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ESR's Halloween XI -- Get the FUD 771

Posted by timothy
from the strange-arguments dept.
dave writes "In the newest Halloween Document (mirror), Eric Raymond analyzes Microsoft's 'Get The Facts' road show. The anti-Linux arguments they are using now -- and, even more, the arguments they're *not* using -- reveal how desperate Microsoft is getting. He explains why he thinks we need to focus more on government adoptions, and predicts serious ugliness during the next year."
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ESR's Halloween XI -- Get the FUD

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  • ...is in the spinoff projects. For example, this open source Java memory profiler [cougaar.org] is a spinoff of the DARPA-supported COUGAAR [cougaar.org] agent framework.

    And since both projects are hosted on a server running GForge [gforge.org], I can help improve GForge during working hours. Good times!
    • by ShatteredDream (636520) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:05AM (#9507274) Homepage
      If the DoD switches in near totality to OpenOffice, hundreds of corporations will switch too for the sake of compatability with their primary source of bread and butter. Microsoft is terrified at the idea of losing not just approximately 1-1.5 million defense desktops (not counting the other, smaller, departments) but the corporations that sell to them. A mass move to Linux, or better yet in 2 years, HaikuOS would be a disaster for Microsoft.
      • by The Snowman (116231) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:12AM (#9507355) Homepage

        If the DoD switches in near totality to OpenOffice, hundreds of corporations will switch too for the sake of compatability with their primary source of bread and butter. Microsoft is terrified at the idea of losing not just approximately 1-1.5 million defense desktops (not counting the other, smaller, departments) but the corporations that sell to them. A mass move to Linux, or better yet in 2 years, HaikuOS would be a disaster for Microsoft.

        Good luck. The generals and admirals want their Exchange/Outlook combo and Active Directory. At least in the Air Force there is a huge push to make Outlook the standard with a truly global address book and all the stupid little "features" it adds that I just turn off because they are annoying. Sigh. This will be an uphill battle. I hope open source can make inroads into the U.S. government, especially the DOD, but it will be a battle fiercer than any we have fought.

        Steve Ballmer spoke at a recent Air Force conference that I attended. He let us know that the U.S. Air Force is the single largest customer of Microsoft. Do you really think we can "just switch the whole DOD" that easily? The military/DOD is a huge customer for Microsoft and one they will not give up without an epic battle.

        • by ldspartan (14035) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:30AM (#9507588) Homepage
          imho, Outlook/Exchange's ability to handle meeting scheduling is a Big Freaking Deal. Of course, I'm just a college student working in IT, but I've never seen anything in the Free Software world that could compare to the power of Exchange for colloboration.

          Am I wrong?

          --
          Phil
          • Meeting Maker is a commercial product that works quite well. I've often toyed with the idea of building an OS equivalent. That said, there've been quite a few web-based OS systems like this, but none of them seem to have become popular. For some reason, this particular question has not been a big itch for the OS community.

            Collab.net, founded by OS gurus (from Apache IIRC), provides collaboration tools in use by "over 400,000 users", and I think has a free version.
            • by Kiryat Malachi (177258) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @01:01PM (#9508872) Journal
              Honestly, I think it's because getting a good calendaring/email solution together isn't a small task; its equivalent to writing a full-fledged office program. However, unlike an office program, it isn't very useful to the home user, pretty much solely useful for corporate users. As a result, there's not really an "itch" for most developers.

              As to the other part of it - honestly, Outlook/Exchange is a pretty decent setup. Outlook as an email client is awful, but Outlook/Exchange as a group calendaring/room reservation/resource reservation setup (yes, we reserve a conference room by adding it to our meeting request on Outlook, and resources similarly for those that are tracked) is a decent solution. It would take a lot of work for an OS developer to come up with something as good, and the companies that most need that sort of solution (giant corporations; IBMs, Intels, Motorolas, Walmarts) are the ones who are most able to deal with both the cost of licenses.

              Basically, the problem is that its a big problem that has no use for home users, and none of the big corporates has shown a desire to move away from the 'good enough' solution O/Ex provides.
            • While Meeting Maker doesn't integrate with Outhouse (an email client which, imho, needs to die), it DOES do one crucial thing: since it can run on at least Solaris and HP-UX, pure Unix users can keep track of their meetings along with Windows users.
        • "Good luck. The generals and admirals want their Exchange/Outlook combo and Active Directory. At least in the Air Force there is a huge push to make Outlook the standard with a truly global address book and all the stupid little "features" it adds that I just turn off because they are annoying. Sigh. This will be an uphill battle. I hope open source can make inroads into the U.S. government, especially the DOD, but it will be a battle fiercer than any we have fought."

