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Poking a topical boil

By RandomGit - 29 April 2005 18

People make a big deal about Linux. Canberra just had linux.conf.au so it seems a particularly topical time to stir the pot. Because right now the afficiandos of Open Source have had their spirits refreshed and their fingers set on a course for an internet cold war. I mean, they go batpoop crazy and start up enraged fundamentalist bents over why their way of binary banality is going to save the world from the assmunting monopoly of Microsoft.

Hey boffins, most people who buy prebuilts couldn’t know or care about coding the kernel, they just want to send pictures of their filthy offspring to Grandma in a way that is as unambiguous as possible. Sure, we malign these sorts for being too easily duped by ad men, trojan asses and virus coonts, but then the business opportunities the mooks feed is what leads to investment to increase internet power ya dummies. If you like your java app that traces your IRC social network plotted to a graph with colour coded continental relationship lines with interdependency density, then you need these goofs and their disposable cash to make broadband cheaper. You could convert them, but I’ll share that nugget of bile shortly.

Anyway, I’m a windows man. Not for any particular reason, just the bias of my tertiary degree and a simple insistence that I can tweak my muffin just fine with clicks as opposed to parsers. I don’t have anything to prove. This socialist fervour over freeing the world via open source just turns you from curious social oddities into religious freaks that would turn the most staunch MSN babbler into a luddite overnight.

Sure, you’re hellishly useful in showing the way forward into innovation. That Microsoft is only just unveiling the new version of Office and it’s new spam filtering abilities as an evolution is testament to their knuckle dragging bludgeon of market share vs onus to compete. As long as you keep churning out the clever for free, they’ll keep harvesting it for their own and keeping you in the shadows. Anyone who knows the story of DR-DOS and suicide knows that.

You will never truely win because you never talk in a way that the majority of users would understand and therefore seek and adopt. There is too much RTFM and not enough SFTI. Yes, I just invented an acronym, it stands for Spoon-Feed-The-Idiots. You will never bypass Microsofts iron grip of dumbing it down, the very thing you malign so much.

And never mind anything Microsoft might say in offence to Open Source, you don’t need to have that argument in order to win it. The moment Fuhrer Ballmer danced on stage he lost the layman’s interest. Sure was funny though, hey Steve, we were laughing AT you ya dumbass.

I thought Open Source was beyond the concept of competition. You weren’t building better software to compete because there was no prize to be won. It was aboutr doing a job and doing it the best way, a way that was inclusive. The Open Source gurus were in a state of technocratic enlightenment, letting their calm ocena of their engineering nouse bring El Dorado to us all. By entering into the argument, you empower the greedy agenda of those that disrespect your efforts, you make yourself out to be the virus propagating bum anarchists they would make you out to be.

Just be better, because you are better.

As for the real future in computer use innovation, I say it is the introduction of an ‘All Of The Above’ button, as this glimpse at Davey OS will attest to.

I CAN’T DECIDE, I WANT ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
Poking a topical boil
RandomGit 2:59 pm 02 May 05

Bang, thats the point I was looking for. Thanks.

So the merry-go-round goes ever onward.

GuruJ 2:35 pm 02 May 05

Yeah, but which Linux should be marketed? Debian? Ubuntu? Red Hat? Mandrake? SuSE? Gentoo?

The “Linux community” can’t even agree on a desktop to use. The one thing I know about every day users is that they *don’t* want choice. They just want things to work.

Face it, the job of marketing a “better OS” has to be done by a commercial company, or a least a dedicated non-profit organisation. I don’t believe that it can be done by a loose group of volunteers who have no mechanism to keep their interests aligned.

RandomGit 1:49 pm 02 May 05

Stop preaching to the converted. I want everyone to use Linux. Achievement of said desire won’t be about Linux, it will be about marketing, which can be done for free just as much a IT dev work.

Is that really so bad an idea to have?

bonfire 1:01 pm 02 May 05

y’know theres always a thrid way, or a fourth way etc.

in this job im forced to use windows, and quite frankly its tedious. its slow, unreliable, crashes and i have help somewhere in india.

i came from a solaris environment and would love to go back. but teh folks here use ms office.

so ive suggested mac os x which has a native ms office package, and mac os x server etc.

of course it will never happen because it contractors and outsourcing are so embedded (like ticks). ms = constant fixes = money.

stability = less work = less money.

you do the math.

em 12:12 pm 02 May 05

I don’t think the marketing is all that bad. The extremists get the occasional bit of press, but that’s because anyone with no money behind them HAS to be extreme to get media attention.

I once installed linux on my piece-of-crap PC in less than 10 minutes. I know bugger all about the details of operating systems. I got the install off the CD that came with the PC mag I was reading. The install included a UI that was similar to the Windows UI that I was already used to.

Just goes to show that linux can be easy, and the marketing is not all that crap.

GuruJ 11:14 am 02 May 05

RandomGit – The problem is, the “Linux community” (such as it is) don’t do marketing. They aren’t a business.

I actually think talking about people using “Linux” is unhelpful. It’s rather like saying you drive a 2.2L engine.

The businesses that are going to challenge Microsoft’s dominance are those that package Linux up into something more — Red Hat, Novell and Linspire, for example. These companies sell the user experience.

johnboy is providing the Free Software Foundation (FSF) view of the world … and it’s an important and valid view, but it’s not going to determine the success of the Open Source model.

Open Source works because people realise that unbelievably good results can be accomplished through many people working together to build software. From a commercial perspective, if you get users involved in testing and fixing bugs, development costs can be reduced and you get strong user loyalty to the product.

Sure, users who don’t want to pay will get access to your product for free, but let’s face it — this has always been the case for software anyway. If anything, you’ll probably get more money from donations than you ever would have from demanding payment, and businesses will still pay for quality service and support.

