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Bruce Perens Canned by HP 692

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the what-if-we-were-all-named-bruce dept.
bmarklein writes "Bruce Perens has been fired by HP for "Microsoft-baiting". This was linked in part to the HP-Compaq merger, since Windows is now a much bigger part of HP's business."
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Bruce Perens Canned by HP

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  • by DamnYankee (18417) on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:48AM (#4219927) Homepage
    This shows the reach and depth of fear that Microsoft's monopoly can instill in even the biggest and baddest companies on the planet.

    I doubt that this came from a purely internal HP-Compaq decision. The forces that be in Redmond probably played a role.

    What is Bruce on to next?
    • This shows the reach and depth of fear that Microsoft's monopoly can instill in even the biggest and baddest companies on the planet.
      How? You think MS told them to fire Perens?

      How about this for a try. HPQ makes millions and millions selling Windows only things. MILLIONS. They probably lose money on their Linux divison- but even if they are profitable, its not to the degree (because of scale for sure) of the Windows division.

      Then you have Perens, correctly I might add, running around dissing MS for a bunch of things. In effect, Perens was forcing HP to compete with themselves! One division (big) against another (small).

      Put yourself in that position. Would choose the big side or the little side?
      • by rknop (240417) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:07AM (#4220032) Homepage

        This shows the reach and depth of fear that Microsoft's monopoly can instill in even the biggest and baddest companies on the planet.

        How? You think MS told them to fire Perens?

        How about this for a try. HPQ makes millions and millions selling Windows only things. MILLIONS. They probably lose money on their Linux divison- but even if they are profitable, its not to the degree (because of scale for sure) of the Windows division.

        You go on to answer your own "how". Microsoft doesn't have to have Bill call up Carly and say "fire that Perens bastard" to have a bully-like dominance that causes other companies to dance to its tune. The very fact that Windows is so dominant and that Microsoft is so huge is what prevents true competition from getting a foothold. Microsoft doesn't need bully tactics, they can just carry on like a normal monopoly and everybody will feel bullied anyway. (Of course, we know that Microsoft does in fact use bully tactics; witness them telling Dell that Dell wasn't allowed to sell OS-less PCs.)

        -Rob

        • The very fact that Windows is so dominant and that Microsoft is so huge is what prevents true competition from getting a foothold.

          The very fact that HP has a Linux division clearly makes your argument moot.
        • by ryanvm (247662) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:01PM (#4221540)
          The very fact that Windows is so dominant and that Microsoft is so huge is what prevents true competition from getting a foothold. Microsoft doesn't need bully tactics, they can just carry on like a normal monopoly and everybody will feel bullied anyway.

          Just to be the devils advocate (saying that is how you keep from getting modded as a troll around here) - did you ever consider that perhaps Perens' MS bashing was hurting HPQ's bottom line?

          HPQ probably makes 1000x times more selling MS-loaded computers than Linux-loaded systems. Perens running around telling everyone how insecure MS software is probably doesn't help them move those MS-loaded systems now does it?

          Who knows, if Perens had spent less time MS bashing and more time evangelizing open source maybe he'd still be at HPQ.
    • by cioxx (456323) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:00AM (#4220001) Homepage
      What is Bruce on to next?

      Lets hope he joins Dell.

      Dude, You're Getting a Job!
    • by Bodrius (191265) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:07AM (#4220033) Homepage

      Yes, I'm sure Bill Gates personally has a black list in his office with the names of all Open Source advocates that have challenged his empire and every morning, at a strategic meeting with his closest advisors, he has a conversation like this:

      - Bill, we have successfully increased the revenue of the company by 20%. We expect this to bring the stockholders to the level of optimism they had before the recession.

      Bill: Yeah, yeah, whatever...

      - Bill, our deals with the media conglomerates regarding DRM are proceeding flawlessly, ensuring that we are unopposed to push for the PC as the consumer device that coordinates everyone's information-related activities, including entertainment.

      Bill: Sure. That's nice, I guess.

      - Bill, our marketing campaign for Web Services is being successful among developers. Soon they will be tied to our standards and companies will have to consider Windows servers seriously for their large-scale network services.

      Bill: What's wrong with you people? Is this what I pay you for?!

      Silence.

      Bill: Ok, who can answer the really important question? How close am I to fulfilling my personal vendetta against the Open Source Linux geeks? How many did we get fired today?

      - I called HP yesterday morning. We got Bruce Perens fired.

      Bill: Geek #427? EXCELLENT!

      Bill takes list, draws little check mark on "#427 Bruce Perens" entry.

      Bill: Ok. According to my list, "#428 Billy Tempherton" is next. He's a Linux administrator for a community college in Iowa that posted something about me being evil and Windows crashing his computer, at that Slashdot site in 1999...

      - We're working on it, Sir!

      Bill: Good! Meeting dismissed! I have to go to Slashdot and see who posted something against me today...

      • That's funny, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sphealey (2855) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:28AM (#4220142)
        That's one of the funniest posting I have read in a while! Thanks.

        But... you are being naive if you think the list you describe in your parody doesn't exist. I have been in meetings (not in the computer industry, but the principle is the same) where such things are discussed. Every successful business does indeed do that sort of thing. Given the threat that Linux poses to Microsoft's revenue stream, it would be foolish of them not to hold such discussions.

        sPh

  • Fukk a Registration (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:49AM (#4219931)
    Balancing Linux and Microsoft
    By STEVE LOHR

    For nearly two years, Bruce Perens was a senior strategist for open-source software at Hewlett-Packard -- an evangelist and rabble-rouser on behalf of a computing counterculture that is increasingly moving into the mainstream. Part of the job description, he was told, was to "challenge H.P. management."