          Yup...and another problem I've seen fi

        • by Anonymous Coward
          You know what's Microsoft Achille's heal when it comes to DoD? IPv6 support! That's right.
          The DoD mandates IPv6 since Oct. 2003 as they're going to switch their whole network to IPv6 between now and 2008. It is critical to them.
          Now, Windows XP SP1 and Windows server 2003 both have IPv6, but it's not a proper dual stack implementation since an IPv6 socket can't connect to (or accept connections from) an IPv4 host. Which means porting Windows Apps to IPv6 is a total nightmare (unless they're written in Java o
      • Exactly. Windows DOES NOT MATTER.

        If the apps are the same acros platforms, the underlying doesnt matter, except for cost and stability.. Guess who wins out on that?
      • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:25AM (#9507528) Homepage Journal
        Hopefully, OpenOffice will be accepted in major areas like that - because then it would help to polish up the software and close any gaps that might exist between OpenOffice and MSOffice.

        Personally, I've been trying to switch but find little things that make it harder to do - incompatibilities with my clients, things that aren't as usable as I'd like, etc. Without getting too much into it, I just think that MSOffice has had the benefit of time (which has good and bad consequences).
      • by southpolesammy (150094) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:45AM (#9507778) Journal
        Mass migration looms.
        Big business senses problems,
        Sticks finger in dike.
  • new name (Score:3, Funny)

    by A_GREER (761429) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:01AM (#9507235)
    In a quest for truth in advertising, it will now be called "Get the Spin"
  • As always (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swordboy (472941) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:02AM (#9507242) Journal
    Be sure to order [order-4.com] your free evaluation kit. Lets slashdot this baby! It costs them a few bucks for every one. Get one for your mom!
  • Perfervid? (Score:5, Funny)

    by burgburgburg (574866) <.splisken06. .at. .email.com.> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:07AM (#9507290)
    Anyone who thinks I'm being perfervid

    Main Entry: perfervid
    Pronunciation: (")p&r-'f&r-v&d, 'p&r-
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: New Latin perfervidus, from Latin per- thoroughly + fervidus fervid
    : marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion : excessively fervent

    Yes, that's exactly what I was going to say.

    • by NaugaHunter (639364) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:19AM (#9507441)
      Why not? It's a perfectly cromulent word that embiggens his point.
    • by GPLDAN (732269)
      I thought I saw it on the front of an ATI video card box. "The Radeon is the best perfevid on the market!"
    • by TBone (5692) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:35AM (#9507649) Homepage

      Next time, in promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness, a compacted comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency. Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement, and asinine affectations.

      Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and veracious vivacity, without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolixity, psittaceous vacuity ventriloquial verbosity, and vaniloquent vapidity. Shun double-entendres, prurient jocosity, and pestiferous profanity, obscurant or apparent!!

      From Don't Use Big Words... [abcsmallbiz.com]

  • Too desperate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KrisCowboy (776288) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:08AM (#9507300) Journal
    The "Get the Facts" series is one of the funniest things I've ever read, especially about linux. M$ is unable to digest the fact that more and more governments are going for F/OSS. With hardware becoming surprisingly cheaper(well, atleast for some governments), they are no longer willing to spend more money for software. Even some state governments are switching to linux. The time/money involved in training the staff to adopt to linux is better than sinking huge amounts into fighting viruses and frequent shutdowns.
    • Re:Too desperate (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goldspider (445116)
      OK, first of all, can we retire "M$" already? It's not clever anymore!!

      To my main point, Microsoft isn't "afraid" or "desperate". Perhaps they've been a bit shallow on innovation of late, but they're not losing any significant market share. Most of these places that Slashdot often reports as "switching to Linux" are either switching from another *NIX, or are only considering Linux.

      Microsoft may be running out of ideas (other than finding new ways to keep their stranglehold on the home PC user), but t

    • Re:Too desperate (Score:5, Insightful)

      by decipher_saint (72686) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:27AM (#9507552) Homepage
      The time/money involved in training the staff to adopt to linux is better than sinking huge amounts into fighting viruses and frequent shutdowns.
      You sir have never tried to train Gov't employees, I'd rather deal with the viruses...

      On the other hand, if Governments (especially the United States Gov't) start using more OSS-based applications / operating systems there will probably be a marked increase in viruses / worms that affect those platforms. Well, other than infecting OSS with a mostly clueless user base.

