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Windows in 2020 302

sasha328 writes: "I came across this article on LA Times while I was reading the LinuxToday news site. It is very funny, and points out the in layman's language, the problem with homogeneity in computer OSes. Well worth reading."
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Windows in 2020

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  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:43AM (#2119525) Homepage


    I'm sure the resulting discussion about how evil-evil-evil OS homogeny is would be totally different if it were our OS that "won" the great battle for the desktop. We'd all be proudly singing the virtues about how Linux did away with the confusion inherent with supporting multiple platforms, and how it was Linux that prevailed in its design and implementation.

    But it's not Linux's supremacy that's being talked about here. It's Windows..And that makes you angry.

    Now, before you call me a turncoat, i'll underscore the fact that I love Linux -- I use it on the majority of systems I own, and couldn't live without it -- Regardless of that, I cant help but notice that I've grown increasingly disappointed with the Linux community's almost blind willingness to look down upon Windows as a platform et al, regardless of the fact that for most things, Windows is (nowadays) far easier to deal with from a user's standpoint than Linux us. To some degree, I myself am partly to blame -- I used to hate Microsoft simply because it was fun to, and not based on any real concrete observations. Regardless of how much I like Linux, i'd be lying if I said Microsoft hadn't come a long way in the past year or two in improving the stability and usability of their OS offerings.

    The Linux community itself is partly to blame for Microsoft's domination. Its our own partisanship and internal bickering that has prevented Linux from showing a unified face to the world when it came to the desktop -- Had KDE and Gnome merged for the common good, and challenged Microsoft's stronghold on the desktop, we would have probably made it...But instead that challenge ended up being more of separate Gnome vs. Microsoft, then KDE vs. Microsoft battle. We got squashed, and sent home with our tail between our legs. That was our fault, not theirs.

    OS homogeny is a wonderful thing if it's your OS they're talking about. Its only when that homogeny is achieved with an OS you don't like that homogeny becomes on par with communism. Ask yourself if your opinion on OS homogeny would be the same if Linux were king of the hill versus Windows. How you answer that question will dictate wether or not you need to re-evaluate your view of the competition.

    BTW, thanks to all who visited the site earlier today. It was a good stress test!

    Cheers,
    • If linux took over the world tomorrow, there would not be the level of homogenity that we have today. There would be a better one- Different distros doing things differently, but all (gasp!) playing together nicely. That's cooperation, not control. Computers working together well is what we want, and that is something MS has never wanted.

      Domination by Linux won't happen, because it's too decentralized. That's why a lot of folks hold it up as an ideal. There is no evil corporation with restrictive licenses pushing bug-ridden crap out the door to make a buck and stomp on any competition. If Linux took over, who would run things? Not Bill, but the programmers. Sure, the reporters would all look to Red Hat's CEO for interviews, but he wouldn't run the show any more than he does now.

      "If it were our OS that "won" the great battle for the desktop," versions would be released when they were ready. Patches would come out quickly. Software would include things that work, not paperclips. The money that we spend on computers would go towards running them, not into Gates' pocket. Linux isn't going to take over, but it's precisely because of the reasons that it won't that it wouldn't be a bad thing like what we have now.

    • "[..] if it were our OS that "won" the great battle for the desktop"

      The article's point is that homogeny is bad when there are problems with the operating system that everyone uses. A properly configured desktop system (take a few minutes to turn off unnecessary services and make a firewall! This could even be done by the installer!) can have a lot less security holes than windows (see the honeynet report) - and that's without a paranoid admin (like me - to set up apache to log CRII attacks I had to add the port forwarding to my router, set up the port in the firewall, and change the apache configuration file from a high port to 80 - and this is when the server is unlikely to be cracked, and I would take the same precautions if it was chrooted). On the server side, Apache dominates the market and rarely has security problems (i haven't been watching, but I can't recall any). If Microsoft would make an effort to reduce bugs and security holes, I would have no problems with Windows.

      "Windows is (nowadays) far easier to deal with from a user's standpoint than Linux us"

      Microsoft has done, overall, a good job with the UI, even if it has it's annoyances, but with the consumer versions of windows up to now, the UI rarely worked for extended periods of time. Also, the linux WMs and desktop environments may not have all MS's research money behind them, but they have a large number of features that make them much easier to use. For example, when I started using konqueror, I was annoyed to find that clicking the middle mouse button would take me to another page that I had recently visited. When I found out why it did that, I was amazed by the power this feature gave me (I can open a plain-text URL in a few seconds now). The Windows UIs may be easy to use for beginners, but that's where they end - everyone is brought down to the beginner level. The KDE and the programs have many features that are an annoyance until you figure them out, at which point each feature is almost a reason to fear having to go back to windows.

      I believe these features are the result of the Open Source development model, where applications are frequently created so the author can use them. How many MS programmers are working on windows or office specifically so they can use them, and getting payed and releasing products are just side effects? I have seen this effect numerous times while working on my current OSS project. I will see something that looks good in concept but doesn't work in practice, or i'll notice something that's a bit long to do, and i'll fix it, adding a feature that will be useful in the future. At the current stage (alpha3), the number of features that I though of while using and debugging it probably approaches 50%. MS spends a lot of money to make it's products easier to use, but where they fail is in getting ideas to the developers. I've heard that many features in Office were requested by exactly one person, but Linux (for me, the KDE) has a large number of useful shortcuts that show you that all those cool ideas people have are actually being implemented. I know i'm leaving the topic a bit, but Windows and Office just lack all the shortcuts and tricks that i've found in the month i've been using Linux.

      "I used to hate Microsoft simply because it was fun to, and not based on any real concrete observations"

      I'm trying not to do this, but even if Microsoft solves all their stability problems (which they are doing) and their security problems (riiiiight), they still lack the shortcuts - that thing that I can't stop talking about. In Outlook, trying to alternate between reading a previewed message and scrolling the list of messages is a real pain - with KMail, I can do both simultaneously (N and P for message-list scrolling, arrow keys for viewing the message). Thanks to this, I don't even need to bother focusing on the message list of the preview to scroll. At MS, if a developer comes up with an idea for a feature, they probably have to submit it to the managers, who may see it as just a waste of time, which they don't have enough of, and refuse to allow it. With Open Source projects, a developer who comes up with a cool idea can implement it right away and complete it before anyone else knows, and it will show up in the next release to amaze users. Spending billions on UI research helps, but I still think nothing beats an efficient path from cool idea at 2 in the morning and implementation. Maybe this is only possible because the developers aren't forced to fit into a release schedule, so they can take their time making the best software i've seen so far.

      "i'd be lying if I said Microsoft hadn't come a long way in the past year or two in improving the stability and usability of their OS offerings"

      Windows XP sounds like a big improvement, but I don't think I could be bothered to install the release candidate that I have right here. Even without the activation, I wouldn't use it because I know it would cut into my efficiency. That is included in usability - i'd rather have a program that lets me move around fast than a program where I know all the commands and how to do everything.

