Linux and growth of Internet

From: Steven M Jones <>
Date: Thu Jan 13 15:08:42 2005

Sellam Ismail wrote:
> Well, if I'd made such a bold claim ("not possible") I would be
> on shaky ground.

Okay, I took your original post to mean something more than you
had intended. Sorry.

I'd be far more interested in getting people's recollections of
that period on the record, so to speak, than being "right." It's
a big world, other people would have seen/remembered different
things out there... Hell, maybe I was stuck in a backwater and
missed all the action, who knows?

> But was not Linux another major driving influence behind FOSS?

As I said, or meant, open source would have changed a lot more
than the spread of the Internet in a Linux-less universe. So I
don't really disagree with you here. And I think we could have
a really long discussion of the rise of FOSS and Linux separately
from email and the Internet. At least that's my opinion, that
even with a very different FOSS movement we still would have
seen much the same spread of email and the 'Net. I am content
to be viewed as an isolated crackpot if need be -- that was in
fact a career goal of a friend of mine in college. ;^)

>Steven M Jones wrote:
>> One is the rise of CompuServe and AOL, which I'll leave for
>> another discussion.
> And which were closed, proprietary online services which
> eventually transformed into Internet gateways only after the
> Internet had "arrived" at the mainstream.

Well, that would be the "other discussion." ;^) But while they
were proprietary and so on, they were recognized and acceptable
to a very large population. I don't say this to take anything
away from the BBSes, which were still cruising along in this
period; it would be interesting to see if anyone can dig up some
contemporary statistics about users in the two categories. But
the point was that since these services were popular, they did
introduce a significant user segment to the online world
including email, and they did allow email addressed to external
users, all of which increased what we'd now call the network
effect of Internet and email adoption.

> 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.

Maybe yes, maybe no. This is also the era where "open systems"
were being deployed on a large scale in the corporate world,
and access to these systems via TCP/IP from the desktop was a
key requirement. And that trend was independent of whether or
not the corporation had external IP network connections, though
by this period they were sprouting up all over the place too.

In that world in New York and Boston if we had to use a PC, we
made sure there was an IP stack and if at all possible X Windows
on it. For the home users I was talking about earlier there were
packages like Trumpet Winsock and Russ Nelson's Crynwr packet
drivers. I seem to recall Mac fans taunting me about how easy
MacTCP was to setup, but I'm not clear on the timing for that...

All I mean to point out is that there were other strong factors
behind TCP/IP coming to the Windows/Mac platform. And while the
corporate users would pay, the realities of the academic budget
ensured that something cheap/free would be available to meet the
same needs.

Anyways, I hope that at some point you get a chance to write up
what you saw happening around that time with the small ISPs and
Linux, and share it with us. That goes for the other list
members too; I was hoping for a wider response, and especially
views from outside the US. I've been focusing on the 1993-4
period because of the way it set the stage for growth once the
Web caught on, but feel free to roll forward or backward too.

Then again, maybe this is the wrong forum. I'll let the silence
be my guide...

Received on Thu Jan 13 2005 - 15:08:42 GMT

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