Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Bill Gates's email - about Linux 417

As we all know, Halloween is coming, and once again - we have a new Halloween document - this time from William Bill Gates himself. A Microsoft Employee sent it to Ryan C. Gordon, who published it here. It's a long one. Comments? stop flaming me! Its a parody!
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bill Gates's email - about Linux

Comments Filter:
  • by Erich ( 151 )
    I think this is a hoax. It just doesn't seem as ... I dunno, professional as last year's document. BG just seems a bit too cocky. Although the document raises some legitimate concerns, many of the arguments are straw-men or flamebait. Like the whole mozilla thing -- mozilla isn't exactly a useless product. Yes, it has bugs and is behind IE, but mozilla is to IE as IIS is to Apache, or thereabouts. I dunno... this document is rather hard to swallow.
  • Be realistic, people. This is a well-crafted letter, written to make a point to the Linux community. But it's not Gates. Put your pants back on.
  • Um- the article is fake, the guy made it all up. I think it's rather unlikely that that claim was accurate.

    I think it would be _terrific_ if there were that many geeky, intellectually curious people in the world actually trying Linux- I do run into them here and there, but as for market share, even counting people who are just experimenting, I think the numbers are neither higher than MacOS or much lower than MacOS.

    Want to impress somebody? Let's see some numbers on marketshare of people who are NOT dualbooting Windows. No Macs dualboot Windows (though some dualboot Linux). I have a hard time believing the numbers when an awful lot of people go use Windows anyhow and just try to seem l33t by dualbooting to Linux. I don't see a lot of Mac users dualbooting to Windows- they have to get all the software they need on their native platform or do without. Let's see more Linux people do that. Then if the marketshare gets to exceed MacOS it'll really mean something...

  • Posted by HeUnique on 06:58 PM November 1st,
    As we all know, Halloween is coming...

    Looking forward to Halloween 2001 already?
  • Nope -- get a skilled reverse engineer and pay h{im,er} well and you'll get it. Won't be nearly as cheap as having someone write a filter from freely available code... but, well, such is life.
  • The entire GNU project that ultimately gave us the operating system we now use is a result of people being prepared to have the philosophical arguments you now abhor. If you don't like to hear people discussing these ideas, don't read Slashdot!
  • This is simply not possible. I have friends that have worked at MSFT and they state unequivocably that viewing source code from competing Open Source projects is expressly prohibited so that there is no risk of GPLed code making its way into MSFT products either accidentally or intentionally.

    It certainly is possible. Say Microsoft had a disgruntled employee who wanted to do some damage. He could insert some GPLed code into whatever he was working on as a way to frame Microsoft. Just because he's not supposed to do it doesn't mean he can't. What's to stop him from bringing a disk from home with the banned code on it? How would anybody at Microsoft ever find out that he had used GPLed code? If nobody there is supposed to look at the code, they would need to do something elaborate such as having a third party audit their code in order to guarantee compliance with this policy without looking at the code GPLed code themselves. Even that wouldn't guarantee that some GPLed code couldn't be snuck in (with a little obfuscation). Anyway, Microsoft is too big to control everything all of their employees do, so it's certainly not impossible that one of their employees might decide to disobey their official policies. (Note, I am in no way advocating that somebody should do this - this would be a very bad idea, in fact. I'm just pointing out that it is definitely possible.)

  • by jafac ( 1449 )
    If Bill Gates actually wrote this, I'd be very, very suprised. First of all, it belies too much detailed knowledge of the intricacies of GNOME vs. KDE. I doubt Bill Gates has spent the time to root down to that level of the conflict. It also uses the term FUD. Would Bill Gates actually, in a memo to his employees, use the term "FUD" like that?

    Some of the things that are said are very true, fragmentation and competition DO have some serious negative effects in terms of dilution of resources, but what is the alternative? Monopoly. That also slows down progress. Yeah, I'd like to see Mozilla develop into a stable, non-bloated, fast browser at a MUCH higher rate, but the mere fact that it's a free alternative that cannot be destroyed by any denizen of the business world, be it a marketing department, lazy sales person, or hostile takeover, THAT is worth far more in my opinion, than a corporate-sponsored, closed-source, untrustworthy, non-standards-compliant peice of software designed as a weapon in a trade-war that IE is.

    So whoever you were who wrote that document, BOO! I can't see who's underneath that cheap rubber mask, but you're not fooling us.
  • Not only that, but Microsoft BOUGHT Internet Explorer from Spyglass anyway.
  • . . . . AND, the Microsoft engineers had access to the "secret Windows API" that makes stuff run faster and better and not crash all the time. Mozilla dudes didn't.
  • My quotes mean I'm only half-joking.

    Many, many times in the past, there have been other slashdot posters that have provided very credible evidence, and even links, supporting the argument than internal Microsoft Application programmers have access to information, including APIs known only to Microsoft, that allow Microsoft applications to perform better, and integrate with the OS better, than any independent developer could ever hope to. Even if you ignore that, you have to admit that it's probably competitively advantageous to be INSIDE the same company that writes the compiler and API - you'd be privy to all the latest changes. Any questions that arise from poor documentation can be addressed to the author of the API directly. No consideration ever need be taken with whether your developer support contract is paid up, how long you'll wait on hold, or whether the support technician will give you a meaningful answer.

    But Microsoft HAS been caught with their pants down on this issue MANY times; special code in beta version of Win95 that detects DR DOS and errors fatally on the detection alone. Changes to SMB and Kerberos specifically to prevent interoperability. Changes to Java to prevent interoperability and multiplatform operation. Hotmail blocking competing e-greeting card vendors. Changes to SMB (applied through service packs) that break Novell networking clients. Windows Media Player breaking the file-registration for multimedia file types so that subsequent installations of RealPlayer or Quicktime (specifically 4.0, Apple worked around this later) caused the file associations to be set to no app.

    And still Microsoft apps crash.
    Actually, most of the berating going on is against Microsoft's OS, not it's apps. The OS design and architecture itself is fundamentally flawed, that's the argument I hear most on slashdot.

    And this is why I believe that splitting MS will do no good at all, unless Visual Studio stays with the OS team. If Visual Studio goes with the apps team, they still write the API that 99% of the Windows developing world writes, and they'll still have this advantage, though they won't be so tightly bound to the OS anymore. They'll just be bound to their ubiquitous framework.
  • Just like the letter said - if you bring up the competing factions and the problems caused, people step forward and say that competition is a good thing.

    Whether billg actually wrote it or not, love Linux or not, it was a chillingly accurate statement of the linux community.
  • The answer to this is quite simple. Pick one, and annoint it "standard." At least with the Free Software Office suites you have some chance of recovering your documents if you decide to switch later (open formats are a good thing).

    Besides, for much less than it currently costs most large businesses to keep their Select agreements up to date they could afford to maintain their office suite of choice indefinitely.

    Once upon a time IBM was the only safe choice, and then, almost overnight, IBM was a career limiting move. The little joke that was the PC had all of a sudden become the "standard." History will repeat itself, the less expensive solution will dominate, and those businesses that are slow to react will pay for their shortsightedness.

  • Hmm... The only Open Source product in your list is Star Office, and it has been open for less than a month, and the open version doesn't even print. In fact, only Star Office even has an open format (and that's only in the newest incarnation).

    And yet there are import filters between some of these formats and open formats (Word, for example has several Free Software filters). On the other hand if you would have created your document in some sort of an open format (like LaTeX, DocBook SGML, HTML, lout, lyx, TeXinfo, etc.) you would find that you could almost certainly change it to whatever format you need quickly and easily. There are all sorts of software specifically designed for the conversion of one of these formats to another.

    Just because it runs on Linux does not guarantee that the software vendor isn't trying to trick you into their own brand of proprietary software hell. If you were foolish enough to put your precious documents into someone's proprietary format then don't be surprised if the company in question holds your information for ransom. I write all of my non-trivial documentation in either LaTeX or DocBook SGML (depending on what exactly the requirements are), and I am quite confident that 20 years from now these documents will still be useable. At the very least I am sure that tools like text editors and grep will still be available.

    Yes, these tools are a little harder to use, but that's why there are people working on things like AbiWord, whatever the KDE word processor is called, the new StarWriter, and LyX. Soon their will be an abundance of free tools that are easy and inexpensive to use, and which support truly open formats.

    In the meantime, if you feel you must, just use Microsoft Word. It's a fine word processor, and it's almost guaranteed that the filters between Word and whatever piece of Free Software replaces it will be brilliant. After all, no new word processor is going to take over from Word until the Word filters are "good enough."

  • "That's my "Halloween document" for 2000. Nothing to worry about. And for crying out loud, don't leak this memo this year. We all remember what happened to Vinod, right? "

    I rather suspect this is a forgery.

    I just don't picture Bill Gates having the sense of humor that is behind this article.

    Perhaps if it had come from Steve Ballmer, I'd believe it.