      P.S. I'm mostly joking about Gov't employees, there are quite a few adept Government people, but I'm sure even you guys know about the "lifers" who still pine for their typewriters...
    • Re:Too desperate (Score:4, Insightful)

      by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:12PM (#9508214) Homepage Journal
      The thing that's truly remarkable about non-US governments making the switch to Linux, is that they now consider independence from MS as an end in itself. Do you realize the implications of that? It means that they're thinking the way much of the existing Linux community does -- that even if Microsoft manages to fix the bugs in their software, even if they lower the price, even if they do all these things -- being locked-in to Microsoft is still a problem, and a problem that must be eliminated.

      This is truly an important point.
      • Re:Too desperate (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @02:32PM (#9510088) Homepage Journal
        ... they now consider independence from MS as an end in itself.

        This isn't all that new a phenomenon. For some years, I've found that a simple way of ending most discussions of the subject with non-Americans (and some Americans ;-) is to ask "Do you want your data and communications controlled by a giant American corporation that doesn't have your interests at heart?" This cuts right to the heart of the matter, and often produces a quick change of topic.

        Also, for much of the past couple years, I've been working on a project that amounts to getting a big European corporation (it doesn't much matter which one) from under the thumb of IBM. Several years ago, their management realized that their corporate data was in fact controlled by IBM, and they couldn't access it without IBM's cooperation. My job has amounted to "data raiding", extracting the data from their old computers by any means necessary and stuffing it into a flock of little linux (RedHat) boxes scattered around the Net. There has been much obstructionism in this task from IBM, whose people have been ordered to give us as little information about data formats as possible, consistent with their contracts of course. But they're losing the battle, because for their system to work at all, most of the data has to be exposed to the company and its customers at some point, and that's where we can intercept it and cache the information somewhere else. Thus, most customer information can be found by merely sending us a copy of the billing print files.

        Much of our "sales" guys' argument is that we can't do to them what IBM did over the years. They have access to all the source, all the way down to the bottom. If they decide they don't like us, they can simply walk away from us, and they won't lose anything (except some capable consultants ;-).

        One irony is that we've advised them a couple of times that IBM's linux workstations would in fact be very good machines for their purposes. But we also emphasize that ease of migration is important, and they should always be on the lookout for new suppliers.

        You might think that there's another irony in the fact that this approach is being used by a group that is mostly Americans. But it's no irony at all, because many Americans are just as worried about IBM and Microsoft power. Any corporation with that much control over our information is a serious threat to society, regardless of where the borders may be drawn.

        I just like to say "giant American corporation" to non-Americans because it gets the idea across better. There is a widespread perception in much of the world that the leaders in America have a very arrogant and possessive attitude towards the rest of the world. Many people view MS and IBM as much more threatening than a "local" corporation, irrational as such an attitude may be. But you can use this to get across the idea that they really should look at approaches that free them from domination by any such giant power center.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:09AM (#9507316)
    I just emailed ESR about the gross misreference to GNU/Linux as linux in his article.
  • by bollow (a) NoLockIn (785367) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:10AM (#9507330) Homepage
    Quote from the article:

    Linux isn't free. Hello? If there is actually anyone still left on the planet who thinks the term free software was a good idea, I hope they're paying attention. Because what Microsoft is doing here is exploiting the old familiar gratis/libre ambiguity of the word free in yet another way. They're setting up for a claim that free software advocates are lying or deluded because Linux has a nonzero TCO. Therefore, goes the implication, you can't really trust them about that other freedom thing, can you?

    Maybe we need a better / more effective / less easily confused way to talk about the "freedom" aspect. I'd be interested in constructive discussion of this. But there is a logical flaw in ESR's argument here. It's wrong to conclude that using the term "free software" is a bad idea just because MS tries to muddy the waters. MS may or may not succeed in making our current way of communicating the freedom aspect of Free Software less effective, but this is certainly not a reason to stop talking about "Free Foftware". Quite on the contrary, if after all their studying Microsoft is now trying to discredit the "freedom thing", isn't that an indication that emphasis on the freedom aspect is important, and should be increased rather than diminished!

    • From the article:

      Semantic warfare -- struggles over the meanings of words as proxies for political or market positions -- is just like other kinds of warfare; you want to fight it on the other guy's turf, not yours. Every minute we spend arguing with Microsoft flacks about what free means is a win for them and a lose for us.

      From parent:

      But there is a logical flaw in ESR's argument here. It's wrong to conclude that using the term "free software" is a bad idea just because MS tries to muddy the waters.

    • RMS addresses this issue in his speech given at Westminster University, entitled "The Danger of Software Patents". His opening line?

