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On LINUX by Rob Szarka

Sent to the Norwich Bulletin on 6 April 1999 in response to the Gannet New Service article Linux sets the not-for-profit trend in software systems.

Dear Editor:
Your coverage of Linux on the Connect page was refreshing. We have used Linux exclusively on our servers at since we opened our doors in 1997. It has proven not just cost effective, but more efficient and reliable than the commercial alternatives. Linux is also used at other area businesses, large and small. As Richard Stallman notes, popularity isn't everything; but it's nice.

Although the success of Linux is often portrayed as a new, radical threat to Microsoft's dominance of the software industry, the reality is both less exciting and more encouraging. Free Software such as Sendmail, BIND, and Apache has always run the majority of servers on the Internet. The news is not the existence and use of such software, but the availability of commercial support from companies like Red Hat, Cygnus, and, yes, DownCity. Such support is important because the price tag may be Linux's least important virtue: Linux and other Free Software has saved us thousands of dollars, but its reliability and flexibility is priceless. If Linux continues to replace MS Windows on the desktop, it will be welcomed not just because folks are tired of paying for upgrades, but because using software that doesn't crash daily makes using their computer more enjoyable and productive. Commercial support means making those benefits available to someone besides computer nerds like me.

Your readers may be interested to know that the Eastern Connecticut Linux Users Group meets monthly just up the street from the Bulletin at our offices. Like Linux, membership is free and open to all. More information is available at

Robert Szarka
Managing Partner, Operations
DownCity, LLC

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