More like a force of nature.

Story: The War (II)Total Replies: 25
Author Content

Oct 19, 2005
1:48 AM EDT

I think that Microsoft would agree with you: This is war, and all's fair in love and war.

Except that, it isn't a war at all.

FOSSfolk are ill-suited to wage war. We have no leadership per se. We have some iconography -- Linux, RMS, etc. RMS certainly has the war mind-set, but he is no field general and wars need field generals.

Our corporate friends are well-suited to wage war, but they are friends of convenience. IBM is likely to hang in there, more or less, because FOSS fits in well with both its hardware and consulting businesses, though not without some internal conflicts (can you say AIX and Power). But how loudly will Oracle shout the mantra when corporations start to discover how much they can do with PostgreSQL? Maybe forever, maybe not. Oracle is moving to higher level businesses than the database that made it, but you can see the conflict.

Corporate trends influence what we buy at home because work is where many of us spend most of our computer time. Using FOSS at work increases the likelihood of using FOSS at home. Even if you don't use FOSS at work, if you're aware that FOSS is used at work, the concept becomes less alien and you become more receptive.

And, of course, there's Firefox.

Rather than a warrior, I see FOSS more like gravity. You can fight it -- rockets, airplanes, elevators, plastic surgery -- but you can't make it go away. In fact, you don't want to make it go away. Weightlessness may sound like fun, but at some point, it's nice to know you can put a cup of coffee on the table and have it stay there. And my White Sox! Even a big ol' boy like Bobby Jenks would push himself back through the scoreboard after throwing one of those 98 mph fastballs.

Corporations are discovering Linux and FOSS for many things. They aren't choosing it for everything, and that's fine. They're using it, and that's the key. They're discovering that it works. As time goes by, they're slowly getting comfortable with it, figuring out how it fits into their operations and into their plans.

As a force of nature, FOSS doesn't have to worry about it's troops (or, as the case may be, venture capital) giving out. It has no headquarters to bomb, no profits to eviscerate with "competitive upgrades", etc. It has the advantages of being open, advantages that corporations are beginning to appreciate and that users locked into things like Quickbooks will learn to appreciate.

It takes time and lacks the punch of a marketing campaign with goals and deadlines.

On the other hand, we don't go floating off into space.


Oct 19, 2005
4:14 AM EDT
Dino, I agree on all counts, save one.

Whether or not we want to be in a fight, we are.

When I wrote this piece in 1999, I had no idea that one day Microsoft's PR firm would come calling, ask for me to come to Redmond for a "tour" and so on. It was a frequent conversation. One that ended, of course, when sent me packing.

Whether or not I was at war with them didn't matter. They were at war with me, obviously. Their executives frequently read the Art of War as a marketing manual (if you believe the people that have been on the inside of the corporation -- I do, BTW).

As for us being mobilized, I can't imagine a more disorganized bunch, true, but then again, look at what's going on without much organization. I look at things like Ohio Linux Fest -- it was one of the best events I can ever remember. I disagree that we don't have potential to change things as a community. That's partly why I wrote the orginal piece, and partially why you see this piece here.

I don't think you're aguing too strongly against my comments or position, so I'll stop there. The analogy was chosen for me, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.


PS: Baseball sucks man, get over it already.

Oct 19, 2005
6:10 AM EDT
Paulie -

There is a difference between being in a war and being in the midst of a war. FOSS is in the midst of a war...more like non-combatants who are affected by it, but go about their business as best they can, just trying to stay alive.

As to baseball...I might expect that from somebody in Cleveland Indians territory.

Oct 19, 2005
6:22 AM EDT
dino, dino, dino. Still raggin' on the Indians...

You sport-fanatic hackers are all alike.

You crouch in the dust of your dugouts, nothing but the smell of athletes foot and the glow of the scoreboards to guide your way. You sneak onto the message board space, all sportsman-like in your attitude, when in reality you're packing along all of this dirty underhanded baggage, playing by your own set of tilted rules.

