Linux Foundation's first commandment: respect Microsoft
Zemlin was speaking at the LinuxWorld trade show in San Franscisco. It is one of these gatherings which is basically a meeting of suits (for whom geeks profess scorn) who pass the time of day by making commercial announcements every time the clock strikes the hour.
Jimmy waxed eloquent when it came to Microsoft; apparently, the man was all praise for Microsoft's marketing and the company's ability to fend off competition. I'll come to that in a minute.
The Foundation, one must bear in mind, was formed earlier this year by a merger between the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group. OSDL was the one which always claimed to be the centre of gravity of Linux.
Somehow, OSDL lost its balance in both 2005 and 2006 when it had to fire a number of employees. On the second occasion, it threw out its chief executive officer, Stuart Cohen. Perhaps the man at the top was causing the organisation to overbalance a bit. One never knows, but it's clear they didn't want to lose the position at the centre of gravity.
As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, there are many people who have tried to gain an association with free and open source software after noticing that this genre of software, once dismissed scornfully by proprietory vendors, is now actually providing a very decent livelihood for a large number.
Zemlin's statememts are nothing but silly. Does this man have no idea about the type of marketing which Microsoft has indulged in to knock out competition? Has he ever heard of the deceitful way in which a far superior operating system, DR-DOS, was pushed out of the market so that an inferior product, MS-DOS, would become the lone product sold with PCs?
Has Zemlin ever considered that Microsoft's marketing is always about selling mediocre software at inflated prices with no decent way out for the purchaser to gain any recompense?
In the absence of any sense of history, this man is asking people to have "respect for Microsoft." As Ali G put it, "respeck da man."
The FOSS community is being asked to respect a company which continuously makes bogus claims about its poster child, claims that it never justifies. Sure, after a man rapes your daughter, it's only natural to respect that bloke.
As every business person does, Zemlin uses the word strategy; according to him, Linux now needs to follow a different strategy as it is exiting the first stage of its life.
Clue me in on this one, but apart from putting out a decent operating system that does what it claims to do, what "strategy" has Linux followed? Commercial Linux companies have followed different business models to sell their wares - but they have always delivered a decent product.
There are, of course, companies like Novell which have signed pacts with Microsoft, pacts which endanger the growth of Linux in the marketplace. Is this the kind of strategy which Zemlin had in mind?
There are people like Miguel de Icaza who try to tailgate Microsoft by developing open source versions of Microsoft technologies and hoping against hope that specs will remain accessible to them. Could Zemlin have meant this kind of strategy?
Zemlin also had a word of wisdom for those who participate in mailing lists - companies don't like that kind of interaction because of the flame wars on this lists. In other words, boys, better start sanitising things, else the proprietary vendors of the world will pass you by.
I just wonder how the people whom Zemlin is aiming to please/placate will stomach the fact that this Linux, which is apparently something Zemlin is supposed to be promoting, was created by a person named Linus Benedict Torvalds who has been responsible for some of the best flames I've seen on any mailing lists. Great reading stuff for those who can deal with honesty.
Will people really trust such an operating system? Or should Zemlin and his ilk start spreading a different tale about its origins? Now that would really be a different strategy for the "second stage" of the Linux timeline. Or is it the third stage?
Judging from the CV available on the Linux Foundation website, Zemlin, clearly, has had no touch with open source apart from various marketing roles. It is claimed that he is "widely quoted in the press on open source and commercial software trends..."
If these are the kind of quotes he generates, it would be indeed wise for him to henceforth hold his peace.
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.