MS bashing is just a small amusing community distraction

Story: It's Time to Get Over MicrosoftTotal Replies: 35
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greggh

Nov 19, 2007
4:50 AM EST
The guy writes an article criticizing the FOSS community for obsessing over Microsoft. If he had a real understanding of FOSS users he would have come to understand a long time ago that MS bashing is just an amusing distraction and represents a very small portion of what FOSS folks think and talk about. He seems to be making a big problem out of something that isn't a problem at all, or at most a so small as to be insignificant problem. I hate to be cynical, but I question his sincerity, and suspect he may be deliberately trying to ruffle feathers to get reads.
bigg

Nov 19, 2007
5:20 AM EST
> MS bashing is just an amusing distraction and represents a very small portion of what FOSS folks think and talk about

I suppose Shaquille O'Neal is small relative to some things as well. I hear far more about Microsoft than pretty much any other topic in FOSS circles. It's more than just a simple "Micro$oft sux" that he's talking about. A lot of FOSS folks are not pro-free software, but are anti-Microsoft.

It's surprising that someone would question the claim that Microsoft bashing goes on in the FOSS world.

> I question his sincerity

Having read a lot from this author in the past, I doubt that is the case.
dcparris

Nov 19, 2007
5:44 AM EST
I think Byfield's point is largely valid. MS (namely Ballmer) bashes the community. The community responds in equally flamatory manner. I think someone previously suggested we stop letting MS rants turn us all bug-eyed.

Perhaps our new response should be, "Steve who?"
dinotrac

Nov 19, 2007
6:58 AM EST
Bigg and Rev :

Dittos to you both.

Absolutely and then some.

With or without Microsoft, FOSS is great, FOSS is strong, and FOSS is growing.

I've said it many times: Microsoft has lost the war. Their goal was to own both the front-end and back-end by now. NT and commodity hardware were the weapons of choice. Unfortunately for them, that commodity hardware makes a better match for commodity software than it does for Microsoft products.

Sure, they'll make noise, but they're hardly worth the mental and spiritual capital so many folks invest in them.
jdixon

Nov 19, 2007
8:23 AM EST
> A lot of FOSS folks are not pro-Microsoft, but are anti-Microsoft.

Most folks are anti-criminal, which is what Microsoft is. To the extent Microsoft obeys the law, I have little problem with them.

However, I also have little use for them due to the nature of their products and their past actions. Microsoft's products offer closed, incompatible, locked in formats. Microsoft as a company has shown that they simply cannot be trusted and do not care about their customer's needs. Why should I have any interest in dealing with such a company?

So, my overall attitude can definitely be characterized as anti-Microsoft, but not rabidly so.
bigg

Nov 19, 2007
8:33 AM EST
I have edited my statement to what I wanted it to say.

"A lot of FOSS folks are not pro-free software, but are anti-Microsoft."

What I meant to say is that many of those who claim to be fans of FOSS are actually just cheering for someone who can beat Microsoft. I don't think you are in that category, but a guy like SJVN definitely is. I am pro-free software because I don't view bad news about Microsoft, by itself, to be a good thing. If Windows users give up on Vista and buy a Mac, that means nothing to me, because they're still not using a free OS.
jdixon

Nov 19, 2007
8:44 AM EST
> If Windows users give up on Vista and buy a Mac, that means nothing to me, because they're still not using a free OS.

Hmm. Both the users and the broader net are better off, as the Mac is far more secure than Windows. And while the Mac OS is not Free, it's still far better designed and implemented than Windows.

So, while the negatives are that they're not using a Free OS, there's still a fair quantity of positives if they switch.

And, if that's their choice, I wouldn't want to stop them. For me, freedom means more than FOSS.
gus3

Nov 19, 2007
8:51 AM EST
> Both the users and the broader net are better off, as the Mac is far more secure than Windows.

Unless they haven't repaired the firewall settings wiped out by the Leopard upgrade. Again, it's closed, and the end-users are required to either endure the damage, or don't upgrade. Apple's process gives them no other choice.
hkwint

Nov 19, 2007
9:18 AM EST
Quoting:A lot of FOSS folks are not pro-Microsoft, but are anti-Microsoft.