For example, tossing in the Indians -- what a low blow you throw at me. You really know how to hit a guy when he's down.

But I'm on to you now! I see you and your leather-coated-ball ilk as a band of people that if it were not for beer-swilling pre and post-game parties, wouldn't have the Bear-est concept of community. It's hard for a group of online people to emulate you and your kind. For one, the parking-lots are to spread out, and for another, there would be fist-fights over the choice of beer to bring. Good thing, you ask me.

So, go ahead and poke fun at my analogies. I can see that you're not fighting in an open forum, you're just disagreeing with style. It's not a barrage we're trading here -- it's a friendly hand-shake where I accidentally get a black eye every other time.

Be that way! I see how you are!

PS: I take back the baseball sucks comment... Sports sucks. There! I said it.

Oct 19, 2005
6:30 AM EDT
Paulie -

Quoting:PS: I take back the baseball sucks comment... Sports sucks. There! I said it.

Whoops!!! Many apologies for forgetting the Cleveland Browns.


Oct 19, 2005
6:40 AM EDT
Dino: You're not alone. Many people in Cleveland wish they could forget about the Cleveland Browns, too.

Oct 19, 2005
9:46 AM EDT
"I think that Microsoft would agree with you: This is war, and all's fair in love and war.

Except that, it isn't a war at all. "


Are we splitting hairs again!

Your buddy W. once said, “you are with us or against us”. Well, FOSS tried to reach out and extended a peaceful harmonious cooperation and coexistence , but MS chose against us.

War doesn't have to be armed, it could be political, social, strategic and technological. MS declared all against FOSS but armed. Who knows, may be when they get desperate enough, they would if they could.

Just like the Nazis, they took over the country. When they became powerful enough, one country at a time, they made them the offer they couldn't refuse. So did MS, one company at a time, either they become submissive or we will take you over one way or another. They took away their freedom of competition and determining their destiny.

There comes FOSS declaring software freedom for everyone with defiance. MS started their political front using its influence on companies (OEMs and what have you) and politicians every where; their social front calling FOSS “cancer”, communist, anti-American and lowering their prices to record low; their strategic by creating alliances with their lackeys in the media, journalism, vendors and service providers, they started their “Get the Facts” campaign as propaganda tool amounting to nothing but a collection of lies and faked statistics; and their technological by trying to produce better products, which they never cared about doing before.

FOSS did the natural thing of defending itself. We simply did the right thing by stated the facts. We advocated the message about FOSS being a better alternative for everyone, we developed software and drivers to fill the gap created by vendors who alienated themselves with MS; we explained how FOSS, based on the GPL, grants software developers and users the Freedom just the same as our constitution grants us Freedom and liberty in life. We responded and exposed their lies, we advocated on Internet sites, and showed that FOSS is a better quality and lower cost than MS products; and developers worked hard on creating products that are easy to use, if not easier, and innovated new technologies that MS is copying from to keep or catch up with FOSS advances and progress.

Well Dino, if this isn't a war, I don't know what is. They attack, we counter attack. It is a war. I wonder what you are waiting for to realize it is a war? Paul said it best in this article “It's insanity to think that we can just wish away Microsoft's aggression for Linux and open standards in general.”. And you said too in one of your post “I think this because they have invested a fortune [fighting] Open Source software”. If MS is “fighting”, who is fighting back? I don't think it is IBM, HP or even Novell, it is FOSS at the forefront with companies that realize that it is time to get from under the umbrella of the biggest monopoly IT has known to breathe the fresh air of Freedom."Gasp"

Oct 19, 2005
3:37 PM EDT
Yes, it is a war. Liberty has always been gained only by force.

At this point, it is the force of ideas, the force of law (in the form of things like the GPL), but it is still force. Each of us must assert ourselves against the grain, because the control freaks of the world always make it easier to "just go along".

Microsoft is getting desperate. There is an old saying, "do not anger a small man, he will kill you." Microsoft is the ultimate in "small" men, it is a committee fighting for its life.

