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Tue Apr 3 06:46:16 UTC 2007

full house. If you're going to compare, it must be on an
apples-to-apples basis.

> The most successful open-source movement prior to Linux was the
> hacker movement

That statement is without rational meaning. There was no "hacker

People swapped recipes long before Richard Stallman was born; his GNU
tools long predate Linux (many of them predate the GNU Manifesto you
mention) and were in their time wildly successful.

You mean "crackers" anyway, not "hackers". A cracker is malicious and
destructive, a hacker is benign and constructive. Many crackers claim
to be hackers, but they're mere wannabees.

Hardware hackers basically invented computers, built the working
implementations that led to what you sit in front of today. All
crackers really do is write viruses, boast, and destroy stuff.

Crackers are not predisposed to opening their sources, and often
entertain themselves by burying unannounced back-doors in the
closed-source "root kits" that they do release. Back Orifice, for
example, is not Open Source.

> not exactly the kind of folks that corporate decision-makers
> want associated with their platform software

What you have done here is create that association ex nihilo. Without
careless, destructive and purportedly authoritative statements along
these lines, no other association between crackers and the people
making quality FOSS code exists or can exist.

Have a look at the list of authors that contribute to a typical FOSS
project: engineers, IT managers, scientists, system administrators.
They are talented, constructive people. They exemplify the *enemies* of
the destructive people you here claim sit in their places.

Do you get both fresh water and salt from the same spring? Do car
thieves suddenly turn around to tune your car, add a towbar and fix any
scratches for free?

To say that your assertion insults me as a FOSS developer is a gross

> Some of these folks (reportedly from the fringes of the
> open-source community) surfaced last week and shut down the
> SCO website with a targeted denial-of-service attack that
> used knowledge of Linux's innerworkings to improve its
> effectiveness.

And your evidence for that is...? Who reported that? Wouldn't it make
more sense to assume that the attackers were black-hats glad to feel
justified in doing something destructive?

If you're going to badmouth people, John, at least have enough sense to
be able to defend yourself against the libel charges when they arrive.

> Is open source mature yet? Probably not-but it's certainly
> getting closer.

This statement is completely meaningless without comparison, and mostly
meaningless with it. And do you use the software you damn with mixed
praise? Would you really know what it's like?

Is KMail more mature than virus-flypaper MS-Outlook? Yes. Is PostFix
more mature than resource-hog management-nightmare MS-Exchange? Yes. Is
Linux more mature than lets-shove-everything-in-slash-etc SCO? Yes. Is
The GIMP more mature than PhotoShop? No, but it can do things that
PhotoShop can't. Is Apache more mature than IIS? Yes. Is
more mature than MS-Office? That depends on what you're doing with it.

Software will never be "mature." There will always be more things you
can do with it, more areas it can include and which it will be

You should be asking questions like "Is a FOSS product available to do
X which is at least as functional, secure and reliable as its secret

How does FOSS stack up on those terms? Web server? Check. FTP server?
Check. SQL database? Check. File server? Check. Office suite? Check.
Operating system? Check. VPN technology? Check. Mail application?
Check. Web browser? Check. CD/DVD burner? Check. Development suite?
Check. Sound editor? Check. Clustering? Check. Network management?
Check. And so on. Pick a topic.

Many of those are wildly more successful than most privately held
counterparts, and/or have two or more candidates for the slot.

For examples: Linux is pushing for the top seats in clustered
computing, the same Linux that runs your workstation and maybe your
router. The only other systems which seriously compete with it in the
supercomputer arena are purpose-built Unices. Microsoft competes in
TPC benchmarks only by using machines with twice the horsepower.
Apache powers more than twice as many websites as IIS. Yes, "and so

> Encouraging independent developers is an important part of the
> innovation process in the software industry; and widely shared,
> adequately protected intellectual property is a powerful
> incentive for innovation.

You're describing the GPL. It encourages independent development by
adequately protecting the intellectual property of FOSS developers
against poaching, and innovation by providing enough prerequisites that
each innovator doesn't have to re-invent the wheel by themselves.

But your article doesn't encourage independent development, it actively
discourages it by undermining confidence in the very breed of software
which is presently undergoing the most innovation.

The bottom line is that the "issues" you raise are all phantoms, mostly
wrong and often insulting. If you were trying to write a balanced
article, you failed. If you were trying to cast destructive doubt upon
Linux, you succeeded.

Naysayers will be pointing to your article for years to come, not
because they think it is in any way fair or balanced but because of the
fear-inducing assertions in it.

I'd very much appreciate you publishing a retraction.

Cheers; Leon


--     Modern tools; traditional dedication       Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group            Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA            Committee Member, Linux Australia

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