    His last day as a Hewlett-Packard employee was 10 days ago. The parting was amicable, Mr. Perens said, but he was fired -- "officially a termination," he noted. "It came after a long, long warning," Mr. Perens explained. "The thing that I did that was most hazardous for H.P. is the Microsoft-baiting I tend to do."

    A spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard declined to comment on Mr. Perens's departure, citing company policy against making public statements about why individual employees leave.
    Advertisement

    But, according to Mr. Perens, a handful of forces combined to make his exit from Hewlett-Packard inevitable. After it bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft. A rising threat to Microsoft is GNU Linux, an operating system distributed free and developed using the open-source model in which communities of programmers donate their labor to debug, modify and otherwise improve the code.

    After the merger with Compaq, Hewlett also became the largest vendor of Linux-based server computers, ahead of Dell Computer and I.B.M. Yet Hewlett's bet on Linux still pales compared with its reliance on Microsoft. And after the merger, it was mainly former Compaq executives who took senior positions overseeing the Linux business.

    In the premerger Hewlett, Mr. Perens, a leader in the open-source movement, enjoyed a lot of independence. When speaking to potential Hewlett customers on Wall Street and elsewhere, he would make the case for Linux, extolling it as a reliable and secure operating system that also allowed corporate customers to avoid being locked in to proprietary software like Microsoft's Windows or Sun Microsystems' Solaris.

    Mr. Perens did not have to make the pitch for Hewlett as supplier of choice for Linux-based servers, services or support. That chore fell to Hewlett's sales people. "It was a pretty unique job that existed because of the H.P. culture," Mr. Perens said. "I would still be at H.P., I think, except for the Compaq merger."

    Yet beyond the postmerger atmosphere at Hewlett, Mr. Perens also says that he had been taking a more outspoken stance against Microsoft recently. "Microsoft is out to crush Linux as a competitor," said Mr. Perens, who became truly galvanized after the emergence in May of a Microsoft-backed industry group, the Initiative for Software Choice. Besides the chip maker Intel, a close Microsoft ally, most of the other 20 or so members are smaller foreign companies or trade organizations.

    The software-choice group sees a threat in what it has identified as 66 legislative proposals, government statements and studies promoting open-source software in 25 countries, including Germany, Britain, China, Peru and Brazil. Some of those legislative proposals would require the use of open-source software in government, but most of the government steps are efforts to ensure there is an alternative to Microsoft in their critical software markets.

    The Microsoft-backed group says its purpose is to promote even-handed competition based on the merits of products, instead of a government bias for one kind of software. But as Mr. Perens sees it, the software-choice group has another agenda. "Its principles are nice-sounding words," he said, "but what they really say is, `Let's maintain the status quo.' "

    Mr. Perens has stepped in himself and started an effort to respond to the Microsoft-backed group. His initiative, called Sincere Choice, has its own Web site (www .sincerechoice.org), and its own set of principles. Mr. Perens asserts that governments could get huge cost savings and encourage the spread of open-source software by purchasing only software that operates well with other programs. Under his proposal, software companies would be required to supply software with open technology standards and open file formats that can be used by outside software developers, without having to pay royalties.

    "The royalty-free patent issue is crucial because the companies with huge software patent portfolios, especially Microsoft and I.B.M., have huge tolls booths on the Internet that can limit the spread of open-source software," Mr. Perens observed.

    Mr. Perens, 44, has regarded technology as a force for personal freedom since he was a teenager in the Long Island suburbs of New York. He was a ham radio enthusiast, ran a pirate radio station in Lido Beach, N.Y., and was briefly a "phone phreak," who could trick the telephone network into giving free long-distance calls.

    His introduction to computing came in college, when he worked at the radio station at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury. Mr. Perens was a station manager, and one of his duties was to prepare the weekly logs of programs to be broadcast, as well as commercials. It was a job for a computer, he figured, and he taught himself the Basic computer language and wrote a program to handle the logs.

    The appeal of computing proved irresistible. "I got so involved in the computer that I didn't go to classes anymore," recalled Mr. Perens, who never got a college degree.

    Much of his considerable programming skills over the years since have been self-taught, a trait fueled by his early experience with formal education, when he was briefly misdiagnosed as mentally disabled (it was a motor-deficit problem that he soon outgrew). "All of this is about empowering the individual with technology," Mr. Perens said. "That has been a lifelong thrust."

    Mr. Perens eventually joined Pixar, where he worked for 12 years on hardware and software tools for the animators of "Toy Story," "Toy Story II" and "A Bug's Life." While working at Pixar, he became more deeply involved in the emerging open-source movement and with Linux.

    Having left Hewlett, he is talking to other companies about doing consulting work. "Open source doesn't mean you take a vow of poverty," Mr. Perens said.

    Yet Mr. Perens is also deeply committed to the values that he believes the open-source movement embody. "I'm sorry that I had to leave H.P., but I'm not going to shut up about my views," he said. "I'm not just going to sit back and be a quiet engineer. I have a two-year-old son and I don't want him to grow up in a world that is less free.
    • ...public statements about why individual employees leave.
      Advertisement

      But, according to Mr. Perens...


      Aw, man! If you're going to go to the trouble of posting the article here, at least have the decency to edit the ads out! :D

      -
    • Non-sequitor (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swb (14022)
      After it bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft.

