a lifelong Mac user while a photographer and layout editor at a San Francisco daily newspaper. Since my rebirth as a hi-tech start-up foot soldier, I’ve gone so far as to build Linux machines from scratch, for fun.

One Linux commentator, Doc Searls, noted this new union in a recent Linux Journal piece. Slashdot, the do-it-yourself web-site-of-record of the open source movement, posted a report from the floor of Macworld, and has run 30 items about Apple and OS X in the past 90 days.

A number of open source heavies are weathering the start-up nuclear winter with jobs as Apple engineers, including recent hire Bud Tribble, a highly-respected Silicon Valley computer scientist. His last billet was at Eazel, a Linux start-up that was one of the brightest stars in the once-blazing start-up constellation.

Eazel was at Apple before, with chief exec Steve Jobs, and left to co-found NeXT Computer with Jobs; OS X is largely built on NeXT’s operating system.

Eazel wasn’t the usual hype-fuelled it wanted to make, and had the people who knew how to make, the software that would make cheap PC clones both powerful and easy to use by making Linux user-friendly.

For everyone in the Valley knows that Linux puts the planet’s most widespread operating system to complete and utter technical shame: it’s fast, crash-proof and completely immune to the full spectrum of Windows virus pathology.

What Linux isn’t, is easy to use. You think Windows isn’t easy to use? Then trust me, if Windows is high-school algebra, Linux is post-doctoral theoretical physics.

Eazel was going to make the programs that would make Linux easy. Then last May it ran out of cash and shut its doors.

Enter almost simultaneously (well, March) Mac OS X. Suddenly, Unix that’s easy came in sight. Last year, it took me a weekend to set up a Linux firewall. I had to type a very long recipe, gleaned from a Linux HOW-TO website to make it go. I recently set up a rather more sophisticated firewall on Mac OS X in 15 minutes, using point-and-click. The underlying technology is identical; it was just easier on the Mac.

Apple has managed to make “easy” powerful, more quickly than open sourcers made “powerful” easy. Geeks like it, artists like it. Whither the “rest of us”?

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