    It also seems to have a lot of "inside jokes" which will dig into the Linux zealots, and I just doubt that either Gates or Ballmer are paying that close of attention to the Linux situation.

    Besides Vinod no longer works at Microsoft, according to a slashdot article last year.

    Pretty funny anyway, and I wonder if slashdot can hit 1000 responses of outrage.
  • What line? There was no line when I read it.
  • Wow, such big words for an Anonymous coward.
  • by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:50PM (#656519) Homepage Journal
    You have been trolled.

    In all honesty, if Bill were to write a manifesto concerning Linux as a threat to Windows, it would probably look something very much like this piese of satire.

    "How many six year olds does it take to design software?"

  • Hey, a friend of mine at mailed me this, I'm removing his name...
    To: "skim123"
    Subject: Halloween document scam.

    Hey, Skim123, get a load of this.

    Got something here for you. See what you think of this:

    ------------Forwarded Message------------
    From: "Ryan Gordon"
    Subject: Tee hee!

    Would you believe these idiots think that this email hoax was a real email sent from BillG himself! Hahahahahahahha!
  • It's obviously a hoax. It's written from the perspective of someone intimate with the Free Software community writing as a devil's advocate and getting just enough wrong to sound (he thinks) like Gate's perspective. But it's not written from the perspective of a Bill Gates at all. Gates would not concern himself with the names of Stallman and Raymond, he would be content to state that there are divisions.

    By the way, I am happy that a divison brought forth GNOME. Would that all forks were so successful!


  • Sure, it's written from the perspective of someone intimate with Linux writing as a devil's advocate.

    I'll leave you with a question. What if all forks between projects were as successful as GNOME?


  • Warning, loose speculation follows.

    I think Free Software has grown too large to work without forks - they may indeed have become essential to our process. We have too many coders now for them to all march in lock-step - indeed, that would discourage innovation.

    Unix companies learned that consortium projects don't work. Think of all the failures the GUI efforts, the operating system efforts, etc. GNOME ate CDE's lunch, but I'm not sure it would even have happened if there wasn't a KDE too. Monolithic Free Software projects without competition are too much like consortia. Maybe that's the root of some of Mozilla's problems, too.


  • Good grief. You are having a bad day, I guess.

    That "satire" message was added hours after I read the letter, please don't burn me down for it.

    Yes, you can tell it's me by my user number. All of the impostors have a few more digits in theirs.


  • That was added hours after I read the original message.
  • You'll have to try harder next time. Or find another sport - perhaps one more productive?

    I've been baited by the best of them. One would hope that I've learned how to handle that by now.



  • Yep. It's a hoax. Thankyou for sharing!
  • I just read the bit about the "...Satire" line being added hours after the message was first posted.

    Itchy trigger finger. Scratch that last post!

  • Its fake.

    How could he write that to "" and not expect _one_ person to leak it?

  • Actually, it seems that most people posting here didn't fall for it at all. Or are you somehow reading an entirely different set of posts than I am?

    It is pretty pathetic that HeUnique (or whatever) believed it...

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • If you're so sure Netscape stole, or somehow licensed, the Mosaic code base, please provide your source for this information. I've witnessed arguments between early Netscape employees and peope trying to say the same thing you are saying, and I've never seenm any conclusive proof that they stole anything.

    Given that Netscape employed a lot of the original NCSA people, I do not find it incredible that they succeeded in duplicating Mosaic's functionality so fast. Any developer will tell you that even without actually copying any code it is much, much easier to rewrite something you have aleady written once than it is to write something new.
  • 11 months to duplicate Moasaic ? I could do it ina week, mate. Ok, I'm being facetious, but IIRC web browsers in those days were a much simpler things than they are now. HTML 2.0, GIFS, HTTP 1.0, a plugin system, and thats it really, isn't it ?
  • > I'm the real billg, and after I read that, I was wondering if I actually did write that...

    No you're not. If you were the real Billg, you'd be saying something like:

    ``Don't those (expletive deleted) know I invented the microcomputer??? Why aren't those little (expletive deleteds) glad I made the Personal Computer cheap enough that they can play their little masturbatory games with them??? This is random!!! Entirely random!!! Who uses Linux??? A bunch of (deleted)-know-alls who will be starving on the (deleted) streets because they aren't making any money from their labors!!!"

    The scarey thing is that I can see him emailing all of his business associates this exact passage. And all of them would reply with ``yes, you are right. You have massive badwidth. These goobers don't know how much you did for them.

    Then again, I've drank 4 Alaskan Amber beers. I could probably imagine a lot of things I'd rather not admit to. Like Steve Ballinger in a pink rubber tutu dancing over the floor, singign: ``I won't stop unless you buy 5 more copies of Windows 2000!"

    ]knowing I'll lose lots of karma down for this post[

    • Less infighting. GNOME/KDE. Sun/HelixCode/Java. ESR/RMS. How much code has this produced?
    • Less reinvention of the wheel on political or personal grounds. See above.

    HAhahaha!!! You've obviously forgotten the fact that the GNU system exists PRECISELY because RMS decided to 'reinvent the wheel' on personal (and social) grounds. Oops, so much for that argument.

    "Infighting", duplication of effort, reinventing the wheel, etc are all a myth in the free software movement. As has been pointed out in another reply to this message, these things are only issues to slashdot whingers, who are actually creating the issue. The coders don't worry about it, and just keep coding. Perhaps you should do the same. (And before you get smart, yes, so should I.)
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:57PM (#656550) Homepage

    First off, I'd like to congratulate Ryan Gordon for this wonderful bit of satire. I'm sure you had a lot of your readers fooled on this one.

    OK, so with that being said, here's how I would react if I thought this was a real letter from Bill Gates.

    So, a Linux effort has finite resources to start with. Eventually a good idea is concieved, and executed, and on the rare occasion that it produces quality results, there is a split. In this case, I am referring to KDE. For several petty reasons I will get into later, GNOME was started in direct response to KDE, and began duplicating its functionality.....To continue my example, GNOME was started because KDE, an open source project, used an open, but not "free" library of custom controls called "Qt". Qt was not acceptable to the free software movement, so therefore all of the work done on KDE was "tainted" in their eyes. Their solution? Rewrite the whole thing. As GNOME work commenced, another faction began work on "Harmony" with the goal of replacing Qt at the API level with a "free" implementation.

    No Bill, GNOME is not just a reaction to KDE. It's also a reaction to Microsoft's COM, DCOM and COM+, and to Javabeans. GNOME stands for Gnu Netrowk Object Model Environment. The desktop is only one part of the project; the rest of it is creating a very large set of components to work from.

    You should feel proud in a way, Bill, that the Open Source movement is borrowing heavily from Microsoft's techniques for system-building. And for that very reason, you shouldn't be selling the GNOME project short.

    That having been said, Gates's broader point about redundant effort is well taken. If this revolution is going to be at all successful, then we have to stop eating each other alive and keep working together. Once we have an open source answer to a problem, we have got to stop re-inventing the wheel, and start thinking instead in terms of porting that solution to many different tool sets. (How many graphical libraries do we have?)

    Let me dwell a little longer on the topic of corporate acceptance. Years ago, the "problem" with Linux was a lack of hardware drivers. Today, that problem still exists, and even though many people seem to think otherwise, I've yet to hear reports of a working, let alone robust DVD player for this "desktop" operating system. I hear horror stories about incompatible and difficult to configure 3D accelerators. Linux has not gotten to the point where you can walk into CompUSA and grab something off the shelf and expect it to work in any form with the OS. This is not a new story, but it is downplayed more today. I can not pretend that the Linux kernel has not improved, but it has not improved at the rate that Torvalds and his bunch of merry men pretend it has, and that's largely due to companies that will not release hardware programming information. They aren't interested in Open Source, and they don't want to be troubled by it.

    That's not a bad critticism, and it's extensible to pretty much any company that deals with Linux. When Oracle announced that they weren't going to support Sequent anymore, IBM (Sequent's parent company) announced a Linux emulator for Sequent. They could have had all those fancy programmers of theirs, including the OS/2 programmers, working on the Linux kernel and other bits, but no such luck.

    One of the things that the Open Source community can do to counteract this is to adopt open hardware standards. SoundBlaster keeps their standards open; so has, for the most part, the processor developers, although I'm less certain about IA-64.

    Officially, Microsoft has always kept at a safe distance with Linux. We leave the actually muddying to others, like Mindcraft.

    Well, at least you're decent enough to admit it :).

    The average Linux user has a much more direct response. Generally speaking, if you were to ask a Linux user the benefits of Linux they will not tell you about its merits, but rather Windows's flaws. I am generally distrustful of anyone that defines themselves by what they are against and not what they are for.

    Part of the reason why the Open Source community is so fond of knocking Windows and Office is because we like having control of our software. Open Source gives us control; Microsoft, by contrast, removes control. It is healthy for us to provide this contrast if it helps to define what we're all about.

