Making Considered Choices: An Open Letter to Joe Barr

Dear Joe: Thanks for the letter. I do appreciate that you realized that I was speaking from the heart in the keynote I gave at the SCO conference and I appreciate your thanks. But there are some misconceptions that I think we should clear up.

First, I should point out that Microsoft typically does not pay folks to be keynote speakers at other company’s events. I understand you hate Microsoft, but you should refrain from blaming the company for things that it wouldn’t likely do.

You were right that Pamela Jones of Groklaw doesn’t have a job with a marketing title, but she is currently doing a marketing job for OSRM, which announced that hundreds of patents are violated by Linux and what appears to be an underfunded insurance policy to protect the poor folks they just scared the heck out of. Heck, she even advertises for Groklaw in the sidebar of your letter.

I do apologize for suggesting she worked for IBM. I had thought that by avoiding any mention of her relationship with IBM that this wouldn’t be a problem. However, your obvious use of the Psychic Friends Network to create this connection was not anticipated and should have been. So you have my apology.

Using Linux

I would appreciate it if you would stop saying I attacked all Linux users with my speech. I understand you want to inflame the Linux community, but it has resulted in a lot of e-mail from people concerned about my career and at least one Linux zealot who felt the need to tell me he carried a gun.

While I can appreciate your need to provide a little excitement in my life, my speech really wasn’t taking the position that all Linux users are idiots. I use Linux myself and try very hard not to call myself names most days.

In the one section where I talk about the Linux zombies, this was from Dan Lyons’ “Revenge of the Nerds” expose. In this, he pointed out that a large number of Linux advocates don’t appear to actually use the product and are about as far from being programmers as you are from being an unbiased reporter.

I just think there are a lot of things to get involved in that can really make a difference for people like this, and that if you don’t understand something you probably shouldn’t be a radical supporter of it.

While I can understand your hostility toward me, folks like you certainly don’t like people suggesting there are two sides to anything. You might want to rethink calling all analysts crooks, like you did when you said I “came from an industry renowned for borrowing a customer’s watch in order to tell him what time it is.”

A lot of analysts actively support Linux and open-source software. Attacking their integrity in an effort to get to me sounds, well, less than intelligent. Shooting the folks on your own side is typically not on the list of endearing traits to be nurtured.

Groklaw and Microsoft

You are absolutely right that I don’t like Groklaw. Calling me on that was a clean shot. It was a nice PR spot for them, although I think their tag line should be “SCO FUD ‘R’ Us.” If Groklaw really were an anti-FUD site, don’t you think they should generate less of it themselves? But you are right; I really don’t care for political sites that pretend they are something else. It is a personal failing. If you like them, more power to you.

I understand that you hate Microsoft — I mean really, really hate Microsoft. I have a lot of friends there and understand you aren’t attacking them to get to me, but me to get to them.

Joe, I’d sure love to know what they did to you that made this all so personal, but I do think calling out your own bias so obviously is a mistake. For some of the uninformed, you probably looked unbiased until you did this, but I do admire your honesty. Is it because they don’t advertise on your site? You shouldn’t take that personally. I really think they have a legitimate reason for that.

You are also right about me not liking zealots. I haven’t seen a Windows zealot is some time. I do kind of divide my time between the vastly more vocal Linux and Apple groups. I used to even take exception to the OS/2 zealots. The reason I like FreeBSD is that community doesn’t seem to have zealots. I don’t like religious zealots either, but I’ll wait until I retire to comment on them.

On Giving Advice

I do appreciate the advice you gave in your letter. Since we’ve never talked, I’m curious why you think I’d want to stop being called a Microsoft or SCO shill? I know people just do this to discredit what I say, but by doing it, they actually cause more reasonable people to question what they are saying. Name-calling actually has that impact in politics too of late. It tends to reflect more — for those in the critical undecided camp — on the person doing the name-calling.

Certainly the converted love it or hate it — depending on what side they are on — but the undecided folks might actually make up their own minds, which is my goal you are trying to block. So I think your call for me to stop advocating opinions is counter-strategic. Your goal is to keep reasonable people from thinking; my goal is to get them to use their brains from time to time.

I loved the “tell both sides” mandate, especially because you have absolutely no intention of doing that yourself. You brand me as someone who loves monopolies and hates free — which I think you mean as in freedom here — software. I have nothing against free as in freedom, and I was actually operating under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when I wrote the speech; you should read it some day.

