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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 01:03 AM EDT

When I read the other day an article entitled "Why Open Source May Be Doomed", my first reaction was to just ignore it. It's hard to rationally answer an article so biased, factually inaccurate, and lacking in fundamental comprehension of the subject as this one, which begins like this:

"I have to admit that I was never much of a believer in open source. Maybe my business school coursework rendered me blind to the glorious vision of a 'gift culture' in which people contribute their work to a decentralized development project like Linux for honor instead of money. Or possibly I'm just too thick to understand how cutting off a multi-billion dollar revenue stream from software sales, without putting anything else in its place, could be good for the software business. Whatever the problem, I never quite believed in the fairy tale world they promised in which we'd all get an operating system that was better than Windows in every way, for absolutely no money -- not even when IBM started retailing Linux PC's and the juggernaut of fabulous free operating systems seemed unstoppable. But I confess that in all my skeptical musings, I did not imagine that Linux might be brought down by something even more prosaic than a lack of funds: a lawsuit."

"Too thick" it is, then. You yourself said it.

How do you answer something "so bad it's not even wrong", in Wolfgang Pauli's famous phrase? She ought, instead, I thought, call her fervent FUD/editorial pretending to be an article: "Why I Do So, So Hope, Hope, Hope Open Source is Doomed".

I do, after all, have to consider the impact on my neurons of bombarding my brain daily by answering all the minute details of FUD, I decided. I'd save myself for the big stuff, which this wasn't.

But now I see it's being republished here and there. In my experience, that often turns out to mean that there is some force behind it giving it a PR lift. Also, it smacks of the "Open Source is hippie, dippie, icky, commie, unAmerican" stream of FUD, and that is both untrue and defamatory, so it needs to be answered wherever it appears, particularly because McBride has expressed such views, and it may turn out to be an orchestrated campaign of some importance in the SCO story. Open source, although boasting an international community, springs from values as American as apple pie, not that they are uniquely US property.

So, I started digging to find out who owns Tech Central Station, which published the article first, and here is what they tell us about themselves on their About Us page:

"Tech Central Station is supported by sponsoring corporations that share our faith in technology and its ability to improve modern life. Smart application of technology - combined with pro free market, science-based public policy - has the ability to help us solve many of the world's problems, and so we are grateful to AT&T, ExxonMobil, General Motors Corporation, Intel, McDonalds, Microsoft, Nasdaq, National Semiconductor, PhRMA, and Qualcomm for their support. All of these corporations are industry leaders that have made great strides in using technology for our betterment, and we are proud to have them as sponsors. However, the opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of the writers and not necessarily of any corporation or other organization."

Not *necessarily*, eh? No agenda there.

Those rascals Microsoft show up again in the background, although "not necessarily". The MS FUD machine grinds on and on like a tank. So, next I decided to find out who Megan McArdle is that she wishes to be published by this corporate PR rag with content that might express Microsoft's views in exchange for its money, but "not necessarily". I gather from a Google search she writes under two names, the McArdle name and the name Jane Galt on, and that she is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business. But let her tell you who she is and what she is about in her own writings here and here and here and here and here.

Just as I sighed and sat down to begin to write, I read a comment entitled "So ignorant it is hard to read" by Dick Gingras, of Software Results, on Groklaw, answering some of her points. I asked him to do an expanded article in answer to her main point. If I spread answering the FUD around among us all, I reasoned, I won't end up a drooling idiot, hopefully, by the time the trials finally begin.

He was kind enough to write it. So, here it is:

Dick Gingras' answer to "Why Open Source May Be Doomed":

The other day on Groklaw, an anonymous user posted a link to an article on Tech Central Station entitiled "Why Open Source May Be Doomed" by Megan McArdle. The article was anti-Linux/FOSS and filled with inaccuracies relative to the SCO/IBM case, so I wrote a response and sent it to the TCS editor; I also posted it on Groklaw.

Unfortunately, under the influence of a flush of anger, I neglected to address the author's main premise that "Linux is doomed" and refute her premises. Herein, at PJ's urging, I continue with the rebuttal of those points.

