Blast from the past

I recently subscribed to Linux Journal. Part of the deal was a free archive CD of the first 152 issues, from 1994 to 2006. So today I finally got around to popping that disc in my drive, and I went all the way back to issue #1. What do I find? Something very similar to articles recently published on the net:

Linux vs. Windows NT and OS/2

With gems like “Both promise to be the operating system that we need and to take advantages of the capabilities of the Intel 386 and beyond” and “You must have a Intel 386 or better to have any 32-bit choices” really showing the article’s age, I was stunned. I mean… was the birth of the 386 really that recent? It seems ancient. I just got my Athlon 64 dual core chip in the mail yesterday and fired it up last night. I can’t even imagine ever running anything as puny as a 386 (and yet I know I did). If I ever touched a computer that ran on fewer than 32 bits, I wasn’t aware of that fact. (What’s a C-64, bitwise?) In my mind, 1994 seems like yesterday, but Windows NT, OS/2, and the 386 seem like relics. Funny how the mind works.

You need to
set aside at least 15MB for Linux, 32MB for OS/2, and 70MB for NT
for a good trial run.

Some things never change. Back then, Linux advocates were writing stories about how Linux was on the cutting edge, taking advantage of 32-bit ahead of the pack. Today, Linux is on the cutting edge, taking advantage of 64-bit ahead of the curve. And yet, for all its technical superiority, Linux is still the underdog, at least here in the United States. Hardware compatibility, then and now, is an issue (and not only with Linux! Talk to anybody who bought the Vista OS about what stopped working).

For example, there is
no commercial word processor for Linux which matches the quality of
ones for Windows and OS/2. This kind of glaring inadequacy alone
can preclude the use of Linux.

Some things, however, do change. Linux today offers quality applications for the average user in all categories. I still hear professional musicians and artists complain that Linux apps in those areas aren’t up to snuff, but for the amateurs that most of us are, Linux apps equal or exceed Windows apps. In fact, when I last dual-booted Windows, I had some ported Linux apps (like Mplayer) installed, and I tried like heck to find anything nearly as good as Akregator that would run on XP.

Next, I’m off to read and interview with Linus from 1994, and see how familiar that sounds…

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