Monthly Archives: August 2010

The eternal five-years

Some freetard-in-the-making in the blessed halls of The Times discovered Ubuntu:


Now this article was already reviewed on the tmrepository:

But the tm repo poster had overlooked the essential part: The five years phenomenon! What is the five-years phenomenon? Let’s quote from the times article:


I first tried Linux about five years ago, and it was a disaster, for all the reasons that Ubuntu is wonderful. The way it used to work, you see, was that you’d spend hours downloading the thing, and burning it in the right sort of image, and then you’d stick it in your CD drive and the screen would go all doolally, like the stuff Keanu sees in The Matrix. And then, if you were lucky, it would just go “KERNEL PANIC!!!” and do nothing. If you weren’t, it would wipe XP off your actually perfectly respectable PC and sit there having ropey graphics at you and not letting the wi-fi work. It didn’t take me long to realise why Windows was the market leader, and switch back.

— “Tech Journalist” from The Times in 2010

This piece of text shows the core of the five-years phenomenon. You see, in Linux, everything was really fucked up five years ago, but now it’s fixed! The reason why I call it a “phenomenon” is because the “five-years” are ALWAYS five-years, no matter in which year we are living!

So, Linux sucked five-years ago, but “nowitsgreat“™ in 2000 as it does in 2010. It’s timeless, but constant. The phenomenon can be compared to the time travel phenomenas in Star Trek episodes:

“There is the theory of the moebius, a twist in the fabric of space,
where time becomes a loop.” [and] “When we reach that point, whatever
happened will happen again”


Here is it in action:

When I first tried it [Linux] about 5 years ago, I
came-away so frustrated that it turned me into a Wintroll for a while.
It’s waaayyyy better now. It still has some problems you don’t
often see on Windows (e.g. Mandrake 9 won’t work with my digital
camera (for some reason it thinks it’s a scanner), and I’m not sure
it’s worth the effort to actually get my Radeon 9500 Pro’s 3D
acceleration working), but it’s quite usable, and obviously far better
than Windows in many respects.…ba5c3c897?hl=en

November 2003

“Four or five years ago, Linux and the other open platforms were on the
fringe, the domain of technologists,” Molosiwa says. “Now it’s
shifted, and become a credible option.”…3a702abf6?hl=en

From 2003


New Year’s prediction: Longhorn will never ship, but Microsoft Linux will. Even if I’m wrong, it’s clear that software development is headed for a new place, and the end game that most observers saw even five years ago — that MS would win it all — doesn’t seem as likely on the eve of 2004…abe719c29?hl=en

From January 2004

They didn’t have KDE or GNOME five years ago either. You don’t think these
represent advances in usability ? How about added support for true type
fonts, 3d hardware acceleration, automatic detection of sound and video cards,
configuration tools such as linuxconf and YAST, GUI based installs and
easy default installs ? How about font anti-aliasing (still very new, works
with XFree 4.02) I think there have been a bunch of substantial improvements…b5cd4f1de?hl=en

December 2000

If somebody came to me 5 years ago and said, “I’m gonna bet
the farm on this new company I’m starting, what kind of computer
system should I use?” I would probably have said, go with Microsoft
and intel style PCs, anything else is too risky if you’re betting the
farm, much as I would have hated mouthing those words. But isn’t that
a manifestation of this discredited path dependence eonomic theory?
Now, (Oh Joy!) I might, with a clear conscience, convince the person to go
with linux.…af18fa368a5?hl=

From February 1998

Oh please. Same old tired, washed up FUD. Maybe these statements applied
5 years ago
, but now they just sound like some uninformed idiot speaking
about that which he knows nothing of.

Linux is more stable, secure, powerful and flexible than Windows could
ever be in its current form.

Plus it looks better!…61ddd610a?hl=en

From March 2003

Linux is a good OS and its usage is growing. Something tells me that
support will come soon. Think about it, 5 years ago where was Linux? Where
is it now… Have patience.…bc334b1a?hl=en&

From: September 1998

Posted Image

Why is it always 5 years? Maybe there is a deep mystical connection here, but maybe it’s the hint how to break the time loop! I mentioned Star Trek time travel episodes before, and in one episode, the number 3 is the key to break out from the loop:


The Enterprise-D is shown to be stuck in a time loop, with events culminating in the destruction of the ship as a result of a collision with another Starfleet vessel that emerges from a space-time distortion. […]

On the next iteration, the crew still experiences déjà vu, but actions performed by Data often reveal the number three, going against their previous conceptions. They make the same conclusions from the previous iteration, and Data realizes the number three must have some as-yet-unknown significance to break the loop. The Enterprise again arrives at the anomaly, and as the other ship emerges, both Data and Riker suggest alternate plans to avoid being hit. Though Captain Jean-Luc Picard opts for Data’s plan, Data comes to recognize that the “three” message was in reference to the insignia pips worn by Riker, and initiates his plan instead. The Enterprise is able to avoid being hit, and the time loop is broken


Maybe the “5” points to Stallman’s toes – when the time comes, when he will be able to pull the foot cheese from all 5 toes at once, will the Freetards break out of the Penguin Day-loop, too?

