The Linux community spoke and foxnews.com listened. I received a polite message late today from Mr. Dave Denis the Director, Product Development at Fox News. Mr. Denis stated that Fox News is now aware of the problem with their Video page and is working with Maven Networks to get it fixed. Mr. Denis also stated that most of the Fox News developers use Ubuntu. I only wish they had bought the systems preloaded from my company (one can dream, can one not?). I have asked for permission to include the body of his message in this article but have not yet heard back from Mr. Denis. It is after working hours in New York at this time so I expect I will hear from him tomorrow. Should I get permission to include the body of his message I will update this article and add that.
Of course almost as soon as I posted this I received a reply from Mr. Denis:
Hi Gene – not a problem. … If you want to talk a bit further
tomorrow I’m free in the morning. In the meantime, I believe
foxbusiness.com DOES work in Linux
Director, Product Development
FOX News Digital
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
So, here is Mr. Denis original message:
This message is for Gene – hi Gene, I read your blog entry re:
foxnews.com and Linux. I just wanted to reach out and let you
know we’re trying to fix the issue at this very moment. We’re
working with our video vendor, Maven Networks to diagnose the
problem. Most of our developers actually run Ubuntu so we’re
definitely focused on correcting it. Thanks,
What I get reading this message from Mr. Denis is that Fox News employees do care about Fox News Online users and are responsive to problems on their web site when they are made aware of them. Although I have not yet spoken with Mr. Denis directly I imagine there will be a rewrite or replacement of the code that does the various tests.
Further the fact that he states “Most of our developers actually run Ubuntu …” shows me that Linux is more main-stream than many would claim. I am quite pleased to read that a major news organization like Fox News is a Linux user. While it is not likely that the Fox News reporters and news desks are using Ubuntu or any other distribution of Linux we all know that the adoption of Linux in server closets and development labs is a foot in the door to corporate desktops. Once on the corporate desktop it is only a matter of time before more people take the penguin home.
I suspect right now Linux is much more prevalent on corporate and home desktops world wide than can ever be shown with “market share” numbers. Since most market share numbers come from product sales and the great majority of Linux distributions are “free” these market share studies will never be accurate in regard to Linux. Any web based market share study using web logs would also be skewed since many Linux users keep their Firefox browsers running with User Agent Switcher on reporting to be a browser from a Microsoft based system. Konqueror and Opera both have the same type of function. Just witness the many comments on Digg.com and elsewhere that suggest using a fake user agent to fix problems like the one shown recently when viewing the Fox News Video page.
I will follow up in this article with further information regarding Fox News Video and their fix to the Video page so be sure to get the RSS feed for our web log comments if you want to keep up.
Update Tue Apr 29 13:52:21 UTC 2008 I just received this e-mail from Mr. Denis:
Turns out this line was causing the problem:
in this code block:
Developers are working to push the change live shortly.
So, we should be able to see the Fox News Video page without faking the user agent later today. Do not forget to clear your browser cache or force a page reload if you are checking this page.
Update Wed Apr 30 16:07:45 UTC 2008:
I am happy to report that as of this morning Fox News Video and Fox Business Video in Linux are working natively. No User Agent Switcher needed. Thank you Mr. Dave Denis and the Fox News development team. Anyone who does web development can appreciate the effort you took to get this working. To those of you following these articles who wrote to ask for this please take a moment to write a thank you note to the Fox News development team. Write firstname.lastname@example.org and put Attention: Web Development Team – Thank You in the subject line.
Edit Fri Sep 11 14:53:35 CDT 2009: update our shopping URL.