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Re: Free software movement similar to Islam?

From: r . e . ballard
Subject: Re: Free software movement similar to Islam?
Date: 22 Oct 2005 15:41:45 -0700
User-agent: G2/0.2 wrote:
> Some similarities:
> 1. decentralized : there is no one Pope for either,
>   although there are certainly Ayatollah wannabes in OSS
>   like RMS.

Actually, I thought an organization governed by those representing the
interests of the users they represent was called a republic.  Linux is
actually 3,000 "states" and each "state" has developers, committees,
and management structures which manage and support the development of
their particular libarary, kernel, application, toolkit, or other
"package".  These packages are all combined by distributors, in a
free-market competition where all of these suppliers provide packages
to almost 100 different distributors.  Major distributors like SuSE,
Red Hat, and Debian are widely recognized for their ability to test and
validate packages before releasing a distribution.

This would be free market capitalism at it's very best.  Users purchase
the distributions that provide the packages they want, the distributors
try to balance the packages they include to attract the greatest number
of customers, and package makers provide the features that will attract
a significant number of customers, making the packages attractive to
the destributors.

Compare this to the Microsoft "Dictatorship" and "Feudal Systems".
Microsoft's dictator/King and "polit-buro" decides which packages,
hardware, and software will be included.  Only one of each application
is class, and the candidate is chosen based on the economic and
political interests of the elite committee and the dictator.

Those not included in the standard distribution much pay tribute and
swear oaths of fealty to the dictator/king, and must obey all of the
orders and demands of the king.  At any time, the king can seize the
packages and impress the serfs into service.  The product is marketed
to other "kings", essentially about a dozen OEMs and about 2000 of the
largest corporations.  Nobody cares what the Serfs want, the Peones are
simply required to toil using the tools they are given.  If this means
that they must work unpaid overtime, give up week-ends and evenings, it
is not the concern of those making the decisions as to what tools will
be provided.  In addition, if the peones fail to deliver, they are
economically executed.  They are laid off, outsourced, downsized,
right-sized, offshored, or otherwise replaced by others willing to work
longer harder hours for less money.  No one care how productive the
serfs and peones are, only that the tribute is paid.

Much like the feudal kings influenced his lords by throwing lavish
parties and banquets, Microsoft throws huge parties and lavish events,
in hope of demonstrating their superiority, followed by the ceremony of
having each lord privately retake their oaths of fealty.

> 2. imperialistic : just as muslim armies once attacked country
>   after country, and today there is a "reverse crusade" & jihad
>   happening, OSS is entering almost every area of software use
>   and many OSS partisans are going to an extra effort to
>   impose free software on their organizations, families, etc.

It was Microsoft who attacked domain after domain.

It was Microsoft who demanded that their Basic-in-ROM be included in
every Commodore PET, TRS-80, and PC.

It was Microsoft who demanded that MS-DOS be included in every PC and
demanded that OEMS protect their monopoly from upstarts like DR-DOS and

It was Microsoft who demanded that OEMs license more units of Windows
than PCs they actually sold, and demanded that the OEMs protect their
monopoly from GEM, DesqView, OS/2, SCO Unix, Solaris, and Linux.

It was Microsoft who demanded that OEMs license MS-Office for all of
their PCs, and demanded that OEMS protect the empire from WordPerfect,
Lotus 1-2-3, Corel Draw, Harvard Graphics, and other "desktop
publishing" software.  Even though desktop publishing is almost as
arcane as Selectric Typewriters, it's still as protected as it was when
it was a "hot market".

It was Microsoft who demanded that Internet Explorer be installed on
every PC sold with Windows, and that the desktop could not be altered
and that the IE icon could not be removed from the desktop.  At the
same time, it was Microsoft who demanded that OEMS protect them from
NetScape and revoked millions of Windows licenses when Compaq faled to
do so.

It was Microsoft who demanded that OEMs install Outlook express on
every PC sold with Windows and refused to allow them to install any
other third party software.  It was Microsoft who forced IBM to stop
preinstalling Lotus Notes and Lotus SmartSuite, allowing them only to
include an installation CD which could then be installed by the user.