    This attitude is pervasive in the community: even the leaders of this counter-culture act like children!

    What's a counterculture worth if you can't act like children occasionally? Even you had to get a genuine kick out of Windows Refund Day.

    If they aren't making fun of our pleads for Freedom to Innovate...

    Oh Lord, not this again. The issue in the Microsoft trial was never freedom to innovate; the issue was whether Microsoft broke antitrust laws. Please, for crissakes, stop believing your own press. I'm asking you this as a shareholder.

    ...(something they do themselves, when legal processes stop them; ask the people at what they think of their "freedom to innovate" with their DVD player)...

    This brings up a good point. If you want the freedom to innovate, how about helping yourselves and everyone else out by joining us in opening up the patent process?

    This brings me to the next point: infighting. The primary spokesmen for Linux are Richard M. Stallman, a professor, and Eric S. Raymond, a (self-proclaimed) writer. I won't waste your time on each's inflexible opinion of what Linux should be, except to note that both have a variation on the messages of open source's charity and selflessness. Give away your source code to make a better product? Doubtful. Give away your source code to protect your freedoms? Hardly. Ironically, both need to defend their feel-good mantras for purely selfish reasons. And, while both desperately need Linux to thrive for shameless self-promotion, the two spokesmen spend their time trying to show that the other is not just incorrect, but downright evil. They probably do as much harm as good for their cause. How can anyone be productive when one has to expend energy to argue the fundamentals of such artificial concepts as "Free Software" and "Open Source?"

    This should give all of us in the Open Source world pause. Look, we can like or dislike Raymond and/or Stallman all we like. Let's just remember that without them, and Linus, most of us wouldn't be here discussing the Linux phenomenon at all. Especially not Gordon. Excuse me. Gates. :)

    In the meantime, I hope they enjoy their 5.6 percent of the desktop. It won't last.

    But who cares about the desktop market? The future is the distributed market. That's why Microsoft is developing .NET, isn't it?

    In any case, what do you want to bet that someone is going to misattribute this to ol' Bill in a few years, as an example of a collosally stupid statement? Personally, I'm still optimistic. :) []

  • Interesting satire. Very well done. I believe that BG would be very near to this position if he would use Linux...
    The document presents one flaw. The author described quite well the position of the opposition, but only in relation to desktops. Sad that he didn't try the server side. There things are much hotter.

    However there is one thing that scares me. As usual, in Slashdot, many voices started to arise against the KDE vs. Gnome, kernel diversity and other things. People that scares me. It looks like a "narkom"(people's comissar) agitation against the "damn, fat, piggy capitalists and their hordes of accolites".

    Ok we have an enemy: Microsoft. But what are we doing here? Fight against Microsoft or building a system? If we go fight against Microsoft than it would be better to join the US states and push courts to split Microsoft. Make civil action and pirating software. It is much cheaper than writing billions of lines of code "for nothing". Why we should worry about them when we are "to get Microsoft"? Because, then, we either turn into another Microsoft or drop all this in the trashcan and join the dismembered Microsoft. Because, then, they may already give diversity to developers...

    Today, Linux is what it is because it offers one thing: diversity. So much for the boo-boo shouters who cried that we are a bunch of communists. We are the market now. We can offer several destop systems. We can offer kernels with a variety of features for several tasks. Most of our software is able to run in several platforms, even on Windows. Now, even several Windows apps are able to run on Linux. And we reached what Microsoft was never able to do: we are multiplatform.

    We were able to achieve this because we are the market. If we went on a "smash Microsoft" mood we would never be able to achieve the 28% of server market. We would never be able to be a desktop alternative. We would be another group trying to overcome Microsoft, by presenting a "great OS but a dumb user interface with very few cool apps". We win Microsoft now because we are a great OS, we have interfaces from the most to the least dumb and we have tons of applications, from lemons to works of art.

    Yes, many applications double the objectives and tasks between themselves. However, it is exactly this that keep us moving. Close concurrence among developers. The most important is not to do the best program but the program that fits best to customers/users interests. Now pick me up a group of users and please tell me: does everyone has the same tastes, interests, necessities, requirements? Of course not! So why we should do the "ONE DESKTOP" interface?

    For most end users, KDE sounds as a "ONE DESKTOP" interface. Or Gnome. But here we are already falling in the market tricks. People do not only choose objectively but also very subjectively. For the large majority, it would be good to have the "ONE". But not for all. And don't think they make 5% of the population. On my analysis I noted that WindowMaker or AfterStep reach the 80% among experts/developers. And again the subjectivity. Some developers argue that they do this to "push the machine" for other tasks like development. But why then people don't use the most simple wm's like blackbox? Because they like the art of WindowMaker... Which eats a good piece of performance...

    Frankly in a study among 4500 people I was admired to note the following: >60% go KDE, >25% go WindowMaker (lot of developers here). Frankly I don't remember exactly the remaining numbers but Gnome/Enlightenment and Blackbox divided third place and 4th was AfterStep with a significative number of people. Last went ICEwm, the most Windows-like system. But I think this was due to its very early stage of development then.

    Do not consider this as "who's best". Try to see on the point of diversity. Of freedom of choice. We have it here... And that is what people wants. Or else we would never make the shelves or have a golden place at major ftp sites. We would be one more OS among many (and how many they are...).

    Does this hinder development? Yes it hinders. There are less developers in each project. But does this hinders development IN GENERAL? Absolutely not. Because there are many more developers working rather than if we were doing the "ONE DESKTOP". We go slow. But sure. Much like US in the first half of the century.

    America then was not much better than some third world countries. In one point I would seriously risk to compare US then with Russia today. Sincerly, the only thing that made America big, then, was freedom. It was the most free country in the world. And it possessed a free rising market. Product quality was not a thing that americans could be proud of. But they could offer a lot more than anyone else and to anyone else. To europeans, asians, africans. Cheap and good enough to not be dropped directly to the trashcan.

    This may sound like thunder to some american patriots. But remember. You had the Depression. Yes it was a Hell of a time. But Americans were not marching on 5th Avenue in front of their "Fuhrers". Americans did not pass the horrors of the "Working Camps" and the Holocaust or the Purge. America passed over this. It passed over the II World War. and it overcome Soviet Union in the Moon Race.

    Why I am being so globally politized here? Because there is a parallel here with us, the Linux community. Today the quality of our soft may not be the best in relation to Microsoft. In general. Yes, we overcome Redmond on stability, performance, on Web servers and some other things. But, the general picture still shows that we have a long way to go. Specially on what concerns desktops. Here, today, we are a poor bunch of people who have only two big things: freedom & market. Can we live with them? We should. Because we may give more people a choice. A real one. We may overcome crisis more steadly. And we may overcome Microsoft...

    To explain this let me return to global politics and its parallelisms. Remember the race to the Moon? What was America at the beginning? Nothing. Zero. Soviet Union had a program that was ten years more advanced than the US. They had already ballistic missiles in full work. They sent the first animals to Space, they sent the first people around Earth. By that time, America showed a sad picture of rockets banging, falling, a satellite that made miserable travel around earth and an astronaut that nearly got cooked on entry. However, this country, in less than 8 years, managed to do what Soviets were unable to do - put a man in the Moon. Not only one - several. How?

    This was achieved because there was a market all around. America managed to reach its objective because tens of projects were presented, tested and scrapped. Because a whole industry ran against each other for the one only objective. The whole internal market boiled on the race. And they even managed to pick its allies on the madness... So, in the end a whole world was running to the Moon like people to the departing bus.

    Americans at start presented a miserable perspective. But their diversity of choices managed to do what Soviets couldn't do. And here, the factor of failure was exactly the one that some people claim today among the Linux community: "the ONE..."

    Soviet Union made a huge mistake - it sticked straight into only one project. They also had several initial projects and teams. However, the tradition of that time was to push everyone and everything into one project. Yes, this is typical of communist ideologies, but note that then Soviet Union had SEVERAL nearly independent organisations working on Space conquer. Unfortunately, it was decided that only one such organisation should care about sending a cosmonaut to the Moon - Kurchatov's team. Mr. Kurchatov was the one who sent the Sputnik and Gagarin to Space. However his Moon rocket was not the best of all projects he made. One point that he was surely wrong was, that it would be too hard to reach the Moon directly from Earth. So it would be better to build an "intermediary" Space station at first. Only later, he started to push for the "direct travel". However the rocket exploded on tests, killing more than 100 workers and specialists. A little later Kurchatov died, leaving his project completely orphan. The "everyone-on-one" push to the Moon ended as a fiasco.

    By that time there were other people who had a much clearer view on how to reach the Moon. These people were later responsible for such things like Mir, Energya, Buran and Zvezda. Their more practical projects were refused because they were, by then, too ambitious and the the top bosses feared that resources would dissipate. So they choose one more conservative but more "unified" project. By doing only one, Soviet Union killed all chances of reaching the Moon if something went wrong. And that happened...