But seriously now: What really astounds me, is that the pattern is so consistent in Linuxia. Every prediction that is put forth by Linux advocates today was predicted before, with exactly the same arguments, exactly the same phrases and even with exactly the same time frame! It’s scary. Linux predictions and reviews of distributions are like mathematical axioms.

It’s like all these people are from exactly the same town, and visited all the same school. Reading today’s Ubuntu reviews is an unsettling experience. I’ve read them all years and years ago, everything is exactly the same, except the distro name.


The package manager is coming!

Some chap at MS wants to bring the package managers to Windows:

Now, I don’t care. But, here is an interesting history lesson:

Actually, contrary to what you hear from the Linux Youth, something that resembles the modern notion of “package managers” existed for Windows just as long as for Linux.

Already in 1996 a company called Cybermedia (bought by McAfee in 1997/98) released “Oil Change”. It scanned your Windows computer for outdated software products, and then connected to a repository on Cybermedia’s own server, where it received further information about where to download the updates for the software on your PC.

The download and updating were automatic processes. It even had features of today’s Linux package managers, like uninstalling (undo functions). Oil change is long gone, but the website still exists, let me quote from it:


What Oil Change Does

The software consists of an application that scans a subscriber’s PC to determine which versions of what software and hardware are installed. It then updates the software by connecting over the Internet with CyberMedia’s continually-updated database of the latest updates for applications, “drivers”, plug-ins”, Windows 95 system software, modem drivers and more.

1. Notifies subscribers when new software updates are available.

Subscribers periodically run Oil Change to determine what new updates are available for their software.

2. Explains the importance of each update.
Not all updates are appropriate for all users–for example, a home user need not worry about network enhancements to a word processor. Oil Change provides a capsule review of each new software update so users can make an informed decision. That way they don’t waste valuable time or disk space downloading software they won’t use.

3. Delivers the latest software updates.
Oil Change automatically downloads the latest updates directly from the original manufacturer’s Web site. This means users don’t have to worry about tracking version numbers, locating the individual Web site for each application, or following download and installation instructions.

4. Installs the update for you.
Once Oil Change downloads a piece of software, it automatically installs it in the appropriate directory whenever possible. For the rest, the user saves the piece of software on their hard disk and then follows the installation instructions supplied by the software’s manufacturer.

5. Gives you a chance to go back to your previous system configuration.
The latest is not always the greatest, so during autoinstalls Oil Change always compresses and stores the original software version on the hard disk prior to updating. That way users always have the option of going back and restoring their system simply by clicking on the UNDO button. (Note: This Undo feature works only for updates installed with Oil Change’s autoinstall.)

6. Updates itself automatically.
Each time Oil Change runs, it automatically checks to make sure you have the latest Oil Change version. If you don’t, it gives itself a digital “oil change” to update itself automatically.

Products that Oil Change Updates

Oil Change provides the incremental updates software publishers distribute to users free of charge, not software upgrades. Upgrades aremajor software releases that have to be purchased from the manufacturers directly.

Applications: Products from Adobe, America Online, Borland, Corel, Goldmine, Intuit, Lotus, Microsoft, Netscape, Nico Mak, Novell, Peachtree, Pixar, Quarterdeck, Software Publishing Corp., Starfish, Vertisoft, Visio, Wordperfect and others. It also supports games and applications from Acclaim, Activision, Broderbund, Berkeley Systems, Aldus, Claris, CompuServe, DataStorm, Davidson, Delrina, Prodigy, Knowledge Adventure, Macromedia, Maxis, McAfee, Micrografx, Paramount, Quark, Que, Softkey, Softquad, Spinnaker, Spry, Stac, Symantec, Touchstone, Viacom, Virgin and many more.

Modems: Drivers for modems from 3Com, Cardinal, Creative Labs, IBM, Practical Peripherals, Quantum, Rockwell, Simple, Supra, Telindus, US Robotics and more.

Printers: Drivers for Brother, Canon, Fargo, Hewlett Packard, IBM Corp., Epson, Kodak, Kyocera, Lexmark, Matsushita, Textronix, Texas Instruments and more.

Plug-ins: These are small software applications that add significant capabilities to larger software applications. Available: Adobe Acrobat Amber Reader, Argus Map Viewer, Corel CMX Viewer, EcoSpeech Plug-in, Infinop Lightning Strike, Iterated Systems Cool Fusion, MDL Chemscape Chime, SmartBrowser History Tree, SoftSource DWG/DFX Viewer, Tumbleweed Envoy, Visual Components Formula One/NET.

