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Responses to the LSA
LinuxPosted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday August 19, @05:44AM
from the there-are-millions dept.
Aron Hsiao sent us a link to a Mining Co article on the LSA. ZDNet also has another story on the same topic. This one talksd about the division in the Linux community over the issue. Personally, I think the world has spoken and the LSA will be passed up in favor of Linux Compatibility Standards Project, and open collaberation between Red Hat and Debian. Update Michael McLagan of the LSA wrote back in to make this statement. Click on to read it.

The following was written by Michael McLagan

They say that you learn something new every day, despite your age. I can honestly say that yesterday, I learned something. After several weeks of behind the scenes planning, organizing and work the announcement for the LSA was finally released. Despite what a number of yesterday's posters would like to think, this has never been a "fly-by-night" operation that was cooked up on a whim.

I would like to start by thanking Rob Malda for running Slashdot. I think he provides a valuable service to a segment of the net community, and he deserves to be commended for it. Slashdot calls itself "News for nerds" and in fact that is what it is. It is not, however, well known or even heard of within the corporate community where decisions are considered and made. Obviously there are exceptions to everything, and this is true as well.

The barrage of messages posted yesterday is, in essence, a tempest in a teacup. I respect the rights of every poster to speak their mind. In fact, I encourage it. Each and every one of you, anonymous or not, has the right to say whatever comes to mind. Of course, there's no requirement that what is said be well thought out or contain a shred of truth. There's not even a requirement that a discussion be held in a civil and reasonable fashion.

I will take this single opportunity to respond to some of the comments and criticisms leveled at the organization. From reading the 250+ messages posted in response to yesterday's announcement, I will address the following points:

  1. The principles are unknowns. This despite several postings drawing a nice trail from one to the next to the next. Each or both of the principles in forming the LSA may very well be unknown to individual Linux users. It does not, however, mean that either of the companies involved hasn't been involved in Linux since it's early days. In fact, I would hazard a guess that I've been using/developing/promoting Linux longer than most of you have even known what it is.
  2. Web site trivia. Yes, there was a reference to "FrontPage" in the frames page, and yes there's a reference in one other page. Last time I checked, there was no crime associated with using an available tool to do a job. Nobody's bothered to check other pages, obviously, and note that they are devoid of that attribution. What of it? It's a tool, someone used it to build a page. How we jump from a reference to FrontPage to being funded by Bill Gates is one I'll never understand.
  3. The VETO. I guess nobody bothered to read the little bit about how if 66.7% of the members voted in favour of an issue that the veto was NULL and VOID. It's a means of maintaining some form of control over the direction and productiveness of discussion, and *NOT* as some would suggest, to ram standards down members throats. Remember, this is a member based organization. The members can, at will, fold up their various tents and go home.
  4. The FEE. It amazes me how quickly people forget the facts of life. Telephones, faxes, email, coffee, rent, travel and a whole litany of other things are *NOT FREE*. Standards organizations, with some exceptions, always been membership fee based. The idea of "pay to play" is not something we invented. It is, however, a very useful method of filtering out those who wish to make noise without purpose and those who are willing to get down and work on something productive. And in keeping with Linux, we are allowing participation by one and all in discussions thru the observer membership.
  5. Intellectual Property. How "submissions become property" becomes "taking over Linux" is a stretch that doesn't get past first base in a reasoned and well thought out discussion. Linux is FREE SOFTWARE. No amount of claiming otherwise by us or any other organization will *EVER* change that. There's a noticable difference between someone submitting a white paper on an issue and the LSA being allowed to publish it at will and usurping Linux.

    What value is a standards process if the standard isn't owned and copyright by the association that created it? Anybody and their dog can come along, change it to suit their taste, republish it and claim that it's somehow related to the original. Not entirely productive. In addition, the value of a brand without IP protection is equally useless. 'RedHat Linux' is one such example. Based on comments I've gotten from others, I could whip up a distribution that is unrelated, stick a sticker on it taht says 'RedHat Linux' and proceed to give it away. Where does that leave Bob Young & co? Without a leg to stand on.