Freedom we have, for we are not in physical chains. This battle is for Liberty, the expansion of the grey area between the white of mandatory and the black of forbidden.

Oct 19, 2005
4:21 PM EDT
Abe -

So, where has FOSS counter-attacked anything, anyone, or anybody?

FOSS developers make software, they don't fight wars.

It's part of why the war-fighters are doomed to lose. War is an expensive and draining process that can end up with you being dead.

Oct 19, 2005
9:30 PM EDT
Every time someone writes Micro**** (shaft,fool,shit, insert your favourite rude word) it's an attack. Every time you choose "Remove Windows completely" from the install menu. Lots of what ESR has said, lot's of what is said on this site.Everytime you help a new user with Linux. Etc. All these are attacks, however sublime.

We are the small axe. Microsoft is the tree.

After 3, 1,2,3.. I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...


Oct 20, 2005
12:20 AM EDT
I work all night and I sleep all daaayyy

hmm, that doesn't look right.

Oct 20, 2005
1:00 AM EDT
Most humour doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Quoting Python is a birthright.

Oct 20, 2005
1:23 AM EDT
Quoting: Quoting Python is a birthright.

Something very interesting, I was watching people quote python at a vendor demo (in an internal chat, no less, that only the employees (customers) could see) just yesterday. Geeks love Python, and no, I'm not referring to the language.

There are things, as a geek you must simply know, or you're not going to be able to communicate fully.

Every once and a while I run into a budding geek, and I explain that one of the first orders of business, when it comes to understanding humor, geeks and so on, is to watch as much Python (quantitatively) as possible. I don't mean over and over (exception being the Holy Grail, which simply can't be appreciated unless it's been seen about 10 times).

And every so often, I run into someone I mentored like a decade ago, and they refer to that as one of the best things I ever shared with them :-)

I'm not making this up. For all of its insanity, Python has become something of a running mental soundtrack for the way that creative programmers (FOSS people being a subset) think. If you haven't seen these , er, gems, it's time to go and rent a few of them and get aquainted with some of the silliest humor. If you don't, things like the above are simply going to pass you by -- you'll say "wha?" and move on.

Don't get me wrong here, there are other things that are similar in their own iconic way (The Matrix, Star Trek, etc), but for some strange reason, Python is almost universal in infection rate.

Just an observation.


Oct 20, 2005
5:27 AM EDT
salparadise -
Quoting: Every time someone writes Micro**** (shaft,fool,shit, insert your favourite rude word) it's an attack

It's nothing of the sort. Just little boys making noise.

War means concerted action, plans of attack, etc. Everything else is popguns and beating chests.

Oct 20, 2005
6:24 AM EDT
There is some historical precedent for taunting ones enemy. Consider the All Blacks Rugby team. They do a dance at the beginning of every match that consists of chanting and lots of face pulling. Meant to intimidate. Granted, it loses some of its punch after you've seen it a few times.

Then there's the taunting platforms the French used.

Making your enemy angry causes him to make silly mistakes.

Oct 20, 2005
6:30 AM EDT
Quoting:Making your enemy angry causes him to make silly mistakes.

Which is ok when you've got the battle plan and resources to back it up. Otherwise, it just gets your butt blown away.

Well-trained armies are indifferent to taunting, but pay lots of attention to real threats.

Oct 20, 2005
8:12 AM EDT

Hay, thanks for the warning. You just can't shake that military war thing can you? For God sake, I was only talking about software not military.

I can't recall now (your statement blew my mind), who was it that said "Give me liberty or give me death", my favorite Ben Franklin? No no it was Patrick Henry.

Like I said, war comes in different shapes and forms and military war wasn't on my mind.

Oct 20, 2005
8:21 AM EDT
Abe -

Doesn't have to be military.

I doubt that most business leaders are influenced one way or the other by silly taunts.

Sure, they may decide that somebody's too big a jerk to invite over for dinner, but not much else.

