I’m back.

Very interesting. Just as everyone’s proclaiming Linux dead, Red Hat goes and turns a profit for the first time. Yes, there are too many Linux companies. Yes, there’ll be consolidation. No, I’m not convinced that selling it at retail is necessarily the best way to proliferate the system.
I also find it humorous that people like ZDNet’s David Coursey can struggle all weekend setting up a Windows server, yet state that Linux is no threat to Microsoft, even as a server. The implication is that Linux is too difficult. Give me a weekend–actually, more like 5 minutes, if you’ll spot me TurboLinux and a 50X CD-ROM drive–and I can have DNS going on Linux, easy. Give me a day, and I can have a lovely mail server going too. (I intended to do that just this past weekend, actually, but I couldn’t come up with a working ISA SCSI controller to pair up with my army of SCSI CD-ROMs to make it happen.)

Needless to say, this past week I lost most of what little respect I had for Coursey. VMWare runs Windows under Linux better than VirtualPC runs Windows on the Mac, and Coursey’s obviously never heard of it (see that second link).

Don’t get me wrong, Linux setups drive me up the wall sometimes. But I’ve had instances where Windows flat out wouldn’t install on perfectly good hardware, for no good reason, too. And since Linux servers are unencumbered by a GUI, multimedia, Pinball, Internet Exploiter, and other desktop stupidity that has no business on servers, they’re a whole lot easier to troubleshoot. You’ve got a kernel, a daemon or two, and a plaintext configuration file. That’s not much to break. Actually it’s good engineering–a machine should have no unnecessary parts.

So long, Cal Ripken. Cal Ripken announced he’s hanging it up yesterday morning. I had the pleasure of seeing Ripken play shortstop a couple of times in the early 1990s when the Orioles were in Kansas City. Today, in this era of A-Rod and Nomar and Jeter, Ripken’s offensive stats don’t seem so hot. But in the 1980s (and before), if your shortstop could hit .270 and steal the occasional base, you counted yourself very, very lucky. In those days, Ripken not only hit .270, he was consistently one of the best defensive shortstops in the American League. He was never as flashy as Ozzie Smith, but how many shortstops ever fielded .996? You’re happy to get that kind of a fielding percentage out of your first baseman, and first base is the easiest position to play. Not only that, Ripken was also good for 20-25 homers and 80+ RBIs. These days that doesn’t sound too impressive either, but remember that Ripken played the bulk of his career in an era when people rarely hit 40 homers–someone who could pop 30 was considered a real power threat.

And besides all that, Ripken played 2,632 consecutive games, shattering Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130. Ripken played the majority of those games at shortstop (he also played some third base at the beginning and at the end). Gehrig played his games at first base and in left field, both much less demanding positions. And while Gehrig played every inning of every game just once, Ripken did it four times, in consecutive years (1983-1986).

Ripken’s really slowed down the past three years, but he did end his streak on his own terms before being cut down by injuries his final three seasons. He’s nowhere near the player he used to be. Then again, at the end of his career, Ernie Banks couldn’t hit or field, and he was playing first base. Ripken refuses to move from third to a less demanding position–partly out of pride, but partly because he’s still capable of playing third.

And we can’t forget his loyalty. Ripken’s played his entire career, from 1981 up until now, with Baltimore. You don’t see that much anymore.

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