McArdle states as one of the threats to Linux: "[I]f you're an IT manager deciding whether or not to purchase a Linux machine, how can you be sure that those stolen lines are the only ones?", referring to the code allegedly copied from Unix. Indeed, the same question could be asked about buying Microsoft Windows, or any other piece of software. We can't know for certain that an overworked programmer hasn't misappropriated some code so he can meet a deadline, regardless of which company he works for. Furthermore, this situation is less likely to happen with Linux/FOSS because of its open nature - any closed source developer can compare code at will.

She seems to think that IT managers are a timid bunch, fearful of making a move to Linux because there might be some risk of purloined code being discovered. But having spent 15 years of my career as the IT Director of a manufacturing company, I can state unequivocally that my peers in the many companies I dealt with were far from timid. Risk-taking is part of the job description, so there's no room for the meek.

But risk is only one factor in the IT decision-making process, and it's effect is tempered by all the other variables that make up the cost/benefit equation. A healthy company assumes risks that are commensurate with the rewards; a company that takes no risks becomes moribund. (I'll ignore the fact that insurance companies built an industry out of providing coverage for business risks.)

The cost/benefit aspects of FOSS are large enough that when weighed against the tiny potential of an adverse decision in the SCO case (one that's getting smaller by the day) or exposure to "stolen code", I expect that only the most risk-averse would avoid Linux specifically for those reasons. We've already seen some companies publicly stating that they'll continue with their Linux deployments despite SCO, but I'll wager that most just dismiss SCO with a shrug of indifference or, if they've been following the SCO case, maybe a sneer of derision.

McArdle's premise that the FOSS "gift culture" is bad for business is seriously flawed. As has been pointed out by Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig and others, the scientific community has used that same model for centuries, sharing for the good of society, while business has thrived on the fruits of their labors. That paradigm started the Industrial Revolution and, through the accelerating accumulation of knowledge, has carried us to the onset of the Space Age.

There's no reason to believe that FOSS will affect businesses adversely, not even in the software business. Microsoft's hegemony may be threatened, but for many reasons that's a desired result, despite what McArdle may think. FOSS may spur Microsoft to compete on merit. Most other software companies are used to competing and will probably welcome doing so on an open field. (With Microsoft preoccupied, they may even get a breather from watching their backs.) Competition drives prices down and provides choices for consumers while keeping companies sharp and, hopefully, honest. Although FOSS may have an advantage in being gratis or low-cost, it's at a distinct disadvantage because there's virtually no infrastructure to market it. All things considered, the playing field is fairly level.

Her "gift" argument has another flaw: the "free as in beer" aspect of Linux that she alludes to is clearly not the only significant reason companies decide to use Linux; it's the "free as in freedom" of the GPL. Sure, small companies, non-profits and home users may gravitate to Linux largely for reasons of cost, but the biggies that make the headlines in the IT trade journals do so not just to save money but because freedom to change the software at will allows them to gain control of their own destinies. Early on in my position as IT Director, I made the decision to purchase the source code for the manufacturing software that we used. Despite the initial cost, this was the best decision I ever made because we could customize the software to fit our business instead of fitting our business to the software. That's the real power of freedom.

Finally, her premise that Linux will die echoes the oft repeated mantra heard for the last 15 years - Unix is dead! I wish I had saved all the magazine covers that had that prediction. Unix is still going strong despite the Unix International/OSF war, the "Unix is snake oil" pronouncement of DEC's Ken Olsen and all the worst intentions of Microsoft and a host of others. Why? Because it has a simple internal design and uses a toolbox programming model, making it truly a joy for programmers to work with. Most important of all, it does the job well.

Linux is similar and provides a familiar environment to users and programmers acquainted with Unix. Together with the myriad programs and utilities from the GNU project, X-Windows, KDE/Gnome,, Evolution, Apache and many more, we have a complete environment for almost any computing situation. Most important, it runs on most existing computer architectures. This is not lost on the likes of IBM, HP, SGI, Sony, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Motorola, Tivo and a raft of others who used to spend a lot of money writing or porting their own Operating System software. Embracing GNU/Linux saves a significant amount of time, effort and money that would otherwise have been consumed in reinventing the wheel with each new product release. By sharing in Linux development costs, either monetarily or through their own development efforts, they can all have what they need with a much smaller expenditure of resources. Once Linux reaches the point of scalability as exists in AIX, HP-UX, etc. (fairly soon), those operating systems can be retired to maintenance mode.

The companies that promote and use Linux are acting in self-interest, and for logical reasons; due to the GPL, they can't appropriate the code, but in a more than fair exchange, each company gets to use it as it needs. So unless they want to go back to writing all that code individually, they will keep Linux alive.

Even if I'm wrong about the motives of those companies, the developers of GNU/Linux will keep on, because they program for the intellectual joy of it. That's what started it all in the first place and it will continue as long as there are programmers who love their chosen profession. That others find their efforts useful is an added bonus.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons License.
Copyright 2003 Dick Gingras

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." - Thomas Jefferson, August 13, 1813


Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed | 126 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Queenslander on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 05:54 AM EDT
I browsed through the front story pages at Tech Central Station and they all
seemed to have an axe to grind.

The story about open source fits right in - and I strongly suspect thet Tech
Central Station is a lobbying site masquerading as a news site.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: brenda banks on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 06:06 AM EDT
excellent article dick and pj
it seems the more FUD they throw ,it backfires and more people discover they
have a choice and that benefits linux.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: roxyb on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 06:52 AM EDT
I've worked with *IX for over 20 years. In those years it has been pronounced dead by the trade press because of: DEC VMS, OS/400, OS/2, Windows NT, lack of standardisation (I've worked in IEEE, X/Open, OSF, UniForum, etc., so where did that come from?), lack of stability, lack of applications, lack of graphical interface, lack of developers, lack of user base, lack of databases, user-unfriendliness, lack of you-name-it....

With the exception of OS/400, the rest of the *IX killers seems to all die (or live a life as a niche player, like OS/2).

I, too, have an MBA, and Jane seems to be lacking the necessary analytical ability to be an effective MBA graduate. As long as Linux/FOSS can/will be preferred in educational settings, the science argument will always win (i.e., new graduates will be up to speed on *IX, and will by natural laziness prefer what they already know). This can be seen in today in the differences between the developer bases of *IX and MS-Win. A dis-proportional number of *IX developers are CS graduates, while the same situation of MS-Win developers are that they usually are self-taught and/or hasn't attended university (which in itself isn't meant to be demeaning). This MS-Win situation is what Linux is beginning to change, by being *IX for the masses. So, if Jane would bother doing analysis, if would make it easier on all of us.


Roland Buresund

I'm Still Standing...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 08:42 AM EDT
One can see from Megan's resume why she wrote the article:
...recipient of 1994 University Fiction Prize. (U of PA)

Seriously, anyone who would call herself "Jane Galt" has not only
not read her Kant, she is a nitwit. I suppose business schools are about the
only place Rand is tolerated these days. One of the bad things about the net-
more garbage is published than ever before. More good stuff too, but like
before, the amount of garbage tremendously outweighs the good stuff. I tend to
totally ignore articles like this. Who knows, maybe she thinks this will
somehow get her a date.

[ Reply to This | # ]

An Alternative Viewpoint
Authored by: fjaffe on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:11 AM EDT
The article The end of the New Age of Robber Barons by Jem Matzan may help to keep the blood pressure in balance.

Of course, I'm not sure this sentence "Unfortunately you can expect to see a lot more of these kinds of lawsuits in the next few years as more lumbering dinosaurs begin to realize their fate." will actually help any of our blood pressure, if true. Nor do I agree with it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"The End of the New Age of Robber Barons"
Authored by: geoff lane on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:13 AM EDT
Jem Matzan has written an article The End of the New Age of Robber Barons in The Jem report.

In the article Jem argues that the existance of Linux and other free software will damage or destroy the market for software as we known it over the past 30 years. Some common traits of failing business models are identified and explained. SCO, of course, is identified as a leading example.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: egan on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:29 AM EDT
A couple of points to add to Dick's observations...

Ms. McArdle's FUD-piece also overlooks (or studiously ignores) some other factors driving organizations to Linux and FOSS in general. These additional factors include:

* Open standards -- Closed software companies strive to be first movers in order to populate their markets with solutions that are incompatible with other, would-be competing software. When successful, their software becomes the de facto standard through network effects, forcing end users to adopt the closed solutions. The software company that manages to do this is then in position of being able to extract monopoly rents on its proprietary technology, and its customers are literally at its mercy regarding pricing. FOSS breaks the grip of closed de facto standards on users by defining and adhering to open standards that are far more compatible with interoperability and truly open competition.