As an IT systems administrator, the best feature of Open Source software is that it gives me ultimate control over the software I run. If there’s a showstopper bug that affects 50% of my users, I don’t have to wait for a Service Pack or an upgrade at a cost of $200 — I can just fix it myself if I have to.

RandomGit 9:38 am 02 May 05

See? These responses are exactly what I’m talking about.

When someone asks about Linux, this is what they get. Some heavy heavy technical arguments that whoosh straight over their heads.

When someone asks about Spindows, they get the spin and it hits the little key synapses and they fork out their cash and allegiance.

I’m saying your hearts, ideologies and materials are right. Your marketing is wrong.

Security problems, bullshit. Harder to use, bullshit. Lack of functionality, bullshit. Lack of compatibility, bullshit. Quite the opposite infact, it’s MS that has these problems and is always catching up with everyone elses good ideas.

Care factor, zero. You aren’t talking at the users level.

Do you get it yet?

johnboy 1:56 pm 30 Apr 05

It’s not about aesthetics or design.

The problem is that into the future (unless there is an IT apocalypse) software is going to be, to greater and greater degrees, enmeshing all aspects of everyone’s lives.

If one group controls that software with no transparency or accountability then it is a matter of time before they abuse that power.

Which is why we need software code that we can inspect, modify, compile and install ourselves.

There are many other arguments to be made but for me that’s the absolute clincher. If the software isn’t free (as in freedom) then neither are its users.

As to the scary nature of the enthusiasts?

Slavery abolitionists weren’t the sort of people you’d want at a dinner party. Neither were the suffragettes.

That the free software community also finds usefull places for the baffled, the bent, and the broken certainly doesn’t make us any prettier. But it does make us better.

(there are a surprising number of bed-ridden cripples on the developers lists, to say nothing of the painfully socially awkward folks who thrive in merit based cultures where real contributions can be measured)

Bill Gates wants to make money and that’s cool. But we want to make the world a better place and we’re not even going to bill you for it.

Neal Stephenson outlines the structural arguments in an entertaining essay from the late 1990’s here.

Spectra 11:36 pm 29 Apr 05

Well, I’m not even going to bother with the security argument – it’s something that’s been talked about elsewhere ad nauseum, and I could add nothing to the discussion that hasn’t been said a thousand times over.

What I will say is something I didn’t have time to go into when I was at work. You seem to imply that we (I’m now including myself as part of the aforementioned community) should avoid entering into the discussion over which software is better etc etc. I disagree – if someone (and as many people as possible) don’t make a case to counter MS’s arguments, FOSS will be taken up at an even slower rate than now. Why is that bad? Why not let them suffer, never knowing what they’re missing? Because Free Software lives or dies by its popularity. The more people that use it, the more people who contribute, and the better it gets for all users. Which is a good thing.

And now, back to stories that actually relate to Canberra… 🙂

RandomGit 8:32 pm 29 Apr 05

Blamemonkey, you love it bitch!

Anyway, Spectra, good work, but I brought up Ballmer to make the point you just reiterated.

And if my silliness fueled rants didn’t diplay a creative overreaction to any current topic (no matter how insignificant), then you or I need to ponder my words a bit more closely 😉

But this issue is definitely real. On a more serious note, I’ve had murmurings from those whom rule the PS that MS is pushed so hard at the moment because MS portrays Open Source as a virus and it’s proponents as criminal irrational MS haters. The claim is, with closed source software like MS Spindows, hackers find X amount of security weaknesses every month and exploit them viciously. With Open Source they will find X squared by itself number of weaknesses, because they can see the source laid out to them, they don’t have to work at finding vulnerabilities.

So the claim goes.

Blamemonkey 6:58 pm 29 Apr 05

Two images I could have lived a long and happy life without seeing/picturing, RandomGit Tweaking his muffin and the Hoff

Spectra 6:11 pm 29 Apr 05

I don’t really buy that – I’m sure there have been cases of it, but no product is without its overly intese proponents – just look at your own reference to Ballmer – I don’t think he won any Windows converts with his monkey dance.

I’ve been using Linux for years and last week’s linux.conf was the first real contact I had had with “the community” at large. Yes, it had its fair share of people fitting any stereotype of Linux user you could imagine. But there’s two points I’ll make:

1) There were also plenty of “normal” people there who had avoided being scared off, and
2) I’ve met Windows people (many of whom love to stick MCSE after their name) were were just as bad as the overly intense Linux users.

RandomGit 5:35 pm 29 Apr 05

All of what you say is true. My point, in amoungst the nonscenscial and figurative rambling, was that the proponents tend to scare lusers off with their intensity.

Spectra 5:20 pm 29 Apr 05

Okay, I’ll bite.

Large chunks of what you said are rubbish. Other chunks are partly true, but more applicable to the “old days” of Linux where it really was an OS for people who loved to edit config files. Fact is, my girlfriend runs Linux and knows bugger all about kernels, daemons, or anything else of that ilk (and neither should she have to). Windows is what people use because it’s what comes pre-installed. Most people that wouldn’t touch Linux wouldn’t install windows from scratch either. People will use whatever is put in front of them if it works, and a properly set up Linux system will work just as well as a properly set up Windows one.

The point of open source has nothing to do with “socialist fervour” – it is, as Prof Moglen put it so eloquently on Saturday, about making sure that we are in control of our computers and data, not “The Monopoly” or anyone else.

I could go on, but I’m sure Johnboy will have plenty more to say on the matter.

Anonymous 5:10 pm 29 Apr 05

yeah wot he/she (or is it she slahes him I can never get it right sed

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