Video Display: Oil Change provides drivers for video cards and chips from #9 Technologies, ATI, Avance Logic, Diamond Multimedia, Hercules, Trident Microsystems, ARK, Chips and Technologies, Matrox, Microsoft, Weitek and others.

CD-ROM Drives: Creative Labs, Mitsumi, Panasonic, Sony and others are supported.

Sound Cards and Audio Chips: Ad Lib, Aztech Labs, Creative Technology, DSP Solutions, ENSONIQ, ESS Technology, Mediatrix, miro, Oak, and Turtle Beach are supported.




Automatic Access and Optional Installation/Undo
Once the download is approved, Oil Change automatically connects to the proper Web site or online service and fetches the appropriate software, instructions and technical information. Then, if the user desires, it will automatically install the new software on the user’s machine, correctly configuring the computer. This feature is particularly valuable to novices will who no longer need to be intimidated about making software changes.

If the user decides they don’t want the update after all, an optional automatic “undo” procedure can be activated. This process not only removes the update, but replaces the original version of the software just as it was before. No longer do users have to undertake a lengthy installation process for software they previously had on their machines.

Automatic Security Checks
Prior to downloading, Oil Change verifies all software, ensuring authenticity. The product supports Internet security standards, including PKCS#7 Digital signatures and X.509 Certificates. Oil Change also pre-scans all software for viruses, providing users and vendors an added measure of protection.


Sounds almost like modern linux package manager (except that it was a update only program, it didn’t install new programs), and this is from 1996.

The Linux equivalent of the time was Debian’s hideous dselect. In fact, modern Linux package managers resemble more Oil Change than dselect:

Posted Image
Oil Change from 1996

Posted Image
Suse in 2008

And today, Oil Change, the pioneer in this field, is all but forgotten. Not even a wikipedia entry exists! And the Linux Youth are still thinking that automatic updates of your complete software stock was unheard of before apt.

And no one is correcting them. Talk about selective history.

Another forgotten fact is that already in 1997, Cybermedia, Microsoft, Installshield and others wanted to establish a common standard for what today is called “software repositories”:



CyberMedia, Inc today announced its support of a new Internet software standard, proposed yesterday by Microsoft Corporation and Marimba.

Called the Open Software Description Standard, it is the first open industry specification that will help automate software distribution over the Internet and thus reduce the total cost of PC ownership for corporations. CyberMedia, InstallShield, LANovation, Lotus and Netscape also endorsed the standard today.

OSD gives software developers a data format, or vocabulary, to describe software components, their version, their underlying structure and their relationships to other components, thus creating a common specification that will make it easier to distribute, install and maintain software on the Internet.

“As the industry comes together around OSD and other XML-based specifications, Cybermedia’s experience with their Oil Change automatic software update technology will be a great asset,” said Cornelius Willis, Director of Platform Marketing, Microsoft Corporation. “XML provides the universal language for data on the Internet; the support of Cybermedia and others ensures that the industry will quickly get the details of OSD right.”

“We are pleased that Microsoft and Marimba are submitting the OSD standard,” said Brad Kingsbury, Chief Technology Officer for CyberMedia. “OSD complements CyberMedia’s Oil Change automatic update technology by giving us a single standard by which software installations can be defined, so we can provide an even greater number of patches, drivers and software updates. We look forward to continuing to work with Microsoft and Marimba to help them define this specification, and we intend to fully support it in all of our self-updating software products.”

In May 1996, CyberMedia pioneered automatic software updates and installation with it’s Oil Change™ automatic software updating service, which makes it simple for Microsoft Windows® 95 users to automatically update their software applications and hardware drivers via the Internet. Oil Change is America’s best-selling automatic update product, and is also available pre-installed on PCs from leading makers.


Well, “America’s best-selling automatic update product”, is missleading, since it was basically the only one. Oil Change flopped commercially, mostly due the slow internet connections of the time. The OSD project was cancelled once Cybermedia was bankrupt and got integrated into McAfee. I think the .msi package format was developed out of OSD.

Historical: Ancient heroin

I know you guys like my archeology posts, so here is an interview with Robert Young, Red Hat’s CEO (back then), ten years ago:

13th June 2000
The best parts:

Open Source phenomenon is the fourth great shift in this industry. Each has delivered a unique benefit to customers. Customers don’t want to go back to the proprietary model once they’ve tasted that.

Yes, this explains why migrations from Linux back to Windows never happened:…nux-to-Windows/

Once the Open Source fruit is tasted, you can’t go back.

We do not worry about Microsoft developing Open Source applications. Their revenue stream is based on a heroin addiction of selling ever more software.