Well, honestly it's quite hard for me to see how anyone that supports the ideas of FOSS can't be anti-Microsoft, since Microsoft is trying to stop freedom at all costs.

If Microsoft wasn't stuffing ISO-standard ballots which hurts freedom, if they didn't try to give the term 'open source' their own twist, if they didn't use BSA to push through laws in poor countries that puts 'software pirates' in jail while in the home country of Microsoft this isn't even an issue, if they didn't spend millions to try to make software-patents enforceable in the EU (which is bad for freedom again), if they didn't try to make interoperability with their products impossible by means of changing the SMB protocol over and over, if they didn't spread false lying reports about free software products, if they didn't make outrageous unspecified patent claims to 'free software' users just to scare them etc. etc. I didn't have to bee anti-Microsoft, I could just be pro-FOSS and forget about Microsoft.

For the moment however, that's simply not an option. I love the idea to sing "Hooray for FOSS" and forget about Microsoft, but singing "Hooray" while someone is trying to stab you in the back seems ignorant at least to me.

Scott_Ruecker

Nov 19, 2007
9:28 AM EST
If Microsoft did not take such an active and insidious role in undermining FOSS at every turn I would not have anything, well almost anything against them.

At its base the conflict is about control, control over the sharing of software, control over creativity and control over the communities that evolve around it.

With FOSS, control is almost always given to those who contribute the most back, and the users always have 'rights' that cannot be revoked or withheld. With closed software control is given to the one who can prove they own it(which has nothing to do with who actually created it) which gives them all the 'rights' (which they can change at a whim) and they then allow others to purchase the 'right' to use it, as long as they are in accordance with the EULA. And the EULA allows them to use the Justice system to prosecute those who can be convinced(intimidated) that they have 'misused' their software and must pay extra for it.

Control people. Its always been about control, and it always will be.

jdixon

Nov 19, 2007
9:30 AM EST
> Again, it's closed, and the end-users are required to either endure the damage, or don't upgrade.

I didn't say FOSS wasn't better than either. I said Apple's OS was better than Microsoft's.
tuxchick

Nov 19, 2007
9:38 AM EST
Mr. Byfield mis-states the problem. He cites his own blog as an example, but out of fifteen comments there was not a single foamy rant. Sure, the FOSS world has its share of poorly-informed bigmouths, but so do all industries and communities. They do not represent the majorities. I think he is confusing needful activism with obsession.

He talks both bout how widespread FOSS is today, and how his own attitude is to ignore Microsoft. Which overlooks how all the progress FOSS has made is the result of relentless hard work, both in creating great software, and in the public, legal, and commercial arenas. If the only actions FOSS supporters ever took were to ignore Microsoft and to just create software, Microsoft and other evil companies would own the world, and FOSS would be a tiny footnote in computing history. DRM, the DMCA, stupid patents, collusion with hardware and software vendors and retailers, dirty deals with businesses and governments- all would have stampeded over us unchecked, and FOSS would be marginalized and legislated out of existence.

It's rather like any new generation that takes its privileges and successes for granted, and does not realize how much hard work and sacrifice it took to reach that point. Hans is right- it's hard to be pro-FOSS without also being anti-Microsoft. You can't live-and-let-live with a hostile entity that won't leave you alone, and especially one that is devoting enormous resources to your destruction.
bigg

Nov 19, 2007
9:43 AM EST
> honestly it's quite hard for me to see how anyone that supports the ideas of FOSS can't be anti-Microsoft

But all of the examples you gave are cases in which someone else is hurting FOSS. Would it make any difference if those things were done by Adobe, or by Apple, or by Oracle?

As I said, something that is bad for Microsoft is not by itself good for FOSS. Movement from Microsoft to Apple is just the most prominent example. I also don't see Microsoft's Vista woes as good for FOSS. Users should be adopting Linux because it is a good OS, not because the alternatives are a joke. I would, in fact, love for Microsoft to come out with an OS that is so good that I give up on Linux and go back. If you are anti-Microsoft you will passionately disagree with that statement.
bigg

Nov 19, 2007
10:12 AM EST
> You can't live-and-let-live with a hostile entity that won't leave you alone, and especially one that is devoting enormous resources to your destruction.

But those of us in the "Microsoft is just another company that doesn't like us" camp might argue that it is wrong to assume Microsoft has divine powers when they don't. Professor Ballmer isn't going to be parting the Red Sea anytime soon. He also isn't going to wave a magic wand and make FOSS disappear.
dinotrac

Nov 19, 2007
10:46 AM EST
> He also isn't going to wave a magic wand and make FOSS disappear.

But I'll bet he wishes he could make Vista disappear.

Oh wait! That's what all those Windows users "downgrading" to XP are doing...
Libervis

Nov 19, 2007
11:35 AM EST
I see it like this. Microsoft is not the only proprietary software company that does evil and hurts FOSS, but it is the most prominent and most dangerous one. So while they don't have magic wands that can make FOSS disappear they have substantially more capability to hurt FOSS than other companies. Proportional to that, it makes sense to call them out more than others.

In a way, just as GNU/Linux, being only one OS in the crowd of Free Software operating systems is a "flag bearer" of Free Software, Microsoft can be seen as the flag bearer of proprietary software. It is natural to target it.

I think that the overall picture in the industry as a whole would fit this analogy. Just think what would happen if Microsoft was truly brought down by FOSS, made completely incapable to even attempt any new devious attack on GNU/Linux, Free Software or freedom in general. Mr. Byfield says others would fill in the spot, but I'm not so sure. It would send a huge pulse over the industry that Microsoft-way is not the way to go, and through that proprietary software at large would no longer seem like a great idea. In other words, I think it would be FOSS companies who would fill in space that Microsoft occupied.

So while I don't agree with silly remarks (except in jokes) and calling Microsoft as "Micro$oft" or "Microshaft" or Windows as "Windoze" I do agree that as part of the whole strategy of vigilance Microsoft is probably the best target to watch, while not keeping others out of sight.

And I think Hans and TC made good points to underscore that.

Vigilance is not obsession. It is just.. vigilance.. keeping your eyes and mind open, being aware rather than ignorant, questioning everything.. especially the most suspicious.

Cheers
dinotrac

Nov 19, 2007
12:38 PM EST
>I do agree that as part of the whole strategy of vigilance

This silly talk reminds me of a story ESR used to tell. Wish I could remember the details, but it involved reverse-engineering of secrets, either trade or military.

At any rate, in the course of the discussion, a member of the secret-holding organization said they didn't really mind the reverse engineering because technology was moving so quickly, that it guaranteed that the copiers would always be one step behind.

How this relates to FOSS?

The only vigilance that matters is providing the best software and best solutions to the problems that people out in the world encounter. MicroAngst does nothing positive, may help to keep FOSS a step behind.



tracyanne

Nov 19, 2007
12:54 PM EST
Quoting:Perhaps our new response should be, "Steve who?"


Indeed.
ColonelPanik

Nov 19, 2007
1:33 PM EST
...or m$ who?
Libervis

Nov 19, 2007
1:41 PM EST
Quoting:MicroAngst does nothing positive, may help to keep FOSS a step behind.


Then I would suppose you simply misunderstood what I was trying to say for something more dramatic and.. as you call it.. "silly".
Libervis

Nov 19, 2007
2:14 PM EST
Quoting:The only vigilance that matters is providing the best software and best solutions to the problems that people out in the world encounter.


To define "best" one needs a reference point. Best relative to what? For a free operating system to be the best solution it must be better than Windows, Mac OS X or any other proprietary OS. When Microsoft actively uses it's influence to keep people away from this better solution of ours and even further target the legality of its existence then I don't think the vigilance in terms of simply making best software is going to be enough.
tuxchick

Nov 19, 2007
2:23 PM EST
The best software in the world is useless against corrupt laws, a corrupted standards process, rampant anti-customer collusion, a broken patent system, and unopposed FUD and propaganda. Most FOSS users are able to ignore microsoft and its evil antics because of the people who are doing the hard work fighting all that garbage on their behalf. It doesn't "just happen." It takes hard work and dedication.
tracyanne

Nov 19, 2007
3:13 PM EST
Quoting:It doesn't "just happen." It takes hard work and dedication.


