Home Messages Index
[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index

Re: GNU and Communism--Labeling for the Dumb and the Dumber

  • Subject: Re: GNU and Communism--Labeling for the Dumb and the Dumber
  • From: rex.ballard@xxxxxxxxx
  • Date: 15 Jan 2006 13:50:29 -0800
  • Complaints-to: groups-abuse@google.com
  • In-reply-to: <dqe1ef$psh$1@godfrey.mcc.ac.uk>
  • Injection-info: g47g2000cwa.googlegroups.com; posting-host=; posting-account=W7I-5gwAAACdjXtgBZS0v1SA93ztSMgH
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: http://groups.google.com
  • References: <dqe1ef$psh$1@godfrey.mcc.ac.uk>
  • User-agent: G2/0.2
  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1072167
Labelling has been a huge part of this industry for decades.

At one time, hackers were the most highly skilled and highly prized of
programmers, they were known for being able to quickly get out working
code, and encouraged others to test it intensely, especially for
security.  The goal was to find the vulnerabilities, bugs, and risk
areas BEFORE it got put into a server which was connected to 150 users
using terminals to access a single computer.  After all, if a system
could be crashed "at will" once the application was put into
production, each machine could be hit for downtime that amounted to 150
times the hourly wage paid to programmers at the time.  In today's
money that would be the equivalent of about $300,000/hour or

But Hackers also insisted on having the source code, so that they could
fix these problems.  After all, if the vendor couldn't get the problem
fixed for 2-3 weeks, and the system was crashing 3-4 times/day - the
cost of the downtime very quickly exceeded the cost of purchasing
source code.  UNIX and many UNIX applications were quite frequently
sold with source code for just that reason.

But Microsoft didn't want people to have source code, and they began
referring to those who wrote code to disable or bypass copy protection
schemes "Hackers" which meant that the same word was being used to
label both the very best of programmers and the most unethical of

The first computers were not called Personal Computers, they were
called "MicroComputers" implying that they were far too small for any
real work, certainly far smaller than "MiniComputers".  Big machines
with mainframe performance and capacities were relabled
"SuperComputers" indicating that they were far far superior to these
minicomputers and microcomputers.

CP/M machines were called Desktop Computers - indicating that they were
good for accountants and other professionals who might otherwise use
other forms of office equipment such as calculators, adding machines,
and typewriters.

Microsoft and IBM began calling their machine Personal computers to
discourage the common practice of several workers in the same office
sharing a single "desktop" computer.

For years, PCs were "IBM Compatibles" - until IBM released Microchannel
and OS/2 and Microsoft began encouraging OEMs to referr to their
machines as "MS-DOS Systems" or "Windows Systems".

Microsoft even tried to hijack Windows as a trademark.  The term
Windows had been a generic term for years, and X11 had been using the
Windows terminology for years.  Microsoft ended up trademarking the
term "Microsoft-Windows" but routinely referred to their product as
"Windows".  When another vendor used a name similar to Windows,
Microsoft tried to get an injunction against the use of Lindows.

Microsoft executives like to referr to Open Source technology as
"Communism", even though they make extensive use of Open Source
technology in their own products, and are often frustrated at the
unavailability of patches which HAVE been released under GPL and other
"full disclosure" licenses but not under licenses which allow Microsoft
to spin-off proprietary derivative products of established open source

The irony is that there is very little difference between the business
models of Microsoft and any of the Linux vendors.  They release
products, not with the expectation of just sitting back and waiting for
the $billions to come in, but with the clear understanding that they
must provide service and support to their customers.  Keep in mind that
Microsoft's customers are not the end users, they are the OEMs and
Corporate Chief Information Officer.  The OEMs want their customers to
be able to purchase the computer, plug in a few color coded cables, and
have a working system in about 20 minutes.  The Corporate CIO wants to
have a computer which can be plugged in and imaged by a well-trained
professional, and be fully functional in less than 1 hour.

There isn't a great deal of difference in the approach that Red Hat and
Novell have with their revenue products (as opposed to their freely
downloadable products).  People are quite willing to pay a very
reasonable license fee for a CD which can be plugged into most PCs and
generate a fully functional Linux system in less than an hour.  The
OEMs are willing to select components which are Linux friendly over
those which are not, because they know that this will satisfy the needs
of their Linux customers as well, or better, than a machine which has
been preconfigured with a specific (possbily different) version of
Linux.  Furthermore, shipping it with the MS-Windows license means that
Linux users can still run Windows applications under the OEM Windows

There are many Microsoft executives who want to trigger the knee-jerk
reaction.  They want to claim that GPL is "Communist" - but then they
want to use NCSA and other Open Source products in their product line -
without paying fair value for it.

There are many Linux advocates who then counter with the attitude that
Microsoft is a facist corporate pig of a corporation.  Unfortunately,
this isn't the type of thing that corporate customers really want to

Don't let the lables distract you too much.  Just because someone calls
you a bolchevick (sic) communist doesnt' actually make you one.

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Author IndexDate IndexThread Index