This is one year before Ballmer called the GPL cancer by the way. It’s noteworthy that the leaders in the Linux world are never held accountable for their words. They are almost treated as children, who can’t be held responsible for their antics. (in opposite to the CEOs of MS and Apple)

Q Can Linux break Microsoft’s monopoly on operating systems?
A You’re going to have to invite me for a couple of beers for me to justice to that question, and after a couple of beers I might be able to answer you. Red Hat’s success comes not from our ambition to dent the desktop market. The desktop is 1980s technology, designed around the 8086 architecture and they’ve tried to drag this technology model screaming and kicking into the Internet age and that’s why you have the I Love You virus.

So, the desktop is old technology? But Red Hat sold and still sells primarily desktop and server systems!

Today’s Linux desktop is 80s technology as well (as it was ten years ago) there is nothing more innovative in KDE than in Windows or Mac.
To borrow from the linux hater blog: LinuxIsInnovation™. ALWAYS. Even if it is exactly the same.

The hypocrisy is astounding. As if Linux is not designed for the 8086 architecture.

Q Has the media concentrated overmuch about Linux on the desktop?
A Information appliances are the future of computing and they’ll be talking to the server. The growth in PC desktops is slowing dramatically and the growth in server business is growing dramatically. John “Mad Dog” Hall, who is now running Linux International, and who does drink beer, said: “Don’t worry about the 400 million PCs out there — there are six billion people on the planet, worry about the other 5.6 billion people.

A fine example of the awesome power of Linux foresight:

Microsoft Windows XP Sales Exceed 17 Million Copies Just Over Two Months After Worldwide Debut; Growth in Demand for PCs
January 8, 2002


Speaking of accountability again: Failed tech predictions of various CEOs are remembered for years and years:…gy-predictions/

This is not true for the Linux world. Key figures there can say the darndest things, and give horrible predictions, and are still regarded as know-it-alls by the tech media. Seems like a very bad case of the ugly baby syndrome.

With CEOs like these it’s no wonder why Linux didn’t capture the desktop market back then, despite the massive hype in the late 90s/early 2000s. Their answer to all questions was just “it is Linux”. As if “Linux” is magical and works outside the worldly realm.

“Journalist: How do you want to capture the desktop”?

“Linux company CEO: Well, with our Linux technology of course! Our competition still uses technology that is optimized for the 80386!”

“Journalist: But wasn’t Linux made on a 386?”

“Linux CEO: Well, yes, but we are talking about Linux technology here”

“Journalist: ?”

“CEO: LINUX! Don’t you get it?”

Linux cures AIDS and saves innocent pupils

Some school misused the macbooks that they gave to their pupils. Full story:

LANrev software was used in the Lower Merion school district’s student laptop program, overseen by network technician Michael Perbix.[4] In February of 2010, Perbix and other administrators in the district were accused of using the software to take undisclosed and unauthorized photographs of students through the webcams on their Macintosh laptops.[5] A lawsuit was brought by Michael and Holly Robbins, the parents of 15 year-old sophomore, Blake Robbins, who was allegedly accused of illicit behavior seen through his computer’s webcam. The photographs, taken in laptops that were reportedly not stolen, were then allegedly used as evidence in a disciplinary action.[6] The FBI stated that they would be closely investigating the incident, and a Philadelphia federal judge intervened to sort out issues relating to the lawsuit.[7][8]

Perbix had previously praised Theft Track, the name of the feature that lets administrators remotely photograph potential thieves if a computer is reported stolen, noting in a Youtube video he produced that:

“It’s an excellent feature. Yes, we have used it, and yes, it has gleaned some results for us. But it, in and of itself, is just a fantastic feature for trying to—especially when you’re in a school environment and you have a lot of laptops and you’re worried about, you know, laptops getting up and missing. I’ve actually had some laptops we thought were stolen which actually were still in a classroom, because they were misplaced, and by the time we found out they were back, I had to turn the tracking off. And I had, you know, a good twenty snapshots of the teacher and students using the machines in the classroom.[9]

LANrev’s new owner, Absolute Software staunchly denounced the use of their software for any illegal purpose, emphasizing that theft recovery should be left to law enforcement professionals.[10] They further denied any knowledge of or complicity in either Perbix’s or the school district’s actions. Absolute stated that the next update of LANrev, which would ship in the next several weeks, would permanently disable Theft Track.[11]
What does it have to do with Linux you ask? Well, according to the FSF, this all could be prevented if the kids would have Linux notebooks:…our-kids-webcam

the real scandal here is the mandatory imposition of computers that students don’t control. This may not be as lurid a violation of freedom as a remote-activated webcam in a teenager’s bedroom, but it is the most central. Once people use computers they don’t completely control, that provides both a technical basis and a social/political slippery slope for sleazy sysadmins leering at your kids–or any other violation you can imagine.

And to be completely clear, when we say “computers they don’t control” we aren’t just talking about computers with DRM, backdoors, and monitoring software. Any computer running Windows, Mac OS X, Flash, or any proprietary software is a computer that you don’t control. This includes not just laptops and desktops, but also things like a Kindle, an iPhone, or an iPad.

