01.22.09

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Con Artists in the Press

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Windows at 11:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ABOUT one year ago, Rea Maor wrote an excellent post stating that people who don’t use GNU/Linux shouldn’t write about it. Carla has just published a spot-on essay on exactly the same topic and she’s not shy to drop some names in. We strongly recommend reading it.

My current favorite horrid example is Dana Blankenhorn’s famous “someone please send a Linux laptop” column [Dana Blankenhorn runs ZDNet's "Linux and open source blog" and he hardly ever uses open source, let alone Linux], written in July 2008:

“I have written about, and been written to about, Linux laptops for some time. Now is a good time to take the plunge. So I am asking for a review unit. ”

How can one craft any sort of response other than WTF??! But let us not be hasty. The Internet is already full of hasty, kneejerk flamers and uninformed pontificators, and we do not want to be like them. Perhaps there is more to this story, so let us make use of the very secret weapon that nobody in tech journalism knows about: Google. I’ve been reading Mr. Blankenhorn’s column for some years, and between my cluttered old memory and Google I do not find any indication that he had ever actually touched a Linux PC until September 2008:

“My first Linux laptop is the ASUS EeePC.”

Be still my heart.

Preston Gralla, famous Windows author, wrote a good article about his first serious Linux experience Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows. But again, WTF??! Another technology writer who has been writing about Linux for years without knowing anything about it:

“Now, I recognize that a few hours of using desktop Linux isn’t a true test drive. But if you want someone to throw over their habits of a more than a dozen years, you’ve got to wow them right away. And Linux didn’t do that for me.”

Like, heavy, man. This doesn’t even rise to piffle– it’s piffle lite.

We also strongly encourage everyone to watch out for sources of disinformation — marketing and bias disguised as “trade journals”. Preston Gralla from IDG [1, 2] is just one example. As for ZDNet, we covered this problem many times in the past. They have many Microsoft bloggers on staff (even Microsoft employees), yet none who is pro-GNU/Linux and Free software. Novell employees don’t count as such. Microsoft has relationships with ZDNet and it also sends employees to comment there anonymously.

This is known as editorial control by selection or self censorship. In some cases, Microsoft tries getting reporters fired. There is always room for improvement [1, 2].

“Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

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14 Comments

  1. Luke said,

    January 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Gravatar

    Hey, I wanted to comment on your site and give you some feedback, as you requested on your about page. My take on all of this, this article included, is that there is too much culture war BS going on. You can beat the drums and say that all such-and-such is bad, you can have the press singing in unison that the sky isn’t blue, but at the end of the day it comes down to fundamentals, what you see when you look out the window. I have a Windows Ubuntu dual boot and I prefer Ubuntu. (Though I’ll try Windows 7) The press sang the praises of Bush and his policies in unison, but now the economy is in a slump: The fundamental realities, what IS true, is much more important at the end of the day than what everybody THINKS is true.

    And so that’s the question here: What are the fundamental issues? Your site targets Microsoft and Novell, but in many ways thats the exact same thinking that Microsoft displays in mindlessly FUDing their competition: Its ad hominem, subjective rather than objective critique. Instead of attacking the legislative problems that allow unethical behavior on the part of software companies, we get caught in a red team/blue team mentality. So OF COURSE people from Novell are attacking you, you’re attacking their company. What I’ll bet you’d find surprising is how many of them would agree with you if you focused on the core issues with patents and so forth.

    Because that’s the REAL issue here, its not about the movement vs. Microsoft. There is no one “movement” and there is no one “Microsoft”. Its about people who would like to produce software and make money at it vs. people who would like to litigate over software (producing nothing) and making money at that. Within Microsoft itself, you have a really talented pool of developers wanting to create progress and move forward, then you have these litigators and bean counters who’s best idea lately seems to be to copy synaptic and add it to windows, starting a trend of copying free software for features (I think the codename is ‘Windows: stick a fork in it’) hehe. The point is, one of these currents has a future, one of them does not. The devs don’t hate open source…So, in the words of your Novell buddy, why throw out the baby with the bathwater??? :)

  2. Gentoo User said,

    January 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm

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    You are on record saying you haven’t used Microsoft software in four years, and the last version of Windows you used was Win98.

    Yet all you do is criticize Microsoft software.

    And here you are recommending people use the software they criticize (probably a good idea), otherwise they lack the credibility to be taken seriously?

    Note: comment arrived from a witch hunter that does not even use GNU/Linux.

