The Linux Apocalypse
Note: This page has now been read by over 13000 people (>60000 hits). It was featured on Slashdot, in the October 1998 edition of the German Linux Magazine, in the Netherlands (The Planet) and is referred to by at least 3 locations in the interal webpages of Transmeta (not accessible to me, judging from the referer logs of apache). Many links from personal homepages exist. This link brings you to my linux pages. And this one to my main page. I do professional Linux consulting. Click here.
December 10, Christoph Lameter


No one really knows what Linus is working on. He is working at Transmeta. Transmeta is something secret and everyone has to sign an NDA to know what is going on. I have had no contact with them at all and I am not under any NDA. But from all the available information that I could find on the net, I think I can guess what he is doing. Linus is an expert in designing operating systems through his work on Linux during his studies in Finland. Transmeta is a company focused on developing new VLSI(?) multimedia chips according to business information. This leads to the guess that he is probably helping to design a microprocessor of a future generation that will be vastly superior to the current processors both in multimedia performance as also in regular calculations. The advantage of having Linus on the team is also that a Linux port to the new architecture could be developed in secrecy by Linus himself. Taken to the extreme we could experience the following scenario one day. The day it finally begins: (Oh yes, I forgot. "Meta" is Greek and means beyond or parallel, on the side. Thus is have chosen to use the word meta in the following. The associations coming with it are …. errr …intentional. Do not forget this is all purely fictional.) Day X: A new arch short "meta" appears mysteriously in the 3.0.46 stable Linux Kernels including full-blown emulation layers for Intel and Alpha including emulation of common PC hardware. As usual Linus does not post anything to explain what is going on. The list server crashes due to e-mail overload with speculations. ABCNEWS brings a report on mysterious outages on the Internet. Slashdot reports on the new arch. David M. the administrator of posts an angry call to order to the subscribers of linux-kernel, clears the subscriptions to the list and requires everybody to resubscribe.

Day X+1 day: New processors (short meta) and Motherboards of the meta architecture suddenly appear in quantity on all markets having been secretly manufactured in huge numbers in Asian chip factories. ABCNEWS has tracked down the source of the problem and reports about the new architecture released in the Linux kernel and the reason for the internet outages. Free Prototypes reach developers for Linux distributions. Slashdot reports on the new processors and the free machines. Traffic on #debian and other channels on LISC is getting problematic as the developers step up their efforts to port to the new arch.

Day X+ 2 days: Linux distributions based on meta appear. Debian's autobuilding process has finished generating a complete distribution for the new arch within 15 hours. 15000 software packages are available for the new architecture in Debian 4.6. Around 2.3 Terabytes to download. ABCNEWS morning news reports of a new processor of unknown origins discovered in Asia. After Slashdot features an announcement of the new architecture and Debian, the Internet backbone operators order an emergency shutdown. Appeals are broadcast on the radio to reduce high volume transfers on the Internet and wait for public announcements on TV. ABCNEWS investigates further and has a full report at the end of the day. Backbone operators temporarily stop service to Debian mirrors.

Day X+ 2 weeks: Cheapbytes makes a public announcement that orders will take 4 weeks to delivery given the amount of orders for the meta-based distributions. They upgraded the server taking orders to a meta machine now, so please resent your order if you could not get through.

Day X+ 1 month: Reviews done hurriedly in computer magazines show that the speed of the meta architecture is around 100 times more effective than common computer architectures. Emulation of common other architectures (Intel, Alpha, Sparc) is 10 times faster than the native architectures.

Day X + 1 month +2 days: Intel and Compaq stocks begin falling. IBM and RedHat stock rise significantly. The Dow is rising.

Day X + 2 month: Computers with the meta architecture become available in quantity with the capability of running legacy applications. RedHat begins offering Redhat 21.0 with the new architecture on CD.

Day X + 3 months: Sales of non-meta motherboards have fallen by 98%.

Day X + 4 months: Microsoft ships NT 5.0 for Intel.with a big media event on TV. IBM begins to ship Debian 4.6 as the standard OS on all machines from mainframe to PC and announces the move on Slashdot. The news on Slashdot lead to another shutdown of the net and gives rise to new concerns about the stability of the Internet. One Slashdot users reports on the TV announcement from Microsoft. Others begin to wonder what a "TV" is (being used to interactive games and shows) and how to access the comical content. A knowledgeable person points to the TV-emulator package available on and in most distributions.

Day X+ 5 months: Intel declares bankruptcy not having been able to anticipate the new market situation. The organization in liquidation files a complaint with the Department of Justice against unfair Business practices of the Linux Community mentioning especially Transmeta, Linus, RedHat and Debian.

Day X + 7 months: Microsoft posts huge losses in its quarterly report. Consumers become used to get quick fixes for their Linux/meta OS based PCs. Microsoft announces the development of MetaWin a Windows version running on meta machines and abandons all NT development in order to focus on meta.

Day X + 8 months: A series of lawsuits begin from consumers complaining about nonexisting Microsoft support for their products and demanding that Microsoft be liable for business losses resulting from software that Microsoft has not updated for 5 years or more and software they have sold with known bugs. They also demand full access to the sourcecode like offered by the standard operating system in the PC world.  Microsoft faces an additional suit by the company who designed meta for patent violations. A preliminary injuction is issued barring Microsoft from using meta technology.

Day X + 10 months: Bill Gates commits suicide leaving a note saying "I only wanted to help." and triggers a procedure to erase all Microsoft sourcecode at his company to cover his tracks.

Day X + 11 months. Linus (with his wife and 5 children) moves back to Finland saying that the job he came to the US has been completed.

Day X + 12 months: The DOJ investigation into The Linux Monopoly begins. The DOJ finds out that the budget for Debian (one of the possible defendants) is $578 Dollars/year and tries to hold the 3400 Debian Developers liable. People in key computer science positions suddenly vanish to their native countries. The servers of the Hollywood studios go offline without connectivity since their ISP was operated by a German. RedHat's lawyers establish a countersuit against the DOJ for damages.

Day X + 15 months: Microsoft files for protection under Chapter 11 from people trying to hold Microsoft liable. 300.000 people demonstrate in Washington against the practices of the Department of Justice and for a public mandate to GPL all retrievable Microsoft sourcecode.

Thus the evil empire has fallen and a new paradigm of software for the consumers has dawned. The old has passed away and a new horizon is opening (following Revelation Chapter 20+21 somewhat).

Can this be true? We still do not know what Linus is doing……..

Maybe for our own good we should not know?

More importantly THEY should not know.

But what am I talking about?

Christoph Lameter, August 15, 1998