Hopefully, wherever you live, you’ll get something like the First Amendment and you too can experience freedom — like the freedom to use any product I want to use even if it comes from a company Joe Barr hates.

The Real Point

It is a shame you couldn’t actually take the time to argue against the points I really did make. I’d particularly love to see you counter my main thesis that people should make informed decisions regardless of what they choose. But I understand how uncomfortable that would have been; maybe we’ll save that for another letter that you could actually send to me.

I know the practice of publishing an open letter is to look self-righteous and to blindside the receiving party, but gosh, it sure made it fun to write this response.

While all of this hate stuff I’m sure is fun for you, most of the folks I talk to just want to get this stuff to work together. It is likely, as badly as you may want it to be otherwise, that the few Microsoft users (93 percent of the market) and the massive number of Linux users (4 percent of the market) are going to have to learn to work together.

Maybe it would be nice if you spent a little time putting aside your hate and actually helping these users while I continue to focus on reminding people to make considered choices regardless of what product they end up with.

Rob Enderle, a TechNewsWorld columnist, is the Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.


  • One point, Rob, your dismissive way of quoting the market share statistic (93 to 4%) is true to your art of manipulating facts to spin your point. The reality is that the 93/4 market share is for desktop users, but server market share (which would be included by your use of the term "users") is much closer to MS ~34% and Linux ~10%. Do some research first, people might then take you seriously when you call yourself "analyst".

  • I’m not sure why anyone would take the time to read Enderle’s prattle. He is basically a PR Hack for Hire with MS and SCOX as his customers. The best anology is the Iraqi Information Minister, it was his job to spin the truth for his puppet masters reguardless of the actual reality.
    He is getting paid to insinuate that SCOX case has merit, that Groklaw generates FUD, etc… Notice he shys away from IBM, mostly b/c he is a paid coward and he knows stepping out of line there will get him smacked big time (regardless of what type of gun he owns).
    Amazing that he could consider a blog that (having its own opinion on issues) points the the original posts and actual comments. Every time Enderle says something negative about Groklaw he takes himself down a notch. Its easy enough for any educated person to head over to Groklaw and read the articles and make up their own mind (which is what I did and I came to the certain conclusions about Mr Enderle).
    I actually would encourage Enderle to continue with his ill fated course of action. It only takes away from his exclamation that anything anti-MS is on its way to extinction (Apple anyone?). The more nonsense that comes out of his mouth the less anyone will pay attention to what he has to say.
    Notice how well he avoids actually refutting the points in Joe Barr’s letter but will let us know he actually was a sheriff. He repeatedly states that Joe hates MS but isn’t honest enough to admit he hates and fears Groklaw. The light of observation that Groklaw brings to SCOX’s schemes is a bane to someone like Enderle.
    The best thing for all of us to do with paid shills like Enderle is to ignore him and perphaps send anyone that qoutes him an EnderleFlack Letter

  • Thought the article was great. I did read the letter from Joe thru the link in the article.
    Could you please keep trying to have more Linux zealots post here as it helps me to make informed decisions by beaing able to read actual technical material and informed comments on the posts that the zealots are not on.
    Thanks again Rob

  • Leave the poor man alone. A year ago, any suggestions about Linux were met with blank stares, at staff meetings. Rob has been a driving force in Linux adoption, in our organization.

    • Orange County Sheriff’s Department, ’82 to ’84, Harbor Patrol Division. Best friend at that time was in the California Highway Patrol. It was while I was in graduate school.

  • Rob
    Refuting your banal claptrap becomes tiresome. You are truly a FUD Superman. Why anyone continues to give you the time of day is a mystery considering every single prediction you’ve ever made in print, every single position you’ve taken on any IT subject, has turned out to be dead wrong.
    Perhaps you think this is a debating club, and the truth of your position doesn’t really matter, its just finding something you can twist to possibly fool the uninformed that matters. The reality is that you aren’t even good at that. You are far too transparent to be effective.
    Perhaps you continue your tireless FUD crusade because the checks keep rolling in from your corporate masters. Surely they’d have discovered that you are a liability by now, and dumped you from the payroll.
    Perhaps you really are as idiotic as your ravings make you seem. Its as good an explanation as any, and makes just as much sense.
    At least it seems the lazy psuedo-journalists that used to call you up for your (albeit clueless) quote-a-minute service and helped you keep your name in print (the better to FUD you with, my dear) have gotten a clue themselves and stopped ringing your phone.
    Keep up the good work Rob! Your ravings are Free Softwares best weapon!