* Better security -- The dominant closed source operating system for desktops and small (up to 8-way) servers is just fundamentally broken in terms of security. Eric Raymond's "The Art of Unix Programming" explains this in some detail here. The vendor of that proprietary OS even admits this, and a link to that admission is included at the reference given. Rather than reengineer its system to be secure, that vendor attempts to shift the blame for its failings to its customers, and its customers incur high costs for endless patching, despite which they also suffer repeated vulnerabilities that result in real business costs. This is not to say that closed source software is inherently insecure (IBM's MVS-Z/OS and VM, and HP's VMS are examples of highly secure proprietary operating systems), but it is the situation in smaller scale systems that the open source alternatives are demonstrably more secure than the closed OS. FOSS is built with security in mind, rather than as a bolted-on afterthought, so it has a history of having fewer exposures. Further, vulnerabilities FOSS are typically seen before they're exploited (which is more often not the case with closed source software), then fixed in days, as opposed to the weeks or months that it takes most closed vendors to act. FOSS is objectively more secure than its competitor in the desktop and small server markets.

* Ease of use -- The closed source legacy OS in these system markets was not initially designed to be a multiuser or even multiprogramming OS. It was designed to be operated by just one user sitting at a terminal and interacting with the OS entirely through the familiar mouse-driven point and click interface. As a result, that OS has only primitive script and remote administration facilities and is therefore much more labor intensive to deploy in significant numbers. It further suffers from its history of multitasking very poorly, so it is most often used in a server per task manner that exacerbates its administrative shortcomings. This is not a problem for a single user or small office, but larger installations incur large, unnecessary operations costs with these proprietary systems. FOSS operating systems, on the other hand, were designed as multiuser, multiprogramming OS solutions from the beginning, and it shows. Users can have multiple tasks run in a single server and the administration of many servers by relatively few staff is quite typical.

* User control -- Software from proprietary vendors puts the vendors in control of its licensing and maintenance costs as well as upgrade schedules. The dominant close source vendor has shown little restraint in leveraging control in order to extract increasing marginal revenues from those customers in the unfortunate situation -- carefully cultivated by that same vendor -- of being locked into continuing to use and pay ever higher fees for its proprietary suites of products. That vendor has also contrived its product portfolio so that upgrading one product requires the customer to also upgrade all its other software rented from that vendor at high cost. FOSS imposes no such loss of control on the customers part, as users are free to use whatever packages and levels of the software they choose, for as long as they desire, without any externally imposed upgrade obligations or forced costs for maintenance support. FOSS products are also extremely modular, such that one upgrade doesn't trigger any cascade of other costly and potentially destabilizing upgrades.

Furthermore, Ms. McArdle's 'essay' is explicitly a lobbying paper on behalf of her proprietary software vendor sponsor, for she makes much of the value of that companies revenues. What she so obviously fails to acknowledge (on purpose, likely) is that most software is not written for sale by the proprietary software vendors. On the contrary, most software that is created is written by people working for other businesses, and it is created and enhanced to support those endeavors, not in order to sell the software for profit. Ms. McCardle wants her readers to think that the disappearance of several billion dollars a year in proprietary software revenues will harm the economy. Well, when that happens, it's likely true that some property values will fall in a few overheated areas near Puget Sound and in the Bay Area, but that won't cause any large disruptions to the economy as a whole. It will be, as Linus Torvalds has said, "an unintended side effect." But it will not harm the economy. Rather, it will probably stimulate the economy as the closed software drag on productivity and industrial cost structures fades, freeing the economy.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 11:53 AM EDT
So the author says

"Because for corporations, the real problem with this lawsuit is not a few lines of stolen computer code, which is why HP's attempt to stop the damage by indemnifying its Linux customers against SCO is unlikely to work. The real problem is this: if you're an IT manager deciding whether or not to purchase a Linux machine, how can you be sure that those stolen lines are the only ones?"