      "Had KDE and Gnome merged for the common good, and challenged Microsoft's stronghold on the desktop," they would have become a monopoly on the Linux desktop. I don't know if there is any competition between the developers themselves, but I'm pretty sure that they do want their project to be the best. Competition is good. Choice is good. A world with only Linux would be bad - not for me, i'm happy for now, but for other people who might preffer the look of applications of another OS (like Mac OS X). It must also create at least a little competition. The comercial developers (Apple and Microsoft) want to get a bigger market share, the open source developers (linux kernel) want to make a better alternative, and the Linux desktop environments want to be the best. They each pull in their own direction, and the harder they pull the better it is for us. Apart from the security risk, we can't accept a monopoly because the owner of the monopoly would have no need to innovate. Microsoft is doing this already - instead of making a better product they kill all the challengers. This is not good for the end users.

      I've never considered Windows 9x to be worth anything, but with Linux I want to help support the developers, because there are many useful applications and features. Maybe if Windows was worth something to more people, they wouldn't have to worry so much about piracy. I think Microsoft is going after the symptoms instead of fixing the problem.

      "OS homogeny is a wonderful thing if it's your OS they're talking about" homogeny is never good for us. I recently stopped using Evolution because the focusing system was worse than Outlook and it frequently lost my messages. If it was the only mail program, the developers could stop there, knowing everyone was using it. When there is diversity and competition, everyone benefits as they find what's best for them, and the really popular features are frequently spread to all platforms (when your competition comes up with a good idea, you can profit from it and implement it too).

      "Ask yourself if your opinion on OS homogeny would be the same if Linux were king of the hill versus Windows"

      No. I've already argued a bit too much on the desktop/usability side, let's look at security: IIS is very vulnerable, and should be removed from the Internet or treated as alpha software in my opinion, but even if Apache was uncrackable it shouldn't be the only server. For some people it will be too complicated, and for some people it will be too big. Someone who wouldn't think of contributing to one project might start their own and release it with an amazing new feature that is rapidly spread around and benefits everyone.

      but anyways, back to what I was doing 45 minutes ago... :)
    • by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @06:47AM (#2128070) Journal

      You're right about the blind MS bashing -- it's idiotic. Linux is not better than Windows, and Windows is not better than Linux. It's all a matter of what you want to do, and what your personal preferences are.

      Homogeny is bad no matter what system it is. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, all the computers running the same OS are potentially vounerable to the same exploits -- whether than OS be Windows, Linux, BSD, Mac, BeOS, Solaris, IRIX, HP-UX, OS/2... you get the idea.

      The reason people tend not to realize, though, is that some people have different preferences! Personally, having used Linux for three years, I have decided that I like Win2k better. I am guessing that many people here would disagree with me on that. I don't care, and neither should they. You want to use Linux, use Linux. Fine with me. But I want to use Win2k.

      The thing is, the more people use one system, the harder it is for other people to use other systems. If everyone used Win2k except for Linus Torvalds himself, he'd probably have a hard time finding software to run on Linux. If everyone ran Linux except for Bill Gates, he'd have a tough time finding software that ran on Windows. Homogeneity encourages software developers to write non-portable code.

      <tangent><rant>

      When you write software that isn't portable, you are limiting you users' freedom of choice of operating system. This is bad, no matter what system you are writing for.

      I talked to a guy recently who was writing a free (open source, I think) 3D modeller. He was complaining about getting Direct3D and MFC to work together, so I suggested that he use a cross-platform toolkit and OpenGL. That way, I said, his code would be portable. He told me of his personal distaste for Unix, and that he didn't think there was any value in porting his software to it.

      I was shocked. I'm sure many of you were, too. But then, how many of you have written non-portable software for Linux? You probably figured Windows sucks, and there was no reason to support it. If so, you were no better than that guy.

      Wonderful platforms like BeOS are suffering because people won't write portable code; there is a serious lack of good software for any OS other than Windows, Mac, and Linux (with a few Unix's managing to get easy ports of the Linux stuff). All because people seem to think that there is no reason to support any platform other than their OS of choice.

      Sad, isn't it?

      Now, being open source does NOT automatically make your software portable! If you use POSIX system calls all over your code (and I'd hate to see your code if you do), porting the thing to Windows would probably be harder than simply re-writing the damned thing from scratch. You must consider portability from the beginning!

      I'm not saying that you should personally port your software to every known OS -- that would be impossible -- but make sure you write it in such a way that it can be easily ported. Use portable libraries, and abstract away any system calls you need to make. Then, port it to as many platforms as you have available. If your software is open source, you can rely on the users of the target OS to port your program, provided that you have written it properly. If your software is closed source, you will probably find that porting to alternative OS's is fairly cheap and, in many cases, well worth the money -- again, if your code was written to be portable. Just, please, don't force your users to use *your* preferred OS! Give them a choice!

      </rant></tangent>

      • Writing portable code also forces you to write BETTER code. Most software that was designed from the beginning to be portable is higher quality than a single-platform app that was ported later, even on the original platform.
      • If you use POSIX system calls all over your code (and I'd hate to see your code if you do), porting the thing to Windows would probably be harder than simply re-writing the damned thing from scratch. You must consider portability from the beginning!

        Posix calls are specificly designed to be portable. If you only make posix calls then you'll be portible to all operating systems, including Windows (which has a posix layer. The Federal government wouldn't buy it if they didn't). In other words your complaint about calls would solve your complain at all.
    • Personally, I'd like to see you try to get homogeneity in an operating system with more flavors than Baskin Robins and people can't even agree on which kernel to use. The Linux community is heterogeneous pretty much by definition. Some are using Mandrake, some are using Debian, some are using the old Slackware for the hell of it, hardware companies will make their own branded Linux for their own computers... They'll all run most of the same software and they'll probably all have bash, but that's about where the similarities end. It's like saying a world where everybody uses a Microsoft OS is homogeneous even though some are using XP and some are using DOS 6.

      "Had KDE and Gnome merged for the common good, and challenged Microsoft's stronghold on the desktop, we would have probably made it..."

      You're suggesting that we're trying to beat Microsoft at their own game, and that isn't going to happen. Linux is about choice and about diversity, not trying to impose the One True Desktop upon others.

      "OS homogeny is a wonderful thing"

      Beyond milk and chemical mixtures, the concept of homogeneity in anything gives me cold chills.

    • The best of all possible worlds is:

      * open standards
      * with multiple, open implementations

      That way, you get interoperability (like the Internet) without the problems that you get with Microsoft-led homogeneity, which is built on

      * closed standards
      * with single, closed implementations

      A world where everyone ran Linux, but no distribution dominated, would be much safer than the current one.
    • I hope most people who develop applications for windows would agree with me that "windows" is not a homogenous thing. For a start there's windows95/98/NT/ME/2000/CE. CE is obviously very different from the rest so I'll ignore it for the rest of the discussion. This leaves 95/98/NT/ME/2000. They are simply NOT homogenous. You cannot treat them as such. Something that works fine on 98 will not work on 95. NT increases the problem by having multiple service packs. Also, the presence/absence of large pieces of software will greatly affect the behaviour of the platform (especially IE). Even the ORDER that things are installed in can have an impact. (I'm sure some of us have gone mad trying to remember did we install x before or after we installed service pack n, and was that before or after we installed y, and if it was was it y professional or y enterprise, and if we did, did we select the foo option?). One commercial application I worked on had a bug in the installer(created by installshield) that on windows NT service pack 4 would completely fsck the user's computer to the point where it was un-bootable and needed to be re-formatted, but worked fine on every other combination of windows we tested. Windows is NOT a homogenous platform.
  • by Dr_Cheeks ( 110261 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:42AM (#2121263) Homepage Journal
    I'm going out today to buy various samples of corn and freeze them. Then when the blight hits I'll be the only person who still has corn. Kelloggs will pay $billions!!!!

