Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: the OS price

Author:Karl Fast
Posted:7/7/1999; 2:40:15 PM
Topic:scriptingNews outline for 7/2/99
Msg #:8304 (In response to 8233)
Prev/Next:8303 / 8305

There is more than one market for TCP/IP servers. Karl's pointed out the distinction between the XOOMs who need huge performance vs. the corporate intranet market. Then we're separately talking about consumers with xDSL lines. There are probably many other markets as well (small ISPs who want to offer hosting services, etc.).

Well said.

To talk about "the market" in all encompassing terms is to miss the point. Computers are increasingly diverse. First we had mainframes. Then minicomputers and eventually desktops. Then we made servers, which were basically desktop systems optimized for file serving (be it over SMB, Netware, HTTP, etc). Now we're seeing Palm Pilots and the like.

Several things are at play. Our notion of what is a computer is changing. The hardware needed to do something useful is increasingly cheaper and smaller. The network is making it important to hook this all together. HTTP is open and cheap and simple (well, maybe not v1.1), making it the default way to send information around.

I think Bill makes a good point. Let me rephrase it into a question. Just what is the web server market? Does anyone know anymore? Can you give me a specific definition of this? It's too wide open and diverse to really pin this down. We are nearing ubiquity here.

The idea of web servers (or any servers based on open transports for that matter) is powerful. Linux will continue to beat the tar out of Microsoft here because it's flexible and the barrier to entering the market is low. What do I mean by market? We usually talk about big web servers, but we're clearly headed in the direction of many smaller web servers instead of a few big ones. The Qube is the best example of this. If you've got enough experience, and lots of people do, Linux lets you do whatever you want without having to pay tons of money in software license fees to do it. Look at what you can do with Linux! You can strip it down. Don't want a GUI--remove X. Don't need networking--recompile the kernel and blow away all those unnecessary drivers. No need to support old dos programs--rip out dosemu. Can you even begin to do any of these things with NT, or Mac, or even Be?

Let me repeat what I said before: The great thing about Linux is not that it scales up, but that it scales down.


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