[K12OSN] OT: Open Source counter-arguments

"Terrell Prudé Jr." microman at cmosnetworks.com
Sat Jul 14 22:23:45 UTC 2007

My responses are below, addressed to the author of this "piece".  This
kind of tripe is all over the Internet; probably everyone on this list
has already seen these pseudo-arguments multiple times.  It very often
either comes from--or is used by--Microsoft's "Get the Facts" anti-Linux

BTW, who wrote this?

Do you GNU!?
Microsoft Free since 2003 <http://www.gnu.org/>--the ultimate antivirus

ahodson wrote:
> Hi fellow k12osn - hope you have a few minutes to read and contribute
> in helping build a counter argument to the post below. I am looking to
> see
> 1) has anybody seen these arguments before (authenticity)
> 2) are you in a position to share counter-arguments
> (data/experiences/logic)?
> 3) Do you know of scholarly sources to accomplish #2?
> ========================== post ============================
> "Here is what I have seen from the Open Source Community:
> MOST, not all, of the programs are a generation or two BEHIND their
> commercial counterparts. That is because the open source community is
> not so much innovative, rather imitative. They wait and see what the
> big guys are doing and then imitate it. So, if you want to be a
> generation behind, then you use open source. So be it. That is not a
> bad thing. However, I prefer to be on the edge, for the most part.
Hmm...I guess that means that the Internet shouldn't exist?  The TCP/IP
stack that just about everybody, including Microsoft, uses, came from
BSD UNIX, released under the BSD license (a Free Software license) by UC
Berkeley.  BIND, the Internet's DNS server and another Open Source
package, literally scales to the Internet.  ISC DHCPD (also Free
Software) remains the canonical DHCP server for a reason; it's really
good.  Apache, the #1 Web server on the planet, came from NCSA HTTPD,
which also was Free Software.  Furthermore, Microsoft's own IIS v6.0 Web
server took its modular architectural queues straight from the
Free-Software Apache, which had been doing for years before then.

Tatu Ylonen's Secure Shell was released originally as Free Software, and
the OpenBSD team continues to extend and refine it.  That's why both
Cisco and Sun Microsystems use OpenSSH in their products.  Yes, you read
that right--Cisco.

As for being "on the edge," that's how you get broken functionality.  We
call that "bleeding edge," and it's true regardless of which software
package--or vendor, for that matter--that you choose.  Ask any major
enterprise outside of Microsoft how often they upgrade their really
important stuff.  It's not often.  It's why I run CentOS-based K12LTSP
instead of Fedora-based K12LTSP.  I do my initial prototyping with the
Fedora version--to see what's new--and the production deployment with
the CentOS version.  It's also why all of my Sun boxes run Ubuntu Dapper
Drake LTS instead of the latest Feisty Fawn (Solaris failed our
usability tests).

> IN essence, the OS community uses the software companies as their R&D
> arms, waiting to see what the next innovation will be that they can
> write into their software. They then copy the innovation, let it go
> into the open source world, and say "look how good we are at making
> something that is ALMOST like the original."
Actually, it's the other way around; see above.  Microsoft wouldn't have
had a TCP/IP stack without BSD UNIX.  MS-DOS is itself a complete
rip-off from both CP/M and BSD UNIX.  Easily displaying GUI applications
remotely was an innovation done by the X11 team, copied later by Citrix
and Microsoft.

Also, Microsoft has itself actually engaged in multiple theft
instances.  The most famous of them was when MS stole Stac Electronics's
disk compression software, which Microsoft claimed to have "innovated"
in MS-DOS 6, in total violation of Stac's copyright.  Microsoft called
it "DoubleSpace."  Who knows what else they've ripped off, since their
source code repositories are not publicly available?

> Sounds fair huh?
Well, no.  It is never fair when a firm like Microsoft copies someone
else's functionality or even violates someone else's license and claims
to have invented it...and then even tries to patent it!  Talk about

> Look at GIMP for instance. Whenever Adobe comes out with the latest
> Photoshop, THEN the GIMP community comes out with an update that tries
> to match the feature set. Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not.
> But, GIMP is NOT Photoshop. That is because Photoshop, like many other
> commercial programs, have an ecosystem built around them that simply
> cannot be  matched by the OS community. Plug Ins, peripherals, books,
> training video, websites, all revolve around the commercial products.
Oh, really?  Maybe you'd better tell that to Disney, because they not
only are heavy GIMP users, they also contributed to it, creating
FilmGimp.  And I hear they're not the only ones....

And as for the "commercial ecosystem," puh-leeze.  I walk into my local
Borders bookshop and see so many Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Sendmail books
that it's dizzying.  Sendmail has more add-ons for it than any other MTA
I've ever seen, and that includes MS Exchange.

> I can get something that MAY be like the plug in I want to use in
> Photoshop, but to say a program IS JUST LIKE another program is in
> fact, a terrible misstatement.
True.  It's like trying to convince an Apple Mac user (read: most
American schoolteachers) to willingly go to MS Windows.  Or that
Microsoft Word is "just like WordPerfect."

The correct question is, does the tool--F/OSS or proprietary--do the job
that you need done?  For Paul Nelson's graphic arts class, and several
others, apparently that answer is yes, the GIMP is terrific.

But if you love Photoshop, I'm not going to try to stop you.

> Is a Steak at Ruths Chris Steakhouse the same as a steak at Golden
> Corral? No, it is not. Yes, they are both steaks, but they are not the
> same. The experience is different, the taste is different. Yes, they
> will both fill you up, but...
Depends on the quality of the steak and your abilities as a cook.  I've
had $3.95 steaks in Las Vegas--quite often--that were truly delicious! 
The best chicken I've ever had was in Turkey, in a restaurant that you'd
call a "dive", for $2.00, and the second best was in a so-called "dive"
place called El Pollo Rico, in Washington, DC, which makes
Peruvian-style chicken (it cost me less than $7.00).  No fancy expensive
restaurant has ever come close to either place.  Ruth's Chris is good,
no doubt...but I've out-grilled them at home several times before.

What matters to me a whole lot more is that I have the freedom to either
go to Ruth's Chris, or grill my own in my backyard without fear of some
ridiculous "patent lawsuit" from Ruth's Chris for grilling steaks in my

> Finally, you cannot be in any conversation with an OS person without
> these words being uttered: "Why should we pay Microsoft for this or
> that?" Interesting. Why pay for anything? Why pay Dell for hardware?
> