MSOFT versus Open Source movement

Matt Cramer cramer at
Fri May 4 05:12:13 PDT 2001

On Fri, 4 May 2001, Kelley Walker wrote:


> at them moment, i can't think of a prog that doesn't have an equivalent
> non-MS product.

M$ Money. Via SSL it connects to my bank every day and downloads my checking account updates. I live paycheck-to-paycheck and have one of those ATM/VISA/Check Card thingies and I am way too absent-minded to balance my checkbook by hand.

The other reason I run M$ Windoze is for games (Counter-Strike mod to half Life).


> the bigger problem is the steep learning curve. no matter what anyone
> says.

Yep. It is getting better, with distros like Redhat, which will recognize your video card, DVD ROM, sound card, and modem. But it is still a lot of work to run linux, comparitively. Most people who own computers do not install ANY operating system, since it comes with Windoze automatically. Sure VA Systems will pre-install a system for you but it is not going to be a $650 mass market PC from Gateway - it will cost.

Most people don't need a computer, anyway. What they need is a terminal where they can do email, web, multimedia viewing, and word processing (hmmm, broadband + thin clients sounds like a good startup, heh).

Earlier, Chuck had said (re: FreeBSD and applying a security patch):

> Lead time, one week. Cost, zero.

Well, the cost isn't truly zero. There is a cost to you for learning how to use FreeBSD. And there is a cost involved in getting that patch to you, even though you don't directly pay for it.

I used to be a Free/Open Software Zealot. "There is no reason why everyone can not run Free software". Bah, bullshit. People have complex lives; some don't have the time, skills, or energy to use this kind of software. Who am I to judge someone that doesn't feel like doing all the reading and installing necessary to use linux instead of Windoze when he just wants get email and browse the web? What, after 12 hours at the factory a guy doesn't feel like tinkering with his linux machine for a few hours each night? He'd rather relax and play with his kids, or have a beer at the local pub? Omigod who wulda guessed it!?!

M$ is always going to be around for the average consumer who doesn't want to spend the time or effort to run a more complex operating system. The FUD M$ is sowing is not because they suddenly think all AOL users are going to dump Windoze and go to linux, but because they now realise linux is replacing M$ in the enterprise data center. Hardware cost are the same, and administrative costs are the same (one of the telltale signs of a doomed .com would be that they think that since WinNT or Win2K "look and feel" like Win95 and Win98 anyone who is good with their home PC is qualified to be an NT/2K admin - not true (most MCSEs are barely qualified) - those are complex OSes, too). Software cost is close to zero (if you have a guru or two on staff), or minimal (if you contract a guru).

> afterall, part of the whole dick swinging scene here is the trick of
> simultaneously maintaining that _anyone_ can do it AND dissing people who
> don't get it and ask questions.

There is a lot of that. At Defcon last year we saw the appearance of the charming shirts and stickers that say "Fuck Redhat". I was extremely annoyed, since it is complete bullshit to diss someone who is making the effort to avoid M$ in any manner. Since people that don't have piercings, tatoos, and spiked blue hair were starting to use Redhat, suddenly it wasn't "cool" anymore. Fucking dumb-ass script kiddies. Sure, there are reasons to use Slack instead of Redhat (especially with the fscked C libraries in Redhat 7.0), but most of the twits wearing those shirts are never going to need that kid of flexibility.

Kel - I think you are jaded for some reason about the hacker community and questions. I think you confuse annoyance at questions in an inappropriate forum with anoyance at questions in general. E.g., the place to ask how to get Redhat installed for the first time is a Redhat mailling list, not dc-stuff (which is a "social" list). Geeks also tend to get annoyed at questions that display laziness, rather than just ignorance. If a person hasn't indicated they've exerted at least a minimal effort in finding an answer for themselves, yes they do get flamed. Compare these two questions:

"I installed samba to share files between my linux box and my Windoze box and I don't see the linux box in my Net''Hood. What am I doing wrong?"

"I'm using samba version 2.0.4 on a sparc running linux kernel 2.2.16. Whenever I try to connect to the share, I can't login. I have set passwords correctly using smbpasswd. I turned on debugging and saw that in smb.c samba was using a deprecated function call for setting uid. Is there a patch for this or is there a modification in my config.h so I can avoid the deprecated functions?"

The former makes a geek's blood boil. The latter makes him cream his pants.

I have never, ever, ever been flamed for a technical question I've asked.

> people who are geeks tend to forget their roots. but that's true of lefties
> too. so.

Tell Mr. Info-War to send you to Defcon. You'll get to see a lot of geeks who don't forget their roots.


-- Matt Cramer <cramer at> We're a virus with shoes, that's all we are.

-Bill Hicks on humanity

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