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03.26.07

Journalists Attack Free Software — The Next Anti-Linux Crusade?

Posted in Deception, FSF, GNU/Linux at 9:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There appear to be a new coordinated effort to discredit the FSF. Yesterday I spotted yet another attack on Stallman and the GPL, this time in computerworld.com.

After discussion with a few friends, as well as exchange of a few letters which were sent to editors, there is something to show to public. As I have obtained permission, I would like to share with the readers a discussion that Slated.org had with an editor about an article that, using some form of twisted humour, suggested that the FSF is hypocritical. It publicly portrayed the FSF/SFLC as money-making machine. Here are the relevant bits of the coversation:

Journalist: How exactly is disclosing absolutely no details about a seminar that’s three- to four-times the going rate for a legal seminar “transparent”?

Slated.org: I wasn’t aware that transparency was proportional, or in any way related to price. Perhaps you could explain that relationship to me.

As for the lack of details about this event; a legal seminar is not a policy meeting, it has no relevance to the drafting process which is, and remains, transparent. For someone who, by his own admission, knows nothing about this proposed seminar, you seem to have drawn some surprisingly certain conclusions about it.

Journalist: Is it ethical to use the information the steward of the GPL process to make money, particularly when that group is also the enforcement arm of the GPL?

Slated.org: It’s difficult to make sense of your poor grammar, but I think the gist of your meaning is that the SFLC are somehow behaving unethically, because they dare to charge a fee in order to explain the finer details and implications of a software license to some lawyers. So in your opinion, if one is working as a legal advisor in an organisation related to another which produces a legal document, that legal organisation is unethical if they spend time and money organising a seminar to explain
the details of that legal document to other lawyers, and then subsequently charge a fee for their time and effort.

I suggest that in future you spend time contemplating the semantics of an article, before you submit it for publication, and embarrass yourself.

Neither the costs nor the publicity (or lack thereof) of this event is in any way relevant, or contradictory, to the principles upheld by the FSF or its legal arm the SFLC.

In fact this entire issue is a non-event, not even worthy of the back pages of some crass tabloid.

Your genre of journalism is purely sensationalist, without substance or merit, and I find it surprising that The Register would retain someone of your ilk for any purpose other than humour.

Journalist: Are you a GPL fanboy?

Slated.org: That question pretty much confirms my suspicions about you.

To answer the question: No, I am not any sort of “fanboy”. Unlike you, I formulate opinions based on fact, not uniformed bigotry. As someone who purports to be a journalist, I would have assumed you’d understand how important that principle is in your line of work.

Commentary: I remembered this article very well, but in order to perserve anonymity, I will not link to it. It seems to have been either filled with malice or perhaps it was just a blunt expression of opinion with anti-FSF agenda. It was just one among many. You ought to know that many people have been paid in the past to do such things.

Maureen O’Gara, Dan Lyons, Rob Enderle, and Laura DiDio are all notorious for their bias (and sometimes their funding sources). Only by standing up, as Slated.org did above, can we truly discourage this from recurring. Other victims include: Richard Stallman, OLPC, OpenDocument, PJ/Groklaw…

Returning to the correspondence, here is the presumably final reply, which indicates that the journalist has given up.

Journalist: My piece speaks for itself. I stand by it. I respect your opinions, even though I disagree with most of them.

Slated.org has an afterthought to share: Hmm, yes I can certainly feel the “respect” and sincerity.

So in the end, another one of the brainwashed sheep bleats back into his pen, with yet another reason to hate FOSS and its advocates.

Sorry, but I can’t help myself. If someone rants about Linux because of a genuine technical problem, I’m more inclined to respond positively and helpfully (I understand frustration as much as the next man).

But here we have a journalist, who presumably understands the responsibility that such a position entails, who without any technical nor rational reason decides to attack FOSS based on nothing… absolutely nothing at all. A veritable storm in a teacup, and all in the name of sensationalist journalism. It’s despicable; it truly is, and (again) sorry but I’m disinclined to show any mercy. He’s been Slated® and he’ll feel the burn for a long time to come.

You may have noticed a considerable reduction of my activity this past week; there is a particular reason for that.