On the other hand, Linux has been more like a democracy.

It was Linux who said "all are welcome to participate".  All can
contribute in their own way, giving the talents and resource they have
and only in the amounts they are willing to give.

It was Linux who said "all are welcome to partake in the fruits",
making Linux available to anyone who wished to download it, making it
available to anyone who wanted to distribute it.

It was Linux who said "we will share our bounty", offering the ability
to provide both Linux and Windows on the same platform.  The Linux
community provided LILO and other boot managers which allowed an OEM to
install BOTH Linux and Windows, and allow the USER to decide which he
wanted, at which time. Yet Microsoft demanded that only one partition
be configured on the OEM distributed hard drive, and that that
partition be devoted exclusively to Microsoft.  Windows 95, 98, and NT
even reformatted the entire hard drive just to make sure there were no
Linux partitions remaining.

It was Linux who said "We will play nice" - offering the ability to run
both Linux applications and Windows applications at the same time using
WINE, offering to run Windows itself concurrently with Linux, using
Bochs, Xen, Crossover, Win4Lin, and VMWare.  It was Microsoft who
demanded that OEMs install Windows and only Windows, with no other
applications, especially anything that even remotely resembled a
virtual machine engine - on THEIR PCs, the OEM no longer even owned the
hard drives, they were simply providing the hardware on which would be
placed an image createdy by Microsoft.

It's Microsoft who seeks to extend it's "empire" across all that can be
surveyed.  Internationally, domestically, every aspect of the PC,
network, and even the information infrastructure itself, Microsoft
seeks absolute control over access and control of these resources.

> 3. no dissent allowed : just as muslims feel compelled
>   to attack anyone who speaks blasphemy, such as Salman Rushdie
>   who merely points out that the koran is merely a historical
>   document (therefore he must be killed), so alas OSS
>   supporters become very angry when any dissenter speaks
>   their mind.

It's Microsoft alone who decides what goes into an OEM PC, and anyone
who deviates from that image will find themselves having to repurchase
and renegotiate for millions of OEM Licenses.

> 4. destructive : OSS radicals want to get rid of even
>   the copyright, and the GPL is written to strip software writers
>   of their rights over their work (read it...); similarly
>   muslim radicals want to rid the world of non-muslim people
>   and impose taxes and prison time or worse on non-muslims.

Actually, both Microsoft and OSS are very much in favor of modern
copyright law and copyright licensing technology.  The same law that
allows Microsoft to say "tell no one or you violate the license" allows
FSF/GNU to sell "tell everyone or you violate the license".  Each
license is a contract between the original author and those who offer
additional support and enhancements.  This is designed to prevent a
company from creating a license in which everybody agrees to share,
getting $millions worth of support, design, ehancements, testing,
distribution, and marketing assistance, then releasing the shared code
as a commercial product, with just enough deviations to disable the
Open Source version, then charge a rediculous amount of money for the
enhanced version while paying nothing in royalties to those who have

If some commercial real-estate developer came in, agreed to help manage
the schools for a few years, and then suddenly started turning all of
these building from classrooms to office buildings, without paying a
dime back to the municipalities whose taxpayers built the schools, he
would be facing criminal penalties at the very least.  There is a good
chance that vigilante justice might even rear it's head.

Yet Microsoft had no problem taking the software contributed to the
NCSA and turning Marc Andreeson's Mosaic into Internet Explorer and
driving Marc's NetScape out of the marketplace completely.  Marc
retaliated by putting Mosaic into Open Source licenses and offering
FireFox.  Numerous enhancements and features, none of which are legally
available to Microsoft.

Microsoft also had no problem stealing TCP/IP code from BSD
contributors like Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems.  They had no problem
stealing LDAP code from OpenLDAP and calling it ActiveDirectory.  They
had no problem stealing millions of lines of Open Source code and
selling it as part of Windows bundleware.

The irony is that Microsoft has tried to patent some of this
technology, or even funnier is that they have had to defend themselves
from "ambulance chaser lawyers" patent suits by citing the OSS code
they actually used in their product.