    Um, but don't anyone else do it, OK?

  • by $uperjay ( 263648 ) <jstorrie@ualberta . c a> on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:59AM (#2122460) Homepage
    To me, the great Microsoft problem seems to be part of a larger, greater problem: capitalism bogging down.

    The basic tenet of a capitalist, free-enterprise system is that through competition and the invisible hand of supply-demand, products and productivity will constantly improve and thus society as a whole will prosper.

    This, obviously, isn't happening.

    Microsoft has no strong commercial competitors. AMD and Intel are the only major processor makers for PCs. Nobody can touch Rambus' stuff. No one sells cola at the same price as Coke or Pepsi that is any better. Wizards of the Coast has the only big CCG. The list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is that the large new corps have managed to warp the capitalist system with their own money. Theorectically no one in one of the modern capitalist countries, especially a hardcore capitalist one like America, should be able to strangle the market for their goods like Microsoft does or Rambus almost did - what needs a patch for our problems is not M$ but modern capitalism, and I don't like the way things are going, because in that path the only major wake-up call may turn out to be...

    Hacked by Chinese!

    {/rant)

    • I fully agree. And at the heart of it is that economists and politicians neglected externalities.

      Yes, you do get economies of scale if you have huge companies. Coca Cola can ship beverages cheaper and more reliably than 10000 local bottling plants all over the country. You do derive benefits from comparative advantage if you have completely open trade.

      The problem is that the megacorp approach sacrifices the diversity that underlies a healthy free market just as much as a healthy ecology. In effect, the cheaper soft drink or the cheaper PC is bought by opportunity costs: society and the market lose the ability to adapt to changing conditions quickly because there are no alternative players that can take over. Instead, the leading players need to laboriously restructure and adapt, with all the speed and efficiency of the Soviet (planned) economy.

      What can be done about it? Giving the states more autonomy helps. Allowing states and cities to adopt a wide variety of local regulations helps. Taxing interstate and international commerce helps. A progressive taxation system for corporate profits might help. But all of those are fighting words to conservative economists, as well as corporate backed politicians. And such approaches are not without risk of abuse and inherent problems either.

      There is something you can do as a customer, though: be aware of the importance of diversity. Buy local, buy from small companies, and buy the non-mainstream product. Pay a little more for the high-quality specialty item. Don't worry about what the Joneses do. Do without, or do something different. Don't make a habit of eating at big chains, watching a lot of TV, etc. In addition too creating economic diversity, your health and your wallet will thank you, too. But don't obsess about it, either: moderate change in a lot of people is far better than obsessive change in a few.

    • The basic tenet of a capitalist, free-enterprise system is that through competition and the invisible hand of supply-demand, products and productivity will constantly improve and thus society as a whole will prosper.
      The number one reason this doesn't work in the computer market is that most people who buy computers simply don't know enough about them to choose intelligently. Most people reading this can choose things other than Windows, because they are skilled enough to convert file formats, configure devices, etc.
    • firstly, microsoft does not have a stranglehold on the market. linux exists, mac exists, that is enough to dispell the idea that microsoft will win in the end. there are alternatives - not big ones - and that is all that capitalism can "guarantee".

      secondly, microsoft, coke, wotc, rambus, intel - they're all at the top of their respective markets because they give people what they want. they answer demand. in some cases, they create demand through hammering their product over any media outlet 24/7. the point is, however, they give people what they want. i firmly believe that if microsoft was a worse company, it could not retain its hold, nor could it have gotten there in the first place. linux fails in this regard, totally. this is why, until there is a major revision, linux will be by geeks and for geeks. linux does not answer the demand of a large enough audience for it to rival microsoft, but it has been a success in that, i'd guess, at least 80 % people who it is geared for use it.

      that point is one i cannot hammer home enough. microsoft provides software that is easy to navigate, an os which is unparallel in simplicity, and the best web browser that i can think of offhand. amd and intel make beautiful chips at low prices. coke and pepsi have good pop. wotc knows how to make games. that is why the list goes on and on, because those companies are unrivaled in the quality that consumers want.

      thirdly, the us is not a pure capitalist state, nor is it enough of one to accuse capitalism for bogging us down. the problem we have is government interference - the ability to destroy competitors who improve on your product, for example, is a particularly ugly piece of legislation designed to protect businesses by stifling innovation.

      so, all in all, i don't see a problem from here, unless it's the government. the kind of doomsday scenario given in the article will only happen when linux is wiped off the face of the earth, and it won't be. until then, keep using it, keep improving it. ms does not need a patch - it will die, eventually, if it's not what the people want. and if it is what the people want, then who are you to deny them that?

      after all, i personally favor letting idiots not wear their seatbelts so that when they crash into something going 60 mph, their stupidity will be removed from this earth.
      • Excuse me? (Score:2, Insightful)

        firstly, microsoft does not have a stranglehold on the market. Have you ever READ the licence for Microsoft products? Nobody would in their RIGHT mind pay a lot of dollars for a product when there are NO GUARANTEES about whether it works or not, and it also specifically says that the producer is NOT LIABLE for any inherent flaws?

        How would you like it if GM made a car with brakes that disintegrated after three months, but could not be sued because of several clauses in the buying contract?

        Whether we like tort law or not, it HAS provided increased security for John Average. Poor security not only leads to a questionable reputation, it leads to direct expenses in lawsuit settlements and/or court proceedings.

        they create demand through hammering their product over any media outlet 24/7. the point is, however, they give people what they want.

        Contradicting yourself in adjoining sentences. nice stuff. and hey - a much better way of killing yourself in traffic is drinking and driving.

      • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <nicoaltiva@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 13, 2001 @06:39AM (#2140105) Journal
        "firstly, microsoft does not have a stranglehold on the market. linux exists, mac exists, that is enough to dispell the idea that microsoft will win in the end. there are alternatives - not big ones - and that is all that capitalism can "guarantee". "

        This is completely hypothetical competition. Linux only "exists" in the server market, the Mac only "exists" in the DTP market. Everywhere else ... there's Microsoft. You can claim as much as you want that a competitor might come up, it's just NOT happening.

        By NO competitor, I mean: there is no concurrent product with a non-marginal marketshare, that Microsoft has to compete with, that forces Microsoft to lower prices, or add new features, or improve quality ... which is the point of the "free market".
        • By NO competitor, I mean: there is no concurrent product with a non-marginal marketshare, that Microsoft has to compete with, that forces Microsoft to lower prices, or add new features, or improve quality ... which is the point of the "free market".

          Ahh, but therein lies the rub. There is no one forcing them to do those things, yet they perversely continue to do them anyway. Why should they do it if they aren't forced to?

          I submit that it is because they fear competitors they either can't see, or that don't exist yet. Even in the absence of actual competition, the fear of competition still drives them. In which case, one can hardly accuse them of being unable or unwilling to compete.