When the software on your computer is proprietary, then you can’t know whether the light is coming on because of a glitch or because the camera is actually running. You can’t tell if your hard drive is spinning because you’re using it, or because someone else is using it. Only free software gives you the freedom to find the answers to these questions.

So what future will we as a society choose? A future based on free software, or one where high school students have to cover their webcams with tape?

Quite a spin! A school installs on Macbooks a software which can be used to spy on pupils, and Linux will fix it.. because… .. ehm, it’s free!

Unfortunately, it looks like LANrev could be ported to Linux soon:…88aa793bdc6c506

And such remote administration software already exists for Linux anyway. The school scenario could work with Linux too, and everyone with a slight understanding of operating systems, and without an FSF agenda, knows this. What would prevent a school to give out Linux notebooks where a trojan is installed in the background? Nothing. Especially if the pupil would have only user access to it.

And now this is dishonest and insidious: So what future will we as a society choose? A future based on free software, or one where high school students have to cover their webcams with tape?

North Korea currently develops its own Linux distro. When they will implement website blockers directly into it, will the FOSSists stop them? Even if they wanted, they couldn’t. Source code means nothing in such scenarios. The school system could be run on a complete Open Source environment and it would be still possible.

If some sort of totalitarian government or organization forces you to use a certain software, then it’s irrelevant whether it’s “open source”. This is fake freedom. What really works against backdoors are a free press and a working justice system, so that the discovery of a backdoor comes costly for the organization that provides the software/hardware.

And it shows again what a dishonest bunch the FSF is.

More from the FSF:

If you’re with us, here’s the plan. We want to create a listing of all school systems that provide every student with a laptop. Then we want to know what software the laptops run, if students are prohibited from using their own computers running free software, and if the provided laptops have any additionally nasty characteristics (beyond simply including proprietary software) like locked out features or remote monitoring software.

This isn’t bad, but it sounds as if school computers get automatically a free pass if they run on Linux. That remote monitoring software could be installed on a Linux notebook as well, seems to fly over their heads.

Creative punishment

Richard explains the world:


“Don’t programmers deserve a reward for their creativity?”

If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution. Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results. If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.

From the GNU manifesto.

Now, I’ve dissected Stallman’s writings many times here, but this quote takes the cake. What is “free”? And what is a “reward”? From the wording it’s evident that asking for money is effectively an restriction too.

Especially if you take another quote into account:

I could answer that nobody is forced to be a programmer. Most of us cannot manage to get any money for standing on the street and making faces. But we are not, as a result, condemned to spend our lives standing on the street making faces, and starving. We do something else.

Now we know that programmers should work at McDonalds and write software in their spare time, preferably somewhere between 3 and 5 AM, after they wake up of their alcohol induced comas. So nothing new here. But this time Richard goes even further and extends his policy to all creative arts. If taking the quote seriously, writers, actors and directors (and many more people) should not be paid. Worse, if they “restrict” their works, they need to be punished.

Of course, maybe he meant something else, but:

Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far as society is free to use the results

If a director makes a film and demands that people pay money to see it, then society cannot “freely use” the result of the work of the director. So Stallman must mean money, too.

And it shows what a hypocrite Stallman is:

I could answer that nobody is forced to be a programmer

And I can say that nobody is forced to watch a movie or use a specific software (don’t come with the “MS tax” here, it’s easily circumvented [legally] if you really want to). The nightmarish part is of course the “punishment”:

by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs

Now he refers strictly to programs, but as I have showed, his full quotation can extend to any creative arts. So, effectively writers should be punished if they don’t give their work away. Programmers and film directors, too, of course. This is sick. Creative people should be forced to work for free and punished (how by the way?) if they don’t.

That the man who wrote such lines is seen as a freedom fighter speaks volumes.

And by the way, I know that Stallman has a text on his page titled “Selling Free Software is OK!”, but he doesn’t really mean it. It’s full of contradictions:

In the end, his GNU manifesto shows how he really feels about the issue.

And if you have still doubts:

“The question, “How can we pay programmers?”, becomes an easier question when we realize that it’s not a matter of paying them a fortune. A mere living is easier to raise.”

“The real reason programmers will not starve is that it will still be possible for them to get paid for programming; just not paid as much as now.”

“Pay for programmers will not disappear, only become less. So the right question is, will anyone program with a reduced monetary incentive? My experience shows that they will.”

“People with new ideas could distribute programs as freeware, asking for donations from satisfied users, or selling hand-holding services.”

“What the facts show is that people will program for reasons other than riches; but if given a chance to make a lot of money as well, they will come to expect and demand it. Low-paying organizations do poorly in competition with high-paying ones, but they do not have to do badly if the high-paying ones are banned.”

