Open source must die die die

By   |  January 27, 2006

The open source movement has always had its fair share of enemies. It’s no secret that there’s little love lost between Microsoft and the OSS community, while SCO continues its attack on Linux. These are what one might term “above-the-line” threats – they’re easy to recognise, and come from organisations that clearly have much to lose from open source’s success. Companies like Microsoft have the right – and the responsibility – to protect their revenue streams and market share in what they believe to be the best manner. Only a fool would take Microsoft’s “Get the facts” campaign on face-value, and most recognise it as propaganda with a very skewed perspective on the truth.

Although I might not like it, I can at least understand Microsoft’s loathing for open source. What I can’t understand is a new movement from the less-formal sector – bloggers in particular – who suddenly have it in for our community. In particular, two blogs – Anti Gnu Movement and Firefox Myths have caught my attention lately.

Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t have any beef with someone choosing proprietary software over open source. One of the key tenets of open source is freedom – and that includes the freedom to choose whatever software you wish to use. While Tectonic actively promotes open source, its editorial policy is to not attack proprietary software, as this would undermine the very nature of what we’re trying to promote. I use open source software almost exclusively, I can confirm that a lot of it is really awesome, but whether it’s right for you, only you can answer.

The difference between a respectable publication like Tectonic and the two blogs mentioned above is that the blogs are negative. They try to tell you what not to use – in this case it’s open source software. By doing so, they immediately become dogmatic. Admittedly, blogs are notoriously partisan, not caring for the ethics of right of response or balanced reporting, but their lack of accountability just makes them more dangerous.

The first blog, the Anti Gnu Movement, spends a great deal of time and energy linking the open source movement to communism, and claiming that the Gnu public license (GPL) is a “viral” license. I can certainly see the point he’s making about the viral nature of the GPL – it’s meant to be self-propagating. I just can’t see why it’s a bad thing that if he wants to write proprietary software and sell it, he can’t use other people’s code licensed under the GPL.

The rather tenuous link he tries to establish between open source and communism is flaky at best, but anyone who has ever heard of McCarthyism, read The Crucible, or scratched their heads over the Bush administration’s “Axis of Evil” will see the dangers here. When you take a concept that people fear – and a lot of people still fear communism – and you link it to a country, person, or – in this case – movement, logic simply falls away. It’s a classic propaganda tactic, forcing an “us-and-them” response in people’s minds. Mohit Joshi, who writes the Anti Gnu Movement blog, could have saved himself a significant amount of nonsensical writing by just typing “GPL=communism”, and left it up to man’s animalistic instincts to achieve his goal. To give you a taste of the kind of rubbish you can expect to find here, he states: “So due to this incorrect model of co-operation put forth by FSF, small-time and low budget developers, who do not have adequate resources, often end up using GNU GPL. They are subsequently forced to give up one thing that could have stopped their project from being low budget, their intellectual property rights, now forfeited by the GPL virus.

“Thus the GNU philosophy, like communism, harms very people it claims to protect and breeds enslavement.”

Someone better mail IBM and tell it that it’s considered a low-budget developer by the great Mohit Joshi.

The second blog – Firefox Myths – is truly outstanding for being completely ludicrous. It claims to debunk myths around the Firefox web browser. The only myth you will find on this site is that these myths actually exist. Some of these supposed myths include: “Firefox works with every Web page”, “Firefox is secure”, and my favourite, “Firefox is bug free”. If anyone has read or heard any of these myths beyond the confines of Andrew K’s Firefox Myths page, please let me know. Maybe I hang out in the wrong places – I haven’t been to an insane asylum in ages.

These sites are obviously worth less than the disk space they consume (and disk space is pretty cheap nowadays), so why am I so reactive to them? What really gets me about such blatant rubbish is that someone who knows next-to-nothing about computers, which includes most people, could easily take all this as fact. Many people still believe what they read on the Internet. I know dozens of people who, if they received a link to these sites in their in-boxes, would click, read, and say: “Gee, I didn’t know that. Firefox is rubbish. Open source is communist. I better not use it.” I’m sad to say that some of these people actually make IT purchasing decisions.

Attempting to be non-partisan myself, I encourage you to go and read these blogs and make up your own mind. If you believe them, well, you’re free to choose, as long as you don’t choose to try to dictate my decisions.

