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Feature:Zeal, Advocacy, and the Future of Linux 185

Joe Shaw has sent us a feature on a topic that is near and dear to many of our hearts: Linux advocacy. Specifically related to the recent mindcraft email posting, and practically any journalist who writes an article with a non-glowing comment about Linux, and the hoards that swoop down and proceed to shove them through a cuisinart. Hit the link to read it.
The following was written by Slashdot Reader Joe Shaw

Zeal, Advocacy, and the Future of Linux

The future of Linux in the computing world, now so centralized around the Internet, worries me.

It REALLY worries me.

What worries me, specifically, is the light that Linux is being put in because of very bad advocacy. Anti-advocacy, almost, from those who claim to love and support it the most. Rude, insulting, and obscene attacks fly out of the "mouths" of these people to anyone who speaks one thing about Linux that doesn't put it into an immaculate light. Never before has the ordinary, everyday user had such a voice in the software industry. In this Internet-centralized computing world, the everyday advocacy by the average user can have huge ramifications on how Linux is presented to the world.

Everyone remembers the Amiga, OS/2, the BeBox. For their times, they were technologically superior to the Intel/Microsoft framework that dominated. Their (relative) failures to reach a substantial portion of the marketplace cannot be narrowed down to one cause, but among the many, advocacy was definitely a poignant one. A defensive and often rude greater-than-thou attitude without addressing the shortcomings of their products pushed away possible supporters and hurt their chances of widespread support. Rumors, myths, and speculation ("The Amiga is just a game machine! It couldn't possibly by used for any productive task.") became widespread. An inability to dispel this hearsay through supportive, informative, and polite advocacy implied that it was _not_ unsubstantiated, regardless of how untrue it really was. As

members of this open source community and supporters of our projects and ideals, it is important to correct erroneous reports and dispel FUD[1] directed at us, but it must be done in a polite and professional manner. WE are the spokespeople for our community, for our ideals, and for our projects. There is no PR department in the open source community that can sugar coat our feelings and statements. Some of our most vocal proponents, such as ESR, RMS, and Linus, have somewhat taken on this responsibility, but even they are flamed and criticized. Without politeness, professionalism, and pride we will dig ourselves into a hole that we may not be able to get out of. And the shovels have already broken ground. Take, for example, the posting of the EXTREMELY embarrassing comments directed at Mindcraft regarding their Linux vs. NT benchmarks[2]. Want more dirt? After an article[3] by Jack Bryar from the Andover News Network that he himself admitted was hasty ex post facto was posted to Slashdot[4], he was flooded with hateful email telling him hundreds of different places to stick it. Was the article appropriate? Certainly not from our point of view, but many readers courteously and meticulously described the errors in his article, much to his delight. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the proper way to handle with this situation, not with obscenities. Fortunately, in his response article[5], he put the flames in a much better light than anyone could reasonably expect. This is not a slam on the Slashdot folk; it is a problem that the entire community suffers from. Nobody is perfect, obviously, but please give thought before you shoot off an email like the ones mentioned. There ARE real people with real feelings on the other end and many times they have a valid point.

You are all ambassadors for the open source community whether you like it or not. You don't want to be ostracized and called "rabid fanatics" or "zealots" by the rest of the world. It defeats our purpose and will ultimately doom us. Advocate Linux. Advocate open source. Don't put down competitors. Despite what some of you may think, many in (and perhaps most of) the community do NOT believe that Microsoft is the enemy and the evil corporation that we must kill. Rather than narrowing in on destroying Microsoft, focus on this: improving the software. And if you can't code, there is still much more you can do: dispel the rumors, the myths, the speculation, the FUD. Test the programs that these people write, offer well-thought suggestions, report bugs. Many coders aren't good writers and their programs need documentation. Offer to help them with it or join the Linux Documentation Project if that's a strength. The programmers are only a part of making this thing work, although the most glorified in this community. But they simply can't do it alone.

[1] Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
[2] Linux Net Rage
[3] Article 1
[4] Slashdot
[5] Response to article 1

Suggested reading:

Linux Advocacy HOWTO (part of the Linux Documentation Project). Paul L. Rogers.

"Thoughts from the Furnace." Rob Malda. Article and user comments.

Regarding "The Charity Case for Red Hat." Frank de Lange. (Author's side note: at the time of writing, the first listed user comment is EXACTLY what I am talking about. From an "Anonymous Coward" on Slashdot: "A good reply but the original article was such a vapid pile of unresearched dogsh*t as not to even garner a reply.")

"Rebuttal to `The Charity Case for Red Hat.'" Dale Merrick.

Comments on "Andover News, the sequel: A Well Braziered Bryar" on Slashdot. Frank de Lange. Article and user comments (particularly from Lemmy Caution, mastagee, Skyshadow, x mani x, and more.)

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Feature:Zeal, Advocacy, and the Future of Linux

Comments Filter:
  • That wouldn't really solve the problem, would it? It is _NOT_ just the /. community, it is the entire Linux Advocacy community (kinda like the old Gravis Ultrasound people) that is the problem. Not linking stories from /. would not stop the problem of rabid flame attacks at all.

    The only way to solve the problem is for the Linux community to take itself SERIUOSLY and act in a manner that will generate the respect they want. If the community does not change then no ammount of "link cencorship" Rob puts here will help at all.

    For Linux's sake I hope the community grows up.
  • True, but this growing up can be hastened by reasoned guidence. I would not advocate cencorship of anyone's opinion, but I DO favor people helping the "less articulate" be more mature and reasonable.

    The "Shock Troops" of change may get people's attention, but it is the advocacy of the reasonable agents of change that make new ideas become part of the new status quo.
  • Why? The best way to stop riots in prisons is to give the inmates something to do. Give these rabble rousers an outlet that channels their energy into a creative direction and not only do they not have as much itime to flame for no damned reason but they also improve their writing SK1LLZ.

    I'm not too current on the LDP, but don't the HOWTO's and such get reviewed before they get "published"?

  • As a Be User I resent the fact that you chose to speak on my behalf and make "us" look just like the Linux flamers that the article was addressing.

    Thanks for setting "our" cause back to the stone age.
  • If I got visciously yelled at and called a "fucking Windoze loving moron" every time I asked a question on how to best use my car that would really put a dent in my desire to learn to drive, wouldn't it.

    EVERY time I asked a Linux question on Usenet I'd get at least three flames telling me I was a moron because I had the lack of common sense to ask a simple question.

    Why the hell should I put up with being yelled at just because I want to turn off sendmail and httpd and I don't know which .rc file to edit on this particular version of Linux, or just trying to get ppp working? Sure most of my questions were bonehead but I asked in a very polite way - not DEMANDING and answer - and I DID try to RTFM (but that's hard to do when all of the FMs are out of date and nothing is where they say it is ot called what it used to be.

    If the online community had been more helpful than insulting I might have bothered to stick it out. But getting shit on everytime I asked how to do something just was not worth it.

  • Even if I think the negative effects of excessive advocacy are overstated in the article

    They are NOT overstated. I know quite a few people who gave up on Linux (myself included) due to the massive amount of sh!t they recieved asking "beginner" questions in the newsgroups, or from being attacked as either Windoze FUD-slingers or idiots when they make (valid) complaints about the fact that Linux is NOT as easy to use as many say it is (not all of us know much (if anything) about Unix).

    Unlike some of these attacked people I know, I do not tell people to "Stay away from that Linux crap and its psychotic zealots", but niether do I tell people that Linux is all that great, in my personal experience it is not (I hate unix, all flavors, but that's me).

    How many more people would be using Linux today if the respomce to newbies was along the lines of "the solution is X" rather than "RTFM, you f*cking moron!"?

    Understand that I did get helpfull replies to my questions and I did get people telling me how to make Linix easier for me to use, but for every positive responce I got I recieved at least three repsonces telling me I was an idiot.

    So I've given up on Linux and moved to Be. At least the BeOS community is helpful.

  • ...whether he wants to be a common foulmouthed troll or a spokesman for the community. Letting him be both exposes the Linux community to situations like this one in which Mindcraft posted his bile. It makes us all look bad.

    The LinuxWorld forum for Joe's latest article, "competition keeps Linux lean and mean", contains posts from people who are addressing this issue. From Joe's responses, it is clear that he refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. Nick Petrely's mealymouthed response is also sad and alarming.

    I think the Linux community needs to stand up and tell Joe loudly and clearly that his behavior is unacceptable. I won't be satisied until he acknowledges the gravity of his actions (given his position), apologizes, and promises not to do it again. Sadly, I'm not sure Joe is capable of it.

  • The author used his voice to remind us that flaming is rude, immature and EXTREMELY harmful to Linux. Supposedly the flamer's goal is to defend their beloved operating system, if this is so then I would think they'd want to know if they're causing more harm than good.

    Freedom of speech does not include freedom from criticism of your speech.
  • Hey, why did this get moderated down? The more info we get out on positive advocacy the better.

  • Certainly some public outlets with an anti-linux agenda will take flames and use them against Linux but the fact remains that they can only do that if we give them the ammunition in the first place. If we don't give them flames they can't use them against us.
    Also remember this isn't jsut about Mindcraft. Many journalists have been flamed to a crisp for their Linux articles. Most of them were simply ignorant or were working with inaccurate sources. Flaming these people does direct, measuable public harm to the reputation of the Linux community. Polite, courteous, well informed responses may help or may be wasted but at least they do no harm.
  • Quit trying to rewrite history. Sub $1000 were actually quite commonplace before the PC bandwagon nearly drove all other players out of the market. Even the early macintoshes could be had for less than $5000 back in the late 80's when Microsoft was still pushing DOS3. In those days you could get an ST for $300 & a Packard Bell 8088 would set you back a grand while being all the nasty things an 8088 running DOS could be.

