No Linus, it’s not about Microsoft-hating

Linus Torvalds says Microsoft hatred is a disease

As time goes on, I like Linus Torvalds less and less. He’s all too willing to allow people to wrongly credit him for the whole free software movement instead of Richard Stallman. He doesn’t actively claim it, but neither does he make any effort to set the record straight when mistakenly given this credit or when erroneously introduced as “the one who started it all.” To add insult to injury, he does this while minimizing the role of the GNU programming and debugging tools that made the Linux kernel possible, the GNU GPL that enabled its popularity, and the entire GNU operating system started in 1984 that it fits into, all while teaching against the free software principles that put all those things in place. He’s happy to have people call this combination “Linux,” rather than GNU/Linux, even though Linux is just the kernel and makes up only about 1/10 as much code as the GNU software in a given “Linux” distribution.

I respect Linus highly as a programmer, and for his contributions to GNU/Linux’ success. But I don’t trust him as my IT morality compass – I think he’s got it wrong and I am not impressed with his lack of integrity either.

Contrary to what Linus would have you believe, this is not about hating Microsoft. It’s about fighting against those who wish to compromise our freedom by actively stifling competitors – especially free/libre open source software competitors. Microsoft has been convicted of a wide variety of antitrust practices, on numerous occasions, by U.S. and E.U. federal courts – and was recently fined again by the E.U. for not complying with the terms of the judgement against them. Just do a web search for “Microsoft antitrust” and see just how far down the rabbit hole goes. Anyone who so actively fights consumer choice is the enemy of the consumers and of the IT free market as a whole. Microsoft is but one exceptional example, but there are many others. And remember, there’s a big difference between hating someone vs. hating what they do.


Yet Another Windows Nightmare, aka YAWN…

Attacks against unpatched Microsoft bug multiply

Any seasoned Windows user will not be surprised that there’s another known Internet Explorer security bug that Microsoft has taken much to long to address. Yes, they have released a little workaround script to temporarily disable the dangerous ActiveX control in question. But as a computer repair technician of many years I can assure you that the article’s assessment of that workaround is quite correct. Most people aren’t keeping up on this sort of thing – especially since it happens so annoyingly often – and are unlikely to use that script, since it requires taking time out of real life to go download and install it.  This, after another similar incident last week.

These frequent opportunities to have one’s computer invaded and/or data stolen or deleted should serve as a wake up call to how truly dangerous it is to run Windows.  With all the spyware out there nowadays, it’s pure lunacy to do online banking or taxes or any other sensitive transactions on a Windows machine any more.  I have had customers tell me horror stories about getting victimized by identity theft after making such transactions, and finding out later that their Windows machine got infected with spyware shortly before it happened.  Danger, Will Robinson!

As a computer tech I can also tell you that by and large the most common repair these days is removal of viruses, spyware, adware, trojan horses, and keyloggers.  I speak as someone who has been cleaning up Microsoft’s messes for a long time when I say it continually amazes me how much time, money, and energy are spent just keeping Windows systems free of malware.  This in addition to the hefty 100 or 200MB service packs one has to keep downloading and installing, and having to deal with sudden crashes so frequent and ubiquitous they earned their own moniker in the computer world – “BSoD” for Blue Screen of Death.  (Here for your viewing pleasure is a video where Bill Gates himself gets hit with one of these at Comdex, a large computer conference… poetic justice, many would say.)

So I’ve used the acronym YAWN here for the reason that these occurrences are the same boring song sung over and over again.  If you’re not fed up by now, you haven’t been paying attention.

When you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, you’ll seek an alternative.

Some people respond to this problem by switching to a Mac.  But I think that’s jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  Part of the problem behind Microsoft’s shoddy software is the fact that they alone control that software, and users’ freedom of choice is the last thing they care about.  That’s why they are far more concerned about using antitrust tactics  to force out competitors (1 2 3 4 5 – oh heck just google “Microsoft antitrust”) than they are about making a superior product.  Now, while Apple’s software is clearly much better than Microsoft’s, they’re worse for user freedom of choice.  This is because, like Microsoft, they have exclusive control over the software – but they also have exclusive control over much of the hardware.  If Microsoft chooses not to remedy a software issue, Windows users are out of luck.  Mac users are subject to that problem too, but worse because the same exact concept also applies to hardware.  If Apple decides it has no plans to remedy a hardware problem (and I have heard various complaints about this), Mac users are out of luck on this front too.  I don’t recommend taking the Apple route, for these reasons.

GNU/Linux is easier than ever to use, and built with security and user freedom in mind.   It has an active worldwide community that provides support and continuous development of free software – “free” as in “freedom” and often “free” as in save your money.