Well I am an IT Manager and I do have a MBA and to me that is not really a problem. My decisions are based on what needs to be achieved and in my grand scheme of things Linux fits perfectly. I would be foolish to ignore a possibility of a lawsuit but it is even more silly to be paralyzed by a threat of a lawsuit. It all comes down to cost/beneftit analysis and in our case benefit highly outweighs possible cost. I just wish geniuses without proper qualifications and lack of experience would stop advising me what I should do :-).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why no leaks from inside SCO?
Authored by: geoff lane on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 01:18 PM EDT
While I can understand why anybody with share options might decide to take the
money and run, keeping their mouths shut; there are a lot of ex-SCO salaried
staff recently made redundent who you might think would have an interesting
story to tell.

I've been hunting for any reports from insiders using Google but so far without

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: joebeone on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 01:30 PM EDT
Note that Creative Commons has more than one license... it would be good to know
which one you are using so that we could know what we may do with your writing.
Thanks, Joe

[ Reply to This | # ]

Netscape was indeed a victim of unfair Microsoft competition - blacklight
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 02:20 PM EDT
Netscape was indeed a victim of unfair Microsoft competition, because Microsoft
positioned IE as "free" whereas its cost is actually included as an
integral and nonseparable part of the pricing of its Windows OS: if you bought
Windows, you got IE whether you wanted it or not. The blunt fact is that IE
never competed on its merits against Netscape, and that Microsoft leveraged its
dominance in desktop operating systems to push IE forward.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: rand on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 02:28 PM EDT

if you're an IT manager deciding whether or not to purchase a Linux machine, how can you be sure that those stolen lines are the only ones?

Well, "stolen" still needs to be proved. But we know that MS has stolen IP; that's a legal reality. We know that SCOG (via Caldera via novell via USL via ATT) has stolen code; that too is a legal reality. SCOG makes a big deal about their rights via their antecedents, but ignores the fact that their antecedents used stuff that didn't belong to them.

As an IT manager, the only OSs I'm absolutely sure of are Linux, BSD, and their open-source brethren. Ditto the application software. Only open-source lets me know that there are no hidden infringements lurking in the shadows. How can I accept the assurances of some company that already stolen code if they won't let me see the source? Trust us, we don't steal. That last one was just a fluke. Really. Just take our word for it. I promise. Again.

And it's not just my/our liability here. It's a matter of principle. I know that SCOG or whomever is not going to come after my little outfit for using "stolen" code. I don't really think they could, anyway. But I've got friends in the software world, and there are other people I've never met but like and respect, and it burns me to think somebody could rip them off and sell their work back to me.

You know you're an old geezer when...your recreational drug of choice is ibuprofen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You're biased against conservatives
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 02:41 PM EDT
it smacks of the "Open Source is hippie, dippie, icky, commie, unAmerican" stream of FUD, and that is both untrue and defamatory, so it needs to be answered wherever it appears, particularly because McBride has expressed such views, and it may turn out to be an orchestrated campaign of some importance in the SCO story.

But it's OK to denigrate the author because she is a conservative: "But let her tell you who she is and what she is about in her own writings"? The linked to articles on her blog have nothing to do with the SCO case, yet you try to make her sound wrong because she is a conservative.

The article was bad enough, you could respond to the contents of the article. For example, she says in the article, " the key question: did one of Linux's thousands of volunteer developers illegally stick code stolen from SCO into Linux?" That is completely wrong. The issue is if IBM, not just some random developer, steal code. And she also makes it sound like many people agree with SCO that it is likely, while most stories I read say the opposite.

But instead of challenging the article, you basically say she's a conservative, so she has to be wrong. Try some original thinking next time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 02:47 PM EDT
These business people and analysts crack me up. They just don't seem to get
it. I love the way there always using words like "buisness model"
to try to explain why open source won't work. Open source has a buisness
model? And here all this time I thought people were coding this stuff for
themselves. As long as these people keep looking at the open source community
as a business with something to sell they'll never understand it. i.e. Linux
isn't just another windows.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You're biased against conservatives
Authored by: skidrash on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 03:17 PM EDT
Conservatism has nothing to do with sharing or not sharing.

Your use of the word conservative is the first one on the entire page, including

On many counts Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese are the most conservative
people you'll ever meet. Socially, sexually and fiscally they're far more
conservative than any American conservative. Yet they take to Linux easily.
Why? because conservatism and sharing are not exclusionary.