    No shit Amiga users were obnoxious. They had to put up with this kind of propaganda.
  • Quit trying to rewrite history. Some of us were 'surfing the net' and 'sending email' when Microsoft was still pushing DOS3. Once again Microsoft is being given credit for things not it's due.

    Microsoft did not create the PC clone market which gives us nice cheap (and quite often shoddy) PC's: Phoenix and Compaq did.
    Microsoft did not create the home computer market: MITS and Apple did.
    Microsoft did not create ease of use computing or even push it into the marketplace: PARC and Apple did.
    Microsoft did not create ease of use Internet computing: the NCSA did.

    Microsoft is great at exploiting ideas once a map has been laid at their feet.

    People computed cheaper and easier DESPITE of Microsoft and did it a LONG time ago. Thus all of the frustration and flammage from Amiga users, Apple users and the odd Atarian.

    You justify every bit of an Amigan angst.
  • From the /. faq:

    "Advanced users should consider Debian, especially if they are familiar with Unix already. Nobody should use Slackware..."

    I am appaled to see that the slashdot maintainers think to knows what I should use.
    If advocacy is such an item to Rob Malda, could he be so kind as to remove that line? And admit that such a line is a mistake?

  • Yes, but LWN and LinuxToday both do better jobs of collecting news stories than Slashdot does; they're quicker, more complete, and offer excerpts of the article that let you decide whether to bother reading the whole article. Why should Slashdot duplicate their efforts, and duplicate them poorly at that?

    See LWN's news summary []; it frankly blows Slashdot out of the water when it comes to collecting news stories.)

  • by AMK ( 3114 ) on Monday June 28, 1999 @05:14AM (#1829144) Homepage
    I don't know why so many Slashdot items these days are concerned with articles in other publications. Slashdot's appeal always stemmed from the fact that it covered topics that weren't covered in places like ZDnet. Yet today we often see /. items that are just pointers to stories on ZDnet or wherever. Now, if you want to know about every media mention of Linux, either Linux Weekly News [] or LinuxToday [] do much better and more complete jobs than Slashdot does.

    Part of the problem is that discussions on /. can tend to hysteria, causing authors to be bombarded with flames. So, Rob, why not simply drop such items, since other places are doing better jobs, and concentrate on what /. does best -- amusing and interesting stuff that's off the beaten path? Discussions of technical topics on Slashdot are still often quite good, modulo the occasional flamewar over GNOME/KDE or Linux/*BSD.

  • When we say we want Linux to "win," what does that mean? I can think of two interpretations:
    1. We want Linux to be a no-comprimise Free Operating System. Because Free Software relies on grass-roots volunteers for development, advocacy may have some effect. It may convince one hobbyist or University department to avoid Linux. That loss may ultimately translate into a loss to the Linux community.

      On the other hand, Open Source projects are usually started because of an immediate need. There are millions of Linux users out there and their needs tend to cover quite a bit. I have yet to find something I needed to do that didn't already have an open source project going...

    2. We want Linux to be the Enterprise Computing Platform for the next decade. Here, advocacy has little effect. I meet with CEO's and CIO's for companies ranging from Fortune 50 companies to startup dot-com's. Many excutives have an interest in Linux because of the very same business reasons espoused by Eric Raymond and other "Open Source Capitalists." None of them has yet to say,"Hey, aren't Linux users a bunch of infantile pricks?" They don't care. Heck, half of the excutives are infantile pricks. They just care about the almighty bottom line and Linux pricing looks really good on the ol' spreadsheet.
  • It's not too far of a stretch to assume that the bulk of the flame-writers work for a P.R. firm close to Redmond. Radicalizing "undesirable" movements by using impersonators to discredit them is an old trick. This technique was used effectively throughout the last decade or two by large pharmaceutical, oil, and surgical interests in order to combat environmentalists and whistleblowers. The loudest, most destructive activists were on the payroll of the companies they sabotaged. It's all about creating the kind of press that most benefits you.

    Or they could just be a bunch of deranged teenagers. But that's not nearly as sinister.
  • All well and good, except that many people don't have time (or choose not) to read other news sources. I certainly don't read ZDnet by choice; I appreciate someone else taking the time to point out when there is something worth reading there.
  • "Many coders aren't good writers and their programs need documentation. Offer to help them with it or join the Linux Documentation Project if that's a strength." I wrong to be just a little bit concerned that you're suggesting flame-writers take part in the Documentation Project?
  • This is precisely my point; not as far as you've seen. If infiltrative FUD is taking place, it is most certainly a covert operation.

    The fact that the flames work to Mindcraft's advantage (to the extent that they are worthy of posting on their front page) makes them immediately suspect.

    Maybe I'm just in love with the notion of highly-paid PR specialists pretending to be rabid 3733t kiddies. You have to admit, when you take the Evil out of it, it -is- a funny picture.
  • The linux community needs to stop looking at every problem person as a Microsoft shill.

    Indeed. I fear that the atonality of text has robbed my original statements of their intended facetiousness. Armchair conspiracy theory is a lark as long as it's not taken seriously.

    Please, let me believe that the flame composers are working for the other side. I don't want to face the prospect that the standard bearers of my OS of choice are a rabid horde of social retards.
  • I'd been looking for a good message to point BeOS users toward on how not to advocate for our favorite operating system. Thanks for this one--it's just perfect!
  • Scott Hacker, for example, provided no data on the percentage of flames versus constructive criticisms. It may be that the negative comments were not at all representative of the whole.

    While you're right, this is also somewhat misleading; he said the responses he received ran the gamut from complete agreement to obscene flames, and never implied that most of what he received was flames rather than constructive criticism. Beyond those introductory paragraphs, in fact, he didn't address flames at all, but instead did respond to the constructive criticisms, including acknowledgement of points he hadn't considered or wasn't clear on. Obviously people can still disagree with his conclusions, but just as obviously he's not just ignoring well-considered responses.

    It should also be noted that consistently misspelling Scot's first name as "Scott" probably doesn't help things. :-)

  • If the crowd using an Operating System was something to choose an Operating System by, then NT would be the last thing anyone would want to use.

    A group of people with thier heads buried in the sand, chanting "Bill will fix it!" while rebooting the companies most critical system 3 times a day, assuming of course they can turn it on, would not be my choice of crowd.

    From my experience (only 5 years admittedly) NT
    admins seem to be happy to have NT, just so they can blame MicroSoft for anything going wrong.
    Not to mention the number of NT admins who call me
    up and don't seem to have even the most basic debugging/diagnostic skills.

    I'm sorry, but I feel these things should be prime
    requirements for an administrator of any network, and MicroSoft seems to breed Admins with a serious lack in this area.

    They do seem good at sitting on hold for long periods of time and following instructions given over the phone however.

    Possibly the lack of NT evangelists is due to them still digging for that thing to evangelise about. I'm sure NT has some good points... Somewhere...
  • Oooh! You're so cute when you're mad!

  • part of growing up is the adjustment that we all go thru. from being over-zelous about our object of affection(band, song, girl, sports, hero, os, whatever) to the other extreme of becoming jaded. eventually we all will reach a middle road and a balance. that's part of growing up, which is what the linux community is still doing. yeah, the kind of advocacy the we saw with the mindcraft fiasco is unfortunate, but we don't need to be facists about it either. better to let youthful exhuberance take it's course. in time the authors of bad advocacy will eventually realize how silly they look(ed) and their attitudes will shift in the other direction, and hopefully a more balanced point of view.
  • We beers (BeOS users)

    Are Be users existentialists or beers?

    Is the Be posix shell called the xs10sh?

  • Here's a tip to Linux advocates everywhere:

    Be careful.

    As a Mac user, I know exactly how this goes. The Mac advocacy community has at the same time helped and hurt the Mac platform immensely. on the one hand you have stories of Macs being brought back in droves to various educational and corporate environments. This was often due to some volunteer work by Mac advocates in such activities as handing out pamphlets are Best Buy or training salespeople or whatever.

    On the other hand, the Mac community practically tore itself to shreads a few years back when Apple was at its worst. A community with something to worry about gets defensive - a stereotype the Mac community has had to bear for a very long time. Do you want this to happen to Linux too?

    Now, as things begin to look really good for the Mac platform and its users, things are getting better. Mac users are being more open to outside technologies (ie. Unix/Linux, USB, etc) and less ... erm ... rabid. Linux users must do the same, lest they be avoided and scorned.

    This is not an insult - just an insight from a member of the Mac community. Be careful...

    - Darchmare
    - Axis Mutatis,
  • I think this is what should happen. I know its an inconvenience for people who like to get all there nerd news in one place, including news pieces that criticise linux, but I think the comment from the Andover News guy is so telling.

    He says he was getting reasonable replies until the article hit slashdot.

    I think we as slashdot readers need to take some responsibility for the kind of response that appearance on slashdot has.

  • I write software for a living, and have done so for (egad!) 10 years now. One of the rules that has seeped into my brain in that time is: "Engineers must stay in touch with reality."

    Everyone else in a software organization can, and probably will, drift off into believing what they want to about the software a company sells. But the engineering team is the one that must make it actually happen, in the real world, with the tools at hand. They must listen to what users say.

