I received a few intelligent letters talking about Linux, and since some of
the points have far wider applicability than what OS you use, I’d thought I’d share
them with you.
Some may think I’m “against” Linux. The following is more like it:
I’m an NFL coach. Some tall, average-build kid with glasses comes on to the field
to try out, and he tells me he wants to be an offensive lineman.
I see he’s going to
get run over every play by the defending team, so I suggest that maybe he should bulk up first.
He tells me that there’s no need for that, since people his size were plenty good enough when football was
first being played. Besides, bloated linemen aren’t good for the game, anyway. Agility should be more important than brute force.
He also tells me that football isn’t intellectual enough, and my plays are far too simplistic.
I tell him that many of my players aren’t the brightest beings God put on this earth, and he tells
me that only highly intelligent people like himself and his friends should be allowed to play and especially coach football.
He’s not too big on the idea that I and my staff should be making and calling plays. He thinks it would be much better if I kept
to providing a general vision, and let the players make up their own plays on the field.
Since they’re so bright and will rely on intelligence rather than brute force, there’s also no need to have
a rigorous schedule of practices or required attendance. Players should be able to show up whenever they feel like it, pick up their assignments,
and work on them during their spare time.
I ask, “What do you think we’re paying you for?” and that brings up yet another problem. He feels it is evil to be paid or make money from football. People should play football
sheerly for the love of it.
I suggest that maybe he should find a arena-football league someplace, and he says, “No, this is how football be played in the NFL.”
I point out that the fans rather like how football is being played in the NFL and might not be able to follow his kind of game.
He tells me that it doesn’t matter what they think. They’re just
a bunch of dumb klutzes who don’t know what real football is. Once they see it, they’ll love it, and if they don’t, they can just stop going to games.
Meanwhile, I’m looking at the only team on the schedule, the Microsoft Marauders, and remembering all the free agents they just signed.
That’s how I view Linux. The only real differences between my example and reality is that this is not the NFL, but the MFL, and Microsoft is the perennial champ in that league.
No matter how much I might find some of his ideas interesting or even good, the overwhelming reality is if I’m going to play in the MFL, I have to play against Microsoft.
Not only on the field, but in the stands as well. Maybe a few percentage points of football fans would rather see football played the way that kid suggested, but most prefer what they’re getting now.
All I’ve been suggesting is what the Linux folks will have to do in order to seriously play against Microsoft on the desktop.
I would love to see Linux emerge as a viable alternative to Windows on the desktop. I’m just suggesting what they need to do to do that.
They’re not going to do it with hot air; they sing “Tomorrow” more often than Little Orphan Annie. I don’t think they can do it via open-source schedule.
But I don’t think those are the core problems.
The core problem is insisting on playing the game their way rather than the MFL’s. That’s where the action is, that’s where the fans are. If that’s the league they want to play in, that’s the game, whether they like it or not.
Now Linux doesn’t have to play in the MFL against Microsoft. They can have their own arena-football league and have their niche following, much like the MacOSFL. For those who are happy with that (and there’s nothing at all wrong with that), peace be unto you and best of luck.
But if you think Linux should play in the MFL, Desktop Division, you had better understand why Microsoft is the perennial champ, why you’ve been losing for twenty years and the price you’ll have to pay to beat them.
Both the Linux and Mac enthusiasts have something to common. Deep down inside is the feeling that computing should be some sort of elite activity. They’re on opposite ends of the spectrum as to how the elite should be chosen
(technical expertise vs. money), but elitism is common to both.
That might have been fine in 1980 or even 1985, but Microsoft stooped to conquer. They made their OSs easier to deal with than UNIX and encouraged the process that made the hardware cheaper than Macs.
They took the middle of the road, and straddled between the two extremes. They weren’t necessary as good as UNIX or MacOS in their particularly strengths, but they were good enough overall, and got better as time went on.
In short, they gave the average person the most acceptable overall package. Not the geek. Not the person happy to spend $7,000 on a system fifteen years ago. The average person in a computing population that got bigger and bigger, and when it got bigger, it got poorer and less technically-oriented.
That’s why UNIX and MacOS lost in the eighties. Not due to evil. Not due to conspiracies. Due to elitism.
Fifteen years later, they still haven’t learned.
Joe SixPack, Not Microsoft, Is The Monopoly Force
I’ve used the term “Joe SixPack” a lot, but that term covers a lot more people than it implies.
Joe (and Joan) Sixpack are all those who views a computer as a highly annoying tool. They don’t love computers, and consider the ones that do freaks. They don’t even like them. At most, they may like a few of the things they do with them.
The less they have to learn to use them and the less they have to pay for them, the better. They want an appliance, not a computer.
They constitute the vast majority of computer users. They rule, and will forever and ever. If you don’t think so, if you think you and your kind can tell them to do the opposite of what they want, that only proves how far your head is up nether regions.
If you want them to change, you have to give them what they want, not what you decide to give them. They have the power, not you. Doesn’t matter what you think or say. Unless you give them what they want, you’re just a geek freak, and they won’t listen.
Period. End of discussion.
Actually, you have to give them a lot more of that than Microsoft does to really have a fighting chance, since learning Windows was so traumatic.
In short, you have to out-Microsoft Microsoft, and I just don’t think the Linux folks are psychologically capable of that. There’s too much love of the command line and the old days when you had to know quite a bit about computing just to use it, and the average person needed somebody with those skills around.
Those days are long gone. The horse is out of the stable. The wheels are off the bus. Pandora’s Box is open.
That’s reality, and all the whining in the world about it by Linux fans will have about as much impact as all the whining in the world has had for MacOS fans.
Seeds Of Destruction
Does that mean Microsoft will rule forever and ever? Of course not. They will rule for only so long as Joe Sixpack says. Give Joe and Joan a better deal on their terms, and they’ll jump ship.
I think that’s very likely in the next ten years. MS won by being easier and cheaper and less-elitist than the competition. That doesn’t make Windows easy or cheap, or non-elitist.
Get rid of the techie attitude, see what Joe and Joan Sixpack wants, and you know what to do to defeat Microsoft.
Figuring out what to do is one thing, doing it is quite another, but that’s what has to be done first.
Then MS can lie and cheat and get illegal. Then a court case could do some actual good. Open up the MS black box some more, so you could seriously be able to run Windows apps in this SixPackOS.
When? Probably more than five, probably less than ten years from now.