  6. Consulting others. I find it outrageous that a single person on the forum can make a claim that we didn't consult others. Not one of you has participated in the work leading up to the announcement. True enough, I'll bet that not a single forum poster was consulted. Nor was there any need to consult them. However, I spoke personally on the phone to a number of prominant people in relation to Linux and sought comment and feedback.
  7. The trademark. Lets clear something up, once and for all. A lot of you are under the seriously misguided belief that "Linux" is trademarked. There is a registration for the mark in the Trademark and Patent office. Dandy. There are certain laws about trademarks which are highly relevant here.

    The first of which is the original registration is invalid. By the same arguments that were made to wrench it away from the idiot in Boston (?) the mark should never have been issued. Had it gone to trial, that would have been the result.

    The second is that the owner of a trademark must vigorously protect the mark against one and all. Having become aware of a misuse, the owner must take immediate steps to protect the mark. Since it's transfer, Linus has not, to anyone's knowledge, sent out a single CEASE AND DESIST letter to anyone. He would have to require licensing from every book, web site, distribution, magazine, etc, etc and have enforced those within a reasonable time of becoming the owner of the mark to protect it.

    In short, THERE IS NO VALID TRADEMARK on the term "Linux". And if you will all look in your archives, I believe you will find statements from Linus turning over the mark to the public domain. He retained the physical registration solely to keep some other yutz from registering and trying to extort money from everyone.

In my opinion, most of the posters in the discussion here should be ashamed of themselves. The level of hypocracy only grew and grew thruout the day as more and more emotionally driven people piled into the frenzy. I read more than enough comments about how Linux is Open Source and Free Software and the like, only to be told to dry up and blow away. It got to the point of being hillarous.

I would like to know where, at all, that the LSA indicated that it would DICTATE to any person what they were to use, how they were to use it or why they were to use it. If you find it, you're a much better person than I. I know for a fact that I have certainly never said it. Strangely enough though, each and every one of you telling the LSA to go away has. How is it different for you to tell the LSA that it can't develop and publish a standard? Where is the freedom of those participating in the LSA to use Linux in the fashion that *THEY* choose to?

Seems to me we have a significant problem. It's ok for you to take Linux home, hack it up on a PC and customize it to your liking. It's free source, it's a free country, it's your right. It's *NOT* ok for the LSA to take Linux home, hack it up into a form acceptable to members, customize it to meet user needs and do with it what we will. It's free source, it's a free country, but appearantly it's not our right.

The ZDNet article just about says it all. This has turned into a "family fight" because of a small bunch of self centered, egotistical individuals with a place to post a message. It's true that in any crowd you will find disenters. Doesn't matter what the topic is, some will stand up and lead cries of "fight, fight, fight". However, the vocal minority is just that, A MINORITY. As was stated last night, the mailboxes here have far more positive supportive comments in them than there are posts in response to the press release. There are a significant number of people who signed up as regular and observer members.

While I respect the right of people to express their opinions, I have to wonder if there shouldn't be a requirement that some thought and contemplation be required prior to expressing them. This forum has only served to discredit Linux in the eyes of some, as it indicates that the level of intolerance and hypocracy are very high indeed. It is for this reason that ISVs stay away from providing their popular applications on a Linux platform, because they want to stay away from the strife and the pain associated with dealing with the religious zealot faction of Linux users.

I will note that most of the comments are from USERS and not DEVELOPERS. It seems that those of you who wave the "Free Software" banner are primarily involved in getting free computing and not the least bit involved in contribution to it. I can stand here, today, and say that I have contributed 1000s of man hours and 1000s of dollars in support of Linux, including kernel code, device drivers, working with industry to get support for hardware and providing the linux.org services.

There is an old saying, "Do unto others as you would have done onto yourself". I make every attempt to live my life by it. I fail occasionally, but I'm generally successful at it. I wonder how many of you can look at your comments from yesterday and would feel comfortable on being the receiving end of them ?

I'll let you, and your various Gods, be the judge of that. Michael McLagan
President/CEO
Linux Standards Association
http://www.linuxstandards.org/

Registered Owner,
Linux Online
http://www.linux.org/

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