“Probably programming will not be as lucrative on the new basis as it is now”

All quotes are from Stallman’s writings. Stallman is often accused to be a communist, well..

There is a rumour that Stallman once said OUTRIGHT that programmers should work at McDonalds:

Stallman once wanted the programmers work in McDonalds. It looks like his dream might come true

source: http://www.softpanor…lds/index.shtml

Can’t verify that now, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Which communist would want that people should work their asses off AND work at the same time at McDonalds? And which communist advocates so eager salary cuts for employees? He even wants to ban organizations that pay well. He isn’t so much concerned about the salary of the big bosses, just the salary of the employees.

As I wrote already there:

Stallman isn’t so much a communist (though, he seems to be very left wing on many issues), he just wants to see commercial programmers treated as worst as possible.
If Microsoft would produce only FOSS software, but would treat their employees worse than shit, I am sure he would be absolutely fine with that.

It all stems from his trauma at MIT.

His hard line on all other “creative people” is probably just a collateral damage . Because how proprietary software works is very similar with music and films, he included a general statement to not to look like a total hypocrite.

His main beef is the well paid commercial programmer. And I am sure, if he had to chose between an actor and a programmer for “punishment”, he would punish the programmer.

The Rape of Eric S. Raymond

esr tells us the heart breaking story of his violation:

…there are people in the world who think they can persuade me to give proprietary software a second look by making rational, utility-maximizing arguments of their own. One of my regular commenters wrote this recently: “Eric, you may want to give MSDN, Windows, and their developer tools a second, unprejudiced look; they really are better than what Linux has to offer.”

It’s not going to happen. Ever. And the fact that anyone could say that to me, and believe for a nanosecond they might get any other answer, means that I need to explain something in public: why I hate proprietary software.

More precisely, I hate the proprietary software system of production. Not at the artisan level; I’ve defended the right of programmers to issue work under proprietary licenses because I think that if a programmer wants to write a program and sell it, it’s neither my business nor anyone else’s but his customer’s what the terms of sale are.

No, what I hate is when that system scales up into what left-wingers call soulless corporate machines. Unlike them, I’m OK with soulless corporate machines in general; they’re positively good for you compared to the things governments get up to. It’s the specific things that happen when the management of programming gets separated from the art of programming that I hate.

And yes, the emotionally-loaded word ‘hate’ is the rignt word to use, in contrast to all the cool rational-maximizer reasons I like open source. It’s not a lofty idealistic loathing like Richard Stallman’s; it’s a bitter, gut-clenching personal hatred. I’m not a moralist, and am not arguing that everyone should share my feelings about the matter at peril of being damned. Still, I’m going to put my feelings on the record so that the next time some idiot feeds me a similar line, I can point him at that record.

I’ll start with a deliberately melodramatic simile, then explain it. When you tell me I should give proprietary software a fair technical evaluation because its features are so nice, what you are actually doing is saying “Look at the shine on those manacles!” to someone who remembers feeling like a slave.

From 1979 to 1985, and then briefly in 1988-89, I was a component in the proprietary-software system of production. In that world, the working programmer’s normal experience includes being forced to use broken tools for political reasons, insane specifications, and impossible deadlines. It means living in Dilbert-land, only without the irony. It means sweating blood through the forehead to do sound work only to have it trashed, mangled, or buried by people who couldn’t write a line of code to save their lives.

If you love programming, trying to do work you can be proud of in this situation is heartbreaking. You know you could do better work if they’d just goddamn give you room to breathe. But there’s never time to do it right, and always another brain-dead idea for a feature nobody will ever actually use coming at you from a marketing department who thinks it will look good on the checklist. Long days, long nights and at the end of it all some guy in a suit owns all that work, owns the children of your mind, owns a piece of you.

And you know what? Comparatively, I know I had it good. Truly incompetent or evil bosses abused some of my peers far worse. Mine weren’t a bad lot, as these things go. All of us were ensnared in a system of production that could only rarely rise above shitty code and shitty outcomes because the logic of the system trapped us in dysfunctional roles. I’m not naming companies and people because the dysfunction was, in a horrifying but undeniable way, nobody’s fault.

Some of us, including me, dreamed of completely “free” software environments before the public launch of FSF not for abstract moral reasons or because of some soi-disant social problem, but because the conditions of our craft were intolerable to us. We were suffocating, being ground down into unfeeling cogs taught by repeated pain that we must not care about our art because to care was to lose.

The stupid and the timeservers were lucky. It was the really bright, creative people among my peers that hurt the most. And we were all very young and malleable and eager to please; it took me years after I’d escaped to understand that I had a right to feel angry about how I had been used, and many of my peers never figured that out at all.