      "You've probably heard of me in connection with free software, that's free as in freedom, it doesn't mean zero price..."

      If RMS has to clarify this in a speech he's giving about something not directly related to the topic at hand, it's reasonable to assume that at least a few people were confused about the term. However, ESR and the Open Source crowd could easily develop simi

    • Neither "Open Source" or "Free Software" contain a complete explanation of what they mean.

      "Open Source" can be confused with viewable source. MS can compete against that.

      "Free Software" can mean libre or gratis, MS can't compete with either of those meanings.

      MS have marketing and business analysts thinking about things like this. They've chosen to say "open source" (and "Linux" for the OS). This should be enough to tell us that these terms are not what we should be using.

      Winning depends on us being f
  • by ForsakenRegex (312284) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:13AM (#9507361) Homepage
    I'm a bit surprised that ESR would point out the Apche vs. IIS differences when Microsoft could come back by pointing out you can always run Apache on Windows if you want to.

    I'm sure MS would prefer you use IIS, but this seems an easily deflected statement. I'm positive that MS prefers you using Apache on Windows to you using Apache on Linux.

    • by countach (534280) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:33AM (#9507619)
      >I'm a bit surprised that ESR would point out the
      >Apche vs. IIS differences when Microsoft could
      >come back by pointing out you can always run
      >Apache on Windows if you want to.

      Irrelevant. The point is whether Open Source is a viable alternative or not. MS absolutely doesn't want you messing with Apache on any platform, because if all your apps are open source, you are no longer locked into Windows OS.
    • ESR was trying to show the contrast between open and closed development. It doesn't really matter what platform Apache runs on. What matters is that it is open, has a much larger market share than IIS, and is hacked less. That refutes Microsoft's attempts to paint open source software as inherently less secure.
    • by swm (171547)
      I'm positive that MS prefers you using Apache on Windows to you using Apache on Linux.

      Not necessarily.

      If all your apps are portable across platforms, then the platform is reduced to a commodity, and you can choose the best one based on price/performance. This is not a place where Microsoft wants to be.

      Microsoft would prefer that you didn't use Apache at all, but if you do use it, they might rather you ran it on a different platform, separated from Windows by an impenetrable wall of subtle but maddenin

  • Yeesh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:13AM (#9507366) Journal
    The first couple of "Halloween Documents" were genuinely interesting, but their value has been asymptotically approaching zero for a while, and this one (which has no original content and is basically Raymond's thoughts on something he read about on Slashdot) has now hit zero.

    (Yeah, OK, that's probably not quite mathematically correct. Here's a proposition -- if you explain that zeta function story from last week, feel free to then go ahead and flame over "asymptotically".)

    • Re:Yeesh (Score:3, Insightful)

      Isn't it dishonest to use a title made famous by leaked internal memos to promote what is, when you get right down to it, a rant? Or, if you're being generous, an essay, maybe even a white paper?

  • by BigBadBus (653823) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:14AM (#9507384) Homepage
    A friend at work attended one of these Linux vs. M$ roadshows in the UK a few weeks back. These are the basic points:

    The basic messages about selecting MS/Linux for a system are governed by the following:
    - Don't change for the sake of it
    - Take into account what your people know (e.g. Linux possibly better if you have lots of Unix people)
    - Much of the cost saving of Linux over Unix comes from hardware - i.e. using Intel over mainframe/AIX/zSeries etc.
    - OS/Platform is just a tool - choose the right one for the job
    - MS/Linux TCO's are nearly always within 10% for most projects by the time all costs are accounted for (this was from an independent solutions provider)
    - Don't just focus on TCO - look at ROI (return on investment)
    - MS is pretty well zero-development (no code or scripting)
    - The People and Processes are more important than the technical solution
    - Check licensing model of any platform (will any Linux development become your IP, or will it be open)
    - Linux still does not have a really good desktop and the office suites available are still lagging
    - security issues such as virus updates and patch management are more of an administration issue than a platform one
    - Easier porting J2EE->.Net than the other way round (i.e. MS ties you in worse!!!)

    • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:26AM (#9507543)
      The basic messages about selecting MS/Linux for a system are governed by the following:

      - Much of the cost saving of Linux over Unix comes from hardware - i.e. using Intel over mainframe/AIX/zSeries etc.

      Wrong. Go buy a license for 100 mail users, or 50 MSSQL user licenses. OUCH. Now compare Postgres/MySQL or Sendmail/Qmail/god-knows-what-free-email-servers

      - OS/Platform is just a tool - choose the right one for the job

      Not quite. I get a bunch of apps with a linux install that windows doesnt see fit us have. Even compilers come free. Where's a free (stripped down) version of Visual Basic on Windows? You know, include a low VB 5 compiler for quick stuff..