  3. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm

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    Roy seems to criticise Microsoft, the company more than the software , and when it is the software he just links to security reports. So-called “Gentoo User”, you failed.

    And so that’s the question here: What are the fundamental issues? Your site targets Microsoft and Novell, but in many ways thats the exact same thinking that Microsoft displays in mindlessly FUDing their competition: Its ad hominem,

    Criticizing is not necessarily an ad hominem, Roy seems to rant about Microsoft’s actions rather than Microsoft itself more often than viceversa.

    The devs don’t hate open source…So, in the words of your Novell buddy, why throw out the baby with the bathwater???

    I don’t remember Roy ever bashing the MS developers themselves, the only dev so far that I remember being bashed here is Miguel Icaza, but I cannot picture this blog without Icaza bashing, besides of a dev he is also a Novell vice president and has a tendency to say things such as “OOXML is superb standard” (Back when it wasn’t even a standard) Not to mention he is the guy behind Mono.

  4. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Gravatar

    The worst part about these people is that the only reason they ended trying Linux was so they could later justify their bashing, so it is basically a waste of time to read their opinions before and after they tried Linux. (Ooh they tried an eee, wow…)

    I got an eee and to tell you the truth it is rather terrible out of the box. Very few repositories and a dumbed down interface.

  5. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm

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    Forgot to add “and hence it really wasn’t a great example of Linux”

  6. Dan O'Brian said,

    January 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

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    I remember being bashed here is Miguel Icaza, but I cannot picture this blog without Icaza bashing, besides of a dev he is also a Novell vice president and has a tendency to say things such as “OOXML is superb standard”

    And Mark Shuttleworth says that Vista7 is an excellent product, are you guys going to bash him now? Likely not, and why is that? Because you guys are ungrateful hypocrites with double standards.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Gravatar

    And Mark Shuttleworth says that Vista7 is an excellent product, are you guys going to bash him now?

    Watch the IRC logs.

  8. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Gravatar

    And Mark Shuttleworth says that Vista7 is an excellent product, are you guys going to bash him now? Likely not, and why is that? Because you guys are ungrateful hypocrites with double standards.

    So, why are you assuming he won’t be bashed?

  9. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Gravatar

    So, why are you assuming he won’t be bashed?

    Oh didn’t notice it was Dan, ok Dan, don’t worry, I won’t continue the discussion, you are safe, nobody is sending any black helicopter to take you.

  10. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Gravatar

    It is retarded anyway, when Miguel Icaza said that:
    a) It wasn’t an standard.
    b) It was in process of becoming an standard, something that threatened FLOSS.

    Maybe Icaza is at fault in part for the OOXML debacle?

    Mark may have any opinion about vista7, it doesn’t really matter in this context, he like OS/X as well… Now imagine, MS was attempting to impose vista7 as an open standard and Mark said not that it is a fine product but that it is a superb standard so everybody should go for it. THAT would be an equivalent deal.

    But of course, some conspiracy theorists are unable to get it, and they fool themselves into this “double standard” meme, If Novell apologists want to be taken seriously, they should really get over it. This goes for Icaza as well. That guy repeats that double standard BS as a parrot.

    I still remember that one Icaza interview: “So, we want to make everything dependent on MS technology, but did you know Mozilla is doing something completely unrelated to that? THAT’s a double standard!”

  11. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Gravatar

    I can’t dedicate a lot of time to ‘bash’ (criticise) Ubuntu’s founder for this, but you can read IRC.

    It would also be counter productive because I’m in good terms with him.

  12. Victor Soliz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Gravatar

    Nevertheless Mark’s point of view is to see the competition’s strengths as a way to learn and compete. While Miguel’s is to just make everyone use the competition, no point of comparison.

    Speaking of which:

    http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2009/Jan-21.html

    So, the so-called cross platform Silverlight, needs authors to explicitly make it compatible with “Linux”. In other words, I take it Moonlight is, as predicted the second class citizen here. We’ll have compatibility unless/until someone decides to stop making the moonlight version, so practical.

  13. Roy Schestowitz said,

    January 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Gravatar

    S/He who controls the standards calls the shots.

  14. Jose_X said,

    January 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Gravatar

    IMO [IANAL], there likely are (or could easily be) very serious patent liabilities that could be acquired by parts of the FOSS community if mono/moonlight/etc spread significantly. See http://boycottnovell.com/2009/01/11/ms-maintaining-gap-vs-linux/#comment-58751 and the correction (of the link) that happens two comments below that one.

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