Greetings From Jim Dennis
By now you've probably heard it a dozen times:
Announces Intent to Support Linux
Informix Releases Linux version of their SQL Engine
... so, what does that mean.
Well, the good part is that Linux will get more respect from many IT departments. It will be easier for sysadmins to recommend Linux, FreeBSD, and similar solutions. There also will be a flurry of other software companies that will also jump in and port their software to this new, upstart Unix implementation. The Informix announcement was re-iterated at just about the same time and Inprise (formerly Borland) had already made Interbase available awhile back). I expect that Lotus Notes and Domino aren't too far behind, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that SAP (publishers of the R/3 ERP system) were quietly talking to S.u.S.E. (I seem to have heard that Adabas is one of the supported db engines for SAP R/3, and that has been available for Linux for some time).
There's also an interesting teaser at the Caldera website (http://www.caldera.com/openlinux/index.html) regarding an impending "Netware for Linux" --- which should be an interesting server platform (Netware's implementation of ACL's, access control lists -- always seemed better then the others I've seen. So, if you really need them on a fileserver, this might be the way to go).
We've also heard that the server software isn't the only niche that's discovering Linux. Regulars of Slashdot () and the Linux Weekly News (http://www.lwn.net), and any of the major Linux newsgroups and mailing lists are also probably aware that Corel has announced projects to port their whole office suite to Linux (they've had versions of WordPerfect available for awhile, and one of their affiliates, Corel Computing --- a hardware concern --- is using a StrongARM port of Linux which they helped develop as the core of their NC --- network computer). Presumably they will also consider porting their flagship CorelDraw package, which has been been available for some other Unix platforms for some time).
Of course it's already joining the fray with Applixware, StarOffice, Cliq Suite, Wingz, XessLite, and NeXS, among others.
So, the commercial software is coming. Linux will take yet another step from hobbyist "do-it-yourself" project towards a widespread platform for the masses.
Is there a downside to all of this? Naturally there are some risks. While I welcome the availability of Oracle, Informix and other major players to the Linux world --- I'd like to remind everyone that there are alternatives. See Christopher B. Browne's excellent list of these under his website at:
... Some of the commercial SQL engines for Linux that I've heard good reports about are Solid, JustLogic, and Infoflex. That's not to mention the free and shareware packages like PostgreSQL, mSQL, MySQL, and Beagle.
(There are differences in capacity and scalability --- many of these are currently limited to table locking rather than being able to lock individual records).
The big risk we now face is that we'll adopt and promote (or perpetuate) some application suite or tool with a proprietary set of file formats or interfaces. If Microsoft were to ship MS Office for Linux tomorrow --- we'd have the same essential problem that we have today. When someone sends you a Word .DOC, an Excel .XLS or a PowerPoint .PPT you're expected (by an alarming percentage of your correspondents) to be able to handle those files.
Everyone, (freeware and commercial third party vendors alike) is has been playing "catch-up" to this tune for far too long.
This issue of "open document formats" is far more important than choice of operating systems. What you run on your machine is none of my business. What you send to me in our business transactions is. Applix and StarOffice (and the free 'catdoc' and LAOLA filters) make a truly valiant effort to deal with some of these proprietary formats. They do so with some success (Word 2.0 seems fine, Word 6.x might be a bit dicey --- Word '97 documents die a horrible death).
If Microsoft moved quickly they might be able to "take over the Linux desktop" by providing "MS Office '98 for Linux." Personally I think that would be a shame. I think it would squelch some of the interesting work being done on LyX and Cicero, and various other "word processor" and desktop publishing interfaces for Linux.
So, before you rush out to embrace Oracle, and buy one of their servers --- take a look at some of the other DBMS packages that are out there. Give them a real try (feasibility and capacity test) before you commit.
On another note: I'd like to grant the first "Answer Guy Support Award" of the month to Sam Trenholme. He practically owns the comp.linux.misc newsgroups and answers alot more questions there than I get to in a month here. Thanks, Sam. We all owe, ya!
(I'll try to give these out about once a month --- to someone, somewhere, who answers lots of questions in some Linux tech support venue).
One final tidbit: I guess the press isn't getting all mushy on us. Either someone at Miller-Freeman's _sysadmin_Magazine_ doesn't like Linux or they were typing too fast when they wrote:
.... Linux is a 2-bit multi-user, multitasking variant of the UNIX operating system. (p 68, August, 1998; vol. 7 no. 8)
Can anyone find an extra 30-bits to send them?
Answer Guy #1, January 1997
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