          • "Ahh, but therein lies the rub. There is no one forcing them to do those things, yet they perversely continue to do them anyway. Why should they do it if they aren't forced to? "

            You can only speculate at what they would be doing if they HAD real competitors. Of course, Windows 2000 is better than Windows 98 is better than Windows 95 is better than Windows 3.11 ... because they need people to upgrade. But how much so?

            They also need to ship improved products every year to incite people to upgrade and thus generate a revenue flow. But this is going to change with their planned rented-software strategy (pay each year instead of once). When this is implemented, what will drive them to ship anything better? Most likely, nothing.

            • You can only speculate at what they would be doing if they HAD real competitors.

              Well, they've had a slew of real competitors. Apple used to be far more viable than it was now. OS/2, RealNetworks, Netscape, take your pick.

              Yes, MS is dependent on the upgrade treadmill, and they've had clever ways to get people to upgrade anyway - let's face it, there's no functional difference between Office 95 and Office XP. The only "improvements" have been to add features and functions that virtually nobody uses anyway. But people upgrade anyway, due in great part to the fact that MS breaks and reinvents the .doc format every time.

              And, for my money, the minute they pursue the upgrade treadmill concept to its logical conclusion - software leasing - they've nailed their own coffin. Who needs that shit - paying your monthly Microsoft bill along with electricity and telephones and water? How many companies just finished moving to win2k, and already they're being told to start thinking about XP?

              Anyway, I'll share a story about another computer monopoly that my father, the old computing fogey from back in the day, shared with me. He grew up and took his education in computers during period when computing was IBM. If you wanted anything computing, IBM was not just the best way, it was, most often, the only way. So he and his fellow CS students, in his undergraduate and graduate days, grew into a sense that IBM was stifling innovation for its own gain. And they carried that into the real world with them. And as they moved up the ladders of corporate power, they remembered IBM when they came to have purchasing power, and anything that remotely came close to doing the job got bought, so long as it wasn't IBM. This, combined with a never-ending antitrust investigation, helped humble IBM.

              Now, think of MS in the 1990's, and compare to IBM of the 1960's and '70's. If I had to add anything, I'd add that MS doesn't appear to me to have the kind of institutional inertia or memory that IBM did - MS seems largely a cult of personality, held together by the force of BillG's will. But, of course, personality cults rarely outlive the personalities they are built around. I have real trouble seeing MS flourish after the end of Bill...

              Consider this, my fellow slashdotters - remember MS over the last 10 years when your employer comes to you to ask you for your advice. And have patience. Even the mightiest of empires is destined to crumble. ;)
      • secondly, microsoft, coke, wotc, rambus, intel - they're all at the top of their respective markets because they give people what they want. they answer demand.

        All of the companies listed (but can't speak about WOTC) work very hard to create a demand for their products and services. You left out phillip morris and a few others. Perhaps I should be daring and mention that you also left out the drug cartels. This is not what people want, it's what they've been told they want.

        Can you honestly tell me that Peruvian natives actually wanted black caffienated phosphoric acid before CCC moved in and flogged it to them, hard? People don't actually want ``Word'' or ``Windows'', they want software that does certain things, or even more so, they simply want to do certain things, and Microsoft have - at great expense - sold them on the idea that the Microsoft Way is the best (only) way, and please pay at the till on the way out.

        What they are doing now is escalating that to the point of being able to make you pay every time you breathe or blink. Bill's attitude is probably very much along the lines of ``let them eat cake. [knology.net]''

        microsoft provides software that is easy to navigate

        Yah, like Microsoft Bob with the reversed OK and Cancel buttons, those useless disappearing menus, and that fsking PITA paperclip. Oh, and dear old Word, with Format-everything-else in the Format menu, but Format-Page in [drum roll...] the file menu! Of course! No thanks.

        an os which is unparallel in simplicity

        ``Simplicity,'' yes, but simple not in the sense of easy to use. Simple in the sense of having important bits missing, like security (CodeRed/SirCam/PWL-files/CIFS-hole-de-jour,PPTP,. ..), timesharing (WinModems), user awareness (Windows login), reliability (all, especially Bill's '98 USB scanner driver :-), consistency (NT GUI routing != text) standards (Kerberos/AD/IE-MIME-handling), flexibility (FIND.EXE,EDLIN.COM), honesty (DR-DOS crash code in WFW3, ``IE is necessary for Windows''), and much else. Any modern Linux installer and/or system management toolset (think DrakConf) eats Windows for manageability, and Konqueror (for one example) stands between Explorer and WorkPlaceShell for elegance and consistency.

        the best web browser that i can think of offhand

        For...? Stepping on HTML mines? It took them a hell of a long time to get IE smooth, most of the Open browsers are up on it in half the time.

        amd and intel make beautiful chips at low prices

        Samsung make even more beautiful chips (Alphas) but Intel may not let them play in that space for long. And tell me that Intel haven't pulled out all the stops to cut AMD, Firewire and everyone else who even smells of competitor off at the knees, I dare you...

        the ability to destroy competitors who improve on your product, for example, is a particularly ugly piece of legislation designed to protect businesses by stifling innovation.

        Yes, and haven't Microsoft just used that ability to the hilt whenever opportunity arose? Have they stopped? Will they ever? Discuss.

        after all, i personally favor letting idiots not wear their seatbelts so that when they crash into something going 60 mph, their stupidity will be removed from this earth.

        Would it impact your gross stupidity at all to learn that eight times as many car accident victims are maimed for life as are killed outright? And even more are permanently handicapped? What you are advocating would cause a dramatic increase in the societal burden of caring for incapacitated accident victims, which is the direct opposite of where your pious bullshit was evidently directed.

        ms does not need a patch - it will die, eventually, if it's not what the people want.

        The trick is to prevent M$ from altering ``what people want'' to suit their accunting department.

      • "Rambus only succeeded because they gave people what they want" is insightful? o_O

        Only on slashdot..

  • by case_igl ( 103589 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:41AM (#2122660) Homepage
    In the latest release of RedHat 34.1:

    -Better USB support
    -P2P2P2P support for faster MP3 downloads
    -Greatly improved SMP
    -FreeCiv final + Minesweeper deluxe
    -BIND security flaw patched

    Case

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2001 @05:37AM (#2122734)
    Sounds like someone forgot to download and patch their cornfields. Silly ecological administrators. On a similar note, another buffer overrun was found in tomatoes that permit another a plant to take root.
  • by BenHmm ( 90784 ) <.ben. .at. .benhammersley.com.> on Monday August 13, 2001 @06:00AM (#2124448) Homepage
    Code Red bunging up my apache logs has made me think:

    Posit: once Linux reaches a certain saturation, it will suffer the same security issues as Microsoft does.

    Bear with me on this...

    Take Code Red.The problem is not that Microsoft products are insecure. Code Red exploits a flaw for which the patch was available a month ago.

    Neither is it that Microsoft sysadmins are incompetent. Most major systems were indeed patched well in advance. Those that weren't at the time, soon did as Code Red struck: even the least-subscribed admin reads the papers and watches TV news.

    No. The problem that should be making the Linux community a little less smug is rather more insideous.