> And surely there are more similarities.

There are even more similarities between Microsoft and Feudal Kings and
Lords, who ruled by "divine right" and had the ability to destroy the
lives of any who opposed them.

Just as the feudal system represented the antithesis of the teachings
of Jesus Christ himself, Microsoft represents the worst of those

> This isn't to say that free software is all wrong,
> but it is better to know and think about the movement
> and whether it is going in the right direction
> than to let it become evil, like islam.

There is one similarity between Islam and Linux.  Islam is a religion
whose members are frequently persecuted by a "Christian" authority
system which completely ignores it's own rules of justice, fairness,
and even the teachings of it's founders.

It is an organization which includes Black Muslims who are arrested for
"Driving While Black" by "Fundamentalist Christian Police".

It is an organizaton which includes entire nations who fought on behalf
of the British who then gave the land they won back to the Turks, Jews,
and other "friends of Christians".

Islam is a community in which the traditional tools of power are not
available.  When a muslim woman is raped by a christian soldier, there
is no recourse, so they protect their women from the lusts of soldiers
by keeping them covered and "undesirable".  To keep women from tempting
the soldiers, women who attempt to seduce soldiers for money are stoned
in the public square.  This assures that Muslim women will not become
desirable to Christian soldiers occupying their land.  The Middle East
has been Occupied by Christian soldiers for about 1,000 years, and the
Muslim culture has survived by maintaining these strict laws.

When a muslim child is orphaned by Christian or Jewish soldiers, the
muslims raise him, help his younger brothers and sisters, and ask him
to serve as a soldier.

Because Islam has no weapons which are effective against modern
military technologies used by the "Christian" dominated army, they are
willing to die like any other soldier, but because death is a
certainty, they can kill as many people as possible by appearing to be
a civilian, then using weapons which will kill him, but will kill as
many other people as possible as well.

Linux is also a community which does not have the traditional power
structure.  Linux can't demand that OEMs install Linux on every PC.
They can't force the government to prosecute Microsoft for violating
federal laws, they don't have the resources for long and protracted
lawsuits against Microsoft that end up in a "settlement" in which
Microsoft's illegal business practices are not only continued, but are
fully sanctioned with no further litigation possible.

Because of this, Linux has needed to rely on stealth, providing the
tools, features, and advantages of Linux to Windows users, but allowing
users to believe that they are using Windows.  As a result, millions of
users use Linux, Unix, and Open source every day.  They use Google,
Hotmail, Yahoo, Amazon, E-bay, and millions of sites powered by Linux,
Apache, and/or Jakarta, Struts, and JBoss in both OSS and "commercially
enhanced" (WebSphere and WebLogic) form.

At the same time, the organizations who have been using Linux/Unix and
understand it's capabilities, know that much more is possible, that the
user equipped with Linux, X11, and OSS can have a much more dramatic
and productive experiences.

The Linux organization has also been able to infiltrate Windows using
cygwin, xen, bochs, vmware, vmware player, and numerous other tools
which allow millions of Windows users to "taste" open source technology
ranging from GAIM to Putty to WinCVS to Dlink/NetGear/Belkin/LinkSys
routers, print servers, WiFi hubs, and "Network Drives".

Today, one Linux license is installed for every 2 Windows licenses that
are sold.  A few years ago, the new machine was purchased to run
Windows and the old machine was converted to Linux.  Today, many users
and corporations are purchasing newer PCs to run Linux with Windows as
a Xen, Win4Lin, or VMware Client.  The biggest advantage of this
approach is that a corrupted Windows system can be reimaged in a matter
of minutes, and Windows VM "Snapshots" can be taken regularly using
USB-2 drives capable of storing a month's worth of weekly backups.

> The copyright for instance is so basic, to remove it would be so radical
> as to be insane.

As I said at the very beginning, OSS and Microsoft both love modern
copyright law and licenses.  The same law that allows Microsoft to say
"tell no one" allows GNU to say "tell everyone".

Rex Ballard

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