      - MS/Linux TCO's are nearly always within 10% for most projects by the time all costs are accounted for (this was from an independent solutions provider)

      ---As said by Independant firm who just got 50K from Microsoft.

      - Don't just focus on TCO - look at ROI (return on investment)

      Nope. ROI doesnt work in IT. IT is a loss leader to prevent bigger losses (downtime).

      - MS is pretty well zero-development (no code or scripting)

      Yep, and it it doesnt fit, you're screwed. Period.

      - The People and Processes are more important than the technical solution

      Ok, people are stupid. In Linux, you can people-proof more than you can in Windows. Easier to alias and block commands than it is to load some dumb "dont click here" windows program.

      - Check licensing model of any platform (will any Linux development become your IP, or will it be open)

      USING Linux is free with no strings attached. USING SOURCE code from GPL programs is where you get in trouble. However, using GCC to compile is fully legit.

      - Linux still does not have a really good desktop and the office suites available are still lagging

      Windows and everything teh sux0r. Face it, THIS IS AN OPINION. The statement is worthless.

      - security issues such as virus updates and patch management are more of an administration issue than a platform one

      They are? If I hear of root exploit, I take all harmed services down immediately, and patch one by one. I also give calls to the companies I work with. They agree that having a little bit of downtime is well worth the risk of not being auto-hacked.

      - Easier porting J2EE->.Net than the other way round (i.e. MS ties you in worse!!!)

      That's why you should use Java OR a server side program (who cares about OS then ;-)...
  • by sheeny (730803) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:14AM (#9507385)

    I firmly believe Microsoft have done us a favour.

    "Windows vs Linux TCO..."

    CIO, "Linux, what's Linux?"
    Engineer, "Its that system I have been trying to tell you about that can save us time and money"
    CIO, "Ok, tell me about it then"
    10 Mins later...
    "Ok do it, lets see how it goes."

    End of Story. And even though the 'facts' are biased, lets hope most CIO's can consider both sides of the story:)

  • by epo001 (558061) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:16AM (#9507420)
    I was at the Edinburgh event last week and spoke to many Microsofties and to their corporate customers. The customers were quite cynical about Microsoft's motives but many of them said, in effect, they wouldn't have attended such an event if it hadn't been organised by Microsoft. Microsoft are panicing, time is on our side. Ed
  • I gotta wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by foxtrot (14140) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#9507501)
    When you've got a market share that most companies in other sectors would kill for, you've got most of the Fortune 500 convinced they can't live without your product, and you make more money than you know what to do with-- I mean, you're Microsoft, fer cripe's sake-- how the heck do you get desperate?

    -JDF
  • Um (Score:5, Funny)

    by Requiem (12551) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:24AM (#9507512) Journal
    Can we stop giving a soapbox to a man who claims to channel Pan? [catb.org]

    Until I realized, finally, belatedly, what had been happening to me. Until the Great God Pan reached out of my hindbrain and thundered "YOU!" And his gift is music and his chosen instruments the pipes and flutes. And his, too the power of joy; magic so strong that when it flowed out of me, even before I knew what I was doing, it amazed people into awe and incoherence and poetry.

    That day I was reborn; from a skinny lame kid with a flute into a shaman and a vessel of the Goat-Foot God, the Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the Horned Lord. And the music was my first power, but not my last.

    ESR is off the deep end.

    • Re:Um (Score:5, Funny)

      by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:38AM (#9507687)
      How is that any more or less valid than any other religious belief? Should we ignore all Christian people because they believe someone walked on water? Or muslims because they do streching exercises every day as a form of prayer to their god?

      Just because a religion sounds silly to you doesn't make it any less valid than any other religion.
      • Re:Um (Score:3, Funny)

        by Requiem (12551)
        Yeah, but if a guy claims that he saw Jesus in his coffee that morning, I'm still going to look at him funny.
  • by SWroclawski (95770) <serge.wroclawski@org> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:30AM (#9507590) Homepage
    Linux isn't free. Hello? If there is actually anyone still left on the planet who thinks the term free software was a good idea, I hope they're paying attention.

    Can't go one whole article without attacking the ideals of Free Software, can you?

    No one thinks the term "Free Software" is a good one, the issue has always been that there's nothing better. I can't use Open Source since the term doesn't mean the same thing.

    The only other term I can use is Digital Commons, but Digitial Commons is a larger movement than Free Software.