      I don't get it. If I moved from n to 1 on the list of a vendor's customers, why wouldn't I see increased leverage with my vendor? The story implies that being the number one customer of Microsoft is tantamount to losing leverage ("more dependant")?

      It's a semantic argument to be sure, but regardless of what Bruce said about Microsoft you would think that they wouldn't want to damage their reputation with their number one customer, would you?

      Or is this all about MS playing Dell and HP off each other?
      • Re:Non-sequitor (Score:4, Interesting)

        by madfgurtbn (321041) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:26AM (#4220478)
        If I moved from n to 1 on the list of a vendor's customers, why wouldn't I see increased leverage with my vendor?

        The merger was bitterly fought and hard won by Carly Fiorina vs the old guard of the company. It got ugly and personal. Fiorina is under extreme scrutiny and pressure to show that it was a good idea to buy CPQ. If HP management perceives that there could be any problems with M$, even if there isn't really a threat, they have to do something, because they cannot afford any missteps with Compaq.

        So, to answer your question, even if HPQ theoretically has more leverage with M$, management is not in a position to use that leverage because they cannot afford to be seen as battling M$.
      • I don't get it. If I moved from n to 1 on the list of a vendor's customers, why wouldn't I see increased leverage with my vendor? The story implies that being the number one customer of Microsoft is tantamount to losing leverage ("more dependant")?

        Markets stop working correctly in the presence of a monopoly. Microsoft has monopoly power over sales of Microsoft Windows (that's what copyright does). Compaq/HP doesn't see any feasible options other than Windows. HP on its own had significant profit in other areas: printers, scanners, calculators, and other hardware. Compaq increased HP's investment in Microsoft Windows driven computers and made HP more vulnerable.

        I can't help but think of the similaries to addictive drugs. The bigger a customer you are to a pusher, the more dependant you are on the pusher.

      • Re:Non-sequitor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sphealey (2855) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:31AM (#4220970)
        I don't get it. If I moved from n to 1 on the list of a vendor's customers, why wouldn't I see increased leverage with my vendor?
        You are living on a space station. You purchase your oxygen from the largest oxygen vendor. He is in fact the only one big enough to supply the needs of the majority of those souls you are responsible for. You are also the oxygen vendor's largest customer.

        What happens if you get into a dispute with the oxygen vendor and threaten to cut off your purchases? If worse comes to worst and you do stop buying from him, he might go bankrupt. On the other hand he might not - there are a lot of people who need to breathe. You on the other hand will certainly die.

        That's the problem the OEMs face when dealing with Microsoft.

        sPh

      • Re:Non-sequitor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by analog_line (465182) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:31AM (#4220975)
        It's more a measure of the influence that the incoming Compaq people are having on HP. Compaq, overall, was staunchly a pro-Microsoft computer maker, far more than HP ever was. Compaq's lifeblood was machines running Windows 2000. HP had other irons in the fire, and could deal with a more tepid relationship.

        When I was working there as a consultant, pro-Microsoft propaganda was everywhere. Sure, there were plenty of Linux people working there, but it was really under the radar. Microsoft was the party line and woe to anyone who would challenge that too vocally. Yeah, Compaq didn't mind if Linux ran on their machines, but they didn't really put a whole lot of effort into it. IIRC, Microsoft bought an obscene number of Compaq machines during the time I was there. There was also a massive Windows 2000 migration push at the time, which may have been related to it.

        I've posted regarding this before, but I think it bears restatement. There are an AWFUL lot of strong personalities in what used to be Compaq, hardened by a bitter internal war during the days after the Digital merger. Large caliber bullets didn't fly, but there was a whole lot of political fallout, even when I was there long after the merger (for about a year, from summer 2000 to summer 2001 before the consultancy I worked for laid me off). The "HP Way", as laid back as it's projected to be, I believe, cannot stand up to the hardened take-no-prisoners warriors at Compaq. Sure, alot of people at Compaq are going to get laid off, but sometimes you have to sacrifice your own men in a battle to win a war, and I would bet that's how the Compaq people see it, a war to save their way of doing things, and in the end, their personal employment.
    • ...Or just use the excellent random NTY registration generator [majcher.com] and voila !

      Enjoy,
      -forged
    • Hi (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:07AM (#4220338) Homepage Journal
      Well, I guess "being fired" gets news - but I would rather the article was just about me and not about HP. Besides, everybody knew I was leaving due to the two articles here previously, and it really was an amicable parting.

      Bruce

      • Re:Hi (Score:3, Insightful)

        I am happy you will be consulting, if the article is correct. With the governments looking into adopting Linux, you will not be out of work in a while.

        Besides, being "fired" for speaking your mind is IMHO the best way of losing a job.
      • I know I say it just about every time I see you post here; but thank you so much for looking out for people who don't care. It's a daunting task, at best, just know that there are several million (a minority, for sure) of us that truely appreciate everything you've done for us and the OSS movement(considering we'd be calling it something else without you).

        You are the level-headed balance between sometimes feuding, always ranting zealots.

        On a side note: I made my neighbor watch RevolutionOS with me and I think she's got the hots for ya! ;)

        You take care of yourself now, and don't be a stranger.
      • Re:Hi (Score:3, Funny)

        by bungo (50628)
        Well, I guess "being fired" gets news - but I would rather the article was just about me and not about HP.

        Hmm.... I think I know the real reason he had to go...

        Carly: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the biggest HP ego of all?
        MM: I don't think I should let this loose, you won't like it, it's not you, it's Bruce.
        Carly: Noooooo! Where is my huntsman? I need someone good with a chopping block.