Juvenile rants, however, achive nothing positive, and probably a hell of a lot of negative. Yeah fight Microsoft, but don't resort to childish behaviour to do it. Good analysis of the FUD, that strips the FUD bare is much more effecive.
dinotrac

Nov 19, 2007
3:14 PM EST
>To define "best" one needs a reference point.

I certainly hope that you bring a better mindset than that to your real world doings.

The only best that matters is the best we can do, and that is always inching upwards.

>The best software in the world is useless against corrupt laws, a corrupted standards process, rampant anti-customer collusion, a broken patent system, and unopposed FUD and propaganda.

And yet, nearly every large corporation is awash in free software. The last place I worked was moving it's bread and butter money-making application to a Linux cluster when I left. They also used libxml2 (not, unfortunately, a high point in free software), apache, MySQL, perl, gobs of other free stuff.

Somehow all those insurmountable obstacles get surmounted.

Go figure.

FOSS works. Really.
tuxchick

Nov 19, 2007
3:42 PM EST
Well tracyanne, going back to the actual article, he didn't identify any actual childish rants, or present anything to support his contention that FOSS is awash in them and is being harmed, but pretty much trashed an entire community for daring to speak up at all, and seems to think that sticking one's head in the sand is the correct behavior. This whole 'juvenile childish stuff hurts FOSS' stuff is one big fat strawman.

dino, you appear to mis-stating the issue. Do you believe that FOSS would have the acceptance it has today if everyone had kept their heads down and ignored microsoft, and ignored everyone else who was trying to kill off FOSS? Because that's what you seem to be saying. Which would mean you are wrong, and gosh knows that's so improbable I must not be reading correctly.
dinotrac

Nov 19, 2007
4:47 PM EST
>Do you believe that FOSS would have the acceptance it has today if everyone had kept their heads down and ignored microsoft

Depends on what you mean by "ignore".

If you mean to pretend they aren't there and ignore the fact that most computers users define computing more or less by Microsoft software, then no. Samba is good. Wine is good. It's good that Linux desktops understand what the rest of the world has grown used to. It's good that Apache can handle some Microsoft oddities, that Firefox can support some Microsoft extenstions, that AJAX is able to build on something that started with Microsoft, etc, etc. It's good to know that businesses will be looking at Microsoft products and to maintain an awareness of what it takes to compete.

So, in that sense -- no.

OTOH -

Came you name anything at all that FOSS folk have done in terms of -- gosh, what would you call it? -- attacking/defending against the "Microsoft Menace"?

We certainly didn't bring the antitrust suit against them, or the Sun suit, or the Novell suit, or the EU action, etc, etc, etc.

Foss attacks Microsoft best by being viable, not by calling names and slinking around in a state of permanent paranoia.

That really is just silly. Heck -- more than that. It's stupid beyond belief.













tracyanne

Nov 19, 2007
6:27 PM EST
[quote]This whole 'juvenile childish stuff hurts FOSS' stuff is one big fat strawman.{/quote]

Not in my experience.
tracyanne

Nov 19, 2007
6:35 PM EST
Quoting:Well tracyanne, going back to the actual article, he didn't identify any actual childish rants,


No he didn't, but I did, one of those was the Bash Novell, sorry Boycott Novell, another was the SuSEBlog, the first was linked to by way of a comment about his blog, the other was linked to from the Boycott Novell blog. Boycott Novell seems to spend most of their time creating stawman Novells so they can bash them down (I wouln't mind if they published something of actual substance, but they seem to have attended the same FUD classes as as that Steve person from Microsoft), the SuSEBlog was just plain Juvenile.
hkwint

Nov 20, 2007
12:50 AM EST
Quoting:Came you name anything at all that FOSS folk have done in terms of -- gosh, what would you call it? -- attacking/defending against the "Microsoft Menace"?


Sure. They (and I'm one of them BTW) have prevented software patents from being enforceable in the EU; by means of giving attention to how BSA represented itself as Small & Medium Business; by means of the FFII website, writing to the real SMB's and asking their attention, and by means of writing letters to the EP's.

At the moment, it is the SaMBa team who's demanding other terms in the anti-trust case in the EU.

