I love this story from rachelbythebay about hosting in the late 90’s:
Then there was this little company. They were selling dedicated Linux servers for $99 per month, and promised to put them online within an hour of you ordering them, 24 hours a day. Also, they had “the best support in the industry”, according to them.
It seems like nobody else could crack this particular nut. They couldn’t figure out how they were managing to stay in business. How could they possibly be making money selling all of this stuff for just $99/month? How could they possibly hang a new server in a rack in under an hour, and then install the OS on it, and all of this?
As the story goes, this was the “moat” protecting their business. Nobody else could get into the space since they couldn’t make the math work. This one company kept going and kept raking in the customers.
Then, one day, it changed. Another company figured it out, and suddenly there was competition at the “bottom” — the bare-bones super cheap dedicated server market. What happened?
Well, according to my friends, what happened was either a single full-page color photo ad in an industry magazine, or perhaps a large photo accompanying an article. Basically, someone from the company is shown standing there in front of the actual servers, looking proud. I guess they wanted to show off the fact they used certain chips, or something like that. The picture itself contains enough details to show that there is no magic involved.
What did it show? It seems like it gave away the entire “secret”Giving away the company’s secret sauce
I worked for a dial-up ISP at the turn of the century. Heady times for the internet.
We had a Sun SPARC server running Solaris that handled Apache web hosting and that thing was a beast. We also had a Debian server running RADIUS (
greedo) that never had the right time, and some sort of mail server with POP3 access (no IMAP4). For $100/mo we would sell you 100 MB of shared hosting space (with 1 GB of transfer per month).
You could easily run that entire ISP stack off of a single Raspberry Pi these days.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update came out last week. I haven’t heard very many folks talking about one of the most interesting features I’ve seen from the New Microsoft: Linux.
I think part of the reason people aren’t excited is because they don’t understand what this is:
- It’s not a virtual machine
- It’s not a container like Docker
- It’s not Cygwin – you can run pre-compiled ELF binaries
This is basically WINE in reverse – it translates Linux system calls to Windows system calls at runtime. That means it can run pretty much anything that Linux can. To take it for a test drive, I installed nvm and node, then Calypso and then ran make run. It worked! (I had to sudo apt-get install gcc g++ make first, but that’s just more proof that this is Ubuntu)
I love developing on Unix-like systems, and
OS X macOS has been a great balance of a Unix system with good consumer support. However I’m concerned that so much of Apple is focused on iDevices that they will start to care less and less about computer. As of August 23, it’s been 462 days since they have updated the MacBook Pro, and they’ve discontinued the Thunderbolt display.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is open-sourcing things left and right. And now actually running Linux on Windows, something that 10 years ago would have sounded ridiculous. It’s not perfect – the terminal window still sucks compared to iTerm or even Terminal.app – but now you can use a real OpenSSH instead of PuTTY. Maybe soon I can live the dream of the same machine for development and gaming.
The funny thing is that IBM tried this with Windows 20 years ago. IBM had OS/2, which had a Windows compatibility layer so that OS/2 could run Windows 3.1 apps. This backfired for IBM – as a dev if I have to choose between writing an app for OS/2 or Windows, why not write for Windows since it will run on both? A comment on Hacker News claims that the Linux subsystem was originally developed for Windows phones to run Android apps. Maybe Microsoft chose not to go down that path for fear of the same fate as OS/2 Warp?
I strongly recommend anyone who likes Linux command lines to give it a try to see what works and what doesn’t (I had to manually install the update first). There are a lot of shortcomings but if it’s supported this could lead to more devs switching back to Windows.