Since the miserable flop that was the Vista launch, and the ensuing dissent in the Blogosphere, the MS-payroll journos have been out in full force poisoning that Blogosphere with anti-FOSS sentiment, in a desperate (and futile IMHO) exercise in damage limitations. I find it very disconcerting, and I determined myself to do something about it. This publisher is just one of many I’ve been “moderating” this past week; here’s another:

http://blogs.cio.com/what-cios-dont-get-about-open-source

I must say I really like Bernard Golden’s style and frankness, but apparently he’s upset a few Munchkins who have infiltrated his Blog with poison posts. If you look down at the comments, the second one is by some idiot called James Gingerich @ iAnywhere Solutions (remind me never to buy anything from them). My comments follow (posted as “Slated”). You’ll notice that he had no response to my follow up. IOW he admits his anti-FOSS dissent is just bigotry, he gives up, he’s been Slated®.

I’m seriously considering dedicating a new section of Slated.org to these Shills that I have given a public bitch-slapping, because I think people really need to be aware this kind of Blog poisoning is going on.

There’s an increasing amount of this sort of activity, both on Blogs and also on more traditional Tech News sites, much of it (rather disturbingly) emanating from (supposedly) contract journalists. My feeling is that the level of anti-FOSS bigotry has not actually increased at all, it’s just the level of exposure of that bigotry is on the rise. IOW the bigots are feeling more threatened than ever, so they are protesting ever more vocally.

That is the surest sign I’ve seen yet, that Linux advocacy is succeeding, and that the Microsoft FUD is failing; that Linux adoption is now epidemic, and Windows dissent is more rife than ever.

Commentary again: An InformationWeek writer, for a change, takes a stance that favours free software.

I’ve come to the conclusion that software should be free. And I mean really free–as in free beer. Or free advice.

Let us hope that the press will sidle with logic, rather than the money machine.

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4 Comments

  1. James Gingerich said,

    April 4, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy aka “Slated”,

    Where to start? Since I’m supposed to have been “Slated.”

    Point of clarification. I am not anti-Linux. Never have been. I too am an avid reader of Bernard Golden and merely took exception to his comment that pre-packaged or commercial software had no business benefit. He stated that any company deploying such software could only expect mediocore results.

    In a perfect world customized software would be every company’s wish. But then there’s reality. Not every company can afford customized software or the comibination of consultants or programmers it would take to maintain and update the code on a regular basis.

    In a perfect world the GPL would be crystal clear and there would be no controversy around which version should set the standard. Uncertainties like these destabalize the acceptance of Open Source. And no Roy I’m not just spreading FUD here. I’m stating fact. When corporations invest in techology they like stability. They avoid uncertainty. The more uncertainty the Open Source community eliminates on it’s own; the more acceptable the Open Source alternative becomes. If you take the position that you work with existing commericial software rather than replacing it outright; the more acceptable an alternative Open Source Software will become. After all, a lot of IT managers, CIO’s etc have a lot of funds invested in commercial software already. Wouldn’t they be jeopardizing their own careers by zealously switching over entirely to Open Source overnight?

    The only reason I did not bother responding to your latest response to my earlier response to your response…. (that’s right folks I had already responded to “Slated” once before he published his commentary here) was that I deemed your comment not worth responding to. Your very rants, writing style and emotional borderline-illogical outbursts do your cause more harm than good.

    Rather than calling someone an “idiot” , a “Munchkin” or a “MS-payroll journo”; why not instead try to understand their point of view first? Perhaps in that way you would be able to find a way to work with them rather than isolate yourself on the fringes of society with an us vs them attitude.

    Had you taken the time to do the least little bit of research on iAnywhere’s main product SQL Anywhere, you would have learned we truly support Windows and Linux and Unix for that matter. Our database files are truly binary compatible so you literally copy your datbase files from one O/S to another without installing a separate engine and having to reload the data. Since we are truly cross-platform database I have vested interests in seeing Linux gain more acceptability not less.

    If the Open Source community wants to be taken seriously zealots like yourself Roy need to take a more professional positioning like Bernard Golden for example. I spoke with Bernard shortly after one of his more recent posts. I discovered he has a well thought out and systematic approach for incorporating Open Source into a “mixed” corporate environment.

    Bernard Golden gets it.

    Your self-aggrandizing “Slating” tactics…. for the good of Open Source need to be “erased.”

    Who knows… perhaps at some point in the future you and I might even be able to work together on a project?

    I’m willling to wipe the “slate” clean if you are.