        (No offense Bruce :-)
      • Re:Hi (Score:4, Funny)

        by Oink.NET (551861) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:53PM (#4222541) Homepage
        Hmm... does anyone else wonder if the real reason Bruce was fired is because he couldn't stop reading Slashdot at work?
    • Popups (Score:5, Funny)

      by xant (99438) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:49AM (#4220661) Homepage
      [. . . ] citing company policy against making public statements about why individual employees leave.
      Advertisement

      But, according [. . .]


      If all of our advertisements were like this, I don't think I'd even bother with blocking popups.

      Now, I must go buy something at random.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:49AM (#4219936) Homepage
    Hey Bruce, why not run for congress?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      That's an excellent idea. He could do so much good putting the case for Open Source, Open Standards, govenrment use of Free software and tackle the RIAA, MPAA, DMCA all as well. Even though I'm not American, many of us wish Americans would stand up against these things because our politicians need to see that people in a democracy will not stand for such things.
    • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:22AM (#4220108) Homepage
      Who modded me "funny"? I'm serious. The geek community desperately needs someone who "gets it" in Washington.
      • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:15AM (#4220378) Homepage Journal
        One of the problems of running for office is that you have to represent all of the people, not just a single issue (OK, a bunch of technology and civil liberty issues). I haven't tried that yet. A congress person's job is pretty unpleasant, and Valerie hates the DC weather (she's comparing it to Northern California). But I don't rule out running for office in the future. For now, I get to Washington about once a month to lobby and give speeches.

        There is the small problem that I'm a registered democrat, and would be running against the most liberal people in congress if I stayed where I'm living, and I don't want to do that. For example, my congress person, Barbara Lee, is the only one to have voted against the war. Which leaves Senator Boxer, and I am not sure this is realistic. I am, by the way, a registered Democrat.

        Bruce

        • Bruce

          There are a number of good competitive districts immediately surrounding Barbara's, at least a couple of which could be sympathetic to a candidacy like yours. I do this for a living, and while I have not taken the time to review your background to the extent that I could comment on your political viability, you're public persona is one that could be very appealing to voters in that region.

          I have spent years trying to get more techies involved with politics. While the majority would not be best used by getting directly involved and running themselves, you are one of the few individuals who may fit the mold. To the extent that a politically tenable techie is such a rarity this is something I would urge you to consider and explore.

          Again, knowing nothing of your financial situation, if you are able, this would be the opportune time to take a position that would boost your political prospects.

          How does everyone here feel about the idea of a Congressman Bruce Perens?
        • One of the problems of running for office is that you have to represent all of the people, not just a single issue
          A Congressperson should represent all the issues in theory, but that's not the way it works in practice. Look at Carolyn McCarthy of the 4th New York District:

          She was a nurse and card-carrying Republican with political aspirations who had lost the Republican primary. Then her son was injured and her husband killed by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road. After tending to her son's recovery, she decided to run again, but Nassau County's legendary Republican political machine backed eight-year state assembly veteran Dan Frisa, who went on the win the election.

          Two years later she switched parties, and ran as a Democrat, painting herself as a widowed housewife calling upon the voters to send her to Washington to bring about gun control. The voters responded overwhelmingly to her single-issue campaign, so much so that her incumbent opponent gave up in the days before the election -- he stopped answering reporter's calls and making public appearances. Six years after her election as a democrat, she is still in Congress and still a registered Republican who calls herself as a Democrat, though she has now branched out to two issues: gun control and health care.

          It's all in the delivery.

          A congress person's job is pretty unpleasant, and Valerie hates the DC weather (she's comparing it to Northern California).
          Funny; I prefer DC's weather to Northern California's. It never rains during the summer and never stops raining during the winter -- we have bipolar weather. Where's the variety? And don't you miss New York's snow? (I grew up in Westbury)
        • by sulli (195030)
          She's up in 2006. We really need a primary opponent as she was co-sponsor of CBDTPA (S.2048) and USA PATRIOT. I'll give you the maximum allowed to defeat her.
  • by mwber (235552) on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:49AM (#4219939)
    HP needs a big cash inflow to survive. Microsoft currently supplies that. Linux currently doesn't. Case closed. Corporations tend to think of themselves of amoral money-making ventures, and often, with huge companies like HP, any overtures to supporting open source are simply PR moves. PR moves are usually less important than simple cash inflow. If the inflow is going to disrupted by PR (like Bruce Perens), they just chop it off.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      We just bought a half million dollar linux cluster from them. We bought the cluster pre configured and ready to plug in. We told the sales people if it is not linux we won't even think about it. The interesting thing is that we blew off another half million dollar purchase with them because their solution did not support linux. So to make a long story short they gained half million because of linux support but the lost a half million due to non linux support.
    • by jsse (254124)
      Can you name one corp. depends their life on Microsoft has not been fucked by Microsoft in the end? How may companies had to choke up unfair deals where they had no choice(ref. anti-trust cases).

      Come on, a corp. has to find its own way of existance, not lean on another corps.
    • by mshiltonj (220311) <mshiltonjNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:24AM (#4220114) Homepage Journal
      Corporations tend to think of themselves of amoral money-making ventures

      That's what they. We would *all* do well to never forget that. I like Red Hat, and I support them, but they *are* a corpration. So is VA Software.

      It is never advisable to place any trust in a corportion.

      • by jefu (53450) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:52AM (#4220689) Homepage Journal
        It is often said :

        "A corporation has no soul to damn and no body to kick" (variously "kill", "punish").