Since people here started using the war metaphor, let's see how it really works:

1. The sides determine their goals.

It's actually quite helpful here to have a definable organization that can come up with goals, as opposed to an amorphous distribution of individuals who believe that freedom is good.

2. They tally and gather their resources.

Again easier for a real organization.

3. They seek out friends.

In business world, this includes political clout, business partners, clients with a vested interest, journalists, etc.

Again, Open Source folks don't have nearly the same access to any of these people. Now, some of our allies do, but, as I've pointed out already, our allies are allies of convenience, not all-out believers.

4. They develop a strategy and follow it relentlessly.

This should be need no comment other than FOSS ain't there. Hell, FOSS guys can't get together if a couple of words are wrong in a license, or somebody happens to call something a virus that somebody else thinks is a worm.

FOSS wins by not fighting the war. FOSS instead does what it does best: preserving the freedom to write and use software and turning out stuff that's too useful to ignore. Where some funds and inclination exist, do a little PR and a little lobbying.

Mostly, though, write it, use it, tell your friends/co-workers/boss/family/neighbors about it.

It's been a pretty powerful approach so far.

Oct 20, 2005
8:37 AM EDT
"Mostly, though, write it, use it, tell your friends/co-workers/boss/family/neighbors about it.

It's been a pretty powerful approach so far."

In a nutshell.

Oct 20, 2005
10:06 AM EDT
I thought I addressed those above!

Any ways, if you do all those you cited, classical conventional warfare always wins initially. But when you are faced with non-conventional warefare, where freedom counts and well worth it, conventional war is no match. History proves it.

Oct 20, 2005
12:36 PM EDT
Abe -

Well, effective non-conventional warfare, anyway.

As the Masai found in Africa, a strategy of running up and heaving spears at machine guns doesn't work that well.

For that matter, the Palestinion "strategy" of suicide bombings doesn't seem to have gotten them very far, either.

Much to be learned from those who were more concerned with final victory than immediate appearances. Great examples in both warfare and non-warfare situations.

There was the example of Gandhi, who "humbled" his way to victory over the British, and inspired the US Civil Rights movement who won their victories by losing -- going to jail, being beaten, attacked by dogs and even murdered.

Of course, winning by losing is a great American tradition, starting with the revolutionary war general Nathaniel Greene, who won the southern campaign -- and beat back Lord Cornwallis -- by retreating, retreating, and retreating again. Greene used to brag about it, in fact. He was actually pursuing a shrewd strategy of "losing" battles that cost the British more to win than they cost Greene to lose.

Different strokes for different folks.


Oct 20, 2005
3:51 PM EDT

This thread is continuously drifting from IT to politics. I think it is time to give a fair share to other threads. What do you think?

Oct 20, 2005
4:17 PM EDT
Abe -

Goodness great gosh...if I didn't drift, I wouldn't move at all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ya gots to admit, if you're going to expand the focus a bit, an article entitled The War ain't a bad place to do it.

Still, I guess I could try getting a life here for a little while, at least.

Oct 20, 2005
5:20 PM EDT
Quoting: Ya gots to admit, if you're going to expand the focus a bit, an article entitled The War ain't a bad place to do it.

Expand the focus -- is that what you call that? Listen, you need to try to stay on topic more, that's all I can say. Try not to be so sarcastic too -- that always annoys the piss outta me.


Oct 20, 2005
5:22 PM EDT
Sorry Paulie -

I forgot how much you like to keep things serious and in point.

At least, I think I forgot...

Oct 21, 2005
1:07 AM EDT
dino, dino, dino -- you need to get a mirror!

(okay, the whole self-lampooning thing is wearing thin, I'll try and drop it).

Boot the latest DinoCyde distro and try and format your hard drive -- I just put some code in there that autoconfigures everything. Then, whilst it appears to be formatting the hard drive, it's really in fact destroying the install media! What do you think? Great way to attract the noobs, you ask me.


Posting in this forum is limited to members of the group: [ForumMods, SITEADMINS, MEMBERS.]

Becoming a member of LXer is easy and free. Join Us!