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Struggling Linux Distributors Find Profitable New Product: Anti-Linux FUD

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt require money to exist and to be spread. When Shane wrote about the economics of FUD he was not necessarily referring to one's ability to buy FUD from Linux companies. As we looked closer, however, it became evident that Microsoft simply paid Linux distributors to insinuate that Linux requires legal protection.

For CEOs to deny a need for 'protection' after a patent deal was made would be rather pointless. They received the money and then they attempted to get rid of the guilt. They wanted to dust off loud and justified criticism. Novell, Xandros, and Linspire all did this. We covered all such statements in this Web site, so it cannot be denied (older item are still being corrected and modified in order to contain all the relevant 'paper trail').

On a Saturday, Joe Barr felt the need to publish a short article in Linux.com (NewsForge has just been deprecated, by the way, after an ongoing merge with Linux.com). Joe speaks about the fact that Microsoft has not received what it truly wanted the most. It was not able to lure Red Hat (let alone the popular Mandriva and Ubuntu) into the realms of Linux taxation. This means that customers are still able to get a robust Linux product and support without paying Microsoft a single penny. Therein lies the strength of having multiple cooperative distributors. It's the power of choice and decentralisation of control.

Here is what Joe Barr said about the paid-for FUD:

What is transparent is the message coming out of one side of Microsoft's mouth which tries to convince customers there is a threat of legal action against them should they dare to use Linux and/or open source software without paying Microsoft for the privilege. The biggest unknowns in the Xandros and Linspire deals is how much money Microsoft paid them to bolster that message.


One tactic that we begin to identify is 'punishment' and corruption of free standards, which are intended to pressure Linux distributors into signing similar deals. It is therefore important that such moves get spotted and criticised in public. Some of these moves are very subtle on the surface, owing to shrewd spin. Think laterally.

LinuxToday's chief editor had a personal opinion which is similar to that of Joe Barr. Microsoft may have snatched some 'partners', but it was unable to get access to the ones it truly needed. To quote:

And no matter what company or distribution you prefer to use, I think we should all give Mandriva a big round of applause for doing the right thing when it would have been so easy to take the deal and bolster their company's bottom line.

So yes, Microsoft landed Novell, Xandros, and Linspire. But they didn't get the biggest Linux company. Or the one that's the most popular right now. Or even the one that perhaps could have used the help more than any other distro.


While Red Hat sticks by its guns and honours the GPL's spirit, Microsoft is very unlikely to get its way. That is at least Groklaw's most recent take on the situation.

The GPL tells you what you can and can't do, just like Microsoft's EULAs. And if you disrespect the GPL, you will find no one willing to code for you. I told you it wouldn't work out for Novell, didn't I? Well?

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