RE: Open source, closed networks (Aug. 29 2001)
I’ve read several of your editorials for ITBusiness.ca and generally find them to be provocative and well thought out. I was surprised, though, when I read “Open source, closed networks” as it seemed, well, silly.
You state in the article that “Linux needs credibility.” So I have to wonder then, how so? Does IBM’s investment of $1 billion this year in its various Linux initiatives not give Linux credibility? How about commitments by major software manufacturers like Oracle, Borland, Corel and the aforementioned IBM? Would the development of a secure version of Linux by the National Security Agency in the United States not lend an air of credibility to the OS? I could go on, but I would hope that you get the point.
Your article seems to suggest that because Linux is driven by a grassroots-style movement, it has little chance of success in the corporate space. What you fail to recall, though, is that the success of personal computers is also the result of a similar grassroots movement (perhaps best embodied by the success of Apple founders Jobs and Wozniak). Frankly, I find the speed with which Linux use is spreading, both in corporate and educational circles, very impressive indeed.
I have a friend who works for government in network server support. He says that many of the software programs developed for the Unix servers are developed on Linux but not run on Linux. The development tools are available, open and have lots of community support. The Linux platform is used for development by big organizations. The smaller ones use it for every thing.
As I’m sure you’re aware, major vendors of other Unix products as well as Microsoft with Windows NT do not have any accountability for their products either. How many crashing, shoddy products have they brought out over the years? How many times have clients successfully got what they want from those companies? Those companies give the client a license agreement with no liability clauses — the same as Linux. So, with a ‘commercial’ *nix operating system, I have no recourse when my system doesn’t work properly, just like Linux.
The major point here is that as a system administrator who writes C code, I can fix or analyse problems in Linux myself. I have done so on several occasions already — especially other vendors’ driver code that gets merged into the kernel. You also fail to point out that major *nix vendors are now selling machines with Linux on them and are porting major features over to Linux (such as SGI’s xfs and kernel profiler/debugger projects). IBM, SGI and SCO are all doing significant Linux work alongside RedHat and others.
The accountability you desire from Linux doesn’t exist outside the Linux community either — it is a farce to believe that Microsoft’s support is any different for Windows NT than RedHat’s is for their Linux distribution — but at least with the Linux community, there is some hope of peer review and assistance that cannot happen in a closed-source OS like Windows 2000.
Michael T. Babcock
I had to read your entire column front-to-back to try and understand how you came to your conclusions.
Besides the obvious technical improvements Linux brings to the table, I just want to touch on the business side a bit. What you present in your column represents a long-held sentiment where the business community was grappling with the use of Linux in its infrastructure. A lot has changed in the past couple of years. Some would say Linux has come of age. I don’t feel it is necessary for me to debate the merits and reasons why Linux fits very well into business. Suffice it to say that it does.
Your column reflects a misunderstanding of the industry and you are not doing your readers a service by publishing articles that are not representative of the industry at-large.
We had VMS and Novell installed as core servers years ago. Movement away from that old base to Unix/NT/Linux was a natural progression. We have been using Linux “above-the-table” across Canada with full support of management for years. It now represents a core technology implementation that has brought us the ability to deploy solutions quickly with robustness and stability — it is certain to say that Linux excels in the server arena.
Company name withheld by request
RE: What I learned on my summer vacation (Aug. 27 2001)
It would be good if you got all of your information straight on the separation of NexInnovations and EDS Canada straight. NexInnovations, formerly EDS Innovations, formerly Computer Innovations, is primarily a distributor and integrator of computer hardware, as well as a provider of integration and hardware maintenance services. This unit formed a small part of the total acquisition of Systemhouse by EDS, which included major data centres in Calgary and Ottawa, along with extensive operations in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. EDS Canada almost doubled in size with the acquisition and retains over half of the Canadian value (total revenue), and two thirds of the staff.
To characterize the management buy-out of the NexInnovations unit as the failure of the integration of Systemhouse into EDS does a grave disservice to the ranks of former Systemhouse employees who have added to the depth and breadth of EDS.
David C. Woelfle
Chief Architect for Core Infrastructure
RE: The slippery slope toward . . . nationalization? (Aug. 24 2001)
Dave Webb’s recent column was a little unsettling – private industry advocating government ownership (even monopoly)? He obviously has forgotten what it is like when the government owns the telco (as they do in Saskatchewan). His argument that government can do it better, or care more about service levels just doesn’t hold true in real life, although it sounds nice in print. Government run anything tends to be bloated, inefficient, and self-serving. Without competition, there is no incentive to improve, offer new technology, or charge lower prices.
The other problem with his analysis of the situation in California. What happened there was partial deregulation – the supply side was deregulated (companies could sell power to distributors at any price the market would bear), but the demand side was left regulated by the state (government enforced price ceilings for consumers). The result was huge losses by power companies, less investment in new power facilities, ever increasing consumer demand, and supply that did not increase accordingly. A better example is Pennsylvania or Maryland, where power deregulation has been a success, both for the consumer and the suppliers.
I completely agree with Dave Webb’s column. I have always maintained the same notion — that stability and availability (government run) are in some cases more important than profit (business run).
The problem with capitalism is that unless it is controlled by the government (a democracy for the people and by the people) it must eventually take over everything and then self-destruct, taking us with it. Other non-democratic systems have their own problems, which is a book unto itself. Personally I prefer democracy over any thing else (rather than capitalism over democracy).
Can you imagine what would happen if the government privatized everything it now did?
CIS Systems Administrator
Health Sciences Centre
RE: Is big brother in your address book? (Aug. 21 2001)
How different is this from my early business career when all mail which came in to or went out of my desk was routed through the manager to whom I reported?
Part of me says that the employer has the right to know what goes on but if employers do this behind the backs of employees there will be no trust and the business will suffer. If employers do it and tell employees then every piece of correspondence will be crafted very carefully which could slow down business processes or encourage some to go back to memo- and letter-writing and meeting at the watercooler. Then we have to decide which is worse.
Of course I could be sharply rebuked for using my work computer and e-mail to write this comment!
The fundamental point is: Does anyone have the right to censor another?
Insurance and Risk Management Officer
Government of Yukon
RE: ITI’s hard lesson (Aug. 17 2001)
I have been in the industry for sixteen years now and most of the job involves dealing with difficult end users, missed deadlines and cancelled projects. I have seen only one project to completion and that was with Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown and even that one was tough. I guess what goes around, comes around. I have worked with ITI grads in the past while contracting with DMR in Ottawa. These were early grads who paid $10,000 and not the $22,000 I believe they were charging near the end.
Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and company name along with an e-mail address or other contact information. All letters become the property of ITBusiness.ca. Editors reserve the right to edit submissions for length and content.