        This comes from the Baron Thurlow, the Lord Chancellor of England in the 1700's and as far as I can tell (http://www.xrefer.com [xrefer.com]) the full and correct quote is :

        "Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like."

        Or you might prefer this from Ambrose Bierce :

        "Corporation: an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility."

        More at http://www.endgame.org/primer-quotes.html [endgame.org]. These quotes (naturally) apply to HP, to MS, to Dell, Red Hat and so on

  • by nuggz (69912)
    Why did they even hire him in the first place?
    I think that it should have been obvious that an open source activist would upset MS.
    Additionally Bruce doesn't have a great history of keeping everyone happy, it should have been expected that he'd make a few stabs at MS, who is one of the more popular targets.

  • HP, I would be happy to forward you my resume. I promise that I won't bait Microsoft. I'll be good, and do just what you want. I'll even use XP. Ok, that might be a bit much. Oh, fine, see, I'll give up my morals and use XP (as long as you pay me as much as you payed Bruce).
  • I guess that'd explain why Bruce has been posting to Slashdot more regularly [slashdot.org].

  • Thanks Carly! I was having trouble making up my mind on buying a new printer. I've always bought and liked HP, but Lexmark (ex IBM) has some nice offerings. This tips the scale.

    Why does it count? Because I'm not aware of anything the Bruce has said that is immoderate or baiting (ourrageous statement inciting a response). Bruce has actually rather toed the line in withdrawing his DMCA? demo at HP's request.

  • Motivations. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Some guy named Chris (9720) on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:55AM (#4219970) Journal

    "I'm not just going to sit back and be a quiet engineer. I have a two-year-old son and I don't want him to grow up in a world that is less free." -- Bruce Perens (from the article)

    I once had someone I admired tell me that "You shouldn't live for anything you aren't willing to die for". I've tried to incorporate that in my decision processes. Clearly, Bruce believes his child, and his freedom is more worth living for than his job at HP.

    I get his motivation, I understand where he is coming from, and so, I can relate to him, and less readily dismiss him as a zealot, crackpot, or trouble maker, which is sadly the case with some other prominant free software advocates.

    So, Bruce, thanks. You have my respect, even if you haven't got a job.

    • Re:Motivations. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bilestoad (60385)
      a) what do you expect from HP? They're a company trying to make money (that's what companies do). They don't have the luxury of political pointmaking while doing so. Their responsibility is to their shareholders. Bruce's responsibility was to help. Instead he thought he should be changing the world. Sucks to be Bruce.

      b) what do you expect from HP? A company that has been sliding into corporate mediocrity for years, now run by an idiot with a degree in medieval studies who preserves her private jet complete with hair stylist while laying off thousands. Are you really that amazed that someone was fired for stepping out of his box?
      • Re:Motivations. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by killmenow (184444) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:32AM (#4220157)
        Their responsibility is to their shareholders.
        I get so sick of hearing this. Here in America (don't know so much about how it is elsewhere) we are indoctrinated to believe a company's sole responsibility is to their shareholders. The only thing that matters is ROI for the shareholders, blah, blah, blah...

        It's bullshit on a grand scale. While companies do have a responsibility to their shareholders, they also have a greater responsibility to the world at large. But nobody wants to admit that because then all those morally questionable (if not outright unethical) activities designed to reward CEOs and the Board of Directors while fscking the employees, environment, and basically the rest of the world would no longer be "questionable" at all; and then they'd lose all their money and power.

        Just because companies in the US routinely act as though their only responsibility is to shareholders, it doesn't make it so.

        Now, before you go thinking I'm a leftist nutbag liberal socialist <insert label here>, I understand and agree that companies are usually formed for the intended purpose of making a profit. That's all well and good, and making a profit is a wonderful motivator. There's nothing wrong with profit.

        I'm just saying the belief that companies have no responsibilities to anyone other than their shareholders is wrong and a company whose sole purpose is to make a profit is incorporated for the wrong reason. It's unfortunate, but I believe the mantra of the modern American CEO (as said best by Daffy Duck) is:
        • Re:Motivations. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by pos (59949) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:21AM (#4220888)
          Hear, Hear!

          A good way for you to point this out to others is to mention that governments give corporations the permission to be corporations, on the presumption that they will benefit the society. The people who run the corp. get protections not allowed for individuals. In exchange, society at large can and should expect that corporation to benefit society.

          For most corporations (especially lately) society has only asked for economic growth from them. It is entirely understandable that a company would forget or try to minimize their other obligations (federal government, irs, state government, SEC, etc..) Especially since the people's voice to businesses is largely through the government and courts which are themselves often swayed by money.

          Bravo for calling out this oft-quoted fallacy for what it is.

          -pos
      • Re:Motivations. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:36AM (#4220179) Homepage Journal

        On the other hand, a point I was trying to make in another post in this discussion, is that it's about integrity.

        A company may try to do the best for its shareholders, but the point is that they don't realise that integrity is actually good for the shareholders.

        A lack of integrity will earn you the distrust of the market, and that is bad for the company, and bad for the stock price. In fact, it is my personal opinion that the current low consumer confidence in the U.S. (remember that consumer spending drives the U.S. economy) is due to low corporate integrity.

        HP/Compaq touting their support for Linux on the one hand, and firing a major advocate on the other shows their lack of integrity, and is ultimately damaging for the company. They better hope Microsoft is good for them, because that's all they'll be left with if they continue on this path.

