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Feral Linux users should learn when to shut up

Feral Linux users who are slamming Microsoft for this and that after it released an alpha version of Skype for Linux are part of the reason why the needs of desktop Linux users are not taken seriously.

The very words alpha in the name of the release indicate that the Skype which was announced on 14 July is not ready for prime time. That should be apparent to anyone with the IQ of the common cockroach.

But it is apparently not evident to some Linux users.

Things do not seem to be clear to some so-called Linux writers, either. Here is one claiming that "The Skype for Linux alpha does not have all the features that will be released into the final version."

That is exactly why it's called alpha. but that apparently does not register. It's a test version for early adopters to play with, and record their impressions as feedback. Said feedback will then be used to develop a stable release, with more features. Software has been like that for at least 30 years.

This betrays ignorance of a fairly high order. And it is coming from a man who claims to have "written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s." Gawd save us, is all I can muster in response.

Feral penguin.

The same writer has this comment to make as well: "It can be installed globally but supports only the English language." So what did you expect: support for Swahili? This is alpha software.

Microsoft is under no obligation to release Linux versions of any of its proprietary software. No Linux user has depended on, or will ever depend on, the company's munificence to use their computers.

But when a proprietary company makes a gesture, it is best to behave in a civilised manner. Don't use the software if you don't care for it or find it is not up to your specifications.

That seems to be beyond certain Linux users.

And then we have the self-righteous ones, like Bill Weinberg of the Linux Foundation. Quoth this worthy: "Hardcore Linux developers and free software ideologues are unlikely to use this or any other version of Skype that remains closed source."

Memo to Weinberg: that bus left a long time ago. Those of us who use Linux for our daily personal needs and work have a much more pragmatic attitude towards computing. If some commercial company chooses to release software that does the job for us, we will use it.

When the world's biggest open-source company Red Hat is willing to support the NSA — that magnificent organisation that spies on all and sundry regardless of colour, creed or origin in its use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, then nobody in the free and open source world is in any position to pass judgement on a commercial firm.

As one very widely circulated book says: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

Of course, no person in their senses would expect a commercial company to spend money developing software that does not net a return. That would be supreme foolishness.

But it looks like subsidising stupidity has become a full-time endeavour these days. And it looks unlikely to change.


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Sam Varghese

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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.