I just read article number #4,356,487,394 on How Evil Microsoft Is.
This one is better than most because it points out that Microsoft is unnecessarily evil, and essentially says that they should play “fair.”
This makes me laugh.
The tech world has a strong libertarian streak. “Government, stay out, and leave us alone.”
What they don’t realize is that when government leaves you alone, you often end up with a Microsoft, just like forty years ago, you ended up with an IBM, or a century ago, Standard Oil. When you operate by the law of the jungle, you end up with beasts, and nobody gets to be King of these jungles by sharing and caring.
Complaining about MS being unfair is like the antelope with a lion’s jaws around its neck complaining about the lion’s unfair advantages. The antelope has a point, but just who is going to make the lion stop?
Surely not a penguin.
Linux: The Desktop Software You Can’t Even Give Away
I’m sorry, but tell me with a straight face that isn’t so for the average Joe (Sixpack or Suit). When it comes to the desktop, Linux always seems to be a year or two away from the mainstream. Where’s the beef? Show me the money, and don’t sing “Tomorrow” to me again.
There are two undeniable success stories for Linux: IBM adopting Linux, and Apache. Neither threatens or even much influences where MS mostly earns its keep: the desktop.
Of course, all the Slashdot Sams see just black-and-white, but then again, penguins only live in Antarctica. It may suit them fine, but people aren’t flocking down there for the free ice.
Not even the most vigorous circle-jerking can obviate what is obvious to anyone outside that circle: the average Joe out there doesn’t even know what Linux is, much less want it.
And if you think otherwise, you’re really living in the geek ghetto.
You can say, “Wah, wah, wah, MS doesn’t play fair and doesn’t give us a chance!!” Well, what law of the jungle says, “the lion has to give its prey the following breaks?”
This is not to say I think Microsoft is good. I don’t. But when you have a monopolistic company that believes it can do anything it wants, a company that has little respect for law, much less any sense of “fairness,” you don’t stop such a beast by calling it names.
I’m sure the Palestinians call the Israeli soldiers plenty of names, too, but how many insults equal one tank?
No, to stop that beast, you either have to beat the beast at his own game, or you need a beastmaster called “government” to do at least a little lion-taming. Problem is, beastmasters tend to move in, and even start bossing you around.
Beast or beastmaster.
The Next Bestiality
If I had to bet now, I would bet that the U.S. government over the next couple years will eventually endorse what is generally called TCPA. MS’s notion of that is called Palladium. So the beastmaster is showing up on the scene anyway, on the side of the beast.
The open source people are rather ideologically disinclined to respect the notion that intellectual property has a right to be protected, nor respect the protectors of that notion.
It certainly has never seriously dawned on them that the only reason why the beastmaster is showing up is because the freedom they claim to cherish has been so abused that it gave the “tyrants” the excuse they needed to try to take it all away.
They certainly won’t acknowledge that there’s a problem that needs some sort of resolution, or consider that maybe the ability to steal would be a good bargaining chip to correct some of the tyrants’ real abuses.
Their position seems to be rather “You peons can’t tell us what to do. Don’t impose your beliefs on us; we have our self-given rights! If you make us put in copy protection, we’ll be just so slick and take it right back out again when you aren’t looking. Nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!”
People like that are just begging for a beating, or at least a good smack.
In contrast, what I’ll call the blue-collar opposition, the Joe allies, seems to be saying something more like, “Why isn’t this like taping off the radio?” or “Why don’t you just let me buy this stuff cheap?” which if nothing else is a much less obnoxious and more fruitful line of approach to the average Congressman that “we rule here, you don’t.”
I think the blue-collar Joes show far more common sense here.
If the ideologues got their fantasy wish, Linux would instantly become the
thieves’ OS of Freedom. This would certainly boost their share of the desktop more than anything positive they’ve ever done.
But TCPA is meant to be a one-two punch. You have all the software copy protection, backed up by hardware. Both Intel and AMD are getting ready for this, though they’ll both grandstand and pretend they’re being “forced into it.”
It is pretty likely that one way or the other, a copy protection-free Linux kernel would not be a functional Linux kernel in a hardware-enabled TCPA system.
In fact, this has already been done with Linux on the Sony Playstation 2.
Wouldn’t it be amusing if Congress mandated that MS come up with the TCPA code, then “made” them give it over to the other OSs? Or else a TCPA-machine wouldn’t work? God only knows what else would come with that “gift.”
If this ever happened, it would, of course, will become the standard excuse for Why Linux Failed, and be about as valid as Macsters blaming MS for their failures.
The tragedy of the open-source folks is that they’re the only ones willing to publicly take the field against the Evil Ones, but they’re too noisy to be ignored and too weak to fight.
They go into battle with this gangrenous leg called IP theft, and they won’t give up the leg, no matter what. They’ll end up whole and untouched, and dead, and in the process not only lose the freedom to steal, but the freedom to do a lot of other things, too. They’ll fight for “freedom”, and end up handing TCPA to the enemy on a silver platter.
This is what people won’t see, what they refuse to see.
Evil Vs. Stupid
I’m beginning to feel like a Mafia lawyer.
Actually, it’s more like a Mafia lawyer telling the DA, “Look, you have to prove my client whacked the guy, and so far, you proved nothing except you like to call my client names.
RIAA, MS, are just more legal versions of the same thing. They all have a racket going on, they want to keep it going, and they’ll do what it takes to keep it going.
I’m not for Evil; I’m just saying that Stupid doesn’t stand a chance against them. The solution is not “Don’t fight Evil,” but “Stop being Stupid fighting them.”
Many out there seem to think they can be stopped by calling them names. That’s stupid. What do you think this is, high school? Sorry, peer pressure doesn’t work here. Remember those Palestinians cursing out the Israelis? Doesn’t work too well, does it?
Nor do you stop them with petty larceny. They’ll just get a cop, or even better, put anti-theft tags on the items that set off alarms if you try to walk out of the store without paying.
This is not to say RIAA or MS or their rackets are good; this is to say that this isn’t the way to beat them. You can’t say, “Government, stay out,” then complain about the results.
This libertarianism bordering on anarchism just isn’t going to win.
The Real Enemy
The irony is the real enemy of Slashdot Sam isn’t a Microsoft. It’s the Joes, both Sixpack and Suit. It’s the Joes that sustain the Microsofts and the AOLs and only the Joes that can destroy them. To the Joes, convenience and ease is more important than choice, and he’ll go with whomever comes closest to giving him that.
And Joe doesn’t want what Sam wants. He wants Brain-Dead OS, and eventually somebody’s going to give it to him, and it’s probably not going to come from Antarctica.
Sam looks down on Joe, and the feeling is mutual.
But the Sams can’t beat the Joes. There’s just too many of them. It’s not Sams’ computing anymore, it belongs to the Joes. It’s not Sams’ Internet anymore, the Joes own it.
Joes rule now, and Sams can’t stand that.
To do anything substantial, Sam has to make Joe happy, and that means giving Joe what he wants.
If Sam wants to beat MS, he has to make Linux into Brain-Dead OS (at least as an option) before MS does, and Sam seems too geeky and self-centered to stoop to conquer.
If Sam want to beat RIAA, what he has to do is to sell that right to steal as dearly as possible. Joe Congressman won’t ever endorse the right to steal, but he could swallow the law changes that would make it possible to get these things cheaply, and get all the Joes behind that. That’s a winnable fight.
But if Sam doesn’t want to deal with Joe, all he can do by himself is build his own ghetto, complete with wailing wall, and that’s just what he’s done.
Tags: Systems & Components