    After talking to quite a few infected companies, it seems that the majority of uninfected machines were those that were admin-less.

    The sort of server you buy, plug in, have someone load up with whatever and leave in a cupboard to happily serve away...and that is **Precisely** the sort of system Linux is going to be used for.

    Once Linux systems are consumer devices (like my lovely Cobalt Qube) - and there is every good reason for them to become so - then no amount of open source hacking, patches, multiple eyeballs and bugtraqery will stop these systems from being compromised once a hole is found and made public.

    This is not because they will be run by bad sysadmins, but because they will - as with many MS systems running Code Red right now - not be administered by anyone at all.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the very security of Linux is something to do with the average level of savvy among current Linux users.

    Would a bigger userbase keep the same level of security and system awareness? Will the guy in 2020 buying the plug-in-and-leave Linux box for his small business's network know when and where to go for the next patch to Sendmail/Apache/Bind?

    Probably not.

    And that's the problem Microsoft have. and the one we're going to get.

    • Posit: once Linux reaches a certain saturation, it will suffer the same security issues as Microsoft does.

      I honestly think this won't be the case, for the following reasons:

      Unix systems, having been multi-user systems for a number of years, have well-established guidelines for how much permission to give an application. Even simple things like access permissions and chroots would prevent really devastating worms from hosing your system, and perhaps even from spreading. (Even if Linux supports VBScript Attachments in the future, it's very unlikely that the attachment will be able to do much outside of that user's account...) Many Windows problems stem from giving applications too many permissions. The "tight integration" of Windows applications is done with only lip service to security. (this may be better in Win2K, I haven't done that much with it)...

      The Open-Source nature of all the major Unix Services mean that any holes can be found more quickly, and be quickly made available. If someone is suspicious of a certain piece of code, they can LOOK AT IT and find out for themselves. You can't do that with IIS, and have to rely on MS to analyze the code and release patches, making the whole process shower and leaving computers vulernable for longer periods of time. By the time the patch comes out, the hysteria may have dies down, and the Admin may have moved on to other things. (Yes, this means that at least one Admin in an organization should know how to read code. I don't think this is unreasonable.)

      Individual Open-Source programs are widely deployed (Apache and BIND, for example) and while they have their share of problems, they don't have nearly as many problems as Windows or IIS. Compare the number of Apache problems over the last five years with the number of IIS problems, relate that to market share, and please tell me if I'm wrong!

      In short, if Linux had the same market share as Windows, there would certainly be more Linux nasties than there are now, but not nearly as serious and not nearly in the same proportion as currently affects MS products, for all the reasons I outlined above.

    • Well, perhaps we need machines that patch themselves.
    • Posit: once Linux reaches a certain saturation, it will suffer the same security issues as Microsoft does.

      I believe you are making an invalid assumption that Microsoft == Windows OS. The reason Code Red took off so quickly is that the software with the real problem wasn't Windows, it was IIS. Windows does have a bit of variety (I've heard the original patch would crash IIS on NT4 when Code Red came around again), but IIS is a lot more homogenous. In this case it should be compared to Apache. I don't know when the last remote root exploit was found in Apache, but I'm sure it was found through source code inspection. I seem to recall hearing that the default.ida exploit used by Code Red was found by someone disassembling (!) IIS to look for vulnerabilites.

      You're also making the invalid assumption that Linux == Linux. The reason that Microsoft OS'es, and IIS in particular, are so homogenous is that they are installed from CD-ROMs that are produced in the millions! The same can be said for Red Hat, which, not coincidentally, is the distribution of choice for people running honeypots. Just do a full install of RH 6.0 and wait for the 'sploits to come flooding in! On the other hand, a Slackware install with half of the daemons recompiled from freshly downloaded source, and a decent ipchains firewall is much harder to break into. It's not Linux becoming dominant that will be a problem, it's a single distro like RedHat (aka DeadRat) becoming popular among people who don't know what they're doing that is the problem. And right now, 4 out of 5 people who don't know what they're doing choose Microsoft.

      Once Linux systems are consumer devices (like my lovely Cobalt Qube) - and there is every good reason for them to become so - then no amount of open source hacking, patches, multiple eyeballs and bugtraqery will stop these systems from being compromised once a hole is found and made public.

      Ah yes, your lovely Cobalt Qube, where upgrading the OS with anything other the official Cobalt patches violates the warranty? What an excellent way to ensure homogenity!

      • Ah yes, your lovely Cobalt Qube, where upgrading the OS with anything other the official Cobalt patches violates the warranty? What an excellent way to ensure homogenity!

        Dammit, brain fart. It's the RaQ that has this warranty policy. I have no idea whether the Qube has this.

    • Code Red bunging up my apache logs has made me think:

      Posit: once Linux reaches a certain saturation, it will suffer the same security issues as Microsoft does.

      Unplace excriment: Apache runs more web servers than IIS, the victim of Code Red. Saturation reached, failure not suffered. Think about it for a while.

    • This is not because they will be run by bad sysadmins, but because they will - as with many MS systems running Code Red right now - not be administered by anyone at all.

      We need a CLI version of those pretty GUI updaters. Debian is already set, of course. Not a complete answer, of course, but done with a touch of planning will eliminate 99% of failure-to-update errors.

    • Take Code Red.The problem is not that Microsoft products are insecure. Code Red exploits a flaw for which the patch was available a month ago.

      This is a good point. I really like the Mac OS X solution and which that other unix variants would adopt a similar solution. At scheduled intervals, the machine will contact a central database at Apple looking for software updates. The user may select one or more. These are then downloaded and automatically installed (usually without requiring a reboot). If a security hole is found, a patch is made available on the server and 'average' users should pick it up eventually.

      Before readers get too caught up in the details, there are some potential drawbacks to this scheme. One: the centralized server means that Apple gets to control which 3rd party tools can be updatd. Two: it might be possible to spoof the server IP and send out fake updates. There are solutions to each of these. The key thing is that updates are easy and largely automatic.

  • by Raetsel ( 34442 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:40AM (#2124503)

    I think I've seen something similar not too long ago. Don't remember where, unfortunately.

    Quite a good point about everything running the same OS and getting hit by (worms | virii | crackers) at the same time -- it's even more poignant and ironic with the infections of Code Red 1, 2 (and 3?) still making the rounds.

    The corn analogy drives his point home quite well, too!

    Now... where are those raging mobs he talks about? We sure could use a few of them -- especially for all the brilliant individuals who still haven't noticed their infected boxes, never mind turn them off! (God forbid they could be bothered to patch 'em!)

    Sheesh.

  • Yeah, I guess. On the other hand:
    (from the first page of Debian [debian.org] )

    Security Alerts
    [12 Aug 2001] DSA-074 wmaker - buffer overflow
    [11 Aug 2001] DSA-073 imp - 3 remote exploits
    [10 Aug 2001] DSA-072 groff - printf format attack
    [10 Aug 2001] DSA-071 fetchmail - memory corruption
    [10 Aug 2001] DSA-070 netkit-telnet - remote exploit
    [09 Aug 2001] DSA-069 xloadimage - buffer overflow
    [09 Aug 2001] DSA-068 openldap - remote DoS
    [28 Jul 2001] DSA-067 apache - Remote exploit
    [11 Jul 2001] DSA-066 cfingerd - remote exploit
    [23 Jun 2001] DSA-065 samba - remote file append/creation

    For older security alerts see the Security Page. If you would like to receive security alerts ...
    My point is only that we all live in glass houses.
    • Actually if you put it in your terms Yes.
      Let's list all the applications that run on windows and their security risks. AS everything up there has nothing to do with linux, they are just applications that run on linux,bsd,and windows if I wanted to cross-compile them.

