Not joining the either/or position

Story: Linux Has Not Won, Microsoft is as Dangerous as Ever, Fie on Secure BootTotal Replies: 21
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Dec 05, 2012
3:20 PM EDT
I've used Linux as my primary OS for years. I'm not a tech expert, either by training or education, I just took the time out to learn how to do it, getting to the point where I could handle my own Arch installation (which may not seem like much to you linux experts, but which was quite a personal coup for me), work in the terminal with some confidence, and so on. In other words, I like linux a lot and I've taken the time to be able to use it as my primary, go-to operating system.

I still buy computers with Windows pre-installed, for a few reasons (in order of importance):

1. Work. There are still things relating to work where I've go to have a Windows installation to work with if I need it. Even something as simple as logging into my work email remotely (many of the features only work in IE). Software compatibility with the rest of the office and with clients is also an issue.

2. Games. I work quite a bit, and leisure time is limited. I play games for fun and also as a way to keep in touch socially with friends and family who don't live in the area. The games we tend to play together (right now it's GW2) don't run in Linux. I've been able to get some to launch in WINE, but they just don't run well on my computer. Virtualization still requires a copy of Windows, right? Maybe the gaming situation will change - it looks like it is starting to. We'll see where that goes.

3. Price. A minor consideration, but given points 1 and 2 it seems like an especially bad idea for me to pay more for a device that has Linux pre-installed. Especially when the pre-installed distro isn't the one I want to use in the first place.

In any event, the "us v. them" or "ally v. enemy" mindset when dealing with operating systems, whether on desktop PCs, laptops, or on mobile devices like phones and tablets, isn't compelling to me. My computer is a tool, and my consideration first and foremost is that it do the things I want and/or need it to do. If I'm working on my car and ask for a wrench, I'm not going to go all religious-zealot on the person who hands me a Craftsman when I prefer Stanley. If people want to use MS, I don't have a problem with it. Same with Apple, my least favorite of the tech companies. It is a subjective choice, by and large.

I don't disagree with a lot that the author says about UEFI/Secure Boot, and I intend to make sure my upcoming laptop allows for that feature to be disabled in BIOS, or worked around by some other means (more tech learning for me, I guess). I think good points are made on that score. But the opening paragraphs to this piece go after Linux users who buy machines with Windows pre-installed as though the price differential is the only consideration. It's not. The computer is a tool for many purposes, and people buying devices with Windows pre-installed often have a variety of reasons for doing so, even if they prefer something like Linux and set it up to dual boot immediately after taking it out of the box, like I do.

Dec 05, 2012
9:40 PM EDT

The situation is pretty much the same for me, except I went with Debian (Debian 2.2/Potato, back then) so I understand where you're coming from. Those are three very good points


You are however suffering under one significant misapprehension -- the "us v. them" or "ally v. enemy" mindset in Linux/FOSS circles is actually a reflection of and a response to the reality Linux users face -- a (not so) covert war against Linux, FOSS, Open Formats and open standards (with Microsoft fostering, instigating, and/or leading most the action).

Yes, I am quite aware that this smacks of "conspiracy theory" to those who haven't seen (or have preferred to ignore) the plentiful evidence. But it's still there to examine if one wishes to do so.

Some random examples, In no particular order:

Microsoft's suppression of the Netbook -- especially Linux Netbooks. (granted, Intel helped a great deal, but they just didn't like the spread of cheap hardware eating into more profitable markets; IBM had no objection to Linux being on them). This includes things like the saga of the One Laptop per Child project,, the "commitment" of ASUS to producing Linux and Windows versions in equal numbers (despite the Linux model outselling the Windows version), and public apologies by OEM CEOs at top-tier tech trade shows for demoing impressive Arm/Linux netbooks.

MS's protocol-breaking implementation of the Kerberos protocol for secure network authentication (an example "malicious compliance" -- one of MS's favorite tactics)

Microsoft's covert behind the scenes involvement in the funding of the infamous SCO Group lawsuits against IBM, Chrysler, Autozone -- and Linux in general.

The various ODF suppression sagas around the world, Not least among these being the political smear campaign against the head of the State of Massachusetts IT services, Peter Quinn.

The MS OOXML saga in which Microsoft essentially broke the ISO international standards certification process (and several national ISO organizations as well) through a plethora of dirty tricks that wouldn't pass muster as credible in a fictional novel. This despite the fact that the ISO has a perfectly comprehensible, obvious principle of not supporting multiple, competing standards, and ODF was already certified. And despite the "standard" as passed was broken, and MS itself acknowledged it did not and would not follow that standard, nor commit to following any revised, "fixed" version that would supposedly follow. And despite that as written, no one but Microsoft can even hope to implement the entire "standard".

Legal actions that extort "patent license fees" against Linux devices over bogus patents (to the extent that MS actually makes more money from Android phones than from their own Windows Phone operating system).

Not to mention Microsoft's propaganda efforts, from publicly declaring Linux and FOSS to be "communist", "cancer", and the like, to supplying "training material" to Big Box type chains sales staff that included blatant anti-Linux misinformation.