Comments

32 Responses to “Open source must die die die”

  1. warpozio
    January 27th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    I am glad you liked Firefox Myths, so I guess you will also like to read Firefox Fables…
    (http://nanobox.chipx86.com/FirefoxFables/)

  2. Mark
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Considering Microsoft has made the same claims about OSS being viral and communist, and they\’re afraid of FireFox, isn\’t it possible the blogs in question are either posted by MS employees, or are edited by people paid by MS to write them?

    Just asking.

  3. Bjerrk
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Linking to Anti GNU and Firefox Myths isn\’t very clever. In that way they\’ll gain attention from more web surfers and get a higher google Rank. That isn\’t exactly what we wan\’t, now is it? :)

    Kind regards Bjerrk

  4. SPM
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Microsoft does fund many astroturfing groups and blogs – for example Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), which pretends to be made up of grass root members of the public and promotes use of Microsoft products. It attacked ODF adoption in Massachusetts recently and has attacked adoption of Open Source in government and in Universities previously. In reality it is nothing more than a lobby group which can be bought for cash donations, and Microsoft funding for the CAGW has been proven. CAWG is notorious for writing letters purporting to come from grass roots supporters during the Bush electoral campaign, who were found on closer examination to have been dead.

  5. Uno Engborg
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    This is not strange really. Today GNU software is growing rapidly. This means that people that paid a lot to earn skills in using non free software feels threatened. What use is it to be a MSCE if all your company switches Linux with much fewer sysadmins that have a MSCE i.e. are trained to think instead of pushing buttons.

    There is also a chance that Microsoft uses blogs in their marketing. A \”private\” blogger can get away with much more lies and deceptions than Microsoft can do in a marketing campain. Common makreting and advertising have the disadvantage that the recipents knows you are taking sides, and that your information is filtered to make you look good. A journalist or a blogger is more often vied by their audience as more unbiased. At least as long as you don\’t cross the line where it becomes too obvious.

    I would also not be surprised if blogg marketing was used in the free software market as well. My favorite suspect is Ubuntu. It became the best desctop distro over the night,if you was to believe blogs and talkbacks to articles on the net. Sure Ubunto was/is indeed good, but so are all other distros using the same version of Gnome.

    Blogg marketing is here to stay, just learn to live with it.

  6. Dino
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Good article. I have seen links on sites to this Firefox Myths business before, but never looked at it myself.

    Some spelling errors:

    para 1: \”clearly have much to loose from open source\’s success\”

    The correct spelling is \”lose\”

    para 5: \”The first blogg\”

    This would be \”blog\”

  7. Mario Miyojim
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    The bloggers who write against the open-source movement are frustrated individuals, who can\’t understand how something can grow without marketing, just for quietly existing, by word of mouth.
    The open-source movement is a force of nature, which grows by its own merits, because it reaches deep into the conscience of humanity, making use of what is best in every person\’s spirit, which is honesty and faith to the truth.
    The more its enemies talk evil of the open-source movement, the stronger it will become. Only fools and greedy people will listen to Microsoft advocates. Even Bill Gates does not feel well in his role of having to lie forever, so much so that he stammered and made incongruous statements when he testified in public about Microsoft\’s true behavior; and now he pledged $50B for R&D to end tuberculosis in the world; that is his conscience disturbing him; if he were comfortable with his fortune, there would be no motivation for these deeds.
    Many people have tried to weaken Linux and other successful open-source applications but are now scattered on the wayside, silent. These bloggers will be no exception.

  8. Piotr
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Isn\’t ironic that the Anti GNU Movement website runs on Apache.

  9. lordscotus
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    It looks as if Anti Gnu Movement probably RUNS on free software! It\’s on a php-based blogging system.

  10. bilbo
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Do a google search, work it out for yourself.

  11. cyber_rigger
    January 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    http://antignu.blogspot.com/

    This guy should at least eat his own dogfood.

  12. Anonymous
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    If you where building a house and the only resource you have to pay is saleries, you can build larger houses and hire more people. This means more jobs, not less.

  13. MrFlibble
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    The author of the Firefox Myths page has posted it on every tech forum on the planet. His current hobby is making anonymous comments in blogs about the article. The comment denying that the article is anti open source and linking to more pages on the same site resembles his style. For proof that the author is in fact anti open source, see these posting he made:

    http://s4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=1140
    http://s4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=114
    (Note use of \’owned\’)
    There are plenty of other postings against Linux, Firefox. I think the conclusion is clear that he has a bias. Despite having lied about his identity many time, the author denies that this is his blog/forum site, but note that he posts a link to this blog and is identified by another regular poster as the author of Firefox Myths:
    http://s4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=1170

    For information on the author\’s multiple identities, see here:

    http://nanobox.chipx86.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=37&start=0

  14. bilbo
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Road building machines decrease the number of people working on shovels, decreasing the labor required to build our roads. Open source decreases the number of times our infrastructures software is rewritten.