    I've written, among other things, a few small languages in my career so far. Not all of my users think that the languages i've written are really all that intuitive, and some get frustrated by them. Now, i'm a human being, so when i hear this, there are times when my dander goes up; "What? They don't like it? Well, they must be idiots! It's just like LISP, but with completely different commands, and specialized for the weird environment it runs in. What's so hard about that??"

    Now, mind you, i NEVER say that out loud. I've known programmers who would say it out loud, and i never want to work with them again. I don't give them good recommendations when they're looking for work (unless i'm trying to get rid of them). I'll note that they tend to be somewhat lonely people. "My way or the highway" is not a good axiom for social graces. (I'll also note that Bill Gates seems to be this kind of person, but he can get away with it, via his accumulated power.)

    No, when someone says, "This doesn't do what i want", i make every effort to listen. What are they really trying to do? Is there an approach that they're overlooking, and is this approach given the proper attention in the documentation (which i probably wrote). Did it not occur to me before that this function was needed? Given that the user, for whatever reason, expects the software to act in particular ways, can i provide that? Would doing so hurt other users the code has?

    Now, this may sound like i'm bending over backwards for the user. I am. I want my work to be used. I'd hate having my code sitting somewhere in a source tree, never to be used again, because my users resisted it until they found something they liked better. Why did i bother sweating out the details in my algorithms, if the code never executes? Getting paid isn't enough; making my user's lives just slighter better is why i work. (This is why i like writing tools for my co-workers; the exchange is much more direct.) Users, as much as the hardware and the tools, are reality for an engineer.

    So, if someone mentions a perceived problem with your favorite OS/editor/hardware, make every effort to empathize with them. See through their eyes what they are going through, understand that their needs are not identical to your needs. This is how excellent software is written.

    If Linux vs. the world becomes a pissing contest, Linux will lose. If engineers lose touch with reality and start believing the hype about what they're products, that product will likely fail in the long run.


    Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not.
    --George Bernard Shaw
  • Everyone likes to talk about how good democracy is until it disagrees with them. Like it or not, the net is bringing true democracy to more corners than anyone has ever dreamt of. Democracy means EVERYONE gets a voice, immature or not.

  • I was in a hurry to go see a couple of steam engines going over the Sierras. Let me elaborate on what I meant.

    I imagine there has been the equivalent of flamers at every widening of political power. I have no doubt that Bad King John winced at what the new guys said when he signed the Magna Carta and was forced to share a bit of pwer; he would have understood quite well the term "flamer" as applied to his new sidekicks.

    Same with the beginnings of the English parliament, and the expansion of that parliament to include mere merchants, and so on down the line to today.

    At every step, the old guard screamed bloody murder about the new kids not understanding how things really worked, how things should be, why they were what they were, and especially how the new guys were going to destroy the Internet errr, excuse me, governemnt, society, etc.

    How many of you remember rec.humor.jokes before it got loaed up with newbies? The last two times I visited that newsgroup was just to harvest PeeWee Herman and O.J. jokes. It seemed like every fall, a load of new freshmen would discover that if they responded "That was funny" to some joke, their buddy two terminals down could see the same thing! Wasn't technology amazing?! Of course, it never occurred to them that a million people around the world also saw it, and even to the few who did have a glimmer of understanding, "so what? cool!" And of course there were a zillion predictions of "Death of the Internet", just like Metcalfe several years ago.

    Well, guys and gals, look at the new hoss, same as the old hoss. Yes, flamers say silly and offensive things and show little understanding of the nuances of their native language. Also yes, they have exactly as much right to post their opinions and make fools of themselves as you or I.

    That's the price you pay for democracy. Soon ordinary housewives (gasp!) and (dare I say it?) even grade school kids will post to the Internet!

    Think of a mythical New England town hall meeting. Everyone speaks their piece. But do they? I reckon not. Only a few do, because most people feel too intimidated by the regulars. Is that really democracy? What would happen if they actually forced everybody to get up and speak for a couple of minutes? I tell you what -- the regulars would snort how the new guys didn't know what they were talking about, hadn't done their research, used bad grammer, and worst of all, showed no respect for tradition and their elders. They just didn't understand. They shouldn't be allowed to speak.

    Why do you think graffitti shows up on walls and buses and even the trains I watched today? Because those people feel they have no other voice. Who would listen to them anyway? So they write graffitti in frustration. It's been going on since Roman days at least.

    Certainly some people write graffitti just for the kicks, just to piss off the elders, and so on. But I wager the vast majority do so because they are not skilled socially, they resent being put down for bad grammar and non-conforming dress, and it is the only recourse they think they have left.

    Flamers, first-posters, anonymous cowards: they are the graffitti artists of the world. They draw mustaches on political posters and flame columnists because they know no other way. Pity them if you want, sneer at them, but ignore them at your own peril. They have opinions, they buy things and they hassle cops and sysadmins. Their lashing out is a sign for you experienced, mature, and god-like veterans to read.

  • You own what you write, idiotic or not.

    Beeing "right" is no excuse for violating anybodys rights.

    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?
  • What realy happens when nobody ever gets flamed for a bad (wrong) paid FUD ??

    If somebody is getting paid for writing the FUD, do you realy think he cares if he gets a few 'corrections' to his "article" ???

    How many do you think will take there time to create a good pice of ansver to a obvious Microsoft FUD ?

    You folks realy can't be searious stating that "flames are bad for us" ? It's the silence that is.

    Imaging this:

    Scenerio: Nobody ever flames a Linux article.

    Microsoft spokesman: "We have recently been getting only a tiny fraction of responces, we used to get, on our lates OS benchmark reports. Some of them have a valid points some are right out wrong. We understand this as interest in the so called "Linux" operating system has decreased drastically. We are glad to be able to put this small issue behind us and concentrate on what consumers *realy* want.

    MS will *always* try to take advantage of any situation. It doesn't matter what you write to them, they will try to gain something from it.

    The bottom line is:
    Say what ever you feal like !

    Let everybody talk, everybody from Little angry Johny to Linus himself should be heard.

    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?
  • You missed the point, who cares if he gets 30 responses like "Your article was incorrect in claiming that the Linux kernel does not have support for multiple processors, it has had this feature since version 2.2x. Thank you.".

    If he wrote that article as FUD from the start, the he realy doesn't give a shit.

    If you *stop* writing, then MS will *realy* have something interesting to talk about.

    >>So? Are we trying to produce good software, or give MS things to talk about?

    Not all of us write code, those that don't can bark at the gorilla.

    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?
  • We've seen repeated evidence that it is not the whole community that is the problem. There are far more rude Slashdot readers than LWN or Linux Today readers. (There are plenty of intelligent Slashdot readers but there is a virulent minority that gives the site a bad name).

    Example: several times a story appears first on LinuxToday and later on Slashdot. Journalists report that the tone of the responses changes after it gets picked up on Slashdot, because the proportion of flamers is just higher here, and because the LinuxToday people are much more likely than the Slashdot people to add "if you respond, be polite and coherent" warnings. When it's on LinuxToday only, the responses may flame the journalist but they are literate and well-thought-out. When it's on Slashdot it's more like "you suck! How much does Bill Gates pay you?".

    For this reason, I suggest that Slashdot avoid carrying "some journalist said something stupid" articles. People who want to find such things can go elsewhere.

  • Scott McNealy of Sun doesn't want a fair software industry for all. He wants to be Bill Gates. The same is true of most of the other big egos in the executive suites.

    Both Sun and Netscape tried the monopoly game. Netscape, for a while, was unilaterally defining what the web was going to be. Sun's model for Java was that everyone would run Java on everything and would pay Sun for the privilege, so that Sun, rather than Microsoft, would in effect get to be the tax collector for the net.

    Reflexive rejection of all things Microsoft is stupid. Sometimes they do the right thing for perhaps the wrong reasons (e.g. help undermine Sun's attempt to be the Microsoft of Java by supporting Kaffe, which is free software). People who think the game is about defeating MS are missing the point.

    Microsoft needs to be contained, and prevented from capturing the open standards the net is based on. But the same is true of Sun, and AOL, and the phone companies, and the cable companies.

  • The people who need it the most will fail to understand this article and the whole situation.
  • >I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft used them to make us Linux users out to look bad.

    A couple of links to show that Microsoft has done this in the past:

    The Bartko affair is retold at

    Case Roole reprinted a link to Brill's Content on Microsoft's PR's machine -- both the good side & the bad side -- at ml.

    Based on stories like these, I'm sure some of these Anonymous Cowards are MS employees. But at the same time, I'm also sure some of them are people who think that an email flame will convince people not to use MS software. And the only way they can be shown this does not work is to let them learn for themselves.

  • 1) Resistance is sometimes necessary. It is not entirely bad when an inaccurate article draws flames. We can only hope that the flames are tempered by the presence of more numerous polite comments. And, hopefully, the percent of flames will not exceed the degree of inaccuracy and/or malice in the article.

    While this may be what happens, it doesn't mean it's the right way to respond. Flaming is NOT the correct way to respond, period. Flaming merely demonstrates that the flamer perceives themselves to be superior to those they flame, and as a result they alienate and offend those we should be trying to reach (or teach). The proper response to an inaccurate post / story is a reasonable, intelligent rebuttal of the inaccuracies, not personal attacks and invective. And the proper response to a malicious article is no response at all.

    2) The Authors are always free to selectively cite and publish negative emails in order to disproportionately prove "rudeness" on the part of Linux advocates. Since they will quite likely feel defensive, this is always a possibility. Scott Hacker, for example, provided no data on the percentage of flames versus constructive criticisms. It may be that the negative comments were not at all representative of the whole.

