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Fun and FUD in the Fall Flamebait Follies

Fun and FUD in the Fall Flamebait Follies

Summer may have slipped away, but the heat is on in the Linux blogosphere, and FOSS fans are up in arms over the latest barrage of insults from Microsoft followers. For example, "Open Source Is Polluting the Windows Experience," is the title of a tirade by InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy. "Wow, someone is an angry little man...," wrote a blogger reacting to the piece. "Get him a pacifier quick!

Maybe it was the fires raging in California. Or maybe it was a way to blow off some steam before summer came to its unofficial end.

Whatever the cause, there's no doubt Linux bloggers were in the mood for some spirited debate in recent days.

One might even argue, in fact, that more than a few posts out there in the blogosphere were designed to do just that -- start a fiery discussion. Did they succeed? You bet your flame-retardant keyboard they did.

Ready? Put on your protective eyewear -- here goes.

RMS in Argentina

The fun began when word got out late last month via LWN that Richard Stallman's planned talk at Argentina's National Technological University had been canceled because of contracts that prohibit the university from criticizing Microsoft or its products.

The news originally broke in Spanish on Matware, but an English translation -- complete with video clip -- confirmed the incredible news.

The speech did apparently end up taking place at another location, but bloggers didn't take the news lying down.

'Devious Means'

"The saddest thing here is that this is a tax-supported public University we are talking about," wrote jkohen, for example, in a lengthy conversation on LWN that quickly turned into an analysis of free speech.

"One has to wonder, how many other speeches (not just by rms) have been quietly not-approved in other universities at MS's behest?" added coriordan.

Similarly: "I think Argentina just embarrassed itself as a country," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider.

And again: "There can be no greater proof that Free Software is necessary" than this incident, blogger Robert Pogson said. "The EULA of M$ has 'no benchmarking' restrictions, too.

"M$ is caught trying to protect its FUD by devious means," Pogson told LinuxInsider. "Its claims of superiority ring hollow."

Revealing Screenshots

Speaking of claims of superiority that ring hollow, self-proclaimed Linux Lobbyist and Best Buy employee GodofGrunts made a big splash recently by posting some screenshots -- more easily viewed on a mirror site -- of a Microsoft ExpertZone training course for Windows 7 retail salespeople.

"After completing this course you will be able to explain to customers the many benefits of choosing Windows 7 instead of Linux," the module began, and it got worse from there.

The news made major outlets around the globe, including Engadget, Ars Technica, Computerworld, Slashdot, Digg and LXer.

'I Can't Say I'm Surprised'

That the Digg discussion drew more than 1,500 Diggs and 450 comments is some small indication of the reaction many bloggers had to the news.

"It's completely unethical for bestbuy to go along with microsoft on pushing this course onto their employees," wrote Mr. Freeman on Slashdot, for example. "Though I can't say I'm surprised."

Similarly: "Article attacking both Best Buy and Microsoft... they might as well just glue it to the front page," added Chrysalii on Digg.

'Polluting the Windows Experience'

Think that was an incendiary topic? Better sit down for this one, then: a recent PC World article entitled -- we kid you not -- "Open Source Is Polluting the Windows Experience."

"It's like a cancer: a creeping, deadly disease that slowly erodes all that's good and clean, replacing it with a swill of malignancy and decrepitude," began InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy, author of the article. "I'm speaking, of course, of the recent appearance of Linux UI conventions under Windows."

Is it even *possible* to imagine an assertion more likely to enrage the Linux legions? Linux Girl thought not.

Bloggers on Linux Today and LXer -- to name just two -- wasted no time in expressing their thoughts on this one.

'An Angry Little Man'

To wit: "Wow, someone is an angry little man...," wrote brian on Linux Today, for example. "Get him a pacifier quick! then tuck him in good and tight right back under the rock he crawled out of."

Even more so: "I read the PC world screed and I want a refund on the 5 minutes I lost reading it," Mack exclaimed. "The author just tosses general insults without going into much detail of why he doesn't like something other than, 'that's not the way Windows does it.'