    Anyway, ESR, you can't go one whole article without going on the attack against Free Software, can you? You can't accept that many of the ideals of Open Source haven't panned out, and that with the recent legal attacks, the commitement and idealism of Free Software is what's driving so many to resist so strongly.

    You're using such similar tactics to MS that it's startling. At first you ignored Free Software- refused to talk about it in many articles. Then you attacked it. Now you make subtle arguments aginst it in each thing you put out.

    If you really wanted a unified movement- you'd stop with the blatant attacks.
  • Terminology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdavidb (449077) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:32AM (#9507605) Homepage Journal

    I like the way Raymond asserts that arguing over the exact meaning of "free" in "free software" is meaningless, but then takes care to use the word "cracked" instead of "hacked" when referring to MS IIS websites. :)

  • SNL Sketch (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:37AM (#9507675)
    This "Get the Facts" tour sounds like a Jon Lovitz [imdb.com] "liar" sketch on Saturday Night Live.
  • Software libre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amightywind (691887) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:44AM (#9507762) Journal

    Hello? If there is actually anyone still left on the planet who thinks the term free software was a good idea, I hope they're paying attention. Because what Microsoft is doing here is exploiting the old familiar gratis/libre ambiguity of the word free in yet another way.

    Raymond should be less glib and contrive a better argument against the term free software than mere coersion. I see no reason why Micro$oft's perverse attacks should affect my philosophy the freedom of ideas, or dictate which terms are acceptable in discussing it. In these dark days of ever expanding corporatism we need more discussion of freedom, not less.

  • It's not a war! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:47AM (#9507800)
    Remember how Linux advocates, real early on, used to love to quote Ghandi? You know, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you've won? Well, it works both ways. Now we have both camps bitterly and intentionally fighting with each other. And what good does it do? If Linux--excuse me, I mean "open source in general" is so blindly superior to Windows in every single way, then that's it. It's over. The existing momentum will carry through and eventually the better solution wins. It's a quiet revolution. It isn't a niche loss, like laser discs or Betamax.

    Now what should be worrying people like Mr. Raymond is that Linux-based desktops (which is what we're really talking about, not simply "open source"), is that Linux *isn't* so blindingly superior as to carry the day. Truthfully, I think this is the case. I've used UNIX, I like Linux, but we're essentially having a big battle of the old and huge operating systems here, and none of them is a revolution. None of them is so much better than all the others is wonderful and positive ways. (Mostly they're all negative: don't get virii, don't have to deal with Microsoft.) In fact, the entire concept of the big operating system is a relic. Does anyone argue about the OS in a digital camera? Or a Palm? Or a cell phone? No. And those are more akin to what an "OS" of the future needs to be: thin, small, and unobtrusive. We need the Commodore 64 of the next decade, not the next VAX.

    Thanks for listening :)
  • The gloves are off. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Roskolnikov (68772) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @11:50AM (#9507857)
    After Microsofts *successful* defence in the anti-trust suit it
    appears as if they are on the attack again.

    I recently had the chance to 'lunch' with a team of boiler room types on the topic of ' Interoperability, Integration, Extensibility'
    subtitled 'Unix interoperability'

    After enjoying a excellent meal at one of the better steak houses in town I began to notice that this 'meating' wasn't so much about working with Unix systems as it was about providing unix services from Windows servers; After being seeded with 'free' software (funny that, free tools just not free source) title:Windows Services for Unix 3.5 and looking closely I saw that they are now providing NFS, Syslog, NIS, DNS, Mail and a tool to 'port' your Unix 'legacy' (their words) apps to a modern OS.

    What frightened me most was that my inclusion to this meeting was last minute and that my 'peers' didn't have a technical bone in em, they were all either Microsoft partners or middle to upper manglement types.

    The last 'free' software I saw from Microsoft was IE, I wonder if this latest offering will have as profound an effect.

  • by TomatoMan (93630) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:05PM (#9508097) Homepage Journal
    He writes:
    Microsoft's underlying problem is that it employs about 22,000 programmers; the open-source community can easily muster ten times that number. That means the capability gap that has opened up between the open-source codebase and Windows is only going to get worse from Microsoft's point of view, not better.
    The difference here is that as he says, Microsoft employs 22,000 programmers. If we assume these are full-time employees, then they're working 40 hours a week on whatever Microsoft wants. Do the 220,000 theorized open-source programmers have 40 hours a week to spend on co-ordinated open source projects?