    Even so, we cannot permit ourselves to justify or condone bad behaviour, regardless of how the author might respond. At some point, we should demonstrate that we ARE better than that. As a matter of likelihood, it is very probable that the negative comments, while not representative of the whole, are representative of those received by the author. All too often, the reasonable replies are swamped by the childish ones.

    Yes, there will always be those among us who cannot resist demonstrating their immaturity, but we cannot allow them to drag us down with them. A vocal minority is often perceived by the rest of the world as representative, and the rest of us must be just as vocal to offset it.

    We spend a great deal of time improving our software, etc., and we spend a lot of time in discussion among ourselves. We should also use some of that time to offset the actions of the childish few. We should put the same effort into reasonable advocacy as we do into coding, etc. The mature among us IS the majority, but the rest of the world won't know it if we just sit back and allow the immature to speak for us.

  • I think you have a very unusual view of tech PR!

    I'm a consultant and tech writer, writing the internet development column in a major UK/European title, as well as producing copy for both weeklies and monthlies here in the UK. If only I had a spin doctor or PR just for me...

    Getting information from PR companies - and I'm including Microsoft's UK and US PRs here - is at times akin to getting blood out of a stone. I certainly don't get fed stories, and the tech news journalists I am friends with have just as many problems getting information as I do.

    (Actually, I've been waiting most of the day to get crucial information for a piece I need to turn in today from several companies - even though they have my email address and mobile and land-line phone numbers.)

    Yes, we do get briefings, but we'll use them to roast marketeers who skimp on facts or slide over details. What's the point of being a journalist if you can't get at the facts that the companies are trying to hide from the end users?

  • Not as far as I've seen.

    MS PR machine is geared up to providing information on demand. It is not proactive or reactive - in fact getting a response to a question can be hard enough at times...

    The Linux Taliban do a good enough job on their own of discrediting Open Source and Linux to IT managers and senior journalists.

    Cutting someone else's nose off to spite your face doesn't really work...

  • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Monday June 28, 1999 @05:36AM (#1829172) Homepage Journal
    After awhile, it all starts to look exactly the same. The subjects change, but the arguments are all identical. Seemingly sane, rational people get attached to something, like an operating system (but things like video games, text editors or anything else you can imagine works just as well). Others, who use something different, sometimes feel threatened. So, they feel the need to point out all the deficiencies (real or imagined) of the other item in order to feel more secure about the item they're attached to. Retaliation occurs and a flame war erupts.

    This "us versus them" mentality is strengthened by wave after wave of attack and retaliation. So when those from outside the "battlefield" try to bring actual points of rational discussion into the fray, the "dogs of war" rush to attack thinking the newcomer is just another member of the "other side."

    The simple solution is simply not to get so attached. Does someone say "Linux sux!"? Ignore it. Does someone say the "UI sux!"? Ask how it could be improved. If their entire argument boils down to "It sux becuz it's not Windows!", no one will take it seriously. But if even the stupidest complaint is seen as a suggestion dropped into the collective suggestion box, maybe people we'll see the open source community is working to help everybody, and not working against them.


  • It is entirely possible that the level of flaminess and general inability to take criticism as anything other than a personal insult by some members of the Linux community is having entirely the opposite effect than they intended as far as getting Linux (and the rest of the free / open source SW movement) taken seriously by those in what, for the sake of simplicity, I'll call Industry. If I was an IT manager looking at using Linux, and I came up against any of these attitudes, I'd instantly take my business somewhere that can show a more professional attitude than flaming anything that might be even slightly negative. The price is insignificant in most of these markets - with the kind of IT budgets most corporates have, a pile of NT Server or Solaris licences isn't much of a hit.

    It's important to be able to view things subjectively and rebut criticism in a constructive way - "you stinking MS whore" is a not a valid point to make in response to someone else's work that suggests Linux may not be as wondrous as you thought.

    Linux is not everything to all users, and never will be - there will always be a place in the marketplace for Microsoft and their ilk, and what should be being focused on is gaining a reasonable slice of the pie so that users have more of a choice than _just_ one OS - whatever it may be. A world in which Linux is the only OS available is as unattractive to me as a world universally tied to Windows 95.

    The type of flaming advocacy that's indulged in by some people can be described as nothing less than totally counterproductive, unprofessional and damaging to the cause as a whole. If you want to be taken seriously, speak reasonably or not at all!

    In an ideal world, people would use the best OS for _their_ needs, be it Windows, Linux, Solaris, MacOS or whatever. Any one person's opinion of "best" is not necessarily the opinion of the rest of the world, and there are valid arguments in favour of and against every one.

    The flaming weenies (most of whom, I suspect, contribute little to the development or documentation effort) are one of the biggest negative points of Linux, and are one of the reasons why I still have problems seeing it as a proper OS for real, hard, production use against Solaris or (even) NT.

    If the most vocal group of proponents sound like 13-year old 3l33t d3wdZ, then what they're marketing will look like a toy rather than a tool however well-engineered it is.

    In summary, think before you open your gob. The other folks are people too. Forget this, and you'll be destroying a lot of the hard work that more reasoned folks have done to promote the whole field of free/OS software over the past years.

  • One thing I hope people learn is that being a "flaming weenie" when you are actually in Industry is a serious career retardent.

    In about 1994, which was at the height of the TeamOS/2 stuff, I was doing a series of telephone interviews for a system admin position. (We were acting as middlemen for customer that was part NetWare and part Windows NT).

    You wouldn't belive the number of people that would tell us that we shouldn't use NT (like it was our decision) and evangalize OS/2 and use words like "Microshaft". And these were people who supposedly wanted the job. One guy even kept calling back to figure out why we didn't pick him! (The NetWare guys were all very professional, however.)

    Everyone knows it's fun to flame away on the Internet and act like a general ass because nobody really knows who you are. It's when these people actually start taking it serious enough that it affecting their "real life", you have to worry. I haven't run into a raving Linux Nut in real life yet, but it's probably going to happen soon.
  • If there is one thing I've noticed about the Open Source/Linux movement, it's the ability to see us get close to the edge of some bad things and correct ourselves. OS/2 is notorious for having such a violently over-reactive following and we have begun to swing that was in the public light. Yet somehow, people stand up, see the errors, and remind us to suck it up and cut it out. We seem to be gifted with the ability to not only code around anyone else out there, but we also seem to think around them too. We second guess and anylize Microsofts posible strategies and examine opponents arguments with the same vigor and attitude that we scour each others code, looking for errors and better methods.

    All in all, it's articles like these that confirm my belief that this `movement' is clearly self-correcting (as long as people care about it) and each person is just as capable of finding problems to fix as those who actually fix them.

    Be cool.
    Party on.
  • The Linux crowd needs to grow up and realize that this is just an operating system, not a religion. Total domination is not necessary, but being taken seriously is of paramount importance.

    Rob, this statement would make a really good quote of the day thingy for Slashdot sometime.

  • While I agree with you that it will be next to impossible to get rid of every single flamer in any group, that fact does not mean we should sit one our hands an do nothing. Even getting 30% of the flamers to give it a rest is a step in the right direction.

  • I couldn't agree more. At my advanced age of 35 (I think that puts me in the oldest 2% of /. readers, heh) I've seen more flamewars than I care to recall. None of them accomplished anything.

    The beauty of Linux and Open Source are that they allow dramatically practical contributions by the little guy. I wish that half the energy expended on flames were put to good use instead. As we've seen with the Mindcraft debacle, there were good reasons that Linux "lost" this head-to-head; who contributed more to Linux, the people who wrote idiotic flames either here, on Usenet, or directly into Mindcraft's email server .... or the people who immediately began work on kernel enhancements that would help Linux get an edge in the next round?

    Now, obviously, we all aren't kernel programmers. I wonder if some people aren't actually intimidated by that prospect and resort to flammage as compensation ... well, maybe that's just too Freudian for the 90s. :-S (Interpret subtle meanings there as you please...) On the other hand, all this flaming existed before with other OS wars (not to mention editor wars) and the same equation didn't apply. So I'm left to conclude that it's largely the adolescents -- irrespective of physical age -- who are doing the flaming, as opposed to the adults.

    I know that half of /. readers are barely out of high school, let alone college, so they don't have the experience with the real world that teaches you that sometimes there are other, more complicated answers to the questions you once thought were simple. Like, for instance, why corporate America goes along with an OS/office suite monoculture despite many clear drawbacks. These youngsters jump on people who say even one nice word about Windows NT or W2K as if only a Microsoft employee could ever say such a thing.

    Well, the truth is, some of us have economic interests in the Windows world, so perhaps we are beholden to it in some form; but it's more complicated than that. Windows just happens to be the flavor of the moment, and it's turned into a very long moment. That flavor could change, and I hope it will, but I don't make all those decisions. The only way I can influence them is by working at the coalface -- putting together solutions that work, or don't, and keeping my customers mindful of the reasons why. If Linux is ever to make serious permanent inroads in corporate America, it won't be because of columnists ... neither unsophisticated journalists nor certified insiders like Metcalfe. It will be because of the practical successes that the OS racks up.
  • This discussion brings to mind an interesting anecdote from a camping trip I took a couple of weeks back. A bunch of folks from the engineering company I work for went out to the mountains for a little whitewater rafting and a little relaxing in the Rockies.