Yes, I’ve written a lot of intellectual arguments for open source. And they’re both true and sufficient. But now hear the emotional subtext — what lights the fire beneath me, personally, when I make those arguments. And that is this: nobody, ever again, should have to eat that kind of shit. Never again! If it takes seizing control of the craft of programming back from the suits, that’s what it it takes. If it takes blowing the entire system of production to smithereens…well, then it’s long past time.

I have all the usual reasons open-source fans give for refusing to have anything to do with Microsoft or any other proprietary tools: I don’t trust their reliability, I don’t want to be in a single-vendor jail, I won’t have my data locked in closed file formats, I refuse to write in languages that aren’t cross-platform portable…and so on. Those are rational reasons, and I have rational flexibility on them. On that level, it is possible in principle that I could be persuaded by cool features and a winning cost-benefit ratio. Or even if somebody offered me a sufficiently huge pile of money — enough, say, to finance a space program run from a Bond-supervillain-style fortress on my own Caribbean island.

But it doesn’t matter. Because there’s an emotional place where I have no give, and that is in is my visceral, steaming hatred of the production system that Microsoft exemplifies. I refuse to support it in any way, no matter how shiny the products look to other people. I will have no part of helping it do to the young, malleable, innocent programmers of today and tomorrow what was done to me and my peers.

Because two decades later, my scars still ache.

The tone of it sounds as if it is written by a rape victim! Many programmers of the same time period didn’t get such scars, and I bet that he would feel violated working as a bus driver too. Some people are just not made for the work place. That could explain the motivations of Stallman, esr and the like. These people had disorders like aspergers, and should have never ever been allowed in a competetive environment. While most people could take it, they just “snapped” (like school shooters for example) – and have sworn eternal vigilance at their “tormentors”.

esr for example has “Cerebral palsy”, a disease which can have wide ranging symptoms:


“Mental retardation” (to various degrees) being one of them.

From 1979 to 1985, and then briefly in 1988-89, I was a component in the proprietary-software system of production Most programming veterans feel that this time period was the best of their career. The industry was still young and experimental.

being forced to use broken tools for political reasons, insane specifications This sounds like the FOSS world now! Mono is only hated for political reasons. Worse tools are used just in spite. Insane specifications – well, how about that most linux distros are incompatible with each other?

Esr himself admits that he never will use MS tools, despite them being maybe superior, just because of some bad experiences at his working place more than twenty years ago! If this isn’t political and insane, what is?

a system of production that could only rarely rise above shitty code and shitty outcomes because the logic of the system trapped us in dysfunctional roles Again, this sounds more like the FOSS world of today. It seems like the worst of the proprietary world 20 years ago became the FOSS world of today. Compare Ubuntu with Win7 and OS X, which one is obviously worse?

Some of us, including me, dreamed of completely “free” software environments And? Has it succeeded? Where is the result? Freetards recently boasted that most programmers on the Linux kernel are employees of some corporation. Are their working conditions better than those of their proprietary colleagues? Somehow I doubt it. While Microsoft gets regulary the best workplace award:…ePR_210509.mspx

Corporations that got heavily into Linux are the worst outsourcers and job cutters:

Especially IBM (and the now dead SUN). And anyway, just WHY would the life of a corporate programmer become so much better if FOSS would be used? What esr described has nothing to do with FOSS or proprietary software, but just a bad management structure. That’s all. if in a bad environment FOSS software would be written, it would be still a bad environment. Maybe worse, because the money issue could be more problematic, which would add to the stress.

esr’s rape story sounds a lot like the “trauma” Stallman got, when his utopia at MIT went downhill, when most of his peers started commercial careers. Jerky bosses and colleagues who leave the work place are nothing unusual, but, if such situations happen to people with mental issues, it’s traumatic to them.

I mentioned school shooters; Seung-Hui Cho (virginia tech massacre) said: “You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option…You just loved to crucify me. You loved inducing cancer in my head, terror in my heart and ripping my soul all this time”. Was he really crucified? No, he just experienced common situations in a university. But he shouldn’t have been admitted into one in the first place. Esr’s descriptions: “incompetent or evil bosses abused some of my peers … my scars still ache … nobody, ever again, should have to eat that kind of shit. Never again!” are not that far away from Cho. To be absolutely clear: I am not comparing the actions of both men.

Odd, but it seems to be indeed how GNU-FOSS started: Some oversensitve people had experiences THAT EVERYONE EXPERIENCES sometimes, and they couldn’t take it. That would explain the mad and vengeful tone towards something unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) like proprietary software. As if the well being of the whole world depends on the annhiliation of it. And it explains why Linux attracted so many borderline insane people (just read my archeology posts) in the early stages of the movement.

Oh, and this frighteningly fits Stallman:

The Virginia Tech review panel concluded that because of Cho’s inability to handle stress and the “frightening prospect” of being “turned out into the world of work, finances, responsibilities, and a family,” Cho chose to engage in a fantasy where “he would be remembered as the savior of the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, and the rejected.”[1] The panel went further, stating that, “His thought processes were so distorted that he began arguing to himself that his evil plan was actually doing good. His destructive fantasy was now becoming an obsession.”