        Mart
    • At the end of the day, Bruce deserves all of our respect. I think, as a publicly visible figure representing free software, he's the best that free software has. Intelligent and well-spoken, unlike many of the "zealots". It's a lot easier to convince people of something when you don't seem crazy. I'm just wondering if this long-standing warning (or however it was worded in the article) has anything to do with his plan to break the DMCA at a conference a little while back...
    • Totally. Bruce and the Linux people over at HP have made some pretty big advancements for Free Software over there, remember how much HP used to support Linux?

      Today we have decent drivers for most of their printers, and you can get HP boxes with Debian out of the box!

      Good luck to you Bruce.
    • I don't. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FallLine (12211)
      Clearly, Bruce believes his child, and his freedom is more worth living for than his job at HP.
      Why should anyone believe that Bruce (claims) he got fired for stating his principles instead of more selfish concerns? Did you ever consider that maybe it was in his own best financial interest to keep being a thorn in the side?

      Firstly, if HP decides to drop Linux, then his job is necessarily obsolete. In other words, it would be in his own best interest to keep Linux afloat at HP.

      Secondly, his job was probably questionable at best, more PR than anything else, so his firing may very well have been inevitable. In other words, he had nothing to lose. In fact, he may have been fired, in actuality, because he was a waste of resources.

      Thirdly, his longer term "career" prospects would almost certainly have been harmed if he had appeared anything less than a free software zealot (because he has staked this niche out as his bread and butter--just look at his resume).

      Fourthly, maybe he cares for his popularity more (made almost exclusively through his position) than his job.

      I, at least, don't see any reason to necessarily ascribe any noble purpose to this man, especially given the kinds of behavior that I've seen from him in the past. If a priest got fired from the Catholic church for maintaining and flaunting a theological position (esp. one that he was long associated with), then would you necessarily presume it was because he was principled or because he might have had some thing other in mind? The point is simply that just because he surrounds himself in something that is "not for profit" or "noble" does not make his own personal ends any more noble.
  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @08:56AM (#4219973) Homepage Journal

    ...or integrity for that matter?

    Funny. Compaq (now HP) is running large ads in the trade press touting that they were the first major company to support Linux and Open Source.

    Now they fire a major advocate? Sounds like the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

    Oh, wait, that's what those corporate types mean that a merger brings synergies and the opportunity to eliminate redundancies.

    Well, so far HP/Compaq sounds like a typical merged company: the power politics of the officers of the originating companies are more important than anything else. They'll either spend 5 years trying to get their shop integrated (meanwhile facing dwindling market share), or they'll undo the merger, with the usual corporatespeak (divestiture, focusing on core business, spinning off unprofitable divisions) that all come down to 'we screwed up; please don't hurt us!'.

    </cynism>

    Mart
  • Pay his home a visit (Score:4, Informative)

    by jsse (254124) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:00AM (#4219997) Homepage Journal
    here [perens.com]

    "I am no longer with Hewlett-Packard. If your company would like to use my expertise in forming an Open Source policy and processes, or operating a relationship with the Open Source developer community, please contact me [perens.com]."
  • by lovebyte (81275)
    On Bruce Perens Bio [perens.com]:
    Among my assignments is to challenge HP management.

    That's what he thought!
  • thinking matters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:04AM (#4220017) Homepage Journal
    " I have a two-year-old son and I don't want him to grow up in a world that is less free."

    If more people thought this way, the world would really be more freer.

    • Re:thinking matters (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ch-chuck (9622)
      I don't want him to grow up in a world that is less free.

      Unfortunately freedom declines as population grows - when you have a family on a farm with the nearest enighbor 5 miles away you can pretty much do as you please, if you screw up something, it doesn't hurt anybody but yourself and family. When you're crowded into a tight city neighborhood with a family 20 ft away you are very restricted in what you can do, how much noise you can make, what times you can do what, where you're children can play, what they can play at, what buildings you can put up, etc., all regulated by local ordinances.

      As population density grows, freedom of mobility decreases (Private property! Keep Off!). Similary, as more people become dependant upon intellectual 'property' freedom of information decreases, so expect mandatory copy controls and policing on electronics devices.

      Just facing the facts in the brave new world.
  • by g4dget (579145) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:04AM (#4220020)
    Companies like IBM have a large contingent of people that loathe Microsoft and aren't afraid to speak out about it, yet IBM seems to be able to deal with both Microsoft and its customers just fine, and IBM is able to deliver a wide variety of systems. In fact, from a customer's point of view this is good: if a company has Windows, UNIX, mainframe, and open source people inside it, it is much more likely that advice and recommendations from the company will be based on technical considerations, rather than whatever is available. With a company that only bets on Microsoft, you already know the answer to any of your questions is going to be "Microsoft", whether that makes sense or not.

    If HP is so threatened by a single person like Perens, they must really be in deep trouble. Apparently, The New HP is trying hard to become The New Unisys. Too bad--DEC and HP used to be nice companies. Compaq just keeps eating up one company after another, digesting them, well, and you know what comes out the other end.

    • Same with Sun - in fact, that would be a good fit right there. Bruce at Sun.

      McNealy gets someone that can bait MS, and Bruce can fix Sun's love/hate problem with OSS.
  • It seems strange that HP who were originally famous as a firm of engineers seems now to want to get rid of them. I do not need to buy HP hardware, Intel technology comes from many vendors. Windows comes from Microsoft, apart from HP-UX and perhaps VMS, there are no differentiating factors against the competition.