    Around the campfire one night, a few of us got to talking about OS's, with myself and another Linux dabbler trying to shed some light on Linux to a couple members of our IT group (we are a hardcore NT/95 shop). The conversation was very calm, well reasoned, and informative for both sides. The M$ guys admitted that there was things they liked about Linux, like development tools etc., but pointed out the barriers to it being accepted on desktops. Which was a point fairly well taken. The whole discussion was a great exchange of views and information for both sides.

    And then I mentioned I was (and to some extent still am) a Mac user and advocate. And the mood immediately changed. The M$ guys became actually quite hostile, dragging out every possible argument against Mac OS and Mac users in general. They became argumentative and unwilling to listen to any of my points. At the time I was extremely annoyed, but in retrospect I see their attitude as a result of years of exposure to Mac evangelism. I have to admit that over the years, I have ran into an awful lot of Mac zealots exhibiting the exact behaviour the author is warning against.

    I guess my point is that if you jump down peoples throats for long enough, eventually they are going to get defensive and ignore you. But if you try to have calm and well reasoned discussions, maybe both sides can learn something. And maybe, just maybe, you can subvert a few folks without them even knowing it.
  • Flaming M$ is fun but not _at all_ productive. I try to limit my flames to audiences that know me as a (realtively) responsible person.

    Flaming anyone trying to learn Linux/Emacs/BSD/... will ONLY deter that person from further association with the product. It may/will also make the person a strong anti-advocate. In other words flaming someone trying to learn helps Bill ;-(
  • I havn't sent any emails in defense of Linux....yet. My biggest fear in doing so is that I may get carried away and my once informitive email becomes another flame from another Linux zealot. As I see it this article is another in a collection of filters to run any responces through I may decide to send in the future. Basically I want to do it right.

    It seems that the same passion that motivates people to spend countless hours making Linux what it is (and more) causes them to become raving lunatics at the slightest criticism.

    I can say the evangelistic process that brought me to Linux was done well. I'm currently working toward that level of advocacy....
  • I enjoy using Linux. I'm not really good at using it, but I improve with every passing day. I have a network management box with RH 5.2 doing things I couldn't do otherwise (or at least within any sort of reasonable budget) on an otherwise completely MS network. I get work done and I have been slowly, but surely, getting some of the more tedious tasks switched over to my little Linux box because it works. I didn't tell anyone about it, since I'm afraid that the people in charge wouldn't like having it around (don't know, don't trust). But little things, data conversions, syslogd for the routers, little (badly written) perl scripts, etc. have won them over to the point that I have been asked to do other things with it. Hell, with a little luck, I may even get a budget to get a new machine!

    But until then, my little 90 MHz Pentium, chugs along nicely, doing yeoman work without any notice at all. Just like a good network should.

    All I'm saying is win 'em over with a bunch of small kindnesses, a quiet competence. Let 'em figure out for themselves that "Hey! I guess that thing really does work"

    Metcalfe and his ilk are like the guards around the Wicked Witch's castle. Before Dorothy doused the devilish dame, they were all for killing our heroine, but afterwards, they were all for her. All the noise now is simply the beginning of Micros~1 screaming "I'm melting".

    Patience, we'll be able to wear the Ruby Slippers in due time.

    Chris (sorry about the Wizard of Oz ref. It's my fiancee's favorite movie and we watched it again this weekend and it's still in my head)

  • I myself am a fairly recent convert to Linux (about 8 months), but I came from MacOS and BeOS, so I was used to this sort of stuff. That said, I got much more help from one friend of mine (hey Kosh) than from the whole of the internet put together. I do agree that the help system(s) could be significantly bettered, but I don't think I have the necessary experience yet. If someone wants to collaborate on this however, drop me a mail at and at the very least I will try to give you my perspective on this.
  • "I you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and change."
    The Man in the Mirror.

    How 'bout this for an idea: We can't control the Linux Nazis assasinating every journalist on the web, but we CAN refuse to play that game here on Slashdot.

    Anonymous Coward posts have, in my book, outlived their contribution to the shaky notion of being a bulwark of free speech. I'm not of a mind to tell Rob what to do with his site 'cause...well, it's HIS site. But I'm so bloody tired of the bad karma that I've dropped my preferences threshold to winnow out the AC posts.

    If YOU want to help Slashdot GROW UP, do the same. Strain out the ACs and that way, those that WANT to hear the fist shaking little bigots can set their preferences to access all posts. Those who don't, won't have to waste either bandwidth or brain juice on their irresponsible rants.

    Before you flame me, consider:

    1) I might be right. There is always the outside possibility.

    2) I'm not suggesting that Rob pull the plug on ACs, so the 1st Amendment Shriekers can sit down as well.

    3) I am suggesting the possibility that if no one is willing to listen to those who don't want to take responsibility for the bile they spray on this site, maybe the ACs will either STOP posting their crap, or at least, by taking enough responsibility for their opinions to put their name to it, leave them open to censure by the members of this site. (For the dictionarily challenged, I don't mean CENSOR, I mean CENSURE, that is, corporate display of displeasure.)

    I want to make this place better for all. Or if not better, at least more reasoned. I have always marvelled at the murderous abuse, mockery, and derision organized religions takes on this site. Marvelled, because the zealotry with which those who disagree are cruxified lies clearly in the realm of pharisaeism that Slashdotters, on the whole, despise.

    Is this a case of "becoming what we behold?"

    Disagree. Fine. Post your reply. But remember: Unless you're a big enough person to identify yourself, I won't even hear your opinion, polite, abusive, death-threat, or otherwise.

  • The issue isn't "do registered users write better stuff" its "registered users are accountable for the stuff they write."

    When the registered posters offer crap, you can take them head on into the debate, potentially continuing it in moderate privacy.

    ACs? Tough luck. May as well be spitting into the wind or chasing ghosts.

    I have found the "I'm too lazy to register" argument (which another AC poster replied to my missive with) to be endemic in this bru-ha-ha: Too lazy to take responsibility for what they write...but with more than enough time on their hand to blather the stupid brain diarrhea onto Slashdot and take up space.

    This is my beef, in a nut shell, with the AC system.

  • You're right. I'd have realized this earlier, but I was busy sending death threats to Steve Balmer.
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Monday June 28, 1999 @05:12AM (#1829187) Homepage
    Flames per second! We can top any commercial OS out there. What a way to harness the talent of the AC community ;)
  • by Fizgig ( 16368 ) on Monday June 28, 1999 @05:21AM (#1829188)
    A lot of people say stuff like this, and it doesn't seem to make any difference. I doubt the people who sent the flames actually read this entire piece. Or maybe they did and thought "That's not me" or "That's stupid". So, did anyone here send one of the nasty emails to Mindcraft or the guy at Andover news? Anyone want to fess up to it? Have you changed your mind?

    Somehow it all just seems like preaching to the choir.

  • Like newsgroups, we *could* treat each other on /. like 'family' and flame the hell out of each other, while still putting on a more civilized face for the 'outside world'. This does run the risk of allowing just anybody to troll, or otherwise kick the /. ant pile just for fun. You are correct in making the distinction between a /. posting and direct, personal, email.

    Besides, real flaming is an art that has little to do with vulgarity and obscenity. Look back at, say, Maddie Hauseman flaming newbies in for great examples.
  • I'm glad SOMEBODY said that :)

    Apparently agtofchaos didn't feel it necessary to read my post, considering I mention that I use BeOS right in it. Not to mention that he is hardly representative of the members of the Be community I have had the pleasure (and it is more often a pleasure than not) to meet.

    Not to say all BeOS users are perfect, but hey, no large group of individuals exists without some bad apples.

    Either way, this agtofchaos needs to take a good hard look at himself before he derides any other OS zealots/advocates.
  • ... to hear some sense being spoken.

    I use Linux, and I love it. However, at the same time, I run multiple other OSes. I currently run Red Hat Linux 5.2 and 6.0, Debian GNU/Linux 2.1, and Slackware Linux 3.6 and 4.0. I also run Solaris 7, FreeBSD 3.6, and BeOS r4.0.

    Why do I run all of these? A few reasons. To name a few:

    1) I am interested in OSes in general
    2) These OSes in particular interest me
    3) All of these OSes are suited to certain tasks.

    The third of these reasons is a very important - and oft ignored - fact. If you read the Linux Advocacy HOWTO, there are three lines that I feel are the most important:

    • Respect the use of other operating systems. While Linux is a wonderful platform, it does not meet everyone's needs.
    • Don't insist that Linux is the only answer for a particular application. Just as the Linux community cherishes the freedom that Linux provides them, Linux only solutions would deprive others of their freedom.
    • There will be cases where Linux is not the answer. Be the first to recognize this and offer another solution.

    I am so very tired of people who are unwilling to admit that Linux is NOT the only choice out there. So many of these people came to Linux because they resented the lack of choice forced upon them in the Microsoft driven world of computers... and yet now, they seek to take the freedom which they sought out and found from those who seek it as well.

    Mutual respect for each others' personal choices is something severely lacking in this community. I choose to run Red Hat. Why should this matter to anybody but myself? And yet, to many it does. Then again, I choose to run Debian and Slackware as well. I even choose to run (horror of horrors) a commercial os: BeOS. Why? Because I like it, and it does what I want it to do. Will it ever replace Linux ? Most likely not. Will Linux ever take over the niche that it fills ? I don't know. It is questionable at best. But for the time being, BeOS does what I need it to do, and that is all that matters.

    Linux is NOT the be-all and end-all. BeOS is NOT the be-all and end-all. Solaris is NOT the be-all and end-all. FreeBSD is NOT the be-all and end-all. OpenBSD is NOT the be-all and end-all. NetBSD is NOT the be-all and end-all.