Linux users, for the most part, aren't "Linux fanatics" (rather propagandistic expression, in itself, don't you think?), except insofar as they recognize that there is a clash occuring, and vigilence is required.

One could go on and on...

* Of course, you likely are already aware of all this, in which case I apologise for the lecture :-P


Dec 06, 2012
2:40 PM EDT
Not a lecture Bernard, but some well placed facts. But here is one that has personally insured that I will never, ever run Microsoft software on any computer or device I own.

Scrambled in the Legal-eze of the Microsoft Windows EULA, there is a clause that states that Microsoft or any approved partner/vendor, can monitor and/or alter anything on your computer. They can gather any data they wish and share it with anyone they wish.

So, my point is simple. If Microsoft can do this, then ultimately, who really owns the computer and data within it?

Ska-rooo that. This is my computer and my data. No one outside of law enforcement with a valid search warrant has access to my stuff.


Dec 07, 2012
11:17 AM EDT
> Ska-rooo that.

Well said.

Dec 07, 2012
11:35 AM EDT
While I have no quibble with anything Bernard Swiss and Helios have said, the fact remains that a very vocal minority in the Linux community seems to feed off conflict. It hurts the perception of the Linux community which in turn helps Microsoft. The us vs. them mentality is something Microsoft has fostered and uses to their advantage.

Dec 07, 2012
12:40 PM EDT
Quoting:... The us vs. them mentality is something Microsoft has fostered and uses to their advantage.


I do agree with that as it is evident by MS statements and actions. What I disagree with is the part about a very vocal minority in the Linux community seems to feed off conflict

Fist of, the minority you are referring to doesn't represent the whole FOSS community. They are only voicing their own opinion and selecting their own choice. Everyone should respect that.

Second, It is also evident from FOSS that the community tries very hard and makes every attempt to design and develop software to work with any proprietary software out there. It is MS that makes every attempt to break functionality with everything else to maintain its lock-in and monopoly.

I suggest not to be so self conscious and concentrate on highlighting to the world what MS is really about.


Dec 07, 2012
12:45 PM EDT
@Fettoosh: We may have to agree to disagree on this one. We have some folks in FOSS who come off like religious zealots and woe be it to anyone who disagrees with them. Those folks are a real problem IMNSHO.

Dec 07, 2012
1:06 PM EDT
Quoting:Those folks are a real problem IMNSHO.

May be they are, but what I am trying to say is, they can't be stopped, why feed what MS is spreading. How about agreeing on that. :-)


Dec 07, 2012
1:21 PM EDT
How shall we distinguish between those who "come off as" religious zealots and those who are "portrayed as" religious zealots? The line can be rather blurred.

Dec 07, 2012
2:48 PM EDT
> How shall we distinguish between those who "come off as" religious zealots and those who are "portrayed as" religious zealots?

For that matter, there's nothing wrong with being a "religious zealot" if you're right. Those who supported the abolition of slavery in the US were often considered religious zealots, arguably correctly.

Dec 07, 2012
6:00 PM EDT
You can be right and still drive people away. How important is Linux adoption to you? If it isn't important then there is no reason to oppose zealotry. If you think it very important, as I do, then it becomes an issue.

Please note that as of tonight that I will be celebrating a holiday which some (i.e.: Christopher Hitchens) have described in really perjorative terms as, in part, a celebration of religious zealotry. (Hitchens, in a major rewrite of history also called it a victory for backward peasants over Greek Epicurianism, but I digress.) The religious zeal of the Maccabees, and their desire to practice their religion, was a major motivation for overthrowing the Seleucid Empire and reestablishing a free Jewish state in Judea. The did so against overwhelming odds and a huge disparity in men and arms.

I mention that because I don't believe that religious zeal is necessarily a bad thing. It can be harnessed for good or for evil. In the case of turning an operating system into a religion I would argue that it is neither good nor evil but that it isn't particularly helpful.

Dec 08, 2012
7:35 AM EDT
> You can be right and still drive people away.

Yes, but if the alternative is being wrong?

I'll agree that there are far too many free software supporters who are obnoxious jerks about the matter, but every group of people of any size winds up getting it's share of jerks. There's no way to avoid it, and reasonable people realize that's the case and that they're not representative of the overall group. There are lots of obnoxious Windows using jerks, and no one claims that's a reason not to use Windows.

Now, I can think of one recent and obvious example where jerks were portrayed as representative of the entire group, but in that case those doing the portraying had their own agenda to push.

Dec 08, 2012
9:55 PM EDT
I suggest that for every "Stallman-ite" jerk, there's at least one "Stallman-basher" jerk -- and the bashers usually know a lot less about Stallman's actual position.

In my experience, more often than not, the sum total of the "basher's" reliable knowledge is that Stallman for some reason insists on the term "Gnu/Linux", and the rest is pure fantasy and supposition -- but that doesn't stop them from explaining in detail just how wrong and stupid Stallman is.