    Well, let us return to our penguin. I am sorry for this long story about the Moon and global politics but I hope people see what I try to remark. It is variety and market that make Linux alive. I would even remark more specifically - internal market. It may sound strange to compare Space Race to our internal wars. But note, if you look well, the nature of both situations had exactly the same nature - one authoritarian infrastructure full of talented people - one democratic/liberallistic infrastructure based on no less talented but less resource centered infrastructure.

    We are a democracy. An capitalist/anarchist/bolshevik/neo-liberal democracy. Here we have choices. Doing only KDE or Gnome for all is killing this freedom and variety. It is sending a good part of users into the marginal avenue. That one that created some of the main reasons why Microsoft started to loose developers to Linux in the middle of the 90's. They presented user/developers with one interface, one SDK, one policy and one very bad price. And developers, mainly, ran away from Redmond's Dream into a OS that barely could hold a web server up. Note that they ran to Linux when BSD was a much more viable choice. However, the restrictive nature of BSD made many people to pass nearby the red devil and leave it alone. At that time, Linux was even less restrictive in license terms. However, until now we have a kernel with a few dissonances. Because the market is working. People want diversity but also impose some limits. However these limits are clearly not "one kernel, one OS, one desktop".And it is not Stallman's dream of GNU/Linux but a full world of Free Source, Open Source, Half-opened and closed one. And Free/Open Source win here not because they are correct but because they concur. Concur with other software variants and concur even inside their conceptions. That what give the chance for software to be free. Stallman's dream of free software is a dangerous dream of the "brilliant future" of communism. Because if we get only free software than this stuff will not be free at all. It will be forcing people into things that they may not wish to do. GPL can only live on a free world. But not present that free world to everyone.

    This may sound as if GPL is some sort of license "anti-licenses". I do not consider such. I consider that GPL is the nature that software should be presented in a form that allows progress to keep on. Because software demands integration, interconnection. Software is built on Software. To attain the maximum of communication and development we have to use GPL. However it is clear that we can use other software apart from GPL. Nothing forbids us of such if we abide to each license of each software developer. What developers should care of is first to beware of their personal interests that may hinder the community in general. Producing incompatible licenses, trying to overcome others or making "their own license" may result in a juridical jungle and clan wars that no one wishes to participate. Here it is the moral duty of the developer to eveluate his interests and the intrests of the community. And to consider not only the simplistic road of "direct reward" but other ways that may be much more rewardable than the first one. Personally I have noted that using GPL software, I managed to keep on my profession and get a much more reliable income than on Windows times. However I don't sell any software, even the one I develope. I use the strategy of "perfectioning" software to specific and high-grade tasks. Also I charge for support. But not the support of installing a Linux from a CD-ROM. That one goes frequently free. I get paid for computer supervision. security tasks, automatisation and several other things. And meanwhile GPL allows me to be independent of my bosses. If I do a new program, script of create a new form of software implementation, I can use my ideas where I think they fit best. And no one has the right to say "I paid you for making it, you..." because I term from start that any software not carrying private data is not private property of anyone specifically. This alows me to get working on three jobs at the same time and have 5-6 times the income I got a few years ago.

    This may sound good for the private consultant and bad for the enterprise. However I believe that companies should revise many of its strategies, diversify the access to their software and try to offer its clients a more flexible and dynamic form of service. If NVidia would sell its cards with drivers under X license, they would be the monopolist of Linux market.

    Anyway time to end. Sincerly I hink people should revise their ideas on "one, one and only one". Let's hope diversity wins. And laet's hope that Microsoft finally gets the idea that this is not a "script kiddies haloween" and that it is time to come into the bunch. Even in full closed source clothes. But then they will have the chance to prove they are the best...
  • by Skeezix ( 14602 ) <> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:17PM (#656559) Homepage
    Read the preface to the article here []
  • (incidentally, Mozilla is a classic example of mismatched goals - people were hoping for a browser, the Mozilla team wanted to create something else. I sure wish there'd been more duplication of effort there, we could have a lightweight browser that didn't need mozembed.)

    Surely the point of free software is that you create what you want to, not what anyone else wants? was set up to create many things, one of which was a standards-compliant HTML rendering engine. They also decided to build a browser on their technologies, as it happens. But they could have built something else. A mail/news client, for example ;-)

  • by Gerv ( 15179 ) <> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:12PM (#656561) Homepage
    It would be more funny if some of the things he says weren't painfully true. As an example, leaving aside their relative technical merits of GNOME and KDE, I'm sure everyone agrees that being in the position of "threefold duplication of effort" as he puts it, is not a good one.

  • I've yet to hear reports of a working, let alone robust DVD player for this "desktop" operating system.

    Well OMS isn't robust by any standard, but you have the three other comercial systems. They all demoed at LinuxExpo in Tiawan last month. I submitted this to slashdot before, but it wasn't posted. Intervideo, MGI and Cyberlink. They all seemed to have fully working systems up and running. Wonder when they will release?

  • I'm the real billg, and after I read that, I was wondering if I actually did write that... But then I read below the article...

    Note: This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day.

    So, whew! I thought I accidentally hit send.

    Won't the real billg please stand up, please stand up.

  • BillG would never send email, let alone strategic email, to "". The bottom of the page also says "This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day".

  • > This satire was genuinely entertaining, but it does bring up some important issues, such as the ever-present forking problem.

    Not all of us think even that is a problem. Forking is just a way of radiating into more ecological niches. That possibility is, IMO, a good thing.

    And perfectly legal under most OSS licenses.
  • Halloween is for Halloween, not April Fools jokes...

    Jeesus that was stupid.
  • WinNT/2000 and Win95/98/Me
  • Seriously, the guy who wrote DOS must be a pretty big geek himself

    Maybe, but what's that got to do with Bill Gates? He didn't write DOS.

  • by Ranger Nik ( 28958 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:41PM (#656584)
    4. billg would NEVER say michael dell is 'babbling'.
    5. the introduction says it's a satire.
  • IMHO, any licensing restrictions intended to preserve freedom are self-defeating. There's only one kind of licensing restriction I agree with, the kind Knuth uses: for God's sake, don't change my stuff and release it under the same name, as if I (and the people I work with, whose work I approve of) wrote it! It's just a matter of honest identitification, and could be based on trademark rather than copyright law.

    Even so, there is some question as to whether even this license restriction is necessary (or legally binding on its own). Modifying someone else's work, and redistributing it as the same work could be fraud, slander, or any of another nasty things that can result from impersonating someone.

    You still have some rights as the author of a public domain work, though you've waived your copyright.

    If everyone would just release their code into the public domain we wouldn't have any of these idiotic license disputes. You could just spend your time coding, not worrying about whose toes you're stepping on.

    Best of all, when you release code into the public domain, it can be included in GPL'd work, MIT license work, X license work, or anything. It's the ultimate in free software.

    The GPL serves one purpose alone: to attack proprietary software developers, withholding the benefits of your work to the "Great Satan" (evil people who don't release their source code for software they're trying to sell; you know, programmers like John Carmack, Tim Paterson, Dan Bricklin, and Bob Frankston). Why bother?

    I'm not complaining about people who really understand what the GPL is for - they wrote the software, it's their right to choose the license. I'm trying to talk to the people who just GPL everything because "that's the license we use for free software". It's not the only way to go; consider public domain, to avoid licensing headaches and release your code for the eternal free use of all mankind for any purpose (including the creation of GPL'd software), and without hostile intent (what else can you call cloning someone's proprietary product, with a license that is specifically aimed at preventing them from learning from your clone to improve the original?).

  • This is obviously fake.

    1. Bill's Display Name for email is "Bill Gates" not "William Gates"

    2. I didn't get this mail, and it's addressed to "". Work that out for yourself.

    Further postings about any comments in this fake are pointless.

  • That is why the GPL should only cover statically linked libraries. Anything else is IMHO fair game. And yes, I am aware of why it takes the approach it does--fear of proprietary wrappers. But that does not bother me too much. If there is a proprietary wrapper around a dynamically loadable GPLed library, then the user can a) use the GPLed library--which is fine or b) pay for and use the proprietary wrapper, which adds functionality. He's paying for added functionality.

    This is close to the BSD ideal, except that under the BSD license the whole thing can be one monolithic binary--I can get A for free, and tinker with the source, or pay for either A' or A'' and not have any source, but have added functionality.

    I do think that Stallman's original reaction was a tad incorrect, though. He could have argued, not that source should be free, but that source should come with every product. For example, were I to buy MS Word, I would get the source. I would be free to modify/correct that source. I would be free to give that modified source to other owners of said source. I would not be able to give it to those who had not paid for it. This would have enabled the good things he wanted, allowed sharing, but at the same time protected the legitimate intellectual property rights--and the ability to make money therefrom--of the code developers.

    But that's not how things turned out.

