% fortune -ae paul murphy

A history lesson from Bill Joy

IBM doesn't offer its own Linux distribution. Nevertheless they've already shown the first Cell based blade server running Linux, and I expect the full line up, from desktop to data center, will too.

With that context in mind, I thought something Bill Joy said in a 1999 interview with Eugene Kim of Linux Magazine. might be thought provoking.

Please bear in mind, however, that he's not generally known as someone who makes negative comments -but while he would probably like to forget the frustrations leading to this one, that's part of what's thought provoking about what he said.

Here's how the exchange went:

LM: Why do you think that Unix was never successful on the desktop?

BJ: Because Microsoft had a person who was very greedy and who was very brutal in his business dealings and was handed a monopoly by IBM due to ineptness. They had several opportunities to rein this guy in and the management blew it. So the IBM monopoly got transferred basically due to blunders. Microsoft is a direct successor to the IBM mainframe monopoly. The corporate guys coalesced around the PC standard because it came from IBM. Not because it was any good.

Personally I expect Linux on Cell to blow Wintel into history -but history is behavioral, and if we don't change, it'll just repeat on us, right?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.