Dec 09, 2012
1:03 PM EDT
> ...but that doesn't stop them from explaining in detail just how wrong and stupid Stallman is.

Stallman's positions are never stupid ones. They may be wrong, misinformed, or biased; but never stupid. And given the consistency and correctness of his stances over the years, I'm usually inclined to give him the benefit of a doubt when it comes to software issues.

Dec 09, 2012
2:36 PM EDT
Things that smell like fish.

Dec 10, 2012
11:23 AM EDT
Quoting:Things that smell like fish.
...are eaten by bears. Is that what you were trying to say?

RMS is not stupid. However, he is inflexible to the point of impractical. He also has said some pretty offensive things at times. He lost the benefit of the doubt from me a long time ago. OTOH, that doesn't in any way diminish the positive things he has contributed.

Dec 10, 2012
11:45 AM EDT
> However, he is inflexible to the point of impractical.

Of course. Practical people do what works. Stallman wants more than that. But by aiming for more than what's possible, you sometimes expand the range of what's possible.

> He also has said some pretty offensive things at times.

Stallman is a jerk. Most people who have met him will admit that. I think even he will admit that. That doesn't change whether he's right or not.

Dec 10, 2012
11:59 AM EDT
Quoting:Stallman is a jerk. Most people who have met him will admit that. I think even he will admit that. That doesn't change whether he's right or not.
I agree completely. That's a fair assessment of how I see RMS. Sometimes I agree with him, more often I don't but I can see where he's coming from.

Dec 10, 2012
12:51 PM EDT
Although computers are tools, they are tools that play an increasingly larger part in every aspect of pretty much everything human activity, and as such I steer clear from companies that try their darnest to control the industry. A company should take its best shot, put its wares on the table and let customers sort things out. That ensures we keep that great free market characteristic: freedom of choice. However, it has to be sustainable. Therefore I never put personal shot-term convenience before long-term public interest, and business ethics weigh a lot in my purchase decisions. Because I know, failure to take ethics into account is bound to come back and bite me and anyone else in the rear sooner or later. So microsoft, intel and nvidia are de facto barred from my computer shopping lists, and it'll take them some effort to make me consider them a viable alternative, even more so recommend them. I think it's really a shame that people seem so narrow-minded and focus only on whatever suits them best here and now. Guess they'll never learn.

Dec 10, 2012
2:28 PM EDT
All I know is if Microsoft or Apple turned desktop search into a marketing engine, we'd be screaming bloody murder.

But it's OK if Ubuntu does it.

Canonical is a private, privately held, for-profit company. I value much of the work they do, but I'm in no way confusing them with the Debian Project.

Mar 06, 2013
11:41 AM EDT
I would like to add my two cents to the issue. I am a recently "converted" user of Linux, and after having my "eyes opened" I realize that most of the free world has had the wool pulled over their eyes in regards to software. Most companies are under the belief that Microsoft products are the ONLY way to go when trying to achieve their goals, which is untrue. Granted there are quite a few companies that use Linux (Red Hat, SuSE Enterprise Linux, Oracle etc.) but the majority of the Fortune 500 still have their stake in a Microsoft world. I don't "preach" the Linux gospel per se, but I have "turned" my cousins. my son, and even my mother over to "The Dark Side" they've made the change, and they're all happier for it. Will they ever need to run Windows again in their lifetime?....maybe, will they continue to learn and explore more in regards to FOSS, Open Source and Linux?...hopefully. In the end it's all about "choice" THAT was the Number 1 reason why I left the Windows camp, I was tired of being "told" what my desktop SHOULD be.....what I was allowed and NOT allowed to do with the kernel, source files etc. I have noticed this one thing: I have never seen "ads" for Linux splattered all over the TV like I have seen for Microsoft and Apple....maybe this is because if you DON'T know...then you don't KNOW? either way...its all a matter of choice...I've made the choice to join the "Open Source Army" if you will and I'm never going matter what diabolical scheme comes from the proprietary software makers!......and that's all I jave to say! LoL!



Mar 07, 2013
9:59 AM EDT

I'm going to say something that will rock your world, so you'd better sit down.

Comfy? Better be, 'cos this will knock your socks off:

It's freakin' 2013!!!!!

Yes, Microsoft Kerberos is a broken atrocity, but it's a broken atrocity that goes back to Windows 2000. More than a dozen years ago. Eternity in tech terms.

The Peter Quinn blow-up was in 2005, and Microsoft was already a stuck pig in decline.

The Microsoft attack on netbooks is more recent: ramping up in 2008-2009, but still a long time in tech terms. Worse, it's an attack that blew up in Microsoft's face: Windows revenue fell by a billion dollars in 2008. Not only did people buy netbooks, but the stripped-down Windows Microsoft made available was not the cash cow that full-blown Windows was.

Is Microsoft a mean and nasty company with lots of money?

Sure. So what? They are in deep decline, dropping daily, and, by all indications, clueless. The can make trouble because they have resources, but they are more pitiful than fearsome.

Want scariness?

Think Apple, Google, Oracle, Comcast/Xfinity

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