Also, it were the 'FOSS' folks that asked for Ubuntu computers at Dell, and finally they came.
dinotrac

Nov 20, 2007
2:40 AM EST
>They (and I'm one of them BTW) have prevented software patents from being enforceable in the EU; by means of giving attention to how BSA represented itself

FOSS folk did that, did they? And they did it by means of anti-Microsoft rants?

I seriously doubt that.

RMS has argued against software patents for years. And you know what? He does it on the principle that software patents are a bad thing. He argues on principle, not on Microsoft.

That, my friend, is the point.
jdixon

Nov 20, 2007
4:34 AM EST
> ...he didn't identify any actual childish rants, or present anything to support his contention that FOSS is awash in them... TC, you know as well as I do that the examples are too numerous to mention. I've run into them too many times myself.

Which doesn't mean he isn't exaggerating the problem. The fact is that the group of people he's talking about are a fairly small percentage of the FOSS community.
hkwint

Nov 20, 2007
4:56 AM EST
Quoting:He argues on principle, not on Microsoft.


Did you read what I wrote? If Microsoft acted like it represented small and medium business, and on behalf of small and medium business (by means of the BSA) argues on principle in favour of software patents, do you think if RMS arguing against them would help anything, if _both_ small & medium AND big business, and also lawyers - which are rather over-represented in Brussels, are in favour of software patents? If the BSA is handing out ice-creams among 'EP's who are going to vote', and if a key-politician also works for a lobby organization at which Microsoft receives a discount, what else do you expect than a rant against Microsoft? That's not even speaking about Mr. McCreevy - who was first the minister of finances of Ireland and got Microsoft aboard as the main-sponsor of Irelands chairmanship of the EU - trying to push software-patents by muzzling anti-software-patent countries. Should we ignore that behaviour and just argue on principles, thereby letting the BSA continue with lying? Come on, you are kidding, aren't you?

If you read the news, you should have known by now that it actually were the folks of FFII who brought this to the attention of the public, and it was the FFII who joined the _real_ SMB's to speak out. Probably this wasn't an anti-Microsoft rant, but they had to point out what Microsoft was doing.

And what did RMS reach with all his anti-software-patent on principle arguing? Well, I can tell you: Almost nothing. The only reason the patent system in your country is changing at last is because it was nearly bringing the whole business down; not because people who are arguing on principle.

So while arguing on principle is the point from _your_ viewpoint, it hasn't been of much help if there isn't a business aliance behind it. US government isn't going to listen to RMS, nor to the FSF. However, if there's an alliance which represents few hundred _real_ SMB's, chances are the government might listen. But before you can make an alliance of the SMB's, you first have to bust the myth that BSA represents the SMB. I can tell you, and you would have known if you read about the case, a part of the companies joined the alliance because they were told what the BSA was doing. So ranting might help, and if you doubt that FOSS folks stopped those patents, you should read the backgrounds, not make wild guesses; you seem uninformed to me by the statements that you make. Saying that, I encourage you to consult the knowledge base at http://eupat.ffii.org/ to make more sensible comments in the future (though I'm sure you know more about the legal aspects of patents than I do).

BTW does the name Erik Meijer ring a bell?
Libervis

Nov 20, 2007
5:27 AM EST
Dinotrac:

Quoting:The only best that matters is the best we can do, and that is always inching upwards.


Interestingly that's exactly the argument I used in my rant about a desktop oriented kernel once.. using Linus's saying that "Linux sucks" but "just sucks less" identifying it as "the best" and then pointing out that "the best" shouldn't be enough. We should be beating ourselves too.

BUT, the thing is we can keep being better and better relative to what we produced earlier and not just relative to what others are producing, but that still doesn't change the fact that these offerings of ours will be frowned upon and its legality attacked by companies like, indeed, Microsoft.

So that point doesn't really bring much to the argument for toning down on Microsoft.

Quoting:Foss attacks Microsoft best by being viable, not by calling names and slinking around in a state of permanent paranoia.


I agree. It's not name calling and other such silliness that I'm defending, not even "permanent paranoia" that often displays as obsession.

What I defend is vigilance in, not just making better software (although I definitely agree that is a good complimentary strategy), but in awareness and calling things for what they are. FUD needs to be rebutted. False education needs to be countered. Attempts at strategically undermining the very *legality* of Free Software (which MS seems to be doing a lot these days) need to be recognized and acted upon (just think of MS's latest achievement in Europe).

