LXer Feature: 04-Aug-2006
GNU/Linux -- Like No Other Hotrod, Ever
While others appear to be going backwards, Linux just keeps racing ahead.
'Linux supports more devices, "out of the box", than any other operating system ever has.'
"Yes, that's right, we support more things than anyone else. And more than anyone else ever has in the past. Linux has a very long list of things that we have supported before anyone else ever did."
-- Greg Kroah-Hartman, OLS 2006 Keynote
Tux is pictured with
Cboy's "rat on a shoestring", a hotrod built from scratch
and launched with:
"This is the beginning of an experimental rod build. The idea
emerged out of a couple of threads on H.R. Com about how we used to
build rods in the old days on an absolute minimum budget using what
we had laying around or finding a low buck donor vehicle. My goal
in this project will be to build a safe, fun, vehicle with an
interesting look and a minimal investment. I've set a budget of
$3,000 - not including tools or expendables (welding rod, grinding
This photo was used with
Just as sharing source code goes back at least to
Grace Hopper, hotrodders, too,
have a long history of sharing technical information.
The Starting Line
To gain a bit of perspective on the miraculous acceleration of Linux,
the kernel, and GNU/Linux, the operating system, note that
Microsoft began in
drags in billions of dollars a year to support
development. GNU started in 1984,
as Richard Stallman was allowed to use MIT facilities to start work
on a free operating system. GNU was
supported in the beginning by the sale of magnetic tapes containing
Emacs. The X Window
System "was created in the mid-1980s at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology."
Linux, the kernel, began in
1991 with a newsgroup posting by a "college kid", Linus Torvalds.
It was the last major piece needed to make a complete, free operating system.
The world's biggest software company (monetarily) had a 16 year head start and
has been passed in less than 15. Linux supports more devices and
"supports more different processors than any other operating system
ever has". That's acceleration.
Engine and controls
The Linux kernel is one amazing, evolving, hotrod beast of an
operating system engine! The kernel
hackers are swarming over it
constantly, looking for ways to trim excess weight, add new device
support, optimize the way things are done and clean out bugs. These
folks want things done right and they are willing to scrap
whole sections of code and
from scratch to get there. They are truly the
of the software world.
General Public License attached to the Linux kernel
guarantees every kernel developer that his or her work will not be locked
within some closed package and used against them. Anyone may
distribute a forked version of Linux, but on the open, fair terms of
the GPL. You just can't take the super engine they've built, weld it
shut with some oppressive
EULA, and go racing against them. You play
fair or you simply
Tools, Frame and Body
Now an engine without something to move is not much of a general purpose
machine. Sure, Linux supports
devices all around us, every day, but
people love computers that let them tinker and come up with new
things to do. They want a commodity box, for the price and
replaceability, but they want the ability to completely personalize
how it acts. GNU
provides the world's finest
software tools to go with the
world's finest engine. (Even if you don't want to raise the hood, you
certainly don't want your mechanic using junky tools). Put GNU and
Linux together and you have the best operating system foundation,
built by the best engineers and technicians in the world, for the
world. Drop a sexy body on it, and you
have yourself a hotrod!
Kit or Complete
Once you have a framework with engine and tools, what kind of system
can you build with it? The license the developers have chosen
provides a very friendly answer -- any kind you please, as long as
you don't try to keep the next person from being able to do the same.
This is why there are so many
distributions of GNU/Linux.
People are allowed to build it any way they please, so they do. You
may build it up from nuts
and bolts and pieces and parts or pay to get one which resembles the
ubiquitous legacy system, or get one anywhere in between. You just
can't get that kind of variety from Microsoft or any other operating
system supplier. You can even
try out various LiveCDs, without affecting your current system,
to figure out which is right for you. If one doesn't quite feel
right, test-drive another. They're ready to just
start and go.
Just because you don't think you can build your own, doesn't mean you
are left out of the fun. There are
companies selling computers with GNU/Linux pre-installed and
ready to go. No matter what level of completion you choose, you're
still free to alter the software as you see fit, until it exactly
You are free
to customize far beyond the look of the background or the placement
of icons, whether you choose to build from scratch or adapt a
distribution to fit your tastes. You can make your hotrod
operating system look like no one
else's in the world, and yet remain compatible with open standards.
No hotrod is complete without a few
sound. Of course, if you
bought or downloaded a
distribution, you probably already have everything you're likely
to need, either installed or available at a click or command.
(Distributors put in a lot of work to make it easy. They wouldn't
complain if you bought a box or manual or helped out).
Whatever computing needs you have, from
you can very likely satisfy those needs with GNU/Linux. While you've
been reading, people all over the world have been evolving the
system, making it suit their needs better. (Even if those needs are
a bit different). The GNU/Linux hotrod is
picking up speed and
hauling Asia. It's time for
slowpokes to get out of the way.
Move over, road hog
Please, if you're still running that
raggedy old eXtra Polluting thing,
poison all over the Internet
by the manufacturer for the manufacturer's ineptitude,
charged by the
manufacturer for things it should have had but didn't,
forced by the manufacturer to take things you shouldn't,
spied on and bullied, and
nursing it along from
one patch job to the next,
hoping it won't
destroy too much of your stuff when it blows up
because of the
just park it. If it was a car, you would have junked it long ago.
can have the world's finest for next to nothing and a world of
to help you to tailor it to fit just you. It's secure, stable and
second to none. See some
beautiful vistas instead of
dirty, damaging ones. Try riding in a custom vehicle that does
what you tell it to do. Try LInux.
screenshot and those original Tux hotrod drawings. GIMP is good
enough to let me drop Larry Ewing's Tux behind Cboy's Rat, but it
can't turn me into an artist. Thanks also for your editorial 'patch'.
BTW, I did save the image where you had your Tux aiming a torch at
Cboy's carb. It's a good reminder that, like any really good tool,
Linux won't stop you from using the tool in a dangerous way.]
- going backwards
- racing ahead
- OLS 2006 Keynote
- Cboy's "rat on a shoestring"
- cboy's permission
- Grace Hopper
- have a long history
- Microsoft began in 1975
- drags in billions of dollars
- GNU started in 1984
- X Window System
- Linux, the kernel, began in 1991
- has been passed
- "supports more different processors than any other operating system ever has"
- rebuild it
- General Public License attached to the Linux kernel
- get left behind
- software tools
- sexy body
- build it up from nuts and bolts and pieces and parts
- start and go
- companies selling computers with GNU/Linux pre-installed
- a bit different
- picking up speed
- hauling Asia
- slowpokes to get out of the way
- raggedy old eXtra Polluting thing
- poison all over the Internet
- blamed by the manufacturer
- charged by the manufacturer for things it should have had
- forced by the manufacturer to take things
- spied on and bullied
- one patch job to the next
- destroy too much of your stuff
- unpatched vulnerabilities
- people to help you
- dirty, damaging