"I suspect it's a troll piece in an attempt to gain relevancy by generating page hits," Mack added. "The best thing Linux users can do is ignore it completely."

Then again: "While I think the article is actually quite funny, in a bad troll sorta way, it is not the programs in Linux that are the problem," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. "The problem is when a guy like me with 15 years of IT experience can't get the stupid wifi to work with WPA. If I can't do it, what chance does Joe Normal have?"

'A Deal-Breaker'

Finally, closing out this week's Flamebait Follies was a story in TG Daily suggesting that Windows 7 -- even before its official release -- is already closing in on Linux's market share.

Specifically, Windows 7 is already up to 1.24 percent of the OS market, compared with Linux's 2.02 percent, according to the story, which cites W3C data.

Once again, Linux bloggers had plenty to say.

"There is a REASON why Apple and Windows, even nonreleased betas like this, are kicking Linux," Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. "Linux has great desktops, it has tons of software ready to go, and even has support for any language under the sun. But the one thing it does NOT have is a stable ABI, and that frankly is a deal-breaker."

'Not That Interesting'

While the "certified for Windows X" logo, for example, ensures that devices carrying the logo will "just work," hairyfeet noted, "will this wifi stick I have here work in Ubuntu? Will the hardware in this HP laptop 'just work' -- complete with functional wifi -- in PCLinuxOS?

"The simple fact is that even the most long-term Linux supporter can't answer that question," hairyfeet asserted. "You can't, I can't, and the poor kid making minimum wage behind the counter sure can't."

On the other hand: "Windows 7 gaining market share is not that interesting," Mack opined. "Come release time, when OEMs start shipping computers running it, we will see a much larger uptake."

Windows 7's marketing campaign can be best summarized as "it doesn't suck as much as Vista did," Mack noted. "As sad as that is, it will gain a lot of market share simply because people will leave it running when they buy a new computer."

'As Valid as the Stats'

Similarly: The claim "is as valid as the W3C stats, which is to say, not very," Slashdot blogger drinkypoo told LinuxInsider. "I find this report interesting mostly in terms of what it says about who actually pays for Windows, since we're talking about an unreleased operating system.

"How many of these people will be converted into licensed owners of Windows 7, and how many of those will be receiving their license as part of the free Windows 7 upgrade program?" drinkypoo added.

Taken together, it may just all boil down to so much FUD, Pogson suggested.

'FUD Has Evolved'

"FUD has evolved," he said. "The usual FUD that GNU/Linux is not ready for anything is very tired and incredible in the face of widespread and growing use of GNU/Linux on the desktop and server."

Windows 7 "should overtake GNU/Linux pretty quickly, since M$ forces all their partners to push it to the exclusion of others," Pogson agreed. "OEMs will put out lots of units to retail. They will not put out many to business except very small businesses."

The same resistance Vista felt from business because the ecosystem was immature will apply to 7 as well, Pogson added, leading few businesses to adopt the new OS until next year. "Most will keep XP as long as they can," he predicted.

'Next Year Will Be Too Late'

Large businesses, meanwhile, can afford to order PCs customized to run XP, he asserted, but "if a large business needs to do a painful migration from XP to anything, it will be to GNU/Linux because GNU/Linux is a lot more like XP than is Vista/7."

Overall, "I believe GNU/Linux has earned enough credits in 2009 for this to be The Year of GNU/Linux, and the year is not over yet," Pogson concluded. "The FUDsters should do their best while they still can. Next year will be too late because GNU/Linux has become mainstream and it is not going back to geekdom."

'Thread Eventually Ends'

Whatever happens, Linux Girl, for her part, is betting there will always be debates going on much in the vein suggested recently by tuxchick on LXer:

"Flamey riposte
Calm rejoinder
Off-topic rant
Insults
Calm topic reminder
Informative geeky responses sort of on-topic
More flames
Editorial babysitting
Defense of editors
Yes buts
Your mother, no your mother, your mother back atcha
More little-known but fascinating geekfacts
Thread eventually ends."


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