If you think these should be ceased than I believe it is you who is naive. Right, just do good software and don't care about anything else.. everything will just magically fall into place.

You might as well write your awesome code on the prison walls... and it shall set you free.. Yeah right.

hkwint

Nov 20, 2007
5:43 AM EST
Maybe it's a good thing to point out I absolutely agree MS Bashing is not going to help (much). However, sometimes 'telling the thruth' looks like MS Bashing. In the case of software-patents I pointed out, not only Microsoft was a proponent also (at least) the whole BSA (Most notably IBM is a software-patent supporter, but also Adobe, SolidWorks, AutoDesk etc.) and Philips were, so they are 'guilty' as well.

When it comes to 'distinguishing open source' however, Microsoft stands out between the other BSA members. For example, if Apple is trying to get rid of free software (and they kinda did by closing their kernel IIRC) than the reaction would be 'Steve who?', but if Microsoft tries to get rid of it, the results are more severe. It's mainly because of 'natural evolution' between of the opponents of open source that I'm blaming Microsoft more than others. On the other hand, I can't tell you how annoyed I am that both recent AutoDesk and SolidWorks products don't even run on Linux (nor on Wine) and use closed file formats.
hkwint

Nov 20, 2007
6:05 AM EST
Oh, if you want to have a (really) good laugh (actually, it is really sad), check out the story at FFII how the BSA created an alter-ego for the FSF/FFII; they called it the 'Free Software Alliance' to make it look like the FSF/FFII have the same interests as 'software pirates':

http://eupat.ffii.org/gasnu/fsa/index.en.html

So they made it look like the FSA represents the FOSS users - that's BSA tries to represent us!!! (downright insulting). Therefore they try to make it look like all FOSS users are pirates. So BSA tried to both represent its members, Small & Medium business and the Free Software movement, all at the same time! Talking about influencing political debate, this should go into the textbooks...

Just look at the FSA's site, and you will be rolling over the floor laughing. It states: All information located on the current site is placed there for private/education purposes and may not be downloaded, viewed or used in any way or for any purpose whatsoever. The current site webmaster or organization hosting this site takes no responsibility for the way you could use information from this site. If you`re member of any anti-piracy or related group or organization you cannot enter this site and view any of site content

( http://www.freesoftwarealliance.com/ )

When was the last time you saw that message at FSF's webpage? If I'm bored, I'm going to read their forum.

ED: Now this is insulting, Free Software Alliniance offering downloads for CS2 for Windows and Kapersky anti-virus for Windows!

http://www.freesoftwarealliance.com/forum/index.php?showforu...

And the BSA tries to make it look like the FSA represents us!
dinotrac

Nov 20, 2007
7:49 AM EST
> However, sometimes 'telling the thruth' looks like MS Bashing.

No, it doesn't, except as viewed through Redmond-centric eyes.

Let's see if we can draw a finer line here:

1. When Microsoft tried to pervert the ISO process in favor of OOXML, they were rightly called on the carpet. It is not bashing to oppose wrong action, and Microsoft acted in a wrong way.

2. When Microsoft submitted licenses to the OSF for acceptance/certification/whatever they call it, it was not bashing to seek changes to the licenses in order to make them comply with OSF standards. However, there were lots of "No! Never! No way! Don't let those bastards in house!" statements to be found around the Net. Even Eric Raymond struggled with personal angst on the issue. Those would qualify as Microsoft bashing, although I'm not sure that it was inappropriate bashing in context of the ISO debacle.

3. It was not bashing to call Microsoft and Novell on the carpet for finding a way to grant a form of patent "protection" without violating the GPL. The apoplexy to follow, however, pretty much is bashing when you consider that nobody broke the law and nobody violated a license. Worse, everybody seems to excuse the drafters for writing a license that permits people to do something they want to forbid. A law firm who did that would have to worry about an action for malpractice.

4. It is not bashing to call the BSA a shake-down operation for Microsoft. It is.

In short, when people do bad things it is fair to call them on it. When you need to fight the bad things they do, it is ok to fight them.

But -- GEE WHIZ!!!!!!! -- Some people out there really need to get a life.

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