    James Gingerich
    Sr Partner Account Manager
    iAnywhere Solutions

    jgingeri@ianywhere.com
    519-883-6248

  2. Slated said,

    April 5, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    Gravatar

    First lets clarify the attribution of the above post.

    Other than the introduction, and the two short commentaries, this was written (or quoted) by me ([H]omer at Slated), not Roy Schestowitz. Roy merely published my comments on this Blog on my behalf (and with my permission).

    It’s obvious that you are making a serious effort at mediation, so I won’t be overly critical of your response, other than to say that I still believe you have some grave misconceptions about FOSS.

    For example, customisability does not preclude standardisation, and I think that your assertions WRT licensing is FUD-fuelled hyperbole.

    You are correct that I only have a limited knowledge of your company’s products and services, so thank you for clarifying these points of interoperability. I’m always pleased to see standards upheld, and consumer choice maintained.

    In fact the principles of “Standards” and “Liberty” pretty much summarises what I believe in, fight for (sometimes over-zealously), and advocate at every opportunity. I hope you understand my position as well as (I think) I now understand yours.

  3. James Gingerich said,

    April 13, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Gravatar

    Homer,

    Glad to hear you’re willing to wipe the “slate” clean. I guess one could “chalk” one up for mutual understanding.

    Am I against Open Source? By no means.

    Am I against monopolistic practices by large software companies that threaten innovation and a true market economy where the best solutions win out? Absolutely!

    That being said. I am sure you’ll agree that there do exist situations where commericially available off the shelf software makes the best choice.

    Open Source’s success must be founded upon customer experience, adoption and comfort level. Case studies prospects can identify with and references they can relate to will help achieve this.

    FOSS, FUD, WRT, liberty and standards mean absolutely nothing to the average corporate customer. The Open Source community can not permit itself to be boxed in by controversy of its own making. The fear, uncertainty and doubt surrounding open source is created because the very language of the “community” itself separates it from the rest of the economy.

    What was your largest personal purchase recently? I bet you made that purchase in part because you felt comfortable with the sales person you dealt with and had confidence in the brand of the product. How can the Open Source “community” raise confidence in and a sense of comfort with the “Open Source” brand?

    Co-operation rather than conflict would seem to be the best course. By proving to corporate customers that Open Source works in terms of dollars saved and a lower total cost of ownership and showing them that Open Source software works with rather than replaces a company’s current investment in commercial software would seem to me to be the quicker path to success.

    That’s the language your commercial prospects need to hear. Like it or not business is based on fact rather then rhetoric. If you want their business you have to understand them before you can expect to be understood.

    As for Novell which embodies the first real potential commercial success of Open Source…. Why boycott it? Why not embrace their success instead.

    When you really think about it…. doesn’t Microsoft’s willingness or motivation to do a major deal with Novell add commercial legitimacy to the movement? If Microsoft itself wants to invest in the Open Source space doesn’t that act in an of itself say that Open Source has really arrived?

    Until next time,

    James Gingerich
    Sr Partner Account Manager
    iAnywhere Solutions

    jgingeri@ianywhere.com
    519-883-6248

  4. Slated said,

    April 19, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m glad to hear you have no strong objections to FOSS, and recognise the dangers of monopolies. I’m sure you can appreciate that not everyone shares those opinions, and some would gladly push the boundaries of morality to its limits in the name of greed, regardless of the consequences to others, given the opportunity. Left unchecked (by consumers, anti-trust investigations, bloggers, and journalists) Microsoft and their ilk will continue exploiting every avenue available to them, to annihilate the competition, bastardise standards, and inhibit our civil rights (again, in the name of greed). In case you doubt this, witness the mountain of cases against Microsoft, as documented on Groklaw.

    http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=2005010107100653

    Not that anyone should need reminding about Microsoft’s corruption, the news is littered with examples on a regular basis.

    I think you should understand by now, that I am politically, rather than financially, motivated. This would appear to disqualify me from proposing FOSS solutions to business problems, since I am naturally disinclined to view proprietary solutions favourably, particularly those emanating from Microsoft. However, I feel I have a strong case to argue that FOSS is a better solution, and not just for political reasons, but primarily for reasons of autonomy, interoperability, security, stability, quality, flexibility, and cost. In that regard, my political persuasions are irrelevant, it comes down to a question of GNU/Linux’s superior technical merit. The fact that it is also the embodiment of Software Freedom, and thus representative of the liberation of the Information Age that I crave so much, is just a happy coincidence, in the context of this debate.