Greed and sharing are exclusionary.

Read this again -
"But let her tell you who she is and what she is about in her own

Where's the insult? It's an invitation to you to read and make up your own

Is the insult only in your own mind? Do you equate greed with conservative
moneygrubbing, and when greed is ridiculed you feel insulted?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Open Source Guru understands business
Authored by: mac586 on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 03:58 PM EDT
If you're tired of reading BS stories aobut how Linux is such a bad business proposition, you'll enjoy this article at eweek, Reversal of Fortune. It's an interview with Matthew Szulik, chairman and CEO of Red Hat.

"In the past, it was the technology industry that was supposed to be teaching the old-line companies about doing business in a new century. Amazon's ability to keep you updated about the status of your purchase led business executives to rightly question why their company's manufacturing and purchasing systems couldn't be as simple and reliable as an online bookseller's operations. Now the tables have turned. As Szulik pointed out, the technology companies that can create both a lower-cost purchasing threshold and a higher perceived value for their products in the customer's mind can build a gap that competitors will find increasingly difficult to bridge."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Commodity Goods
Authored by: Ruidh on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 07:41 PM EDT
Every manufacturer wants to be in a position where they add value to the goods
they sell but where all of their suppliers supply commodity goods. This makes
all their inputs cheap and gives them the maximum opportunity to add value and
make profit.

Until recently, software has not been a commodity good. It has been an expensive
input. People designing embedded products, various kinds of consumer goods and
high end servers have had to buy proprietary software upon which to base their
products. It wasn't worth it for them to write the operating system becuase
they still need to write the specialized software for their application.

OSS changes the equation in a fundamental way. It commodizes the operating
systems market. For people who design and sell computer hardware and consumer
goods, this reduces their cost to bring product to market. It's no surprise
that companies like IBM, SGI and HP/Compaq have a keen interest in OSS. Even SCO
promotes Apache, Samba and Cups on their software -- they don't have to write
it themselves and they can use it to bring a server product to market without
having to write all of the key applications themselves.

In fact, every market tends towards commodization over time. The industry or
the marketplace sets standards, patents expire, trade secrets become generally
known within an industry. All these things lower the cost of entry into a market
and give consumers of a commodity good a variety of suppliers to choose from.
This improves efficiency in the economy and furthers production. Commodization
is *good*.

The losers when a product becomes a commodity good are the high-margin
suppliers. When I own a key patent, everyone owes me a slice of that market.
Eventually, the patent expires and anyone can use the technology. Then I have to
either come up with the next technological innovation (and convince people to
buy it) or comete in a market with low-margin suppliers.

Software companies do not want their main product to become commodized. They
don't want to have to compete in a low-margin environment. Since the marginal
cost of producing software is nil, supply and demand wants low software prices.
(The market equilibrium is where the marginal cost equals the marginal demand.)
If you are going to sell a low of software, the market wants it to be very
cheap. The law of the market ensures that OSS will eventually win out and take
most of the market for software.

This is a good thing because it will make for a more productive economy when it
eventually does happen.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 08:01 PM EDT
It makes you wonder how someone can be a "recent graduate" of the
University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business and not recognize the value
of the "free" contributions members of that University's faculty in
particular have made in the area of economics and business processes with their
"free" writing and "copyrighted" publication in trade
and research journals. Last time I checked, anyone who wanted to hear (and even
use!) what they had to offer to the marketplace of ideas could go to the local
city library and read the journals for free.

This is exactly the case with GNU/Linux and Open Software Development (OSD) in
general. The movement at its core is not product development, but basic R&D
in a totally open and global environment. While it is true you can make a good
living distributing, consulting and teaching the subject, the real drive to do
this comes from an intellectual curiosity with the subject and a drive to take
the development process just one step further... Productization is secondary.
Poor Darl just doesn't get it. GNU/Linux and OSD are journeys, not

Finally, I am surprised that the Janes and Darls of the world can get out of
business school not understanding that (a) a true open market depends upon a
freely engaged and informed product buyer, and (b) success comes only from
offering more value in your product or service, not through obfuscation,
limiting choices through market manipulation or threatening your customers with

From my perspective anyway, GNU/Linux and OSD look like the inevitable next step
in the evolution of the marketplace for software products and are being embraced
as an antidote to the market excesses of the proprietary software model.