    Do you see a pattern here?

    No OS is the be-all and end-all. At least not for all users. Sure, Linux may do everything you need to do, and if it does, great. Use Linux for everything then. But this community needs to realize and acknowledge that as human beings are individuals, they in turn have individual needs and wants. Freedom of choice is one of the most basic freedoms. Without the freedom to choose, many things which all of us take for granted, Linux being nowhere near the most important, would not exist.

    Don't take that freedom away.

  • Greetings,

    You don't fight FUD with 'my fscking operating system fscking beats up your fscking operating system!' You fight it with:

    'Yes, NT server is twice as fast for serving static web pages, but how many of your pages are static?'


    'NT is twice as fast for that application, which is impressive and commendable, but if you look at the bandwidth numbers, Linux will saturate a T1 on a much lower price point piece of hardware. Plus Linux costs quite a bit less than half what NT costs, even if you ignore the hardware costs.'

    That is how you fight FUD.

    Be smart, it's our only advantage.

  • There are too many linux zealots... there are also too many macintosh zealots, amiga zealouts, and, yes, believe it or not, somehow, windows zealouts.

    Usually these are people who don't understand much about the system they're using and are just in it for the group mentality. What can we do? We can try to show them the error of their ways, and educate them so that they can be sure of, and defend, their choices. If this doesn't work, then it's out of our hands.

    It's not just a problem with linux advocacy. Almost any product will have something simmilar -- and if you don't believe me, go ahead and write an article that upsets windows users, or netscape users, or ...

    The linux community certainly has more than its share of these people. Maybe it's because linux users feel "connected" with their o/s. If that's the case then they'll want what's best for the community as a whole, and articles like this _will_ work; It's our duty to watch out for this kind of behaviour, and correct it if we can. Otherwise, we've done our part, and we have to hope that the sane voices will outnumber the flamers.
  • My hypothesis, supported by nothing more than anecdotes and opinion, is that the excessive advocacy element associated with an OS or platform is more or less constant, regardless of the market share of technical merits of the platform. There is probably about the same volume of advocacy for Linux, Windows, OS/2, Amiga, Commodore 64, etc. Fortunately, when a platform is still fresh enough to attract a lot of genuine interest from people who have something constructive to contribute (as in Linux today or Amiga in 1986) the advocacy element is ignorable. For Windows, there are probably just as many rabid advocates out there, but they're so overwhelmed by the massive user base that they aren't a factor. For platforms which have passed their prime, sadly, the advocates are all who remain.

    If there's any truth to this, the greatest "defense" against misplaced Linux advocacy is to keep the platform fresh and keep more well-reasoned people interested.

  • I am not one of those that sent a flame to any of the previously mentioned persons. I have been corrected on my advocacy however. Yes, I used to be a "NT SUX!! Linux Rulz!!" type of advocate. Yes, articles such as this have changed me. I no longer flame. I research and correct. I try to make intelligent arguments in my discussions in this all NT shop. I educate and demonstrate. Now I have created converts and continue to do so. Once I convert someone, and they become Linux loyalists, I make sure I give them copies of articles such as this. I dont want my 'offspring' ruining the communities reputation by being a zealot.

    Behold!! The power of Linux!!
  • Now that you've finished spouting off all of that, perhaps you could find some actual proof of what you've just said?

    As far as being persuaded by FUD, that's a given, but threatening to not publish in certain journals? Where did you hear this from? What proof do you have?

    It's this kind of thing that this article is talking about. If you have a legitimate beef, then by all means bring it out (Just try to keep their sexual habits, their mothers, and anything else of that nature out of the discussion).

    As far as Mindcraft goes, we can see by the numbers that the first benchmark was hardly fair, but now we have the real numbers. Is flaming Mindcraft going to do anything useful? Of course not! What would ranting and raving and shouting profanities do?

    Really, think about it.

    "Oh he's right you know, I think they are motherfucking whore-bitches the whole lot of them too. Man he's so eloquant in his discourses! As a matter of fact, I think I'll make this my sermon tomorrow!"

    Get a grip on reality!

    Do you even realize the sheer benefit that this Mindcraft rematch has given the Linux community?
    We've just had all of our weaknesses compared to NT exposed (The biggest one being the TCP/IP stack not being multithreaded).
    I can hear the coders typing away even as I write this response. How long do you think it will be before these problems are addressed in the kernel?
    Microsoft won the battle but they lost the war. We now have a new focus for our developments. Within 6 months we will have dealt with most of the problems and will continue steamrolling along, leaner and meaner than before.

    Hello! McFly! Is any of this getting in?

    We all know that Windows is going down. It's simply a matter of course now. Microsoft cannot keep up with the winds of change. Open source is now the buzzword of the millenium, and we now have the backing of the silent majority. We have an ice age coming, and it's much kinder to penguins than to dinosaurs.

    Your flames will not speed things up. Directly confronting Microsoft will not speed things up.
    Calling journalists names will not speed things up.
    Continuing open source and linux development and making it easier for the user will.

    Speaking of which, I just LOVED the screenshots of Caledra's new installer! Great job, guys!

    "When an opposing army is crossing a river, do not attack them before they cross. Do not attack them after they cross. Attack them when half of their forces have crossed." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
  • [...]
    echo "Have a smoke and create new message.";

    Recursively calling eval_attitude() will generate lots of overhead and may even cause a stack overflow. I propose this slightly modified algorithm:

    function eval_attitude()
    $mail = $self.thoughts;
    while ($self.angry) {
    echo "Have a smoke and create new message.";
    $mail = $self.thoughts;
    echo "Mail Sent!";

  • Absolutely. Slashdot is a free-for-all. However, the article's not just talking about the exciting cut-and-thrust of technical well-informed banter (ahem) on here. What the article is talking about is the email floods that press writers are receiving. Remember the "Loneliness of Linux" article that was linked to here? Judith Lewis writing about how she was having to buy a new box for Linux after her old one eventually died? A comment about how she needs Windows to be able to receive Word documents at work resulted in a _deluge_ of flaming, and it wasn't just on here. It was sent straight to her email address. That was the first of three articles. The other two were great (and not linked to by Slashdot). Then followed an account of the email flood she'd received. Which got posted here. (Sigh.) And more flaming to her. Then there was Jack Dyers, who said he could tell to the minute when his article was linked to by Slashdot. The responses he'd had from Linux Today readers took issue with his comments but were polite. The responses that started coming in - to his email address, not on Slashdot - after it was posted here were well beyond what gets posted here, by his account of them.

    These aren't slaggings-off on Slashdot. These are written by people who are reading the linked-to articles and then emailing the author direct with abuse. And yes, the Astroturf theory has occurred to me, but frankly, I _really_ doubt that MS is paying a bunch of people to do this for them when it's blindingly obvious that we have plenty of people who are quite happy to do this off their own bat.

    In addition, although being selective with your news and hitting LWN, Slashdot, Linux Today, and so on is very common, there are a _lot_ of people who really, honestly, truly, haven't heard of Linux, haven't heard of BeOS, haven't heard of *BSD. If they read introductory articles, take part in discussions, or subscribe to comp.os.linux.* and the first things they see are some of the more.. er.. intolerant articles: yes, they _will_ assume that's typical of the Linux (/BeOS/*BSD/whatever their new interest is) community. Especially if they see nothing done to stop it. If my mates tell me there's a cool new nightclub in town and we go there, and people keep spilling my drink or fights keep breaking out, I might listen to them say "Oh, really cool folks come here, and the music is well cool." But I will certainly be influenced by the fact that the drink-spiller doesn't offer to buy me a new one, and no bouncers show up to stop a fight, and it's most unlikely I'll be convinced to go again.

  • Slashdot is a free-for-all, open forum where anyone can post. If anyone takes profanity-filled, moronic flames from ACs on Slashdot as the "voice" of the Linux community, they are deeply misguided.

    Guess what: immature people abound everywhere, in every community. If people take the "Mindcraft is the spawn of the Devil!" type comments as evidence against supporting Linux, it seems to me that they just need an excuse of some sort. Those of you here who use Linux: do the "Linux sux freeBSD rulz" idiots make freeBSD any more or less attractive in your eyes? Come on!

    Slashdot is an open arena, not a closed magazine. There will always be idiotic posters, and there will always be embarassing, misguided, inflamatory comments. This reflects no worse on Linux than the people who stand in line for a month and dress in Chewbaca costumes reflect on the Star Wars saga. There will be idiotic zealots everywhere (my apologies to the Chewbaca people). Live with it.

  • I can't believe no one has mentioned that Mac bigots (including myself) were getting slammed for doing the exact same things two or three years ago. Stewart Alsop, James Coates and Hiawatha Bray, among others, had their inboxes subjected to the wrath of Evangelistas with the same mixture of substantive criticism and flame.

    The situation was also the same, a mailing list instead of a Web site, but a captive audience who were exposed to anti-"cause" articles by one or two moderators (Guy Kawasaki and John Halbig). Evangelistas eventually cleaned up their act, but it took a while for them to do so. Plus, they needed constant reminders when flamebait was posted not to flame the writers and to write in a constructive manner.

    I would suggest that Taco and Hemos practice restraint on when they post inflammatory links and to warn people to keep their responses on the up and up. It seemed like the best method for the Mac community.

    This isn't anything new. Let's just change our ways quicker than other advocates.
  • 1) Resistance is sometimes necessary. It is not entirely bad when an inaccurate article draws flames. We can only hope that the flames are tempered by the presence of more numerous polite comments. And, hopefully, the percent of flames will not exceed the degree of inaccuracy and/or malice in the article.