  • Hold on. You say that you're not a programmer, but then assert that you know that duplication of effort is hurting Linux? How do you know this if, by your own admission, you've never worked on a free project before? The fact is, after having worked on the Worldforge Project (, which is the king of "duplication of effort", i've come to realize that there's a reason behind it, and competition actually does help keep projects moving.

    You have to realize that there is no choice between 2 projects, or one project with twice the amount of contributors. There is only the choise between 1 project or 2 projects, each with a near equal number of workers. This is because most of the time, if a coder feels that there doesn't need to be a new project to achieve her goals, she'll go on to other projects, maybe even contributing a patch, but not becoming part of a team, but even when she does stick to a preestablished project, that doesn't mean that someone else won't see something that needs to be done that can't be done in the current project, which brings me to my next point.

    "Duplication of effort" has an enormous positive impact on productivity. Everyone has a desire to see their project succeed, and so people want to make their project bigger (well, maybe smaller) and better than the competition. If there's no competition, there really is less drive. Then motivation hinges much more on "scratching an itch," which works, but starts to slow down as the project becomes "good enough."

    I could go into more detail, but if you're really interested, i'd suggest checking out Bryce Herrington's essays on the subject at

  • Answers:

    3. No violation, program "C" does not depend on "A" or "B" to run.

    4. If "X" is GPL'd then yes, it is a violation as the programs main function is to interface with "X", however, if "X" is not GPL'd but the user substitutes "X" for "A" which IS GPL'd, then no, however if you distribute "A" with "C" then yes it is a violation, however if you don't, but "C" downloads "A", then no.

    5. The program is not distributing "A", the ftp or web server where the program gets "A" is, and since "A" is only a subset of the programs that "C" is intended to use then GPL'd software is not required for "C" to run and therefore it is not a violation.

    6. Source Code as defined by the GPL is the "preferred form of the work for making modifications to it" and therefore no, instructions on how to make something are not considered source code under the GPL and therefore would not be a violation, however how do you give instructions on how to write a peice of software without peices of code?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by TheInternet ( 35082 ) on Thursday November 02, 2000 @10:45AM (#656595) Homepage Journal
    Reading this really gives an interesting insight into how the Linux community thinks that Microsoft perceives them. Yes, I realize the email is a joke, but there are enough references that strike me as distorted thinking. But on to the main point:

    "Bill" says:

    "While 5 percent is not a threatning number to Microsoft, it is important to remember that Linux is sitting on more desktops than MacOS at this point."

    Things to note:

    1) "Linux sitting on more desktops than Mac OS" implies that Linux has a greater installed base, it does not. Apple has been building an installed base for 16 years. It sells approximately a million machines per quarter. Linux may catch up to Apple's installed base some day, but it has not yet. Market share refers to number of machines sold in a given time period. Even if Apple suddenly had 85% marketshare, Windows would still be the dominant OS for some time.

    2) "Linux sitting on more desktops than Mac OS" also implies that they 5.6% number is purely desktops, not servers. Last time I checked, this is not the case.

    3) The vast majority of Mac users only have one OS installed, or at least two versions of the same OS (OS 9 + OS X). However, many Linux users also a Windows partition. This is significant.

    I'm all for seeing both Linux and Mac OS X succeed. I use both. I think choice is good.

    Be informed.

    - Scott

    Scott Stevenson
  • You and I may like choice. The pointy-haired boss who makes the purchasing (or in the case of "free" software, the decision to convert the company over to it), hates it.

    However in most other areas of corporate purchasing (including computer hardware) choice is the norm. Indeed many organisations have standing orders to the effect that purchases need multiple quotations. Why should software be treated differently.
  • Even if the file formats are 'open' you face the same deal with Linux office suites as you do with commercial ones. Pick the wrong one, and sooner or later you are going to have to pay the human and software costs of a conversion.

    Except that with a proprietary file format you may not have this option at all. No amount of money will result in the human magically knowing what the file format is.
  • Where is the line at which her app must be GPL'd? Note, she never distributes her app in any form, only the reports.

    RTFLicense. The GPL doesn't apply to software until/unless it's distributed. There is no line at which her app must be GPLed in the scenario you just laid out, because it's never distributed.

    How is this an example of the vagueness of the GPL? It's crystal clear to me.
  • The problem with language lawyers is that they forget there are such things as laws. :)

    1. Correct, violation.

    2. Correct, violation.

    3. Not a violation, because no distribution of GPLed code exists by the author of C. C obtains A, but does not distribute A.

    4. Not a violation, because no distribution of GPLed code exists.

    5. Not a violation. The GPL restricts distribution, not use (hence C's use of A cannot be a violation); it restricts distribution, not obtaining (hence C obtaining A cannot be a violation).

    6. Not a violation. This falls squarely into the category of reverse engineering, which is a legal right you possess which the GPL cannot deny you.

    Where are the problems here?

    A very wise lawyer once advised me that young lawyers study a problem for weeks, find every precedent and every detail, compose the most laborious briefs, and are totally wrong. Old lawyers look at what's really going on, the real conflict in question, and they resolve the subissue instead.

    It's an attitude that's served me very well in coding, and in armchair legal analysis.

    Fundamental question: what does the GPL restrict?

    Fundamental answer: it restricts the terms by which you can make GPLed software (executables and/or code and/or data) available to others. Nothing more.

    Therefore, unless there's an issue of you making code available to others, the GPL is a total nonissue.

  • Too bad I don't have points here...

    I'm not gonna sit here and rag on Netscape all day... it's pointless, they were a good company and then they screwed up, everyone knows that by now... but I think people easily forget that MS had to make a lot of the right moves (right for them, anyway) to get where they are today.

    This is what I didn't like about the DOJ case, and this is what I don't like about people who diss IE in favor of Netscape. Netscape, as a company and as a product, are NOT better than MS or IE - they're arguably much much worse. What Microsoft did to other companies can be described as just plain despicable, but you can't blame them for what happened to Netscape...

    As a matter of fact, Netscape has a lot of life in them simply based on the number of people who still have their browser installed. Beyond this point, if Netscape slips any further in market share by a sizable margin, that's a big loss to them - and entirely their own fault. But that's considering that I'm thinking Linux users, corporate licensees, and IE haters are their main user base right now. If they lose THOSE people to IE, then that's sad.

    Of course, I'm rooting for IE because it's the better product, IMO. But this is slashdot, and I can lose a lot of karma for saying that...
  • Exactly...

    When I said good company, I meant they came out with a good product that everyone liked and that no one really had any problems using. I thought everything up through Netscape 3.x was golden...

    THEN they did what you said. And on top of that, their next product (Communicator 4.x) was such utter crap that I can't believe I used it for so long. I mean, it was nice on features... but HORRIBLE on stability. Halfway through a web-surfing session, hyperlinks wouldn't work anymore! That's why I started using IE - cause I didn't like it when that happened. Of course, then I discovered that I liked IE better than Netscape when it came to features (but that's typical of MS - beat 'em to death with features), and it happened that IE was faster too (code bloat won over bad code), and IE integrated better with the OS - and I've been well rewarded for my decision to switch ever since I did it.

    Oh, btw, I'd rather see MS get slammed by the SEC than broken up by the DOJ. MS makes its real money from stocks, and pays no taxes because of it either. Even though I'm an MS sympathizer, if you're gonna watch something die, I'd prefer it would be in the most spectacular way. Splitting the company in two wouldn't hurt it at all (AT&T is splitting themselves again - into four parts!) but telling MS that its investment strategies are shady... well, I think a couple of buildings in Redmond would collapse on an announcement like that!
  • First things first, as is obvious, the letter is satire, though the link provided does not indicate it. Given that, some people are saying that it raises some good points. As a work of "ha ha, only serious" it is little more than flamebait. Think the GNOME developers are wasting their time instead of working on KDE? You might as well accuse BSD or Hurd programmers of wasting their time (hope you like getting flamed). If you think it's a joke, fine it's a joke. Ha Ha. If you think the points raised are rational arguments, it's not. The message sent is "look how silly you all look, why don't you consider how Bill Gates would take it."
  • Ok, let's analyse this. There are three possibilities:

    1) Memo is fake
    2) Memo was purposefully leaks to influence open source in some way
    3) Memo was real

    In cases 1 and 2, I think the obvious response is to disregard the memo. If 2, we certainly don't want to try to do the opposite of what the memo might suggest us to do. In fact, the best plan is to just ignore it, nullifying any effect it may have had.

    If 3, then there are two subcases:

    1) He's right
    2) These are the ramblings of a king whose civilization is crumbling

    In both of these cases we should probably reanalyse what we are doing and redouble our efforts, to reduce duplicating work, and to increase productivity. He's right: Open Source/Free Software cannot define itself by what it is *isn't*. Once the "what it isn't" (closed, proprietary development in general, Microsoft in specific) disappears, Open Source/Free Software still needs a reason to exist. For Open Source that reason is to create high quality software which is easily modifiable and customizable by users. For Free Software that reason is to create programs whose code is legally unencumbered so that the "freedom" of using said software is ensured for everybody.