    If this wildly conjectured figure is true, it may be that the case that the number of "man-hours" availble in the two camps is comparable, if the open source coders can find an average of 4 hours a week to work on nonpaying projects. Counting heads doesn't make for a very useful comparison in this case, though, unless someone's going to hire the 220,000 to do open source work (and let me know if that's happening, because I'll show up for an application).

    I don't think "we" should get too overconfident about the "capability gap." "We" certainly have fabulously talented coders, but Microsoft certainly does too, and never underestimate the power of a focused monolith. Could we get our army to proceed with even one-tenth of Microsoft's coordinated corporate project discipline? How much potentially productive time do open-source coders lose just bickering with each other in lengthy flamewars about what "free" means?
  • Very disingenuous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sethamin (533611) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:08PM (#9508143)
    I think ESR is being really disingenuous here and not really addressing the meat of MS's points at all. I wouldn't call it FUD, but he's certainly missing the argument and just responding snidely to them.

    1. Claim that linux isn't free.

    ESR seems to think all MS is talking about here is that it isn't free because it "has a nonzero TCO." Sure, that's part of it, but I think the argument goes deeper. The point is that the majority of corporate customers are not going to just download a freely available distribution of Linux, because most enterprise customers NEED support. Therefore, they are going to buy a supported distribution from a major Linux vendor, and that most certainly costs money. In that case it's most certainly not free (as in beer), and while it is still free (as in speech), those companies are not going to really exercise that freedom because they can't just modify their distribution and still expect support from the vendor.

    2. Pretend that Shared source is the same as Open Source.

    ESR's basically just belittles this statement, but again, there's some truth behind it. If you consider a company as above, namely, that they have bought a Linux vendor's distribution with support and they are not going to modify that distribution and lose their support. At that point, what IS the difference between 'Shared Source' and 'Open Source'? Either way, they're only looking at the source code and not modifying it. The only real difference I can see is that with Open Source (or really, Free Software) they could try to create a patch and get it into a future release in the hope that their vendor will pick it up and support it. This is really only marginally better than relying on your commercial software vendor for new features, because you're still dependent on some external entity (in this case, your vendor) and their decision making process to get that feature.
  • ESR is just a zealot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:09PM (#9508163)
    IMHO, ESR makes one valid point and one only:

    Writing code that doesn't suck always has to be our base-level and most important response

    To put the Open Source movement in some kind of "battle" with Microsoft only serves to belittle what the F/OSS community does.

    Let's put things a little into perspective:

    1. A huge amount of OSS software runs on Windows also - Mozilla, GIMP, OpenOffice, etc. etc.

    This means that whether you run Windows, Linux, BSD, whatever, you have a choice. You do not need to be tied into one of a few commercial software vendors for your applications. It also means that you have the opportunity to try out new applications at little risk and no cost - as a result, you get a comparitive benchmark and can make a decision for yourself whether a particular application you need is better served by a commercial or OSS application. End of story.

    2. It's closed standards, not Microsoft, that's the problem.

    Using a computer brings with it a responsibility - namely that you take charge of the data that you store on it. You decide how shareable that data is to be, you decide how portable it needs to be and you decide how deeply you lock it away from the eyes of others.

    DRM and closed formats simply mean that you hand over that responsibility to a commercial organisation, nothing more. That means that they charge you for taking control of your data and, because they are interested in making a profit, will naturally try to charge you more as time goes on. When use of that DRM format becomes widespread, it becomes the norm and all of a sudden, everyone has had their responsibilities handed over to that organisation. This is the potential loss of personal freedom we must focus on not becoming reality.

    Microsoft backs DRM heavily and it is that issue we should fight against because that's the only danger to Open Source - OSS and Microsoft can co-exist provided standards and formats remain open to all. If Microsoft cannot accept that, then that's their problem...

    3. Users need to be educated to make a choice.

    Spreading the word of Open Source & Linux is the only way forward because people then start to make choices for themselves as to what software best fulfills the job that they need to do, rather than simply just blindly consuming every piece of software Microsoft churns out. If the F/OSS community has no remit to "destroy Microsoft" then it can simply focus on creating good software and listening to the users of that software as to how to improve or change that it for the better.

    For example, while I can work wonders with UNIX command line tools that can format text just about any way I want it, my teenage niece who does her homework in Word, Excel & Powerpoint is not suddenly going to get a knock on the door from her uncle armed with his Linux CD, just because he thinks "grep" and "sed" are better... Everyone has their own perceptions of what is usable.

    The OSS community is doing what it should be doing right now - keep churning out the good software, not rising to Microsoft's little tantrums & letting the users know they have a choice.