    Why should I support any form of irrational economic behavior.

  15. Tom
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    OSS is about choice, if there was only IE available to access internet then it would be monopolized by Microsoft and you would pay internet access license to them

    The same as one party state which is never a good thing

    You need competition to bring prices down and have a better quality products available to consumers

    Today you have choice to pay for Microsoft Office or use OpenOffice

    Windows is well known for blue screen of death which is quite rare in Windows XP
    Microsoft was forced to fix major bugs in their OS because of competition from very stable Linux

  16. MrLiberty
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Mohit Joshi = Jeff Merkey

    bjd

  17. Anonymous
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Did you guys even check out the site or just jump to conclusions? I sent him an email about this and he pointed these pages out on his site:

    http://mywebpages.comcast.net/SupportCD/XPMedia.html

    Which endorses OpenOffice and more.

    and This one:

    http://mywebpages.comcast.net/SupportCD/XPGames.html

    Which has various open source games on it. Looks like you guys just got owned for poor journalism.

  18. Dan Thornstone
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    When a developer releases a successful open source project, most of the time this causes (in the short or long run) another developer to lose his job or to lower his rates.

    I would like to work in a profession in which each worker protects the profession.

    With OSS, it\’s not so. OSS developers make things worse for the guys for which software development is a profession (and not just a hobby).

  19. anon
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    complete bs.

  20. Sid Boyce
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    It\’s true that some people will read and treat it all as gospel. Sometimes the rantings urge others to try it for themselves – they don\’t have to buy it to try. Many years ago we had a UK TCP/IP group on hamradio and George would rant against Linux though he\’d never seen a box running Linux, another guy joined in, calling Linux \”Boy\’s Own Unix\” trying to draw a parallel with \”Boy\’s Own Comic\” which pre-occupied the imagination of youngsters before the advent of electronic games.
    These guys stopped their rants when they realised they were inadvertently acting as recruiting seargeants for Linux. Their rants spurred others to try Linux, quite a few replies to the newsgroup said as much, in the words of one guy, \”Since you are so against it, I must give it a try\”, it cuts both ways and I\’m sure there are many who are now running Linux and getting their business done, thanks to Bill Gates and Microsoft for giving it advertising space. The vitriol continues at a increasingly higher pitch while opensource thrives and that\’s my crumb of comfort.

  21. andrew
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    You are KIDDING me right!!!

  22. Anonymous
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Yeah open sorce = Comunismus!!!!!!!!!

    Open Source must DIE!!

    Open Source bring bugging programs!!!!!

  23. kenholmz
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    “So due to this incorrect model of co-operation put forth by FSF, small-time and low budget developers, who do not have adequate resources, often end up using GNU GPL. They are subsequently forced to give up one thing that could have stopped their project from being low budget, their intellectual property rights, now forfeited by the GPL virus.\”

    I must wonder what the alternative was/is for these unfortunate developers who end up being oppressed by GNU/GPL. They could choose to maintain their intellectual property rights by avoiding GPL completely. If there were no GPL they would have no choice but to maintain their intellectual property rights (or perhaps sell their property and rights to Microsoft). Lastly, GPL is completely voluntarily.

  24. Christian Vest Hansen
    January 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    >When a developer releases a successful open
    >source project, most of the time this causes
    >(in the short or long run) another developer to
    >lose his job or to lower his rates.

    Jobloss is bad, and the IT industry, with its rationalizing effect, have been responsible for many joblosses, so we better do something about it and ban IT!

  25. Tachyon
    January 30th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    It\’s simple, MS entices people to post these things, and then the regular zealot sheep MS worshipers jump on the bandwagon.

    It\’s right out of the republican playbook. Maybe Carl Rove is working a new job at MS since he\’ll need one soon. Assuming they don\’t hang him as a traitor.

    This isn\’t an excuse for a political rant either. MS has been learning to work the political system in recent years. Basically since the antitrust suit. They are now applying those skills in the methodology dictated by the current political environment. You\’ll note they already tried linking F/OSS with communism and homeland security.

    Next will be some linking of F/OSS with terrorsim.