    I'd also like to point out "billg"'s comment:

    ...artificial concepts as "Free Software" and "Open Source?"

    I think Jefferson would disagree with billg's interpretation of intellectual property. In fact, selling and owning ideas are what is artificial, and only supported through artificial laws so that people have incentive to create and innovate.

    Anyway, when is the Mardi Gras? I didn't get a flyer...
  • But it's true.

  • > I, for one, like this [duplication a'la K office, Sun/OpenOffice, Applix, Corel, etc]. Choice good.

    You and I may like choice. The pointy-haired boss who makes the purchasing (or in the case of "free" software, the decision to convert the company over to it), hates it.

    The ones who make the decisions want one solution, that they can call "the standard".

    Competition's good early in a product lifecycle where feature count is important. But who the hell needs "more features" in their word processor or spreadsheet these days? Sometimes "standards" are good.

    And even if they're not good, when it comes to purchasing decisions, they're seen to be good.

    Install a Linux office suite? Why bother when you can "wait a year or two to see which one survives"? In the meantime, M$Orifice will always be there. So why move today? Or ever?

    And that, in a nutshell, is why Orifice remains dominant, even though we all know a Linux box could fill the same business needs for a tenth of the price.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:31PM (#656617)
    OK, it's a hoax. But let's look at what it is saying: That MSFT is still winning, and that Bill, if he were to give his honest opinion, would probably agree with everything the authors have written in "his" letter.

    "I [and 10,000 quatloos says, the real Bill Gates, too!] would probably be writing a different letter now if..."

    • Less infighting. GNOME/KDE. Sun/HelixCode/Java. ESR/RMS. How much code has this produced?
    • Less reinvention of the wheel on political or personal grounds. See above.
    • Less trumpeting of the small wins (excellent dig on Slashdot and the :CueCat thing) and more focus on the big stuff.
    • More hardware support. Let's get real - gaming does drive consumer purchases.
    And most importantly (IMNSHO),
    • Less bitching about how much Micros~1 sucks. And more coding to make Linux rule.

    Happy Day-After-Hallowe'en.

  • He's got Slashdotters and Linux zealots nailed down perfectly. Meanwhile, we just blindly make fun of Microsoft. Anyone really serious about Linux needs to print out that email, frame it, and read it daily. Seriously.
  • Took me a while to get to the part about "satire," but it might as well have been written by Bill G. himself. It's dead on, especially the part about slashdotters having a Mardi Gras every time something insigifnicant happens. When I used to follow the Amiga world, one of the signs of desperation was when people would post about seeing an Amiga in the background of a TV show or movie.

    The entire point regarding infighting is maybe the most important of the piece. Open Source vs. Free Software? KDE vs. Gnome? Linux vs. BSD? People who love X vs. people who want it replaced? Perl vs. Python? It's all draining and tiring and makes me want to run as far from this so-called community as much as possible. When a "community" is driving people away, that's bad. I get the feeling that you can't just use Linux, you have to be a wacked out zealot. Heck, even if you don't use Linux for anything, apparently you can still be a wacked out zealot.

    Honestly, there are non-technical reasons for using other operating systems.
  • True; between this article, and the 'Help Gore and Bush answer our questions' articles, it seems that the editors have undertaken the task of turning everybody into a troll.
  • Harping on about the Qt licensing issues after it has been released under the GPL is most certainly petty.
  • 10) Fed to sharks and then used as fertilizer for Microsoft Campus Lawn.

    9) Boiled in oil

    8) Exiled in a Klingon excommunication ceremony

    7) "Would you like fries with that?"

    6) Tech support for hotmail

    5) 1000 lines by tomorrow: "I will not leak memos.."

    4) Working at new Microsoft sattelite campus in Siberia

    3) Tied down to a bench and had his pants run up the MS flagpole

    2) killed slowly by... Snails....

    1) Forced to debug Windows 2002

    ...and as I wandered into the slashdot post page, they all yelled "Karma Whore!"
  • Hmm. Actually, the real question is "what constitutes distribution?". Binaries? The recent DeCSS case is a really good example of the arbitrariness of setting a line of distribution. Think about this for a moment then read on... Basically, software is information, and the GPL is a means to a philosophical approach to information, namely to ensure that the information encoded in software remains free. This is why the GPL bothers with derived works. So then the question is what is a derived work. Certainly there is a legal definition, but that definition is not apropos to this discussion. Why? Precisely because the GPL is about a completely different philosophy. The GPL attempts to subvert current legal theory and practice to create a new pholosophical framework for the freedom of information. So, just what is the relationship between information and software? Well, to hear the DeCSS "team's" views on it, software is a form of expression. I believe this to be true. This is also fairly similar to the philosophy implied in the GPL. In fact, software is information at two levels: the symbols in which software is expressed, and the process/method which those symbols represent. I would assert that the real goal of the GPL is to protect that second aspect: the process/method. I don't know this for certain, but the fact that derived works are protected and the fact that porting and linking are aspects discussed by the FSF Licenses, are good hints. This of course implies that the symbols aspect should also be protected as it is the original encoding of the process. So now lets use some hypothetical examples to illustrate where those foundational comments lead. All examles are based on the following scenario: Software "A" is GPL'd. I download an executable, run it a few times, and decide that I would like to use this functionality in Software "B" that I am writing. 1. I download "A"'s source, which happens to be written in C, and statically link it to "B". I then go out and share "B" with my friends neglecting to mention that source is available. VIOLATION! 2. Like 1., but link as a shared lib, and distribute "B" without "A", and without source. VIOLATION! 3. Write and distribute software "C" which automajically downloads "A", downloads "B"'s source, modifies "B"'s source for optimizations, builds "B" and runs "B". "C" is not distributed with source nor under the GPL. VIOLATION? 4. "A" is a reverse engineered version of X which has known public API's. Write and distribute software "C" which parses natural language queries in the domain of "X" and searches for software executables which implement "X"'s apis, downloads those executables, transforms the query into calls to the "X" apis, and then executes those calls on "A". "C" is not GPL'd. VIOLATION? 5. Write and distribute software "C" which parses natural language queries and searches for software executables to satisfy those queries. One query finds and installs "A" and "B" and then launches them. "C" is not GPL'd. VIOLATION? It uses "A", it distributes "A". 6. Write and distribute a document "C" with instructions on how to write "B", how to obtain "A", with no source, and not GPL'd. VIOLATION? Are instructions considered code? Is language and the brain considered sufficient as an executable? Read "Le Ton Beau De Marot", "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies" and "Godel Escher and Bach" by Douglas Hofstadter to discover the real depth to this problem: what constitutes "linking", "distribution", "derived works" and "use".
  • by under_score ( 65824 ) <{moc.gietreb} {ta} {nikhsim}> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:31PM (#656633) Homepage
    This document/article does make some good points which relate to some of the main reasons why I have not embraced Linux (I'm a FreeBSD guy).
    1. The license. I know, I know, the GPL is not just a legal document, but also a philosophy. The problem, is I think that it actually is self-destructive. The very nature of a viral license is to reduce the Freedom of Information. Not only that, but it really sucks from a legal perspective. The fact is, the boundary between what is allowed with the GPL and what is not, is very, very poorly defined. (See below for an example.)
    2. Forking/competition. The whole KDE/Gnome thing just sucks. The fact is that competition should never have priority over unity (in my philosophical opinion). This means that competition for its own sake as seen in partisan politics, the economy, and software development is a ridiculous goal/justification for peoples inability to get along. That simple. ('Scuze me for the inflamatory remarks, but I feel pretty strongly about this.)

    3. Now very likely this article was written with Journalistic License. But one way or the other, the points about the GPL and Competition are real concerns for _me_ as a professional and hobby developer.

      About boundaries, consider this scenario from a legal perspective (this is for you GPL gurus out there - it was part of an email conversation between myself, a developer who released some GPL'd software, and a legal person at the FSF):

      > My other example, about a professor using a tool, comes at this question
      > from the other side: professor produces some reports using X software
      > which is GPL'd. Obviously she has access to the source by virtue of its
      > license, but those reports need not be GPL'd - they aren't software.

      > One day she realizes that she is doing the same thing over and over again
      > and writes a little script to help automate the process, and do some
      > additional post-processing. Then she decides to write an application (in
      > the same programming language that X was written with) which puts a nicer
      > front end on the whole thing (GUI vs. shell). Then she finds out that
      > many other professors would like copies of her reports (but they don't
      > want to do the work of using the software - or perhaps they don't have
      > access to the source data) so she starts a web distribution of those
      > reports. Then, and this is probably the "fatal" step, she realizes that
      > both X and her application would be better off if part of her application
      > was re-factored into X (say its a web-scalability issue). Finally, she
      > just goes willy-nilly making changes in both X and her application (but X
      > always compiles without any dependencies on the app). And then she does a
      > programmer-bad and makes X' dependent on the app. Where is the line at
      > which her app must be GPL'd? Note, she never distributes her app in any
      > form, only the reports.

