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Linux Online outage persists

The popular site has been off-line since Monday--a casualty of problems between its operators and the Internet service provider it was using.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
3 min read
Linux Online's popular Web site, www.linux.org, has been off-line since Monday--a casualty of problems between the site's operators and the Internet service provider it was using.

Linux Online disappeared from the Web when US Net severed the Linux site's connection, said Michael McLagan, who runs the site in his free time.

"From our perspective, they terminated service without proper written notice," not giving the 30 days required, McLagan said in an interview today.

US Net disagreed. "Mr. McLagan's claim that his service was disconnected without proper notification is false," US Net chief executive officer Dave Stoddard said in a statement today. McLagan's company, Innovative Logic, "was formally notified on September 5. US Net made every reasonable effort to make sure Mr. McLagan had enough notice to move his Internet service," Stoddard added.

On the advice of US Net's lawyer, Stoddard declined to say why linux.org was disconnected, but did say that "the reason for termination was not financial in nature."

Since the disconnection on October 26, McLagan has been scrambling to set up a new connection with a new Internet service provider, but it remains unclear when the site will be accessible again.

"We're trying to do everything we can to establish connections, get mail flowing again, and be available again as soon as possible," McLagan said. "I'm at least as stressed out as everybody else is out there. We're taking 50 phone calls a day from well-meaning people who are notifying us that it's down. Hopefully I won't end up bald at the end of it."

In the meantime, McLagan has been trying to order from Bell Atlantic a new high-speed T-1 connection to the Internet--a connection three times faster than the previous link. He says he's been frustrated, however, with the speed of the company's response.

McLagan described his site as "the kitchen sink of links for Linux," with a comprehensive list of user groups and links to projects, commercial applications, and hardware vendors. The site delivers between 95,000 and 100,000 page views a day, he said.

He runs the site on two dual-processor Pentium-90 machines and a 486, all of them running Linux.

Internet discussion groups flamed McLagan for not having a backup site or redundant connections. McLagan acknowledges that Linux Online "was caught flat-footed," and he's not looking forward to the cascade of email that will arrive once his Internet connection is re-established.

But he's mostly chagrined that the Linux community is missing out. "It's Linux in general that's suffering at this point," he said.

McLagan also was criticized by those who objected to his recent decision to run banner ads on the Linux site, saying it violated the not-for-profit ethic that pervades the Linux community. But MacLagan said the banner ads generate critical revenue that pays the $2,500 to $3,000 in monthly expenses required to keep the site running.

"Somebody has to pay the T-1 bills," he said.

Having the site down costs him about $100 a day in book sales from an advertising deal with Amazon.com, and another $400 or $500 a day in other banner ads, he added.