    • Add security.debian.org to your apt.sources list.

      #apt-get update
      #apt-get dist-upgrade

      Unless it's the kernel being upgraded, you won't have to reboot either. There will be a few seconds of downtime as individual services restart themselves. Not bad.

      Sure, all widely used OSen will have holes but some are easier to keep plugged than others. Oh yeah, and installing or upgrading a service won't roll back the last seven updates that were patched into the system.
    • [28 Jul 2001] DSA-067 apache - Remote exploit

      "Remote exploit"? That makes it sound like someone can 0wn your machine. When in actuality, this particular "exploit" merely allowed people to bypass an index.html file and see a raw directory listing.

      [10 Aug 2001] DSA-071 fetchmail - memory corruption

      They may call it a "security alert", but "memory corruption" sounds more like a simple bug to me.

    • Compare what ships with Debian to what ships with Windows.

      Compare the severity of the exploits (e.g. DSA-067 gets you limited control of the Apache user, CodeRed gets you unlimited control of the whole machine) and the difficulty of using them (DSA-071 or 068 cause an application or service crash in special circumstances, SirCam sends your secrets around the world).

      That's like equating FIND.EXE with grep, or EDLIN.COM with vi, and being proud of the DOS app having less known vulnerabilities.

      You're comparing strawberries and potatoes, Doug.

      Microsoft don't ship TCPdump, so nobody reports vulnerabilities in it. There are dozens of webmail apps available for Linux, and most are reported at places like Debian. There is just one shipped with Windows (Outlook) and little else gets its bugs reported (-: maybe because Outlook fills quota quite handily all by itself? :-).
    • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:51AM (#2145206) Homepage Journal
      After Code Red, the WinBox is rooted.

      Even when the next Apache exploit is found, it only gains access as the user "apache", and even that will frequently be in a chroot jail.

      Security is not a firewall.
      Security is not a bug-free program.
      Security is not even a set of procedures.

      Security is a process, and encompasses all of the above. Security also realizes that accidents happen, and attempts to minimize the aftereffects.

      That is one place Windows falls down, there is inadequate system partitioning. IIS and its bevy of extensions run with Admin authority. No dedicated accounts, no chroot jails, etc. At least not by default.

      Default security has been pretty bad on Linux, but gets better all the time. Furthermore, there are releases geared toward the server business that are much tighter, by default.
      • "Inside Internet Security" by Jeff Crume is a free book being given away by IBM that covers a lot of security topics in a really good way. They get into a lot of white-hat/black-hat discussion, which is sometimes really a distraction from talking about good policies, but it's still good overall. Get a free copy here [ibm.com] instead of paying $30 for it, and you can even spamgourmet [spamgourmet.com] the address so you make sure you don't hear from them after signing up.

        Remember, security is a process, not a package you buy in a store. The best tech won't help if someone is loaning their keychain with security keyfob to their girlfriend or lets their cousin use their corporate PPP account to browse the web from his home.

    • I won't try to argue the relative dangers of Windows vs. Linux. Other respondents to this post have already made some insightful comments on that (moderators, where are you?), and I basically agree with your premise that any OS is vulnerable to attack.

      However, the article was not about security problems in Windows. It was about the security problems inherent in the software monoculture that Microsoft seems bent on creating.

      Ecologists have long been aware of the dangers of monoculture. Using only a single strain of a species makes that species vulnerable to decimation by a single disease or parisite. The answer they have come up with is not to create a single super-resistent strain of each crop, but to plant a variety of strains so that if a new disease exploits a vulnerability in one, it won't threaten the whole species.

      Does the same hold true for software? I think it does. Imagine what a Code Red-like worm could do if 90% of all machines were running the same OS/server combination. Without the buffer of uninfectable machines, we would have a real mess on our hands.

  • The problem is, because everything runs the same operating system--even my electric shaver--once somebody discovers a security flaw...
    wonder how his face looks like when Win goes blue...
  • 20 years of development, and the Linux kernel 2.4.x is not yet considered "stable" by Debian.
  • Odd... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jin Wicked ( 317953 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:35AM (#2131629) Homepage Journal

    One would think that if there was a cult of Mac users that nearly everyone knew about, it would be rather obvious when all the Microsoft-run stuff shut down, that the Mac computers weren't affected. Seems to me that'd be enough to have people switching systems...at least if it was a crisis on this scale...

    ...isn't that one of the major problems w/ Linux, that most people just don't know it exists? I know I didn't have a clue what it was until one of my friends got me to start reading Slashdot. And if this guy ever thought that MS would be able to over-run the alternate-OS crowd that frequents this place... well, I don't believe that's possible.

    I like the bit about the Frosted Flakes though. :)

  • by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @05:02AM (#2133827)
    I wish I could come up with a joke after reading this article, but I simply cannot. It hits too close to the heart of the problem, and it's a huge one. Because aparently this is where the world is going right now, and there is no going back. The problem is that everything, not only computers, is becomming more and more the same.

    I was going to write a longer post, but then I realized one thing: There is no way that this can be stopped. Maybe all computers will run M$ software, or maybe not. But then look around you! Even though in the early 1900s there were cars running on gas, steam and electricity, only the gas cars remain. Why? They were the most feasible to build. Now the technology has evolved to a point where we might see some other kind of car using maybe H2, solar or some other energy source, and all the new cars will use that new, better source.

    Another example is the cell phone. In the beginning all were analogue (at least in the US). Go to Europe now, and most people don't even know what that is. Why? All cells there are digital, and most of the ones in the US are the same. And how many digital protocols are there? GPM is only one of them, but soon 3G is comming, and that will be the world standard.

    The point I'm trying to make is that maybe uniformity is good. Maybe all computers will run M$ software, although I doubt it! (I would never trade Linux for Windoze). So the problem is not that every computer will run the same OS. The problem however is finding the best OS to use on all computers.

    But it's 5am where I live, and I think I'll solve it tomorrow. :P

    • by dair ( 210 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @05:28AM (#2157098)
      Another example is the cell phone. In the beginning all were analogue (at least in the US). Go to Europe now, and most people don't even know what that is. Why? All cells there are digital, and most of the ones in the US are the same. And how many digital protocols are there? GPM is only one of them, but soon 3G is comming, and that will be the world standard.

      The point I'm trying to make is that maybe uniformity is good
      Uniformity in protocols is good, uniformity in implementation is bad.

      This is exactly why cell phones are so popular in Europe/Asia - there's an incredible diversity of handsets available, all of which have different features and trade-offs between (say) battery life and weight.