[GNU/]Linux companies sign Microsoft patent protection pacts

[GNU/]Linux companies sign Microsoft patent protection pacts

What a mess.  Companies should not be forced to choose between facing a Micro$haft lawsuit or secretly violating the GPL and hoping they don’t get caught (thus possibly facing a lawsuit anyway).  All that for using FAT – the old, outdated, not-that-great-in-the-first-place file system which Micro$haft stopped using years ago already, after that “gem” of an OS, Windows ME.   (Windows ME  is widely known among techie people as the most crash-prone, corruption-prone Windows version ever released, and that’s really saying something – especially if you ever tried Windows 3.x or 95 or 98 when they first came out, you understand why.)

I used to get really annoyed at M$ just because of their shoddy software and the nightmares it caused for my family and customers (and okay, for me while trying to fix it all), but over the last 10 years or so I’ve come to truly despise them for their nasty business practices.  I do everything in my power to help people dump the Empire.  My son, my spouse, and my dad are all running GNU/Linux only. I attend GNU/Linux users’ groups, and I help whenever I can with GNU/Linux answers and tips – here and on GNU/Linux help forums all over the web.  M$ needs to go!


What if toasters had operating systems?

Ran across this somewhere and couldn’t resist sharing it here:


What if toasters had Operating Systems?

a) Windows toaster

The Windows toaster looks nice, but sometimes it just won’t make toast.  It either comes out burnt or raw, or it stops half way through. also, you have to unplug the toaster, plug it back in again, and wait 5 minutes each time you want to try and make some toast. For every loaf of bread you buy, you are forced to buy a license for a new toaster to go with it, and you will get sued if you let someone else have some of your toast.

b) MAC toaster

The MAC toaster has no settings or controls and it looks very stylish, but will only accept proprietary size bread which can only be bought from Apple main dealers at 10 times the price of regular bread. If it breaks you will have to ship it to a licensed repair shop for service. The toast is fine except that the size of the bread is so odd, you can’t actually eat the toast it produces, although it does look good.

c) Linux toaster

The Linux toaster looks awful, it has wires crimped together hanging out of it, and pieces grafted from other toasters. The first time you make toast with it it burns it, the next time it’s raw, but after you read the man pages and invoke the command line: toast -verbose -breadsize 50132 -eject -o z3321 > /dev/toast | more, it makes perfect toast forever and never breaks.

Mini-Microsoft blog

Submitted the following to Mini-Microsoft blog:

The fact that MS management feels it has to resort to unfair business practices to help keep its monopoly in place, rather than let the product’s quality speak for itself such that people rush out to buy it on its own merit, is just confirmation that even top MS management KNOWS it’s crap. And doesn’t care.

I’ve worked as a computer tech for a number of years. As such, I’ve of course had to work with MS software every day because that’s what most customers have. While MS’ business practices have long disgusted me, it’s the years of longstanding Windows problems that have finally overflowed my frustration threshold. The once fine art of computer repair (anyone remember checking IRQ usage and changing jumper settings to resolve conflicts? ) has devolved into a neverending parade of spyware / adware / trojan horse / keylogger / virus removals, and little else. A recent study showed that 60% of all Windows systems are infected with some type of spyware. I’ve consistently found that each spyware tool removes only about 25-35% of the malware on a given system, so you have to use 3-4 of them and still can’t be guaranteed it’s 100% clean. I’ve talked to so many customers who were victims of identity theft as a result of malware, that I’ve become thoroughly convinced that doing your online banking or shopping on a Windows machine is utter lunacy. And after cleaning malware and fixing crashes 8 hours/day plus service calls, the very LAST thing I want to do is come home and jack with MORE antispyware updates and crashing on my home network.

I’ve gone from grudging acceptance that sloppy Windows development has kept me in steady employment, to utter exasperation and outright hatred of its existence. I finally swore off Windows in favor of GNU/Linux, and began looking for GNU/Linux or even Mac work because I’m just tired of all the nonsense now. I’m sure there are plenty of others just like me. After all, if we have to learn a new interface on every new Windows release anyway, why not take that opportunity to just learn a better OS instead?

I’m convinced that many MS developers are incredibly bright, energetic, innovative people full of promise. Despite this, Windows is a train wreck in slo-mo. I’ve personally watched its security holes instantly bring huge and powerful companies to their knees. One can only imagine the IT and lost labor costs incurred. But it’ll be a cold day in hell before the “good ol’ boys” at the top will go around firing each other, even after a blogful of well-founded complaints.

Why waste your time and potential on 10-16 hour days, desperately trying to save the Titanic with bailing buckets until you’ve become weather-worn and disillusioned? MS top management has clearly demonstrated where their minds are at. Your talents could be put to much better use making a difference elsewhere.