      If the her modified application, X', is never distributed to anyone, then
      the GPL (version 2) does not come into play, and she is not bound to do
      anything in particular because of that license in this case.

      The GPL (version 3) may try to address this scenario.
  • I wonder...what did happen to Vinod?

    Vinod (designation 4 of 12) has his conection to the collective severed.
  • I'd like to do a Letterman top 10, but the egg timer is running and I'm not going to have time to come up with 10 reasons. Let's do four.

    4) MS got raked over the coals for e-mails from top executives (including billg) in the anti-trust trial. I suspect that any information of this nature would be disseminated in subpoena-resistant format (i.e. conference call).

    3) Lots of comments tweaking the nose of open-source proponents. Would this be done in a document intended to remain internal? What's the point?

    2) "Relax. Do nothing. Let them enjoy their 5.5%" I have never met Bill, but I have met people who have met Bill. I haven't heard anything indicating Bill is a relaxed type of guy.

    And (drum roll) the number one reason why this is a hoax.

    1) "Don't leak this memo this time!"
  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:44PM (#656645)

    It's a well-written and interesting piece, but I'm almost certain that at some point in the relatively near future, it's going to be revealed as being a hoax

    Well, we might as well get it over with sooner rather than later.

    If you scroll down to the end of the 'forwarded email', you'll see the following:

    Note: This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day.

  • The only questions in my mind are: Who created it? and Why was anyone fooled? This paragraph:

    In years past, we've discussed various ways to stop the Linux wave; we have considered everything from FUD to mud slinging to benchmarks to proprietary "standards" to force them down. The next step is usually what the Linux community refers to as "embrace and extend," where we make our own proprietary version of Linux, brand it with our trademark, and improve it until people would rather use our flavor than any other. At that point, we can lock everyone else out of the market.

    Almost no one sees his own actions as evil, and certainly there is no evidence that Bill Gates does. Yet this paragraph uses the terms FUD and proprietary "standards" in a way that implies that they are underhanded while admitting that they were seriously considered. These are not the words of a leader who believes he is right rallying his troops.
  • by iKev ( 73931 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:22PM (#656653) Feature Story: Another Halloween

    Ryan Gordon strikes again with another work of satire! Another
    'leaked memo' from Microsoft on Hallowe'en, to celebrate the
    infamous 'Halloween Document' of years past. While clearly a work of
    satire, this one is sure to inspire some heated discussion. Check it
    out! By the way, that's Ryan juggling in today's Photo Of The Day.
    Tue, 31 October 2000 - Ryan C. Gordon >> more!
  • No, not everyone does. (apologies for the slightly anti KDE bent, I like neither C++ nor Qt, and it tends to show.)

    1) KDE is bound to C++, GNOME is (albeit more loosely) bound to C. Development language choice is a *massive* difference between the two.
    2) Qt licensing issues were most certainly NOT petty, and the apparent lack of concern from the KDE team tarnished the whole project.
    3) Putting all effort into one project is a big mistake, since different projects have different goals. Take Mozilla vs Konqueror for an example. If noone had bothered with a browsing component in Konq because the Mozilla project had a browsing component, where would we be?
    4) Your life long dream may be for Linux to be a user friendly desktop usable OS, but my desire is for Linux to be an OS I can use to do what I want to get done. I don't want GUI admin tools to config files I'm comfortable with. I don't mind if other people want them and make them, but I'd be pissed off if, to save duplication of effort, we stopped providing those config files.

    (incidentally, Mozilla is a classic example of mismatched goals - people were hoping for a browser, the Mozilla team wanted to create something else. I sure wish there'd been more duplication of effort there, we could have a lightweight browser that didn't need mozembed.)

    So the not terribly funny (come on, it's an old old story) "joke" exposes a serious lack of understanding of why choice is so good.

  • by PooF ( 85689 )

    Quit points

    • Author tag line: Ryan C. Gordon has a reputation for his unwavering ethics in journalistic circles around the world. He can be reached at
    • And this... That's my "Halloween document" for 2000. Nothing to worry about. And for crying out loud, don't leak this memo this year. We all remember what happened to Vinod, right?
    • And this.. Officially, Microsoft has always kept at a safe distance with Linux. We leave the actually muddying to others, like Mindcraft.

    I'd say it's a fake...

    From: Aaron "PooF" Matthews

  • by PooF ( 85689 )

    Thanks for the quick bio. I agree with you, but many people on /. seem(ed) to think it's real (maybe they didn't read it? :-)

    From: Aaron "PooF" Matthews

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:26PM (#656672) Homepage Journal
    The more attention the Evil Empire devotes to Linux, the more they risk legitimizing it. And the Linux industry won't buckle under like IBM did back when Microsoft was calling OS/2 all sorts of names. As long as Linux remains the right tool for the job for us folks who are using it, it won't go away.

    Now Microsoft and its cronies may make things more difficult than they should be in many cases. They can tie up "standards" in patents and make it next to impossible to get hardware specs. They can go after key open source developers for "Patent Violations." This method of attack is much more dangerous and likely to be successful in the long run than the MS standard of spreading FUD. It's doubtful the DOJ's going to put the kibosh on that sort of thing for us, either.

    We should pay less attention to the FUD; it's always been a worthless attack on Linux. Instead, we should concentrate on what Microsoft is doing behind the scenes to make it harder for our programs to interoperate. There's where the real danger lies.

  • by donutello ( 88309 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:59PM (#656674) Homepage

    I believe it completely. Everything it says is true. I'm sure Bill wrote it himself.

    The only thing that bothers me is the line just below the forwarded message where it says:

    • Note: This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day
    I wonder what they meant by saying that?
  • devil's advocate

    Sorry. If BillG was a devils advocate, the letter would have mentioned BSD.

    Yes, and GNOME started off as a "linux project" and has become a real UNIX project...amazing how that can happen....portable code forced out a project.
  • If you bother to read to the bottom you will see that this email is clearly labelled as a _SATIRE_. That's right, it doesn't claim to be real, it's not even a hoax, because there's nothing fraudulent. It's just a joke, a satire piece, intended to offer insight into some possible lines of criticism that somebody like Bill Gates could throw at Linux.

    Check your links before you post stories. This is pure SlashTrash. And if /. eds don't bother, at least read the story linked to before replying.
  • This article, although fake, made perfect sense. Just because we use linux doesn't mean that it's better than W2K or whistler - MS will learn from our ways, embrace them, and extend them into Whistler. We are a strong group but irrelevant. Don't kid yourself that your Linux knowledge will mean anything in twenty years. Our market is fuelled my CEO's who watch MS commercials. I know I will be moderated as flame bait but how many of you have a boss that doesn't think that Novell or MS is the only solution and Linux is a fad????
  • by MattW ( 97290 ) <> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:30PM (#656691) Homepage
    Agreed. The moment the CueCat was mentioned, it became absurd, because he referred to it as though everyone would know what he was mocking. The intended audience really wasn't M$, but /. readers.

    I wonder...what did happen to Vinod?

    Anyhow, whoever did it DID make a lot of interesting points, from the beer vs speech holy war to Gnome vs KDE.

    I did think of something though - we owe a lot to the young people contributing. There's a lot of people with a lot of ability who can't afford to pay $1000 for a compiler, who are contributing a lot of labor to various OSS causes, and largely, I imagine this is because their careers haven't handed them a full plate; personally, they don't have a lot of life's hassles yet (kids, etc); they thrive on better technology, and enjoy it; they have a lot of energy and not enough stimulation (especially for talented students in unchallenging CS programs and the like). And as they go, there will be a new crop, and with OSS much more ingrained on the way now, I think they may keep it as a hobby as the community grows. There's certainly a truth in the fact that OSS suffers from mythical man month problems just like everything else, except that sometimes the most important things are big ideas wrapped in small packages, and so genius can be spread out among more projects with the implementation being done by others. The best techies I've ever known spend more and more time just telling other people how to do things right, rather than doing it themselves.
  • The article had me going for a while until it started revealing to many Open Source factoids that only a regular reader of Slashdot or other Open Source tabloid would be aware of (intimate details of GNOME vs. KDE, Free Software vs. Open Source, CueCat hacks, Qt being "non-free", etc), the overly antagonistic attitude of the email also struck me as false especially if this was an email going out to the whole company when it is a known fact that several employees use Linux.

    The real kicker was this phrase:
    1. Turn your Internet Explorer to, and laugh. This is the product of "thousands" of hard working open source coders. We did that same work, and more, in-house with less than 50 people working on the codebase.
    This is simply not possible. I have friends that have worked at MSFT and they state unequivocably that viewing source code from competing Open Source projects is expressly prohibited so that there is no risk of GPLed code making its way into MSFT products either accidentally or intentionally. The thought that Bill Gates would request that people look at Mozilla source even as a joke is highly unlikely.