      But underneath they all talk the same language - you can send an SMS message from pretty much anywhere in Europe and you know it'll get through to a handset thousands of miles away. The fact that it 'just works' is testament to how useful it is to have standardised protocols for communicating between different implementations.
      So the problem is not that every computer will run the same OS. The problem however is finding the best OS to use on all computers.
      I don't think it is - the problem is finding the best protocol to use to let computers talk to each other. The OS is several levels above this, and standardising on the OS is like standardising on a singe type of cell phone.

      Case in point, the net - since every system converged on TCP/IP, life has gotten a whole lot easier. Standardising on a protocol like that allows you to pick the OS that's best for the job, and not be forced into one particular OS just because it's the only one you can use to communicate with everyone else.

      -dair
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Case in point, the net - since every system converged on TCP/IP

        [nitpicker mode]
        Actually, every system converged on IP, since there are a LOT of protocols running under IP. And IP is mostly tunneled in other protocols, causing a lot of problems between networks of different standards. That it still works is almost a miracle.
        [/nitpicker mode]
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:33AM (#2137437) Homepage Journal
    ...when the stuff available now already does more than anyone needs?

    All you have to do is keep a "Pentium or better" running and you'll be able to load software on it to do everything that 90% of the population will ever need. Heck, some people are still going fine with C64s, Amigas and for all I know, Atari STs. I had an old 19MHz XT with 1 MB of EMS RAM that did pretty well.

    I believe that the glut of existing, functioning, equipment will have more of an influence on the future than homoganisation of the available platforms.

    • Well, I'm not saying it's really planned, but it seems they never really stop finding bugs in Microsoft's software. At the same time, they do stop issuing patches for software that is no longer officially supported. If Code Red had emerged 5 years from now, and Microsoft simply said the fix was to upgrade to Windows XXL (or whatever it'll be in 2006) then you'd have to choose having your HD repeatedly formatted by script kiddies, or upgrading to the latest version of Windows (or switching to Linux, but I'm betting that if you're still holding onto Windows 2000 six years after it came out, you're not the type to take change lightly.)
      • by PovRayMan ( 31900 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:56AM (#2138536) Homepage
        As soon as I am no longer able to use Win2k and force to upgrade to the next Microsoft Operating System will be the day I move to Linux.

        Right now Win2k is perfect for me. It's stable, fast and easy to use. Now from my point of view I look back to what I was using just a few months ago. I was using Win98 because of motherboard issues with Win2k. At the time I was in no position to go from Win98 to Linux because I didn't have the time to learn everything again. I have toyed around with Linux in the past, but not fully because I needed a system right then and there I could fully use to my knowledge. Now anyways, I look back to Win98 and I see hell. Unstable, buggy and just a general annoyance. I look to the future and I see WinXP. I don't like the idea of my operating system phoning home or disabling my system if I move my hardware around too much because it invades my privacy. I have other quarrels, but I just want to basically point out my reasoning.

        To sum it up, Win2k does everything I want. Going back to Win98 isn't an option, going forward to WinXP is a definate no-no.

        As soon as Win2k can no longer function for me, that is the day I move to Linux.
        • It did take a little forcing. It was so much easier to install that 98 update when 95 was failing on my machines. Like you, I had my eyes open and it was a good thing. The force was an old FORTRAN program. Thank God for G77 and Red Hat, they saved my but in that CFD class.

          The more I used, the more I learned and the easier linux became, and the harder MS looked. Looking back on things, it's amazing to me that anyone would trust configurations to anything but a human readable text file. The amount of trust required of MS to do anything is amazing. Good grief, just look at that sloppy NetBIOS. Look at all the hidden stuff. How does anyone memorize that awful pile of symbols that are the ever shifting MS interface? Work, with NT desktops, it painfully constricted and limiting. No compilers, how can people stand it? Only a single window manager with a single virtual screen? Only one crippled shell? I have no regrets as 98 dies on it's last machines in my house. It sucked, then it died. Win2k? No way!

          The sooner you move, the happier you will be. The things you learn from MS are either counter productive or plain useless. Want stability, get Debian potato. Want privacy, get ssh.

    • Indeed. Until one year ago the computer that handled the core functions of my business, the one that if it went down I was out of business, was 1.7 MHz Compaq trasportable.

      The only reason I ditched it was the 5 1/2" full hight floppy drive was getting cranky and I couldn't find a replacment.

      I donated it to a church and it's still chugging away doing useful work.

      Oh sure, a few years from now I'll want something newer and snazzier than the Athlon 900 I have now. I WON'T want to get rid of the Athlon though. Why should I? It plays music, it records music, both prepackaged and live. It makes CDs. It plays and records movies and TV. It renders images in photo quality. It surfs the web. It can interface with, and control, every electronic device in my house, and with a bit tinkering every NON electronic device in my house. Screen resolutions are higher than anybody can see.

      Hell, it even *computes!*

      And all of the software to do this is either free or easily writable by myself.

      It already does what 90% of the population needs, but more than that, it already does 90% of everything *I* will ever need.

      I don't need a faster cpu to get 300 fps in Quake, I need new algorithms to make Quake look like natural motion at 30 fps.

      I sure as hell don't need Windows XP. The "industry" is counting on XP to sell computers. What's with that? Do these people have their heads up their fscking butts? It ain't going to happen. If I WANTED XP I'd buy XP, not a computer.

      What I need is bigger, faster *storage.*

      At least until the Virtual date with petrified Natalie Portman with hot grits down her pants program comes out.

      I might buy a new machine to run that. I'll still run my core apps on my current machine though. The new one will be down for cleaning too often.

      KFG
  • I find it interesting that articles like this - whether written humourously or seriously (eg this one [economist.com] from the current Economist [economist.com]) are now no longer rare in the mainstream press. Distrust of Microsoft in general and its aggressive business practices in particular are no longer restricted to the IT-knowledgable.

    Whether this distrust will result in the company being constrained to operate consistently with its monopoly status is - unfortunately - another matter entirely. It looks as though MS's top management has decided to construct new facts on the ground which will make current court rulings irrelevant; unfortunately the US justice system appears unable to cope with this strategy.

  • Yeah, the corn analogy is excellent. What's that saying they used to have back in the short-sighted 20th century? "You find something that works - you stick with it!" Yeah, maybe that works in the imaginary world of permanence, but take a cue from the mother of us all: You find something that works, attack it with everything you've got - virus, plague, famine, pestilence - until it goes extinct. It may be just a little red worm now, but someday it'll grow up to be Shai Hulud!

    The bit about the subscription system's reverberating side-effects rings awfully true too. Proprietary and convoluted file-formats can only do so much to bring about the American(TM) dream of planned obsolescence. But mark my words: Subscription software is flawed in its genes and doomed to fail. Anything that goes straight to profit-motive without providing added value to the consumer *cough*antitrust*cough* just seems a little dubious.

    Personally, I'm getting one of my hotshot Windows geek buddies to whip up a nice short hack to disable the automatic shutoff for my own personal use. Want one? It'll be printed on T-shirts next year in rebus sistena verse.
  • by James Foster ( 226728 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @07:34AM (#2141565)
    I wonder if Steve Ballmer will still be doing this [212.113.16.236] in 2020?
  • by sanermind ( 512885 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @06:59AM (#2141899)

    Windows DNI

    You open the box labeled "Windows DNI: Direct Neural Interface", carefully extracting the pouch labeled "License Agreement". You examine the contents of the pouch, finding an inflatable cap bearing the Windows logo rather than the familiar 3.5" diskette package. You inflate the cap, insert two "C"-size batteries (not included), and carefully place it on your head. You press the Start button.