    HP Consultancy could have been onto a winner by moving into the high-end Linux support business. Big customers prefer systems with a support licence. HP could have done well there, but whether they continue to take Linux seriously remains to be seen.

    To put it bluntly, Bruce put his balls on the plate (excuse the expression) more than once for the open source movement. I'm glad hthat he took a stand. The problem is somebody [microsoft.com] probably waived an OEM agreement over HP. However according to the article, they were the largest single vendor of the Windows system family. One would have thought HP would have wanted to use Open Source if only for a negotiating position.

  • I'm fully responsible for workstation and server purchases in my company. It's often hard to decide which manufacturer to go with - there are many similar choices and it seems to always come down to a single differentiator (better service, slightly lower price, etc.). I was already leaning towards removing HP from the pack because of the DMCA issue last month. Now I will definitely be removing HP-Compaq from any future consideration. I can't stomach the idea of supporting a baltant Microsoft toady organization.
  • by InterruptDescriptorT (531083) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:16AM (#4220072) Homepage
    I personally just want to thank Bruce on what he has tried to do over his tenure at HP. Large companies are so resistant to change and so beholden to corporate interests and stockholders that they are more motivated by greed and returning value to the shareholders than they are by doing the right thing.

    Bruce has done a ton of work to raise open-source's profile in the boardrooms of corporate America, something the movement really does need to continue to gather steam the way it's been doing over (well, at least) the past ten years with the introduction of Linux.

    Whoever said that Bruce should run for Congress makes a good point, but I sincerely doubt that Bruce would be comfortable among such a bunch of dolts as Congressmen. :-)

    Thanks again, Bruce. Keep fighting the good fight.
  • Because I bet he gets more than one job offer now it's widely known he's back on the market.

    I hope I can get a way to get a million people view my CV :)

  • NYT quotes Bruce saying "Microsoft is out to crush Linux as a competitor", but never explains how or why.

    Why and how would Microsoft crush Linux? Palladium? I would be more worried about the general public than Linux about this one, because my "market research" shows the public isn't going to buy a DRM enabled computer that won't run Linux.

    • by Lonath (249354)
      NYT quotes Bruce saying "Microsoft is out to crush Linux as a competitor", but never explains how or why.

      Why? Duh. Cuz Linux is competition.

      How? Halloween documents. Mainly abstract thought patents I'm guessing. Palladium will be part of it. All they have to do is convince Intel and AMD to put circuits into their chips that require MS abstract thought patents to operate the hardware and *BOOM* It's illegal to use Linux on Intel/AMD hardware. I think they will do this simply because this is the biggest dick move I can think of in terms of how to fuck Linux over in ways that Linux can't possibly recover from. You should decide now if you're willing to violate Microsoft abstract thought patents to use hardware that you bought fair and square in a store. I am willing to do that.
    • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:10AM (#4220809) Homepage
      Why and how would Microsoft crush Linux?

      Buy SGI, which holds patents on page allocation algorithms used in the Linux kernel.
      -russ
  • Am I the only one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quixadhal (45024) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:30AM (#4220151) Homepage Journal
    who is reminded of the scene from Conan with the head of the snake-worship cult atop the ziggarut?

    Big corporations are becoming more and more like feudal land-barons these days. They seem to believe that they not only own your work, but YOU -- as in you can't publically say anything bad about them or their partners, even if it's clearly stated as YOUR opinion and not (nescessarily) that of your employer. Back in medieval europe, that made some sense, as there was at least job security (also see Japan, pre-1980's)... but nowadays, they expect that AND the ability to toss you out on your ass whenever the wind shifts.

    I really think it's time people got their priorities sorted out. What good is a well-paying job if you don't have the time and freedom to enjoy the life you have to fit around it?
  • by Shirotae (44882) on Monday September 09, 2002 @09:49AM (#4220256)

    Bruce Perens leaving HP was reported in an Infoworld article on August 15 [infoworld.com]. Although it is essentially the same story, the emphasis seems somewhat different. That article suggests that HP was restricting the level of activism, and Bruce would leave rather than put up with that. It does not mention Microsoft-baiting.

    Note also that HP is cutting jobs at the moment; people who are given the boot get some money, those who walk don't. I would not read too much into "being fired" rather than "resigning" at the moment, it could just be a procedural device that Bruce goes as part of the cuts, so gets some money on the way out.

  • by wind (94988) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:01AM (#4220315)

    After it bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is just ass-backward from the way you'd expect things to be in an open market? So, HP/Compaq becomes MS's biggest customer. Back in the olden days, it would mean that *MS* would quake in fear and bend over backwards not to piss off their biggest client, lest they lose their business. Nowadays, it appears to mean that HP/Compaq needs to be careful lest they upset their vendor.

    It's ridiculous. And, frankly, it should stop. Too bad short-term shareholder value has to take precedence over long-term strategic planning (like finding a way to get out from underneath MS's thumb).

    • Am I the only one who thinks this is just ass-backward from the way you'd expect things to be in an open market? So, HP/Compaq becomes MS's biggest customer. Back in the olden days, it would mean that *MS* would quake in fear and bend over backwards not to piss off their biggest client, lest they lose their business.
      That's like saying the biggest cocaine addict should get respect from his dealer.

      If Bill called Carly and said, "Sorry, seems there's a problem with our agreement with you to license Windows. We're very earger to work things out, but I'm afraid you're not going to be able to legally sell desktops, laptops, or servers running Windows until, oh, say, January. If you think Linux is so hot, why don't you try selling Linux systems at Best Buy?" ... if that happened, HP stock would drop to $0.01 in about five minutes, and Carly would be out of a job in less time that than.

