Linux in Mondays NY Times

Marty Leisner (
Mon, 6 Jul 1998 20:03:41 PDT

I was surprised when I read this piece in the
business section of the NY Times:

A Line of Computers Without Windows

As a market test, Ralph Nader's Consumer Project on Technology recently tried to order a
personal computer from a dozen companies without Microsoft's Windows as the operating
system. No luck, reported David Chun, the Nader summer intern who made the calls to Dell
Computer, Gateway, IBM and others -- not even when he asked for a PC with no operating
system at all.

He should have called VA Research in Mountain View, Calif. The upstart computer maker
specializes in machines that run Linux, a freeware version of the Unix operating system. Linux
(pronounced (LINN-uks) originated in 1991, written by a young Finnish programmer, Linus

VA Research began in 1993 as a part-time venture for Larry Augustin, then working on his
doctorate in electrical engineering at Stanford University. He could not afford a costly Sun
Microsystems work station, so he decided to build his own high-powered machine, using Linux
and off-the-shelf hardware.

Since then, Linux has become a more mainstream operating system, and VA Research is
beginning to take off, but Augustin, 35, declines to disclose revenues for the private company.
VA Research's machines start at $1,500, but the line extends to server models that can cost tens
of thousands of dollars. Its customers include Southwestern Bell, a unit of SBC Communications
Inc., which uses the Linux machines in its call-processing centers.

Linux users worldwide now number about 6 million, tiny compared with the more than 300
million for Windows. Still, as Augustin sees it: "Microsoft is always going to get its share. But
Linux does have a future as a genuine alternative to Windows."

Don't confuse education with schooling.
Milton Friedman to Yogi Berra

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