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Linux.SYS-CON.com's top stories of 2002

Ever wonder what everyone else is reading? The editors do that for a living, and here's what we found.

(Linux.SYS-CON.com) — The Linux.SYS-CON.com offices are in San Francisco, a city in which you risk being punched in the throat if anyone catches you pitching a glass bottle into the garbage can rather than the recycling bin.

Maybe we're taking the whole recycling thing too far, but the Linux.SYS-CON.com editors decided to do a little archive-diving for the most interesting, popular, controversial and recyclable Linux stories of 2002. As a year-end treat, we've posted our list of standout stories here and added a few insights from the authors, as well.

Stories regarding The Smell That Emanates From Redmond

It's cold outside. At the very least, it's probably raining. Unless you have an underground tunnel network connecting your home to the nearest fitness center, odds are you're not getting much of a chance this holiday season for physical activity.

Luckily there are other options for getting your heart pumping, especially for the Linux community. Few things get an open-source enthusiast's blood flowing more emphatically than a new reason to hate Microsoft. Tales of Microsoft's improprieties and strong-arm tactics have even been known to give the steam valves in your ears a nice workout.

We here at Linux.SYS-CON.comcare about your health and well-being, so throw on a sweatsuit and read these blood-boiling Microsoftian tales from the past year:


Let's face it: some articles get the Linux community's feedback flying a bit more fervently than others. For your enjoyment, the Linux.SYS-CON.com editors have kept a running tab of this past year's most-controversial and most feedback-friendly stories.

Here's the list of main offenders in all its flame-inducing glory. As an added treat, the authors of each piece share their warm, fuzzy memories of reader response to each article.

  • The story: Weighing the pros & cons of IBM's mainframe Linux

    "If you ever feel a burning need to generate hate mail from middle-aged white guys in suits, just question mainframe performance. This story started out to be about IBM's refusal to stand behind third-party claims praising the relative cost and absolute performance of mainframe Linux, but it became a story about the reaction I got for questioning IBM.

    The reaction was absurdly off-scale; I got something over 2,500 separate pieces of e-mail along the lines of: "You, sir, are an A--HOLE. Just my two cents worth, and please don't quote me. Signed, Joe DP Manager, XYZ Corp." The VM Linux community even ran a considerable thread on their discussion site at Marist College headed "Defamation of Rudy de Haas" (Paul Murphy is a pseudonym).

    I thought it was nice of them to post such a clearly expressed goal, but some of them did go a bit over the top on it: one guy even FedExed me a hand-written excoriation (at his company's expense), and I've been wondering ever since if I shouldn't gather up all these e-mails and publish a humor book titled "Clothed, Fully Clothed." Umm, anyone suppose IBM would sponsor it?" — Paul Murphy

  • Story link: MPlayer: The project from hell

    "This was the first time I have been barraged by enraged developers and users. Not to say that there haven't been developers unhappy with me for things I've said before, but nothing I had written to this point resulted in an organized campaign the way this piece did. I got more mail on this column than on anything else. As unhappy as the Mplayer team may have been with me and Linux.SYS-CON.com, it should be noted that I received an almost equal amount of e-mail agreeing with my assertions that Mplayer developers are rude, arrogant and infantile." — Joe Barr

  • Story link: Is Windows or Linux easier to install?

    "The only group more vitriolic in their responses than Mplayer coders and fans were those outraged by the suggestion that Linux is a better/easier/faster install than Windows. But that's life in the "challenging belief systems" lane. All those complaints about home cooking, however, were vaporized in the follow-up, when a retail version of XP Pro was used instead of an OEM restore of Win2K. Maybe next time they will be a little more careful of what they ask for." — Joe Barr

  • Story link: The Stallman factor
    Story link: Linux, GNU and freedom

    "Feedback on the Stallman piece was not overwhelming. Surprisingly enough, it was not nearly as immoderate as the passions the "Stallman factor" normally ignites. Instead, there was nearly unanimous agreement that the FSF can do a better job of carrying its message to the public." — Joe Barr

Bust ghosts

They're out there. They're smart and skilled. They have fancy names, often with numbers and symbols cleverly substituted for letters. They live in secret underground grottoes with elaborate, light-up maps of the world on the wall behind them (that's the word on the street, at least). They hang out with jewel thieves and international playboys. And they're waiting for the right moment to sneak into the back door of your Linux box and nab the secret microfilm.

"Pshaw," you say. "Don't give me that hacking and cracking jibber-jabber. It could never happen to me or my company."

Just then, a large penguin busts through the wall, not unlike the Kool-Aid Man. He grabs your lapels and shakes you until your head wobbles. He slaps you in the face with his flipper.

"Don't you see?!?!?!??" the penguin says. "That's what they want you to think, man."

The penguin stops with the shaking and the slapping and invites you to an Internet cafe. There, the two of you sip double-mocha soy-milk frappalattes, share a piece of flan and surf the Internet.

"There's a bunch of articles on Linux.SYS-CON.com about applications that can help lock down your network and let you know who's snooping around when," the penguin says. "Here, I'll show you!"

"Great!" you say. "That sounds great!"

"Boo-ya!" the penguin shouts. "Here we go."

The penguin moves aside to give you a good look at the monitor screen. There, you see a list of links to helpful articles:

Then it hits you: you're at an Internet cafe, conversing and surfing the Web with a giant, talking penguin. This is a photo opportunity. You take out your camera and spin around to take a picture of the penguin, but all you find is thin air.

The penguin is gone. On the monitor screen, however, his legacy remains: links to the best Linux.SYS-CON.com articles about firewalls, intrusion-detection programs and network security.


A million or so readers can't be wrong... or can they? Judge for yourself: In the Resources section find a list of the 10 most-popular Linux.SYS-CON.com stories over the past year.

What does this list tell us? Y'all like the goofy stuff. And also, if you ponder the implications of this story becoming one of the top 10 most-read stories of the year, it raises some crazy scenarios. If this story cracks the top 10, we would have to add a link to this story in the top 10 list included within the story, and clicking on that link would bring you back to the beginning of the story in which this self-referential link was placed. This is the Web-publishing equivalent of looking into a mirror with a mirror behind you; the reflections go on into infinity.

Whoa, man... heavy.

More Stories By Tim Moynihan

Tim Moynihan is a Linux.SYS-CON.com editor and the director of several short, cheap and mediocre independent films. For some reason, his first film, Curbed Enthusiasm, was screened as part of the 2002 New York Film and Video Festival in New York City. Moynihan is currently eating a meatloaf sandwich.

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