Stallman WANTS that programmers get paid less:

He even wants to “ban” corporations that pay decent salaries. (“evil plan”, huh?)
His policies and ideas in full force would be destructive to employees. But in Stallman’s mind, programmers on mininum wage would be a good thing, and liberating. Not to mention that Stallman’s crusade started when he got frightened when his colleagues started careers and families, just like Cho.

But back to esr:

it took me years after I’d escaped to understand that I had a right to feel angry about how I had been used, and many of my peers never figured that out at all. The last line says it all. They didn’t “figure it out” because the experience was nothing that someone with a sound mine couldn’t deal with.

But this one takes the cake: “it took me years after I’d escaped to understand that I had a right to feel angry about how I had been used”.

This line is offensive to any person who really was victim of a terrible crime. It sounds as if esr literally got repeatedly gang raped in prison, while in reality, he just had tight schedules on a white collar job. As I said once: Freetards are ultimately the product of decadence: Growing up in wealthy environments (you won’t find a freetard from the slum), most of them never experienced real hardships and real evil.

Freetards say the darndest things

The following sentence most be one of the dumbest things that anyone has ever written in all of mankinds history:

Before anyone mentions “But they give lotsa stuff and things to charity!” please keep in mind that taking with one hand while giving with the other isn’t charity, it’s image polish

??? Here’s the full article by the way:

Linux Will Save The World

Remember Apple’s famous 1984 commercial? That is one of the most brilliant TV commercials of all time, which isn’t surprising- Ridley Scott directed it, and legendary advertising agency Chiat/Day produced it. It is a superb piece of filmmaking that still gives me chills, even in the lo-fi YouTube version.
And then the spell wears off, and I realize Orwell was a prophet, the commercial bears no relationship to the product, and the athlete’s Apple shirt should have a penguin logo on it instead of the Macintosh logo.

Free As In Entitled
Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur, and me and my fellow dinosaurs are moving towards extinction, because we place supreme importance on freedom. But we seem to be a dwindling minority. You know what stories perform the worst on Linux Today? Anything that pertains to freedom- software freedom, the GNU Foundation, the Software Freedom Law Center, civil rights, and law. Technology is front and center on the big issues of the day. If we didn’t have FOSS we would be in an even worse mess as a society, because then technology would all be centralized and controlled by a very few people who have proven their hostility to civil liberties, privacy, and basic decency.
I don’t believe it is exaggerating to say that Linux/FOSS is all that stands between technology tyranny, corporate tyranny, and the hope of something better. Who else is keeping up the pressure for openness and accountability in the tech industry? Plus access to public data, open document formats and industry standards, an open Internet, openness in government… it is true that my memory isn’t what it used to be, but I do not recall Bill Gates, Scott McNealy, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, or any of the other billionaire tech celebs emitting so much as a single word of concern for any of these, or performing any meaningful deeds. The forces massing against our personal freedoms are larger and stronger than ever, and all these fine masters of the universe can think about is yet more ways to fatten their fortunes.

Before anyone mentions “But they give lotsa stuff and things to charity!” please keep in mind that taking with one hand while giving with the other isn’t charity, it’s image polish. Success doesn’t require exploitation, though that seems to be a minority viewpoint these days.

Maybe LT readers get enough of this elsewhere; I hope that is the case. Because I get real tired of the hordes of noobs who enter FOSS with attitudes of entitlement, and who make loud demands and complaints. I’m still not over the KDE4 debacle- what a shameful hyperbolic whine-fest. Is this the future of Linux, perfect free shiny toys for the spoiled? Increasing numbers of demanding, ungrateful users who think they are owed everything, and who give back nothing, not even courtesy?

Couple that with increased corporate control of Linux, and where does that leave us? It doesn’t look much different than proprietary-land. Maybe I underestimate the power of FOSS to keep the suits honest. Maybe I’m wasting a perfectly good bout of pessimism. I very much hope so.

The article itself is the usual “Linux is the best thing in the world” stuff, so nothing new here. But this: Before anyone mentions “But they give lotsa stuff and things to charity!” please keep in mind that taking with one hand while giving with the other isn’t charity, it’s image polish is the stupidest stuff I have read in years. That it is coming from a freetard, is not surprising.

Just think about it: To give something to a charity, you need to have money already! And how do you have money? By earning it! So of course you must be “taking with one hand” to give to charity with the other hand. There is no other way (unless you’re spending the money of your rich parents/spouse or inherited it etc.)

In what world can you give money, when you don’t have the means to generate that money? Even a physically hard working money earner, like a construction worker, who spends regulary to charity, is “taking money with the other hand”.

This is what happens to people, when they swallow the GNU too much.