    Whether or not someone is inaccurate flaming only proves that those who respond that way are not capable of responding in a calm and collected manner. Any flame-mail sent under the banner of Linux advocacy is wrong. If this can be publicized the public will see only the hot headed children amongst us, this can only hurt us.

    2) The Authors are always free to selectively cite and publish negative emails in order to disproportionately prove "rudeness" on the part of Linux advocates. Since they will quite likely feel defensive, this is always a possibility. Scott Hacker, for example, provided no data on the percentage of flames versus constructive criticisms. It may be that the negative comments were not at all representative of the whole.

    You read /., I assume on a fairly regular basis. How can you not assume that most of the e-mails he received weren't flames, we flame each other all day here. I think he probably got mostly flame responses, due to the fact that most of us who are intelligent didn't bother to send any e-mail at all. There was no point.

  • This is precisely my point; not as far as you've seen. If infiltrative FUD is taking place, it is most certainly a covert operation.

    The fact that the flames work to Mindcraft's advantage (to the extent that they are worthy of posting on their front page) makes them immediately suspect.

    Jeremiah - these weren't forged. Two of the emails were from noted columnists. One was Tom King, an ex-lawyer turned computer talk show host, and the other was from Joe Barr, a columnist at Linuxworld.

    Neither had denied sending the emails, and in fact have defended their position. Not only are they well known, public figures, their emails were some of the worst ones posted.

    The linux community needs to stop looking at every problem person as a Microsoft shill. We need to apply peer pressure on our colleagues to tone down their vitriol a notch or too. Demonizing Microsoft and Bill Gates just makes you look like a zealot to those you wish to convert. Nobody trusts zealots because they're incapable of having a balanced viewpoint by defintion. Frankly the conduct of those two almost makes me want to switch to BSD (and the 9 boxes I run at the office). The only thing giving me hope is that the real doer's (Linus and Alan Cox types) are looking at the Mindcraft tests with a positive eye, learning what they can so that they can address what problems they do find.

    And who am I? The IS department head who you want to convert (sigh).
  • Please, let me believe that the flame composers are working for the other side. I don't want to face the prospect that the standard bearers of my OS of choice are a rabid horde of social retards.

    Verify it for yourself. Check out Tom King and Joe Barr's emails on the Mindcraft Net Rage page. Their URL's are listed. I've contacted both of them to protest their advocacy techniques as being harmful and irresponsible to the community. Both of them called me a Microsoft shill and said they have a right to say whatever they want (which I never disputed).

    Tom King is at
    He's a radio talk show host.
    Joe Barr is at
    He's a Linuxworld columnist.

    We have met the advocacy enemy. They are us.
  • My point? Someone can't really hurt you or your group's reputation unless they have a plausible premise. Anonymous flame mails aren't plausible; they could have come from anywhere including Microsoft. We should, however, as Linux advocates, do our UTMOST to distance ourselves from prominent pro-Linux flamers. Otherwise the critics who say we're a bunch of teenage punks will have a plausible premise.

    I agree. And we need to be united and public about it. Use email. Write people civil emails and apply pressure for them to be constructive, and not destructive.

    Demonization and zealotry belong in churches, not in operating system discussions.

  • The Linux crowd needs to grow up and realize that this is just an operating system, not a religion. Total domination is not necessary, but being taken seriously is of paramount importance.

    I couldn't have said this better myself. But I'll keep trying :)

    The only way we'll get our community to reform is if we apply peer pressure.
  • Oh, I can tell you about advocacy.

    I am a linux user myself. I have a box at home I have set up as a server, and often spend time on it. It's a good, sturdy little machine, and I'm quite attached to it. So I was a bit amazed to be set upon by the hounds of advocacy.

    When the Be Gimp port story came out, I made several posts about what I thought were very positive things about the BeOS. Nothing negative was said about Linux, in fact, Linux was not even mentioned.

    The flames began. I had people tearing me apart on the message boards, and began receiving nasty, obscene, and hateful mail. I mean vicious.

    I was offended to the point of posting some of them on my website. I couldn't believe it.

    Well, I guess I can. I used to be a very regular poster until a few months ago when I dared to say I liked the Mac OS. After 35 obnoxious emails, and several hateful posts, I was pissed enough to leave Slashdot, returning only this week.

    People need to understand that advocacy like this will not forward their calls. Instead it makes the average linux user seem a febrile six year old.

    Reasoned arguments, not flaming emails, will bring the linux movement to fruition.

    BTW - flame me if you must from this post, why make it different form any other one with less than glowing comments.
  • Please ignore post of same name at bottom, hit wrong button...

    Oh, I can tell you about advocacy.

    I am a linux user myself. I have a box at home I have set up as a server, and often spend time on it. It's a good, sturdy little machine, and I'm quite attached to it. So I was a bit amazed to be set upon by the hounds of advocacy.

    When the Be Gimp port story came out, I made several posts about what I thought were very positive things about the BeOS. Nothing negative was said about Linux, in fact, Linux was not even mentioned.

    The flames began. I had people tearing me apart on the message boards, and began receiving nasty, obscene, and hateful mail. I mean vicious.

    I was offended to the point of posting some of them on my website. I couldn't believe it.

    Well, I guess I can. I used to be a very regular poster until a few months ago when I dared to say I liked the Mac OS. After 35 obnoxious emails, and several hateful posts, I was pissed enough to leave Slashdot, returning only this week.

    People need to understand that advocacy like this will not forward their calls. Instead it makes the average linux user seem a febrile six year old.

    Reasoned arguments, not flaming emails, will bring the linux movement to fruition.

    BTW - flame me if you must from this post, why make it different form any other one with less than glowing comments.
  • I'm sorry that you have had bad experiences with Linux newsgroups. I myself have always found respondants from Linux newsgroups to be polite and very helpful. I once did, however, recieve a somewhat abrupt response to a question I posted to a FreeBSD newsgroup.
    I don't think you should let it stop you from trying out Linux if that is what you really want to do.
    With the user-friendliness of current distributions you should be able to set up a desktop system with very little support - maybe none if you get yourself a good reference book on Linux. I'm still a relative beginner so I can't speak for setting up a server - I would assume that much more support would be necessary.
    I recently recieved my Slackware 4.0 CD from Cheapbytes. The installation was very easy and setting up a PPP connection with Slackwares pppsetup utility was effortless. Much easier than Windows95. Even though I have done MANY setups and installations of many distributions I still think that a distribution like the one mentioned above would be a breeze for a prepared beginner.

    Good Luck
    What ever you decide to do.
  • Two responses to that last paragraph:

    1. Occam's Razor (or Ockham's, or ...). If there are multiple explanations which fit observed reality, choose the one which requires the least complicated theory. (Until, of course, it no longer explains reality.)
    2. Another razor, which I have seen attributed to several people: "Never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity."
  • Not all damaging zealotry is of the obscenity-laced kind. I find much of the "good" advocacy to also be pretty zealotous. For example, the fact that no article about Microsoft can be posted without immediately being called FUD, and no one can possibly agree with any of it, even if it does make some good points, because they are obviously astroturfing.

    These memes - FUD and astroturfing - occur in probably every 2 out of 3 posting on /. and in numerous other places. They don't get anything done, and frankly they make people look bad. You heard the term FUD bandied about like it was gospel truth - but maybe some people actually *aren't* in the pay of Microsoft. Ever think about that? Maybe some people actually do like Windows. Doesn't mean they get a paycheck from BillG, doesn't mean they're trying to spread the wicked FUD (is there any more nebulous a term?)...

    Many might reply to this saying that I am, in fact, a Microsoft mouthpiece. That is sad, and that is zealotry just as well as if you flame my mother.

    IMHO (and not Microsoft's)

  • >>>Scenerio: Nobody ever flames a Linux article.

    Flames != responds to. If nobody ever flamed a Linux article, that would be a Good Thing. If nobody ever replied calmly to a Linux article, pointing out factual error, that would be a Bad Thing.

    To summarize:
    Good Thing: "Your article was incorrect in claiming that the Linux kernel does not have support for multiple processors, it has had this feature since version 2.2x. Thank you."

    Bad Thing: "Your mother was a hamster and your father smells of elderberries. L1nU>>>
    MS will *always* try to take advantage of any situation. It doesn't matter what you write to them, they will try to gain something from it.

    So? Are we trying to produce good software, or give MS things to talk about?

  • I read Slashdot so I won't have to read ZDnet, Wired Mag, etc, etc. It's nice to have one centralized point for Linux news, humor, hardware, etc. And besides, reading it on these other sites, you miss all the interesting discussions that arise.

    Geek-grrl in training
    "Despite the high cost of living, it remains a popular item."
  • Bread and circuses. Welfare and Jerry Springer. Behold the power of democracy.

  • 3) A few Anti-Linux folks can be counted on, now that the
    Linux flaming reputation is widespread, to supply a small
    amount of obnoxious flames for PR reasons.

    Far more than a few, read the ZD net article on the latest
    Mindcraft tests... (You also see MS, Mac, etc zealots
    whining about "Linux Zealots") As well as anti-linux
    flames showing up as "editorial".

  • Also, most journalists with any e-mail savvy who take
    outlandish postions and even deliberately lie are trying to
    get responses out of their readers. They know, and expect,
    to get flamed.