    I’m well aware that businesses have little interest in the political debate, beyond the usual financial considerations (“which political party will provide the healthiest economy?”), and I’m sure I’d just be preaching to an empty hall on issues regarding liberty and civil rights, but I see no contradiction between FOSS and business (and neither does Richard Stallman, if you read the GPL FAQ). On the contrary, I do see much benefit to the wide adoption of FOSS by businesses. As just one example, Open Source implies Open Standards, and one of the biggest headaches faced by businesses is the problem of interoperability … one which would be (and invariably is) overcome by the adoption of Open Standards, rather than being locked in to one vendor’s proprietary formats and protocols.

    To address your question of what I, as a consumer, consider when making purchases; my primary consideration is the scope of usefulness of the product I am purchasing. If the scope or design of that product, service, license, or contract; inhibits its usefulness beyond an acceptable level, then I am disinclined to purchase it. The manner or appearance of salesmen is irrelevant to me (I never interact with salesmen anyway, since nearly 100% of everything I buy is done so online). I have no interest in “brands” or other such glamour; I consider all purchases on their own merit. Perhaps I am quite an atypical consumer (I do have a pathological aversion to advertising), but I can tell you that I am rarely disappointed with my purchases, and I strongly believe that it is my immunity to marketing indoctrination that facilitates that.

    I do understand what you’re driving at; that “Linux needs positive marketing”, but I would argue that something as meritorious as GNU/Linux doesn’t need hype, but conversely it most certainly does need defending against FUD, as has been demonstrated time and again (hence my presence on this, and other, Blogs).

    Even the very author of Linux, Linus Torvalds, doesn’t fully comprehend the necessity to defend it against attack, as witnessed by his rather naive comments on Groklaw:

    .—-
    | I realize(sic) that a lot of people see this as a fight. But I tell
    | you, those people are missing the point. We’re not fighting. At least
    | the useful people aren’t fighting. No good code ever comes out of
    | people who do things because they are afraid, or because they hate.
    | And I’m not just sayign(sic) that because it sounds good – it’s
    | really true. If you make your choices because you fear somebody,
    | you’ll make the wrong choices. – Linus Torvalds
    `—-

    http://tinyurl.com/eumwb (Groklaw)

    It would seem that you and Linus are in agreement, that the revisions to the GPL, and all this bickering against Microsoft and their ilk, is counterproductive to the development of Linux and FOSS ideals. However, I disagree strongly with that assertion. While is is certainly true that people should work positively towards their goals, rather than looking over their shoulders to see who is chasing them, what Linus fails to appreciate is that the man chasing him has a knife in his hand, and is preparing to stab him in the back with it. Have no doubt that FOSS is under heavy attack, and it is the proprietary vendors who fear us, and are expressing that fear with assaults on the merits of Linux and FOSS. What are we supposed to do, allow these attacks to go unchallenged?

    “Co-operation rather than conflict would seem to be the best course.”

    But it takes both parties to cease fire before a battle can end. Microsoft don’t look like letting up their end of the fight any time soon. In fact recent (Microsoft driven) developments involving proprietary extensions to motherboard BIOSes, looks set to further set back Linux adoption in the future, unless we act now to outlaw these changes. How can we stop fighting, when evil corporations like Microsoft continue their relentless attacks against us?

    It is clear that Microsoft are not in the slightest bit interested in playing fair; it can be safely assumed that everything they do is in the name of greed, and they will go to any corrupt lengths to succeed in those vile endeavours. Anything they do which, on the face of it, appears perfectly reasonable, probably has a hidden agenda. Microsoft have proved, an infinite number of times, that they can never be trusted. This also applies to their pact with Novell, which I viewed with deep suspicion, until Ballmer started making baseless claims about Linux infringing their IP (but he neglected to elucidate any further), then I realised it was just yet another attack vector for them to use against us. Or as the Godfather would say “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” (actual origin: Sun-tzu, Chinese general & military strategist, ~400 BC).

    I’ll leave it up to the commercial Linux vendors to market Linux, since they are well versed in the kind of buzzwords that corporations like to hear. As for myself, my contributions are many and varied, including code, bug reports, patches, documentation, packaging, technical discussions, and most importantly the dissemination of truth about the underhand tactics employed by the enemies of FOSS.

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