  • by e.m.rainey (91553) <[erik] [at] [rainey.name]> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:14PM (#9508241) Homepage
    There's lots of compelling arguments in your case here, but I think you could use some edits.

    1.) " Like the dog that didn't bark in the night-time, these omissions are significant, because Microsoft marketing is thorough and ruthlessly opportunistic." The first part of this statement is rather confounding. I assume that you mean that that fact that they have dropped these arguments should be indicative of the thoroughness of the marketers.

    2.) "Do I even need to point out that most of the factual claims are blatant lies brought to you by the same people who got caught faking video evidence in their Federal antitrust trial?". Unless you can show that the actual forger is at work here, refrain from painting all MS employees with the brush of a criminal. This only serves to undermine your objectivity.

    3.) "Hammer them without mercy -- but do it in a quiet, reasonable voice and keep control of the terms of argument. " Do it "ruthlessly [reference.com]" perhaps? This also serves to undermine you credibility as it shows you too are playing the word game. Ruthless is a "charged word" even though it used to mean "without emotion" it implies some bitter, hateful vengence now. You used it to describe MS Marketing before but you don't use it now, but just be consistent. The rest of the statement is good though, stick to the facts and definitions, and keep the argument in your favor.

    4.) "...higher Windows TCO is forever" Please quantify "higher" with a number.

    5.) "Shared source is a poison pill." Shared Source may be a misnomer but calling it a "posion" pill is just imflamitory.

    6.) "Can you explain why Windows IIS websites are cracked or defaced more often than Apache ones, despite the fact that IIS runs less than a third the number of sites Apache does?" Please quantify "more often". Also, attempt to separate this into 2 questions, as the answer will undoubtably be "Hackers hate Windows, hackers attack Windows" which will only be to their advantage because it implies that they are top dog. The top dog is perpetually being challenged. Saying that they are attacked often is handing them the opportunity to say that they are top dog.

    Otherwise, this is good article and it's got some great questions for MS PR about the Shared Source == Open Source nonsense.
    • Sherlock Holmes (Score:3, Informative)

      by bstadil (7110)
      Like the dog that didn't bark

      Inspector Gregory:

      "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

      Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

      "The dog did nothing in the night-time."

      "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

      From "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • yeah, yeah, yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kardar (636122) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @12:36PM (#9508534)
    I probably agree with most of what he says there, except for that

    1) good code isn't propoganda
    2) destroying Microsoft shouldn't be a goal
    3) beggars can't be choosers - (I won't beg people to use Linux)

    not to mention...

    Using patents as anything other than a form of insurance or a form of fake currency is entirely unproductive and will only serve to reduce their value as a fake currency and as a modern-day form of insurance. Unless, of course, people would choose to use them for what they are meant to be used for...

    The DMCA is going to be rewritten

    Someone is going to take what this Halloween document says and twist it and try to prove that Linux is out to destroy proprietary software and your paycheck, which will generate more arguments back and forth.

    Just because Red Hat might be right doesn't mean that they are the best choice in software for your organization.

    Imagine a cool, calm, peaceful, beautiful, and very blue body of water - a fresh cool breeze blowing through your hair; the smell of flowers and other good-smelling things; the sounds of birds and leaves blowing in the breeze.

    Microsoft is a company. What is a company but a collection of individuals. The problem is not Microsoft, the problem is individuals who work, used to work, know people who work, etc... at Microsoft. The same thing can be said for government. It's not Microsoft + the government out to destroy Linux, it's individuals + individuals being selfish, greedy and stupid.

    The first thing that can be done is to show respect for Microsoft. Sure, Linux costs more, but IT'S BETTER. (which is true). Linux is more expensive because it's better. (it's actually less expensive). Now all the rich folks will want Linux because it's the "Cadillac" of operating systems. Microsoft gets Chevrolet status by their own request.

    I recently though of an analogy after reading Stephen Hawking's book - it's about entropy, or the direction of time. Glasses fall off of tables and shatter, they don't pick themselves up from pieces on the floor and magically un-break themselves and fall "up" back on the table in one piece.

    But God, or in this case, let's compare God to the public - to the individual who is observing what is going on, and making a decision, a judgement, as to which software solution is the best to buy.

    Can God, or the observer, in this case, press "rewind", and have the glass re-assemble itself? If this is true, does it really matter who threw the first punch? For all anyone cares, they are just "fighting". It doesn't matter who started it.

    Imagine a cool, calm, peaceful, beautiful, and very blue body of water - a fresh cool breeze blowing through your hair; the smell of flowers and other good-smelling things; the sounds of birds and leaves blowing in the breeze.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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