    Immediately, the image of an hourglass comes to your mind. You find yourself trapped; unable to move anything in your body save your eyes. After an indeterminable delay, you regain control of your senses. You are suddenly compelled to speak your name and business affiliation. You then retrieve your Windows DNI package and chant the Product-ID number.

    Suddenly you see the words "Windows is detecting new hardware" flash before your eyes. You crash to the floor, writhing in agony. You feel every muscle in your body contract and retract in turn. Your mind is filled with the image of a blue inchworm, creeping slowly across a grey field. The creature finally reaches the edge of its domain, and your seizure ceases. You take a moment to regain your composure, and you are reminded of your high school anatomy course as a complete listing of every organ in your body appears before your eyes. You browse the list for a moment, and utter the phrase "OK". After a short delay, you hear the sound of a trumpet echo through the recesses of your mind.

    You find yourself in a large, barren space. You look around, and discover images labeled "My Brain", "Recycle Bin, and "Set up the Microsoft Network". You feel compelled to utter the word "Start", after which a list of options floods your mind. Weary from the detection phase, you utter the word "Shut down". You close your eyes, and blackness surrounds you. You feel yourself start to drift into sleep. Your peace is interrupted, however, as a bright orange light invades your nothingness. "It's now safe to shut down your mind".

    You drift into unconsciousness, and sleep for several hours. When you awaken, you are frozen in place as you see clouds and blue cycling colors. After a short eternity, the familiar "My Brain" icon reappears in your mind. But something is terribly wrong; you can feel it in your gut. Just outside the range of primary vision, you can sense something lurking about you on all four sides.

    You slowly look up, and see the word "Safe Mode" glaring back at you. You back away slowly, swivel your head, and there it is, behind you as well. Your heartbeat quickened and you are terrified as you turn to your left and your right and it meets you there as well, its cold, heartless glare filling your soul with despair.

    Quickly, you summon Control Panel, System, Device Manager. You feel yourself frantically gasping for air as you run through the list of installed devices. You come upon "Respiratory System" and are horrified to see a black exclamation point on a yellow field next to the entry "Lungs". You close your eyes and utter the word "Properties". On the closed curtains of your eyelids, you see your life flashing before your eyes.

    You force yourself to concentrate on your situation, attempting to discover which system devices are in conflict, when suddenly your entire body seizes up in pain. You lose all sense of reality. You are floating through the clouds as you hear a voice echo through your mind: "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be terminated." You start to black out and suddenly you remember your situation. You stare in horror at your blue extremities, knowing that, without oxygen, you will not last much longer. With all the consciousness you can muster, you force yourself... To reboot.

    You awaken in a place that is dark, but familiar. A solitary white prompt on a black field greets you. You look behind you and see the wreckage of the operating system that nearly spelled your demise. "Cannot find a file that may be needed to run Windows". You turn around to face the prompt, and a wide grin comes across your face. You take a deep breath and revel in the life-giving atmosphere. You laugh as you utter the words, "DELTREE WINDOWS".

    Suddenly you find yourself on the floor of your home. You find the charred remains of the Windows DNI beanie littering the floor. You carefully gather them up, stack them neatly on an altar, and burn them, promising yourself never to risk your life with Microsoft again. You bury the ashes, knowing that your life is again in order.

    I have no idea who originally wrote this, it was emailed to me a few years ago...
  • mkay (Score:2, Funny)

    by isudoru ( 452928 )
    Gates and his minions literally went underground in 2019 after the Supreme Court ruled against the company for the 1,249th time in the antitrust case that began in 1997.

    I see that the justice system in the States works just fine :)
  • that will never happen, forget the linux faithful for a moment and think about how many servers run windows... proof that windows is not prefered is in the messages posted on slashdot about code red. I don't think I read a single message that said "I run a windows box and was affected". I sure someone else could come up with exact figures and berate MS software for exactly why it isn't used.

    Windows is good for home users and workstations, xp is actually quite good, but there is enough reactionary backlash against MS that even if they did manage to release a perfect windows os in the next few years *nix and other os's wouldn't just dissapear overnight (or even 20 years I suspect).

    Is it possible to totally secure an os ?, you never know one day it might. In this case, as long as windows doesn't crash and does what it is supposed to then I will be more than happy to live in that world.
  • by then... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PovRayMan ( 31900 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:30AM (#2142688) Homepage
    "640GB ought to be enough for anybody." --Bill Gates, 2020

    Hopefully ram prices will be decent then :-/
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:28AM (#2142880)
    that all available bandwidth will be used up by CodeRed 1007, a sentient replicating virus. Furthermore, since A***e has patented everything, the virus will be put in jail for copying itself.
  • Gah! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous DWord ( 466154 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:25AM (#2143244) Homepage
    Windows, Windows Everywhere huh? Nice title for a page with a pop-up AND a pop-under.
  • Or just lame, yeah you know, the kind of stupidity that gives geekdom a bad name. It's nice to know some know nothing weenie crackhead from the LA times who probably got his job on all fours has something critical to say about computers.
  • Will the metaphor of 'windows' still be around in 2020?

    I thought that we would have evolved to something more multi-dimensional - rooms, say?

  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @08:49AM (#2144910)
    In other news, Mozilla has achieved the much-vaunted "five-nines" status. Mozilla 0.99999 was released earlier this February, and most coders on the project still claim that 1.0 will be finished "soon."
  • by archen ( 447353 )
    you know the future truly sucks when you get up one morning and try to make a pot of coffee only to find the coffee pot display says "Hacked by Chinese".
  • A tad unfair (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lagos ( 67371 )
    Am I the only one who believes that this is a tad unfair? It is hypo-critical for us to push the ubiquetious adoption of Linux on one paw, and then attack Windows for the practice on the other.

    The natural refute to what I've said, is that Linux will afford a greater degree of variety in each of its implementations, while Windows will likely be the same software, with the same vulnerabilities on every device that runs it.

    That too, however is unfair. Witness the X-Box--A very slim kernel (it's smaller than WindowsCE) with extraneous functionality ripped out. Microsoft is capable of de-bloating their kernel.

    Further, the idea that security exploits would exist across device implementations is pretty absurd. Beyond the possibility of bugs in, say, the Networking stack or race conditions in the kernel, this simply isn't likely to happen. A toaster would not need to run IIS, and so would not run IIS, hence it has no fear of Code Red.

    This is akin to arguing against the ubiquetious (no, I do know how to spell that. My apologies) adoption of Linux because of say, the exploit in piranha from a while back.

  • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @09:52AM (#2154009) Homepage Journal
    It would be great if all computers everywhere could talk to each other and work with each other without the amount of fuss we have to go through to do it today. The problem is lack of standards. If MS would use standard protocols, and commercial vendors would bother to write portable code, we wouldn't have a problem with OS dominating the world we'd have a variety of OSen that work together. Virii/worms/hackers would not be able to attack everyone because of that variety... at least not as easily.

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