  • Dear Rob,
    While I disagree with many of your conclusions, I couldn’t agree more with your central thesis that people should make informed decisions.
    Ofcourse people should make informed decisions regardless of what they actually choose. And that is why I’m sure you’ll agree that no one can take it on your word alone that Groklaw is merely a Anti-SCO FUD website. Based on your central thesis, it is imparitive that each and every person go and actually take the time to visit, and read the articles there. By doing so, they can see whether or not it is merely as you claim an anti-Sco FUD website, or whether its proponets claim, it does indeed back up its claims with primary evidence and supporting documentation. If you really believe your central thesis, then you must believe that by doing so, and by and listing to your viewpoints about Groklaw as well, people will clearly see Groklaw for what it really is. On the other hand, I have an alternate theory. I believe in informed decisons as well. But, I believe that if eveoryone listens to what you have to say, but then goes and reads everything that Groklaw has to say, they will come to an entirely different conclusion.
    But, in relation to Groklaw specifically, people can not be fully informed on whether it is really just an anti-Sco FUD site unless they check it out. So, my question is, are you truly in favor people making fully informed decisions? And if so, then would you encourage people to check out Groklaw so they can find out whether or not it is truly just a anti-Sco Fud site as you claim? Or, were you just saying that you want people to make informed decisions?
    [email protected]

  • You lack of professionalism from beginning (keynote) to end (this letter) is stunning. Your lack of hard data and quick use of personal attacks is espicially disturbing to see in someone who is supposed to be a _technology_ advisor, not a PR spin man.

  • Rob, you trickster! Evidently, you didn’t actually read Joe Barr’s article before rebutting – brilliant strategy!
    Face it – that keynote speech was your swan song. No one on this planet could wade through your vainglorious, profanity laced ranting without getting the impression that you were not only inebriated, but also a man on the edge, with a tenacious but loosening grip on reality.
    You focused your speech on Groklaw. I guess you forgot that SCO is in court with IBM, not a blog!
    You actually suggested it was unethical for people to attend a public event, invoking images of ‘Groklaw spies’ with their finger poised over the ‘FUD’ button. I guess you weren’t too concerned about IBM ‘spies’ being there.
    Your behaviour and words were and are indefensible. Why try to clarify your position with ‘A Keynote Considered’ afterwards, if not because you know how utterly insane your speech was?
    Since you feel comfortable calling people idiots, I will return the favour:
    You are an idiot of the first water. In the annals of idiots, you stand head and shoulders above the teeming masses.
    I now see you as an invaluable weapon for the cause. Please, oh please keep writing about Linux and OSS. You have furthered our cause through your own incompetence at every opportunity, and for that I thank you.

  • >why you think I’d want to stop being called a Microsoft or SCO shill?
    You said it.
    >the few Microsoft users (93 percent of the market) and
    >the massive number of Linux users (4 percent of the market) are going to have to
    > learn to work together.
    Ignoring your "neutral" sarcasm. You must tell that to your friends inside Microsoft first.

  • Funny When Enderle says:
    "It is a shame you couldn’t actually take the time to argue against the points I really did make."
    You’d think that Rob would take his own advice and actually take time to argue some points Joe Barr made, instead of talking about the "Psychic Friends Network."
    Maybe a points like:
    "You (Rob Enderle)say there are three types of free software, then you go on to describe two types of proprietary software — adware and time-limited trial versions — with one false representation of Linux.
    In your own words:
    "With software there are several kinds of "free." There are free products that come with ads and increasingly with Spyware, there are "free trials" which time out at unfortunate periods of time (time bombs), and there are free enterprise products that cost 1,000s of dollars. Guess which one Linux is?""
    Rob is the pot calling the kettle black in this open letter.

  • PJ does NOT have a marketing position with OSRM. Get a life, Enderle!
    By the way, just where and when were you a sheriff? I don’t believe you – and unless you come clean with a straight answer, it’ll be obvious to all that you are a liar.
    Joe Barr wasn’t the only one who found flaws of logic and fallacy of emotional appeals in your keynote (and subsequent rebuttal). There’s a wonderful critique at
    Of course, when you read it, no doubt you’ll feel it’s a bit unjustified. But that’s just you – the rest of us already know it doesn’t go far enough tearing your credibility to shreds.

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