    Or they can set up some alter ego's and flame themselves
    or simply "invent" some flames.
    Just the same way as you see advertising which includes
    "letters from satisfied customers"..
    Also I'm sure there is a "Which OS are we going to flame
    today" crowd, pun intentional.

  • In fact, I wouldn't buy a make of car if 50% of the people
    who recommened it were ranting yahoos.

    Great technique for a rival car maker to adopt :) Especially
    since it can be tricky to determine people's "real" identity
    (and one actual person can be several "flamers".)
  • is to IGNORE news magazines/articles/opinions which are clearly biased (e.g. ZDNET publications).

    We should concentrate on LINUX and OpenSource, and only take notice to news/articles which are the most possible concensual of interest to /.

    Sugestion to Editor
    Please make an option available for /. accs to filter COMPLETLY ZDNet articles or similar.
  • This is similar to the issue of harassment. And the way that has been handled is for companies to have clear statements of policy and respond appropriately to complaints.

    In this case, the Linux community's statement of policy is the "Linux Advocacy HOWTO".

    The consensus of the responses to articles such as this one, seems to be that we wish everyone could refrain from using gutter language. However, in many cases, the original article/posting seems to be taunting the community which guarantees at least some flames.

    So, when flames are published (or even referred to), it would be really slick if one of the Linux portals either gathered comments that are more representative of the whole community or invited a representative of the community to post a response. That would hopefully make it to some of the mainstream press and demonstrate that the community does have its act together, in spite of a relative few who can't control their tempers/tongues.
  • While I agree with the general advice of this article, I think the concern is a little overblown. Some points:

    1) Resistance is sometimes necessary. It is not entirely bad when an inaccurate article draws flames. We can only hope that the flames are tempered by the presence of more numerous polite comments. And, hopefully, the percent of flames will not exceed the degree of inaccuracy and/or malice in the article.

    2) The Authors are always free to selectively cite and publish negative emails in order to disproportionately prove "rudeness" on the part of Linux advocates. Since they will quite likely feel defensive, this is always a possibility. Scott Hacker, for example, provided no data on the percentage of flames versus constructive criticisms. It may be that the negative comments were not at all representative of the whole.

    3) A few Anti-Linux folks can be counted on, now that the Linux flaming reputation is widespread, to supply a small amount of obnoxious flames for PR reasons.

    4) This is not just characteristic of the Linux crowd -- it applies to OS/2, BE, Apple, and even mainframe supporters. The difference is one of scale and timing. There are *lots* of Linux supporters connected to the Internet. Their timing is coordinated by the /. effect to vastly amplify the apparent magnitude of the flaming.

    5) In a large enough crowd, there will always be some jerks. As Linux becomes ever more successful, expect there to be even more jerks. Nothing can be done about that.
  • In the first version, all of the hotheads would have many recursions, which would slow them down and possibly cause a few to crash. This would allow more time for them to cool down.

    I understand your fear that this could actually hurt somebody, but the people that get the most upset often have the least mental hardware, so it would be a quick and painless process.

  • Seems to me that the type of people who do this sort of immature thing will skip right over the title of this article, in search of something to flame. For some of these people, I imagine it's fun to do this, and no amount of article writing will get them to stop. We need to call up their parents, and in the only way they'll understand, let them know that there *are* actual people on the other side.
  • There are two things that you might want to consider.

    First, Microsoft has an organized force in customer/public relations, PR people that go out and evangelize, distribute and install their software as their way of earning life. They will come on call - which is something that Linux will never have (before you say "I would do that", imagine installing 500+ machines).

    Second, because Linux is a "grass-roots" movement, Linux must be careful about the people its movement consists off. Even though I see the nice things about Linux, there is still the choice of with whom I want to be associated. And I do not want to be associated with anyone fighting a holy war. Even if Linux "wins" (whatever winning in this context might be) and is "the right OS for everyone", I don't want to be counted among such a childish group of users.

    Thinking about the good ol' times, I have yet to see an NT user with the same attitude as a Linux user, running around and trying to evangelize everyone towards it.
    On the other side, my experience with NT users comes from time when NT was not the heal-everything OS, but when NT didn't even have DirectX, one selected hardware by first asking if it had drivers for NT and one was still wondering if moving to NT 4 was really a good idea stability wise.

    Those fond times ...
  • Notice how all your "sub $1000" computers that you mention were all many years out of date at the time you are talking about. You could buy an apple ][ for less than a thousand too, I bet, if you don't mind a 1Mhz 6502 processor. I bought one of the early macintosh machines (a 512K unenhanced mac) in 1989, and it was, indeed, less than $500 (as I think you meant to type). But it only had 400K disk drives, no hard drive, and a tiny black and white display. Not only could it not run most mac software that was available at the time, there was almost no way to expand it so that it could. It was close to a dead end machine, although it could run mac write, which was fine for my purposes.

    The situation then was very different than it is today, where you can get a machine that is not much slower than the top of the line consumer machine and pay less than $500 in many cases. Your $400 333Mhz machine can run pretty much anything that a faster machine can, and if you really are bothered by the lack of speed, then just open it up and drop in a faster processor.

    The fact is, on a power per dollar basis, computing power is cheaper today an ever before. And rather than making computers more expensive, the PC "bandwagon" actually allowed today's current situation to develop. Once PCs became more popular, people wanted cheaper versions of the PC, and clones became popular, hardware prices started dropping, and now you can put together a quite usable machine for less than $400 if you look around a bit. Contrast this with the macintosh, with their cheapest machine being about twice that of the cheapest PC. (And that doesn't even include a floppy drive! :) ) The reason being, of course, that there is no competition Macintosh hardware, so they set their prices to whatever they can get.

  • You hit the nail on the head. I've been using and programming for Windows for several years. And one of the reasons I won't do anything on a Mac (or use and/or own one) is the constant stream of insults and put downs from the holier than thou Mac community. I simply don't want to be identified with people who have turned a computer into a religion.

    Not only do they rag me for using Windows, but when they find out I write sofware I suddenly become one of "them", i.e. someone with a degree of technical competance, the very antithesis of the proud to be untechnical Mac crowd.

    Please all, lets not let Linux turn into that. The more I use and learn about Linux, the more I like it. It doesn't mean I'm going to put down someone elses decision to not use it.

    Once again, great article.

  • I agree. Case in point: a linux-oriented magazine recently ran an editorial slamming the Mindcraft test mercilessly, using hot-button words like "scam", "fiasco", "sham", "suckers", "propaganda", and "mind control", among others.

    What was he trying to do, incite a riot? And why did he not want to admit that there might be performance problems in Linux?

    IMHO it's more productive to turn the other cheek, and work on fixing our own faults. That's why my page on the Mindcraft benchmarks [] is relentlessly objective and focused on helping everyone, rather than cutting anyone down.

    Check your road rage at the door, folks. One thing that helps me is, when I write an angry email, I let it sit for a while, and then when I'm calmer, I rewrite it until I'm sure everything in it is reasonably fair and true. It's so easy to write stuff quickly that isn't really accurate.

  • I've seen all of this "up close and personal", and it ain't Redmond doing it. On our local Linux User Group list, a company (primarily NT) put out a notice that they were hiring Linux admins. (I happen to know that they're considering switching) Instead of being welcomed with open arms, they were barbequed for being an NT shop who was obviously completely ignorant of the real world. Needless to say, the company was NOT impressed, and I highly suspect will be delaying if not outright abandoning their move to Linux. I regularly get ignored on the list because I run a 50/50 Linux/NT shop, even though I've got years more experience with Linux than most of the group.

    The Linux crowd needs to grow up and realize that this is just an operating system, not a religion. Total domination is not necessary, but being taken seriously is of paramount importance.
  • We beers (BeOS users) don't try to make BeOS a GPOS. Many of us use it as one, but we don't push it as the Windows replacement. We push it as a multimedia and internet appliance OS because it is better than linux (god forbid!), Winblows, MacOS and all the other *nix's and bsd's at those areas. Multimedia isn't as simple as artists and musicians. I believe it was alex st. john (the guy who started and headed the directx project) that said that games are the ultimate test of an OS's multimedia capabilities. Linux will ultimately fail if you people don't get some humility and try to do like what we beers are doing, we are redefining the OS market. We are trying to kill windows by pushing an OS that is a master of a trade instead of a master of no trade. If you Linux users, advocates and biggots try to push it into M$'s own territory you will lose. Windows is the best GPOS (not saying much) and you can't win against a company that puts billions of green backs into marketing its POSOS (Piece of shit OS). You linux users will win by not trying to fuck around with win32 OS's on the desktop and working only on making it a perfect server OS!!
  • After re-reading my post you people are right. However I will still keep to my original statement that any OS that tries to take on Windows head on is doomed because M$ has had so many years to build up its connections. I am a little too wary of dealing with most of the linux advocates that I have seen because most of them won't admit that there could anything wrong with linux. I find it surprising though that so much effort is being put into getting linux to the masses instead of making it the ideal server OS. Afterall it was linux as a server that got it where it is today. More work needs to be done on getting it ahead of NT (no easy task it seems) because otherwise most companies might lose interest. Without those companies sadly both the linux and beos communities will be fucked royally in the long run against the legions of mindless advocates of Win32 OS's like wankerdesk's jesse berst.
  • Privacy? What privacy? It's e-mail! They were dumb enough to sent it in the first place!

    The mistake was in the sending, not the publishing. I doubt those letters had a thoughtful little note at the bottom:

    I've just used lots of worthless profanity, so would you mind terribly keeping this confidential. Gee, thanks!

    Let's not defend idiots here, OK.

White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.