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Interesting link
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 08:06 PM EDT
Some what off-topic but I discovered this link today

I found "Aug. 6, 2003 iXorg Strategic Change of Focus" interesting
(last paragraph especially), particularly in context of "Aug. 04, 2003 SCO
tries AGAIN to clear the air of SPIN and FUD SCO tries AGAIN to clear the air of

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News Flash: Democracy IS Communism
Authored by: tazer on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 08:30 PM EDT
I know I'm not alone when I say I'm sick of hearing the 'un-American' or
'communism' remarks about GNU/Linux or FOSS.

GNU/Linux wasn't developed by corporations seeking to make a quick buck,
rather, GNU/Linux was developed by many people across the world to address the
fundemental shortcomings of its propietary bretheren. GNU/Linux is about
freedom, freedom to choose to implement it in a way you see fit, without a
burdensome barage of paperwork, obfuscated licensing and outrageous costs.

If a political comparison has to be made, GNU/Linux would probably be best
represented by the early years of America.

People were tired of being ruled from afar and having to pay these outrageous
taxes, having no say in how the money was spent and seeing no improvement in the
quality of life from these taxes. Just as users are tired of being told what
features they want and paying outrageous amounts of money for buggy software,
ridden with security holes. Eventually, these people decided that they could no
worse by becoming independant and ruling themselves. At least if they screwed
up, they'd only have themselves to blame. So they rebelled against the
opressors and attempted to form a more perfect UNIX (err, union).

'...that we here highly resolve that these programmers shall not have
programmed in vain, that GNU/Linux shall have a new birth of freedom, and that
this operating system of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not
perish from the earth.'

To quote a wise philosopher:
'Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses'

[to eliminate the accusation of plagarism, yes that first quote is a butchered
version of the Gettysburg Address and the second quote was from Monty Python's
Holy Grail.]

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IBM can SERIOUSLY nail SCO if they want
Authored by: Grim Reaper on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:30 PM EDT
For anyone who believes it's not worth checking the SCO LKP for misappropriated
GPL'ed code, read this:

R.I.P. - SCO Group, 2005/08/29

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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Glenn on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:40 PM EDT
Microsoft is becoming its own worst enemy. It has really started flexing its
muscles via its new more on enerous licensing models all the while the economy
has been in a tail spin. They bear a lot of the responsibility for some
previously loyal customers opting for the Open Source software.
That is something that the Microsoft shills have lost sight of. In this lean
economy, companies are going to go for the most bang for the buck, which is
FOSS, and once on board, it is going to be hard for Microsoft to recover them.
The only real hope they have is to find some way to legislate FOSS out of the
picture or litigate it out. They already know they cannot compete on merit. And
more and more companies are learning that FUD is just that. The ones who are had
opted to stay with MS products are beginning to see that they are at a
disadvantage on the cost front, and increasingly the performance front.
It will not be long before more developers get on the bandwagon and the
application gap will diminish to the point that it will be a non-issue. When
that playing field is fairly level, if Microsoft cannot take FOSS out with
legislation and/or litigation, it will be forced to do something that it
historically has been unable to do well, compete on actual superiority and
innovation. Heck, MS had to buy the OS that became the first PC Dos. They did
not even create that.


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history of trade press manipulation
Authored by: chrism on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 09:40 PM EDT
I wonder how the practice of paying shills has fared historically?

If you looked at previous monopolies at the beginning-of-the-end phase, would
you find that the paying of shills usually sharply increased?

Are we witnessing a psychologically unavoidable behavior similar to how the
monkey with its hand around a nut it can't pull out of the container will
stubbornly refuse to release its grasp even while you slowly walk up and bag

Chris Marshall

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Jane Galt
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 10:20 PM EDT
Is it just me or is "Jane Galt" an obvious pseudonym referencing "John Galt" from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The page title to is "The Jane Galt Line" an obvious reference to the John Galt Line built in Atlas Shrugged.