  26. nono
    January 30th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    the author said:
    \”Someone better mail IBM and tell it that it\’s considered a low-budget developer by the great Mohit Joshi. \”

    I do not in any way subscribe to Mr Joshi argument, but it is not a reason to use a logical fallacy against it.
    The quoted \’argument\’ was GPL keep poor/small developper porr/small. The fact that IBM is involved in GPL is irrelevant as a \’counter-example\’ since IBM did not became Big Blue thought GPL. IBM was enormous way before it ever considered GPL.

    On the other hand, one could take Mr joshi argument, and replace GPL by \’software patent\’, and get to the same result… So either way the small developper is financially screwed…

  27. Ryan
    January 30th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Communism is from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Money would be unneccessary in a truly communist society. It\’s one form of Utopianism. Most importantly, it has pretty much nothing to do with GNU. GNU is from each if they can and want to, to each if they want it and can afford it (source code can be charged for, as can the software, it just has to be a reasonable price and there can be no restrictions on further redistribution of that source without adherance to the GPL). This is definitely different than capitalism, which is from each as the company sees fit and they\’re willing to accept in payment, to each according to what they can afford.
    The GNU / GPL exist nicely within either system. In a communist society, you could contribute code to projects used by the governed body as that is your ability. The GPL allows the people access to your code if they need it or not, fullfilling the second half of the description. In capitalism, programmers can be paid to create software or modify existing GNU/GPL software to suit a company or government\’s needs (they have to be willing to publish those changes if they want to distribute that software or may do so in hopes that the kickstart they paid for will be expanded and improved by other members of the community for whatever reasons they may have (Communist, Capitalist, Socialist, or even Anarchists just trying to stick it to the other system). As to the second half, to each according to what they can afford, they can download many Linux distros for free, they can pay for a corporate supported Red Hat or SuSE, or they can take a hybrid kind of approach akin to Mandriva and their club. And if they can\’t afford RHEL, SuSE, or the broadband, they can always buy a pre-burned CD online for a couple of bucks.

    I spent 8 years in the military defending the US Constitution (not a flag) and I see nothing about the GNU or GPL that I feel threatens that document or the work I did.

  28. Anonymous
    January 31st, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Dan, do you mean you want to work in a communist state?
    Liberal and Market-oriented economies are not for the weak: if you can\’t had an added value compared to open source developper, what would I hire you?

  29. Dominic James
    February 3rd, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    OSS developers are only a threat to anyone who\’s used to selling the same bits and bytes over and over again at exorbitant prices.

    The rest of us are doing quite nicely adding value to more clients than we can cope with. We have world class development tools, free libraries, free operating systems to test on, source code we can learn from and the freedom to use, copy, modify and distribute it for our needs without fear of the software Gestapo banging down our doors.

    There\’s no discrimination either – financial or otherwise – against anyone. Just pick up a manual and dive in. Plenty of companies need customised solutions that off-the-shelf software, whether open or closed, won\’t provide. If you want to keep your code closed, that\’s also fine.

  30. Kevin
    February 6th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    I have bad news for this poor slob, his web provider\’s server is probably running Linux:

    root@fosters:/home/kevin# nmap -v -v -A -P0 –osscan-guess firefoxmyths.com

    Starting Nmap 4.00 ( http://www.insecure.org/nmap/ ) at 2006-02-05 22:48 UTC
    DNS resolution of 1 IPs took 0.04s. Mode: Async [#: 1, OK: 1, NX: 0, DR: 0, SF: 0, TR: 1, CN: 0]
    Initiating SYN Stealth Scan against pwfwd-v01.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net (64.202.189.170) [1672 ports] at 22:48
    Discovered open port 256/tcp on 64.202.189.170
    Discovered open port 53/tcp on 64.202.189.170

    +++++ deleted to conserve space +++++

    61441/tcp open netprowler-sensor?
    65301/tcp open pcanywhere?
    Too many fingerprints match this host to give specific OS details
    TCP/IP fingerprint:
    SInfo(V=4.00%P=i686-pc-linux-gnu%D=2/5%Tm=43E67C41%O=1%C=-1)
    T1(Resp=N)
    T2(Resp=N)

  31. Karl
    February 15th, 2006 @ 12:00 am

    Open source is a kind of capitalist communism.

    It shows the human potential that would be unleashed in a true communist global society

    (unlike state bureaucratic capitalist societies such as USSR and Cuba)

  32. Jamon Ham Presunto
    June 17th, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

    YOU MUST DIE!

    “SHOW ME THE SOURCE!” [ps. 2.4] THAT’S GOD’S WORD!!!

    you know the open-source Matrix is going to get you….

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