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Preston Brown answers your questions about Red Hat Linux

At the end of Preston's interview, we gave you a chance to submit your question to Preston. Thanks for your responses! Here are the top questions, along with Preston's answers:

Q: Do you feel Linux will ever be a viable desktop OS? Or will it stay in the role of server OS? What work is Red Hat doing on this?

There are many different ways of describing a "desktop OS." One scenario is that of the power computer user, someone that needs to be able to run several multi-tasking programs at the same time. The person is heavily dependent on the Internet and is interested in tweaking their operating environment heavily to suit their tastes.

A second scenario might be the "Engineering Workstation," where a particular CAD/CAM or IDE (Integrated Development Environment) application is usually the sole focus, with other graphical programs like a web browser or e-mail client in use the rest of the time.

A third scenario is a computer interface for the non-technical user, one that insulates them from the underlying system and tries to simplify as many tasks as possible.

Red Hat Linux already excels in the first two scenarios, and continues to gain more and more converts as time progresses and Legacy UNIX platforms are phased out. Students, Scientists, and Engineers are all realizing the power of using Red Hat Linux as a desktop OS.

For the third scenario, Linux in general (including Red Hat Linux) is currently not the best fit.

Q: Does Red Hat Linux 7.2 support Chinese? How about Simplified Chinese?

We are currently working on support for both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese locales for Red Hat Linux 7.2. A version supporting these locales is slated for release in the first half of 2002.

Q: Does Red Hat Linux 7.2 support USB network interfaces?

Red Hat Linux 7.2 does not officially support any USB ethernet interfaces. However, the kaweth driver is provided for USB ethernet devices based on the Kawasaki KL5KUSB101 chip. One such device is the Netgear EA 101.

Q: Where is linuxconf? I notice this command is missing in Red Hat Linux 7.2.

The various functions of LinuxConf are being replaced by new configuration tools that are more tightly integrated into the rest of Red Hat Linux.

Q: What is a "solution"? I have noticed the use of the word in many information technology oriented web sites lately, and would appreciate Red Hat's perspective.

In its simplest terms, a solution is the result of combining products and services in a synergistic way, making the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Take, for example, the automotive industry. The average customer doesn't wake up one morning thinking, "Gosh, I need buy a blue four-door, with an automatic transmission, limited-slip differential, and electronic fuel injection today."

More likely, the customer has a problem to solve: "Hmmm, my car is ten years old. It started making strange sounds yesterday. One day it's going to leave me stranded by the roadside; what will I do then?" The customer has a problem.

Car dealerships specialize in providing solutions to these kinds of problems. They do it by selling new and used vehicles, providing financing, repair services, and preventative maintenance. If you take a moment to think about it, you'll realize that the average car dealership has been a solutions provider before the term even existed!

At Red Hat, our solutions center around open source technologies, and the services to help our customers make more effective use of those technologies. We know that our customers don't suddenly think to themselves, "Hey, I need to buy a copy of Red Hat Linux today!" No, our customers are more likely to have a problem they'd like to solve: "Our new product line is going to be ready next quarter, and we only have 60 days to set up a web server, launch the new website, set up the new storefront, and hook this into our accounting system."

Red Hat's goal is to provide solutions that can help our customers solve these kinds of problems.

Q: Are there summer internships at Red Hat? If so, how can I apply for one?

In the past, we have occasionally taken summer interns in the Linux Engineering group. Availability varies, but if you are interested, you can send your resume, including programming experience, to our Human Resources department at

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