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  • Jane Galt - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 10:28 PM EDT
SCO FAQ page updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, October 12 2003 @ 11:36 PM EDT
Attention PJ - few items for you, especially around 15 and 16, 26, and 43 to 47

The date of promotional pricing has now changed to October 31. If I remember
right, it started as October 15, then it moved forward to October 1, now it's
Oct 31. (item 3)

Other interesting items (my comments marked with arrows and square brackets)

5. Can I see the IP License before I purchase it?

5. Hasn't SCO already indicated that it's okay for its code to be distributed
by distributing this code itself that is now in question? Haven't they
essentially GPL'd their code? (--- [yes two item 5s]

7. Why has SCO filed a lawsuit against IBM?

8. Is HP in violation of any SCO contracts?

9. What is the Red Hat lawsuit about?

10. Why is SCO asking Linux customers to purchase a SCO Intellectual Property
License in order to continue running Linux?

11. Why is SCO willing to use litigation with customers?

12. Doesn't the SCO IP License for Linux violate the terms of the GPL?

13. Will SCO sue me as an end user customer if I don't buy a license?

14. How can SCO expect me to purchase a license when its case with IBM hasn't
been resolved yet? What if SCO loses its case against IBM? Will it reimburse
Linux customers who purchased a SCO IP License for Linux? (--- [hmm,

15. Is SCO willing to show any examples of source-code violations to Linux
users? (--- [interesting in the light of IBM's motion to compel discovery -
Attention PJ!]

16. Why does SCO require an NDA to be signed to view evidence of UNIX System IP
in Linux? (---- [they say they'll show evidence to UNIX System source licensee
- wonder why IBM contents it hasn't been told]

17. Why did SCO revoke IBM's AIX license and what is the impact of this action
by SCO? (--- [still assert "After this date, IBM no longer has the legal
right to continue to ship any UNIX System V derivative work, including

26. Why doesn't SCO offer an IP License for Linux to the Linux distribution
companies so that they can bundle SCO IP with their Linux distribution? (---
[attention PJ!! really interesting if you compare item 12. I think they are
asserting their Linux IP license doesn't conflict with the GPL, but licensing
their source to a distributor would]

And Items 43 to 47, must read for PJ

44. Why didn't SCO choose to sue Red Hat if their Linux product was somewhat
based on SCO's intellectual property?
SCO does not want to stop Linux shipments by Red Hat or anyone else. SCO is
simply trying to be paid a fair price for customer use of its IP that is in

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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 04:05 AM EDT
Just wanted to say again that I am sorry for misinterpreting what you wrote. I
had no idea that you were not american- your english grammar is very good. My
wife is one of those "damn foreigners," and misunderstandings due to
communications glitches have resulted in silly arguments several times.
Sometimes, the situations are rather humorous, as when I told her she should ice
a cake that she had just baked with "cream cheese icing" and found
her several minutes later, bar of raw cream cheese in hand attempting to spread
it on the cake....I've been a "damn foreigner" myself in China and
gotten some laughs over my actions.

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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 04:54 PM EDT
I think we could expand that last argument to be even more convincing. I
suppose most people saw "beautiful mind" and thus are familiar with
Nash's game theory results. Nash's ideas actually support free software
rather then proprietary software. So there's a "mathematical
proof" that free software is in fact better for the economy then
proprietary software. And here we're talking the economy of software companies
not just the economy as a whole. It took the economist community a few decades
to accept these ideas, so I don't suppose that they will be accepted in this
case quickly either. But I would say that some big shots at players like IBM
are familiar with game theory and how to get ahead. All in all, your goal as a
bussiness is to "make lots of money", and not "make more then
others". Fortunately free software is showing that these ideas work in
practice without people having to accept them. We shall see cooperative players
kill competitive ones in the next few years I suppose. You can't escape math
... even in bussiness ...

George Lebl

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Netcraft says it all..
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, October 13 2003 @ 08:32 PM EDT
here< /a>.

Hmmm... doomed eh?

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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: howard_b_golden on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 11:18 AM EDT
I want to add one point to everything that has been written so far: In my
opinion, Megan/Jane is disingenuous in claiming to be trying to help open
source. I expounded on this in a comment on her blog. So far she hasn't

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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: brenda banks on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 12:13 PM EDT
interesting development


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Why Microsoft's FUD May Be Doomed
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, October 14 2003 @ 06:35 PM EDT
I think the article was terrible also. But your writing is so confusing that it
makes the whole opensource community look bad.

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