The envelope, please . . .

July 24, 2007

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. 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.]

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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  1. July 25, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    How can you not nominate Rob Enderle? 🙂

  2. July 25, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    May I track mud into your abode after my long journey to bring you news from the Fudcenter regions afar. And…from that quisling of all Quislings…

    Rob Enderle.

    I have often wondered at the actual value thirty pieces of silver brings on today’s market. Given the fact that Enderle seems to be paid those thirty pieces every time he opens his mouth, and those thirty pieces are paid to him by Castle Redmond…I am thinking that their value is indeed immense.

    People often do outrageous things in order to get on camera and in print…

    Obviously Mr. Enderle believes he can achieve the same by saying them.

  3. NoDough
    July 26, 2007 at 6:02 am

    Oh, come on! How can you publish a list like this without including Rob Enderle? This guy is a paid Microsoft shill who never met freedom software he didn’t attack. He should be at the top of your list.

  4. July 26, 2007 at 6:55 am

    In my site’s daily Journal, on April 21, 2007, I recommended that we all start calling it FUDD (fear, uncertainty, doubt AND DISINFORMATION), and I began using a drawing of Elmer FUDD as its symbol.

    (NOTE: Elmer FUDD is not to be confused with the WB cartoon character, “Elmer Fudd,” whose name is not an acronym).

  5. acordabrasil
    July 26, 2007 at 7:00 am

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    Can To divulge mine blog please?
    It helps me please!

  6. W. Anderson
    July 26, 2007 at 7:56 am


    I am too old and tired to be chasing (metaphorically) after these foolish FUD raisers, and thank you for your diligence in naming them for just what they are – fools.

    While I replied to some of the articles I have not really expressed my true sentiment of
    their intelligence of of their writing actions.

    Keep up the good work!

    W. Anderson

  7. Leory
    July 26, 2007 at 8:39 am


  8. July 26, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Thanks for many good points, but I cant’t help thinking that the future of Linux depends on pragmatic compromises. Desktop users want access to all kinds of media (included DRM-based media). I am one of these users, and I think that “open source” is the feature, but still I have to have one PC with Windows at home to gain access to many kinds of media… Why not compromise (and nobody cares if we don’t) a bit..? Linux with DRM?

  9. July 26, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Don’t forget good old Rob Enderle, whose slogan is “The Real Truth about Technology and IT” (HAH!) for such gems as this one: entitled “why open source and linux are loosing momentum”. My favourite bit is on page two, where he basically points out that Richard Stallman is some kind of communist and Bill Gates is some kind of saint with his huge charitable donations which drive Stallman crazy with jealousy. Oh and nobody wants to program for free.

  10. July 26, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Mea culpa guys — Rob Enderle should be near the top (or at the top) of this list. In fact, I went to bed after writing this thinking I had forgotten someone. It was Enderle — in fact, I think it was his article about FOSS losing momentum that caused me to come up with the Elmers.

    [Oh, and Leroy — If you don’t like the list, don’t read the blog.]

  11. ERM
    July 27, 2007 at 6:53 am

    If there’s one argument that gets my blood boiling it’s the people like Wolfe. Who the f- ever complains about having too much choice? Do I cry because when I go to the supermarket there’s an entire AISLE of toothpaste? Oh my word…..sooooo much choice. I think I’m going to breakdown. Why can’t there be one state sanctioned tooth paste and brand of clothes and….oh, I know…..I should go live in a totalitarian state.

    What a bunch of malarky! Seriously!

    The biggest advantage we have in the world of Linux is the ability to have choice! Want a stable distro? Debian Want bleeding edge? Fedora Want something that works everywhere? Ubuntu Want a fast, customized distro? Gentoo or Slackware. Speak Turkish? There’s Pardus (I think) Live in Extremadura Spain? There’s LinEX.

    It’s perfect!

  12. ERM
    July 27, 2007 at 6:59 am


    I’m sure that you don’t obey the speed limit. I’m sure that, whenever, you think you can get away with it, you drive 5 or more miles over. You are a lawbreaker. (And I think this extends to something like 99% of everyone with a driver’s license)

    I’m also pretty sure that at some point in your life you’ve taped a song off the radio, taped an NFL broadcast, or taped something off Tv and not deleted it within 30 days. Guess what? You did something illegal. It’s dumb that it should be illegal, but it is illegal. Oh yeah, so is making a mix tape for your girlfriend/wife/etc.

    So I don’t understand why every gets their panties all in a bunch over these “illegal” codecs and DVD playback. If you want it, download it. It’s there in the right repositories. Who is going to catch you? And who is truly going to jail you for that? I can totally see the Plaintiff. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, this disgusting person wanted to actually WATCH his LEGALLY PURCHASED DVDs! You should fine him millions of dollars and send him to jail!”

    Yeah, right…….

    I understand why Red Hat and the others can’t offer the codecs because they’re public companies who can be taken to task. But who is going to find you and find that you have the codecs. It’s impossible because the code would have be implemented in Linux to find you and who would do that?

    So quit your bellyaching and stop pretending you’re too moral to use “illegal” codecs. And, this reply was not just targeted at you, but at EVERYONE who’s always crying about this.

  13. Hans
    July 27, 2007 at 7:14 am


    I don’t want DRM based media. I just don’t. Really, I’d rather read a book, or make music (ahem) with my wife.

    There are better things in life than selling your soul.


  1. August 18, 2011 at 9:10 am
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