    Second Law of Blissful Ignorance
  • One of the responses in the article mentioned Linux starting a new era where people did stuff, and gave it away for free (wow!). It's not a new era.

    People getting together and doing things for the community 'for free' has been around since before the days of money. It was a normal way of doing things in the era of the pioneer, and it's been the way of doing things on the internet since it was usenet (and before that, when it was simply "the academic community").

    People enjoy contributing to each other. More often than not, we tend to ignore the contribution that other people wish to make to us. The Free and Open software movements simply re-awaken those instincts in us and allow us to contribute to the community at large. Human nature will not die out as long as human beings exist.

    As for the collapse of the Free/Open Source community under it's own weight, that prediction has been made of a similar user-directed and controlled system that we now know as 'the net'. Those predictions were common as far back as the early '80s. -- Notice how the 'net' collapsed in the mid-90s. Chances are that the same sort of 'collapse' may occur for the Open/Free Source communities at some time in the future (we can only hope so!).

  • Relax. The /. community -- like any other large community -- consists of users of all levels. Some people will read the whold article, and understand it. Others will go off early and respond to what "William Gates" had to say, as if it's really THE Bill Gates that wrote it.

    Such is life.

    That's why we have the moderation system. You can always up the moderation threshold and only read from people who've managed to finagle a 2 or 3 moderation level. -- they're much more likely to be of the level of writing that you're hoping for.

  • ..whoever wrote it (not all convinced it was Gates himself) is a pretty good author. He interjects items that are blatantly incorrect or ignore obvious details in a move to aggravate the reader, but inserts just enough truth to keep the boat floating. It keeps the reader fairly well engaged (and pissed off).

    Me, being suspicious, almost wonder if this memo wasn't INTENDED to be "leaked", that is, if it actually came from Microsoft at all.

    It's the sort of writing where you disagree with it profoundly, but can't really pick a place to start responding because there's so many conflicts and things to disagree with.

    Were that email to appear on usenet, it would be lauded as a troll. And a damn fine one.. just wait for Slashdot readers to devour this one if you want to see truth in that. ;)
  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @06:38PM (#656723) Homepage
    where as netscape just stole it outright because Andreessen was "entitled".

    Check your history both NS and IE are based on the Spyglass/NSCA Mosaic code base. Andreesen worked on the base at NCSA with some other coders/students. After he left he continued to use the code in his new venture "Mosaic Communications Corporation" (which later changed to "Netscape Communications" due to trademark infringement over the name 'Mosaic'). Meanwhile NCSA stopped development on Mosaic and sold/liscensed the code to Spyglass from which MS liscensed (not baught, MS has to pay Spyglass royalties for several technologies)(which you might also note that IE displays all of this information openly in it's about box along with other liscensed technology). NS was sued by NCSA, changed it's name but was allowed to retain use of the Mosaic code (details of the settlement were of course not disclosed).

    Now of course Netscape claims that none of the original code from Mosaic was used and that they just got half a dozen developers from NCSA and rewrote the whole code in a few months (a feat they have yet to duplicate). But really now... the truth, come on... NCSA was charging about $100,000+ for liscensing and how do you think Andreessen would have felt about spending that kinda cash on code he helped create.

    A Funny read is this article on Wired. Some of the predictions made and assumptions are pretty funny. Like the talk about how Netscape wasn't going to get sold in a box but shipped with Internet enabled PC's... hmmmmm... where have I heard that before... oh yeah MS does that... oh but Netscape says that's bad now. And then there's the thing about Netscape creating proprietary standards... isn't MS getting in trouble for that now too... hmmm. Sad that MS just seems to copy Netscapes bad ideas huh?

    Good reading at wired []

    I think it's a hoot that this piece of satire so elloquently nails every issue with Linux and the opensource movement. Of course they could have made it slightly more believeable but then all the zealots would have attempted to proclaim it as authentic.

  • This is such a troll. It pushes all the perfect buttons for slashdot.

    Insults open source
    Mentions slashdot and sourceforge
    Insults RMS and ESR
    DVD on linux.
  • No, Gates' writing is much more insightful. Go read something Gates actually wrote for comparison. The guy has a genius for finding non-obvious weak points in the competition.
  • by Tassach ( 137772 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:50PM (#656747)
    Forking can sometimes be a good thing. Take the *BSD's. The forking happened mainly because of ego clashes between some of the leaders. OpenBSD, FreeBDS and NetBSD all have their own strong points. This kind of duplication of effort is a good thing. Because it's open source, each of the teams can see what the other is up to, and incorporate the best features of the others. It helps that each of the *BSD teams has a pretty clearly defined goal. To be successful, ANY software project, open or closed source, needs to have someone who has a strong, clear vision of the end product.

    The reason the *BSD's are successful is because each team still has enough core talent to reach 'critical mass'. Ditto for KDE and Gnome. If a project forks and neither side has enough talent, both die.

    The orginal letter is pretty good. It's clear WHGIII didn't write it; but whoever did really does bring up some very valid points about the open source community's shortcomings. We have to admit to ourselves that open source ISN'T perfect. The first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one.

  • by MrBogus ( 173033 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @10:51PM (#656780)
    were a good company and then they screwed up, everyone knows that by now

    Would a "good company" preach open, standards based tech to high heaven and all their customers and then turn around, abuse that trust, and spit in the face of the standards committees by introducing a proprietary DOM and a proprietary style sheet engine? I don't think so, but that's exact what Netscape did.

    Netscape were the biggest Extend and Embrace Bullshitters of all time. I'd rather have Microsoft than those fukwits.
  • by andyh1978 ( 173377 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:24PM (#656781) Homepage [] front page: Feature Story: Another Halloween Document

    Ryan Gordon strikes again with another work of satire! Another 'leaked memo' from Microsoft on Hallowe'en, to celebrate the infamous 'Halloween Document' of years past. While clearly a work of satire, this one is sure to inspire some heated discussion. Check it out! By the way, that's Ryan juggling in today's Photo Of The Day.

    Next please.
  • by BluedemonX ( 198949 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:33PM (#656806)
    He talks about a fracturing of programmer resources: three sets of programmers working on three window managers isn't wasted effort. What it means is that the software consumer has a choice. If Linux was a monolithic entity like Windows, he'd be right; but the fact that I can install a kernel and console, or kernel and X and Window Maker, or kernel, X, GNOME, Sawfish, Helixcode and Eazel is a benefit not a hindrance. The fact that KDE and GNOME coexist and are getting more stable and full featured by the day is proof that neither team is losing anything by not working together. Maybe there is some duplication of effort - but Linux I'm sure has more real programmers working on it (as opposed to people squeezed out of your MCSE mill who couldn't do anything without a drool-and-drop Wizard if you threatened them with a loaded pistol) than you could ever hire, so it balances out. The biggest problem Linux has is not programming resources, it's getting hardware manufacturers to part with technology without demanding usurious licensing fees and the right to own and patent everything in sight.

    I guess Bill is just ticked because Linux has come up with actual innovations, like Arne Gangstad's exponential timeout value trick (kernel)... whereas Microsoft tries to take credit for inventing the symbolic link and the GUI.
  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @04:22PM (#656819)
    I would personally like to thank the first 200 people who posted replies to this story pointing out that it was *not* in fact a real e-mail from Bill Gates.

    You see, I was just getting ready to post my thoughts on Bill Gates officially coming out against Linux, when I happened to glance up to 200 "It's Fake" posts in a row.

    Boy, would I have looked stupid.

  • by atrowe ( 209484 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:28PM (#656820)
    "I work for Microsoft"

    *angry mob approaches brandishing pitchforks and torches*

    That's not something you want to openly admit to on Slashdot.

    You've just become the Gay Black Jew at the KKK rally!

  • by yuri benjamin ( 222127 ) <> on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @04:34PM (#656831) Journal
    Note: This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day.

    I hope everyone picked up on that.
    Great points about in-fighting etc. Also great point about Linux users (Not all of us, I realise) defining what's great about Linux in terms of comparing to Windoze ( like my sig :-) ).
    I wonder if ESR and RMS have read it.

  • by cube farmer ( 240151 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:46PM (#656870) Homepage

    Right at the end of the email, just above the comments:

    Note: This article is a piece of satire meant to brighten your day.

    Any questions?

  • by Lazarus Short ( 248042 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2000 @03:13PM (#656882) Homepage
    In case you're wondering about just how likely this is to be real, I suggest you consider the last few lines:
    That's my "Halloween document" for 2000. Nothing to worry about. And for crying out loud, don't leak this memo this year. We all remember what happened to Vinod, right?

    Really, the rest of the memo is just on the near side of too ridiculous, but this bit pushes it over the top.


The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith