The overtime that some computer publications and industry pundits have been clocking to propagate FUD around GNU/Linux has grown geometrically over the last several weeks.
While this disinformation deserves our eternal vigilance, our constant attention and our continuing “correction,” its purveyors also deserve recognition — outing, if you will — with a dubious award of their own.
With this in mind, below are the initial nominees for The Elmers, named after the patriarch of the FUD family. [Yes, I know Warner Bros. spelled it with two d's, but for the sake of argument . . . ]
The nominees for the 2007 Elmers are:
Steve Ballmer: As the Joe McCarthy of our time, Darth Ballmer tries to force everyone to think and act alike in the digital realm, in the image and likeness of the Microsoft way. Arguably, calling Ballmer a digital Taliban is not too far afield. CNN.com nailed it when it posted an article that said that the current battle between the forces of FOSS good and dark side of monopoly evil “pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the ‘free world’ – people who believe software is pure knowledge.” [And for some shameless self promotion, we have some shirts that are guaranteed to be the toast of LinuxWorld next month: “Sue me first, Steve” T-shirts.]
Brad Smith: If Steve Ballmer plays the architect of digital McCarthyism, then Brad Smith is his Roy Cohn. Just as McCarthy and Cohn supposedly had a list of 205 names of State Department employees “that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party” — a list that never materialized — Ballmer and Smith say that the GNU/Linux operating system violates 235 Microsoft patents — patents that are never named. Am I the only one that sees a pattern here?
Kevin Carmony: The Lindows — sorry, Linspire — CEO has been giving the GNU/Linux blogging world a lot of fodder with his revisionist zeitgeist: Sell out your distro for 30 pieces of silver just to get four items — True Type Fonts, Windows Media Player, DVD Playback and patent (ahem) “coverage” — and then have the audacity to think that people would actually believe you when you say that Microsoft’s assistance could make a better distro. Right, Kevin, and look at that flock of pigs settling on those branches. If Orwell were alive today writing “2084,” he might include “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Microsoft improves GNU/Linux.”
Alexander Wolfe: Poor Alexander Wolfe — a “Chips, Vista and Advanced Techology” blogger (whatever that means) for Information Week. Wolfe bemoans the fact that he, and everyone else, are enslaved by the freedom to choose what to run on your computer, from more than 300 active distros in the GNU/Linux galaxy. This guy probably avoids Baskin-Robbins because — jeez! — 31 whole flavors of ice cream to choose from? Way too many. And then he drags out the tired “distro-as-religion” argument that went out with Y2K. [Wolfe thinks having over 300 distros from which to pick and choose is a "forking mess," but maybe Wolfe is just a "forking wanker."]
Savio Rodrigues: Info World’s Savio Rodrigues throws up (and I do mean “throw up”) the “what if” of Microsoft buying Red Hat. “Just imagine a Microsoft that could offer customers a choice of Windows/.NET, Linux/JEE or, and here’s the magic, BOTH, The fact is most customers have heterogeneous environments, and those that don’t today, will likely in the future.” Now, let’s break that down for a second: Why would Red Hat want to lower itself to join Microsoft when it is already a player in the corporate IT world? How about a Red Hat that offers Windows/.NET instead of the other way around (although “why would they want to?” is a bigger question)? How stoned is Savio, and who’s his dealer? As a caveat, he says in a postscript: “PS: I truly doubt this deal will ever happen, but it’s interesting to think about the possibilities.” Yeah, and it’s interesting to think about the possibilities of my winning the Olympic gold medal in the 100 right before bearing triplets at the finish line; a possibility that’s still not quite as ridiculous as the one Rodrigues raises.
No doubt there are others out there who deserve a nomination. Feel free to add to the list.
[Additional nominations can be found here.]
(Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
The groundswell of FUD lately arguably can be a cause for concern in GNU/Linux circles. Interestingly, one of the tell-tale signs whether that Web-based story you’re reading has all the hallmarks of propaganda, at the least, and more than likely is outright FUD, at the worst, is whether the site is sponsored by your friendly neighborhood Redmond death star.
So while clowns like Kevin Carmony keeps blogging about how he’s “improving” Linux with the help of Microsoft (waiting for the laughter to die down), more FUD makes its way to the ethereal Internet thanks to a new joker by the name of Alexander Wolfe.
Wolfe, whose “Wolfe’s Den” appears as the “Chips, Vista and Advanced Technology” blog on the Information Week Web site (did you notice the word Vista in there?), wrote in the latest installment on his blog that — horrors! — there are too many Linux distros to choose from.
He makes the self-serving pithy observation that, since there are so many distros, that “Linux is a forking mess.” As if we should only have one or two choices in computing, rather than the 300 choices of GNU/Linux distros (and those are the active ones) offer.
That’s because freedom — whether in computing or in the rest of everyday life — is about choice, and it’s unfortunate that Wolfe doesn’t get it. But then, most corporate lackeys beholden to the party line of their corporate masters don’t; or if they do, they wallow in hypocrisy while ignoring the truth.
Wolfe also operates under the false assumption that all GNU/Linux distros are all competing against one another for the attention of the average user. Wrong again, Alex: Needless to say the distros that are business oriented — your Red Hats and Novells — are going head to head to slice up the corporate IT pie. But distros like Puppy and Slackintosh competing for IT departments’ attention? Sorry, chump, even the greenest of GNU/Linux newbies realizes that this isn’t true. Pity you don’t — or refuse to — get it, Alex.
Also, the argument of distro-as-religion (Wolfe quotes an outdated story on Distrowatch.com) gets beaten to a pulp. That may have been the case at one time, but Alex seems to have missed the trend toward “distro polygamy” that permeates the current GNU/Linux zeitgeist. To wit: This blog is being written on a iMac running Xubuntu 7.04; next to it is a PowerMac G3 running Yellow Dog 3.0; across the room are two Dell Optiplex GXa machines — one running Linux Mint 3.0 Xfce and the other awaiting its install of Mepis AntiX (thank you, anticapitalista). So some may be beholden to one distro; many of us aren’t.
When you read something about how too many distros is a bad thing, especially when it’s written by a Vista columnist, you can be sure that propaganda is at the forefront. Please read it accordingly.