Linux and growth of Internet

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Thu Jan 13 13:20:17 2005

On Thu, 13 Jan 2005, Steven M Jones wrote:

> Where to start... I disagree about the growth of the Internet not
> being possible without Linux. It would have been different, perhaps,

Well, if I'd made such a bold claim ("not possible") I would be on shaky
ground. But what I said was "the adoption of the internet by the public
at large would have been a lot longer incoming" and then explained why I
feel this.

> but I honestly don't think it would have changed enough to surprise
> someone who popped into a Linux-less parallel universe as regards
> email and the Internet. Might have changed a lot more regarding the
> popularity of open source software, but that's a different
> discussion.

But was not Linux another major driving influence behind FOSS? Would FOSS
even have that fancy acronym today were it not for Linux? Stallman and
friends weren't really making much headway until Linux came about.
Perhaps this has to do with Torvalds being a much better spokesman for
the concept of FOSS?

> I think that the growth of email and the Internet in everyday life
> rode two big trends. One is the rise of CompuServe and AOL, which
> I'll leave for another discussion. The second was the rise of small

And which were closed, proprietary online services which eventually
transformed into Internet gateways only after the Internet had "arrived"
at the mainstream. Sure, once they adopted e-mail gateways to the
Internet they helped prepare the phenomenon, but they were really only
facilitators to a movement that was already underway. They had to adapt
or be swept under the current. At this point, AOL is simply an ISP that
happens to also be a content provider. What would be interesting to know
is whether their content offers anything more than what the greater
Internet doesn't. I doubt it. I seem to remember around 1998 or so that
AOL became obsolete as an information provider, as everything you use to
only be able to get from AOL was now available (in some cases for free)
from the greater Internet. But I digress.

> You want a technical change to point to? I'd point to TCP/IP coming
> to Windows and the Mac. (Yes it had started much earlier, but it was
> now getting easier and more reliable.) I'd point to terminal servers
> getting good SLIP/PPP and connection accounting support. And
> whatever it was that prompted the Baby Bells to start providing DS0
> lines and fractional T1 loops to anybody who could scratch up the
> cash, if that was in fact a technical change.

Again, TCP/IP only came to Windows and the Mac because it became necessary
to offer this due to the rising popularity of Internet access. But these
alone don't explain why the Internet caught on with the mainstream.
Microsoft was still trying to push NetBIOS and NetBUI protocols, and
Novell's IPX was incredibly widespread. OS makers ignored TCP/IP at their
own peril.

I'm willing to back off now, mostly because, as I mentioned, I don't have
time to make a good case at this point, and I might even be willing to
concede that my original comment was perhaps a bit too strong, but I am
convinced that the whole movement that developed from the seed of Linux
propelled adoption of the Internet that before was primarily a tool of
universities and research institutes and some large corporations.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
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Received on Thu Jan 13 2005 - 13:20:17 GMT

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