      That's the exaggerated version (and would violate the terms of the proposed DoJ settlement); but subtler variations work, too. Microsoft controls HP's oxygen supply; and Dell's, and Gateway's, and ad infinitum. Only IBM has a committment to Windows plus a large line of non-Windows products to fall back on.

      And that is why Microsoft is a monopoly.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:12AM (#4220363) Homepage Journal
    This news doesn't really come as any big surprise. Hewlett Packard always, always, always does what its Redmond-dwelling masters tell it to do.

    Look at the history of OpenMail, for example:
    • When OpenMail was first released, they had a Windows NT version in the works. Microsoft told them to knife it because it would threaten Exchange. They did.
    • When Linux became popular, OpenMail began another rise. It was about to become prominent again, and possibly threaten Exchange again. This time, Microsoft told them to kill the product completely on all platforms. And they did.
    Now that Perens guy is a nuisance. He makes too much noise, so Microsoft told them to fire him. Of course, they did.

    I have no respect for a company that is such a pushover, and certainly no respect for a company so tightly bound to Microsoft.
  • Topsy-turvy world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:36AM (#4220555) Homepage Journal
    Quoth the article:
    After it bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft.


    The logic of this is exquisitely twisted. Hp-Compaq is now by far Microsoft's biggest customer, so the logic goes, Microsoft has the most leverge over them.


    Excuse me?


    I think anybody who doesn't think that Microsoft's use of monopoly power needs to be severely restrained needs to think this one over. How can there be competition when companies fear a vendor so much they can't even flirt with the competition?

  • Backwards... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrWa (144753) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:38AM (#4220572) Homepage
    After it bought Compaq this year, the combined company became the largest single buyer of Windows for personal computers and data-serving computers, and thus more dependent on Microsoft


    Does this not seem wrong to anyone else? Sense when does the supplier dictate the terms and not the largest customer? This, more than anything else I think, demonstrates that Microsoft has gone from being a viable solution for decent software to a company that needs to be reigned in.


    The problem now, though, is that market forces will have to accomplish this. We already know that the government is incapable of stopping Microsoft from doing what it wants. Short of breaking the company into two or three parts, things will continue the way they are.

  • by MissMyNewton (521420) on Monday September 09, 2002 @10:47AM (#4220646)

    ...that he kept pestering Carly to change the company name to GNU/HP

    ;-)

  • by sulli (195030) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:17AM (#4220861) Journal
    ... let's all stand up.
  • by GeneralEmergency (240687) on Monday September 09, 2002 @11:33AM (#4220984) Journal


    Yesterday, Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, came out in support of the 1633 house arrest of Galileo Galilei during an address to industry executives.

    "Pope Urban the Eighth had every right to do this.", Ms. Fiorina exclaimed. "Mr. Galilei knew that this 'Sun belongs in the Center' heresy was dangerous stuff and he should have known better than to go around spouting off about it. If I were Pope, I would have canned his ass much, much sooner."

  • hmmm.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:24PM (#4221707)
    Are we sure this was the "Real Bruce Perens" - check his employee number to be sure.

    (play on his old sig)
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Monday September 09, 2002 @01:29PM (#4221751) Journal
    This appears to be yet another step in the devolution of HP. HP used to be a world leader in so many areas - calculators, printers, computers, cpus, medical equipment, lab equipment, etc.

    However, since the founders died, the company looks to have been taken over by managers who are primarily interested in their paycheck, not the well being of the company. For example, one of the driving factors behind the Compaq merger was the fact that Carly got a $70 Million bonus check if the merger went through. Lord knows what she would have earned had the Price-Waterhouse acquisition taken place.

    The corporate logo "HP Invent," alludes to an inventive spirit at HP but unfortunately, that spirit is the spirit of HP-past. I've seen exactly one interesting idea come out of HP in the past 2 years and that was a cooling device - not something that'll generate billions in sales. Carly was a History major at Stanford so she's obviously got some smarts. But they're the wrong kind - she doesn't have the technological background to recognize really good technical ideas when she sees them and so must rely on her staff to evaluate them for her. The inevitable "what does she want to hear?" filtering takes place and in that process and HP is all the poorer for it.

    The next time the HP board goes looking for a new CEO (like in the next 18 months maybe...), hopefully they'll choose someone who not only has some sales smarts but is also technologically competent. And perhaps, if they've learned anything, the compensation plan will reflect the CEO's effect on HP's bottom line, not how many pointless mergers the CEO steers the company through.

  • by Wise Dragon (71071) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:39PM (#4222888) Homepage
    Disclaimer: Although I work for HP, these are my personal views and not those of my company.

    Linux commoditizes the operating system. HP recognizes it. Everyone recognizes it. HP intends to capitalize on it and make some money. Many HP engineers use linux on a daily basis. We will always be into linux and free software, if only to give us a bargaining chip with Microsoft!

    We understand the reasons Bruce has previously communicated for leaving HP. Though we wish he was staying because he's so damn cool, we understand that he may be better able to follow his dreams elsewhere. Bruce isn't pissed at HP.

    HP has a business relationship with MS, but we aren't afraid of them. Business relationships are about making money. If our relationship with MS remains profitable, we will continue it. If our relationship with free software, open source, and linux remains profitable, we will continue it. That's how business works. We're here to maximize shareholder value. If free software remains economically sound (and it will), the community has nothing to worry about.

    WD Out.

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

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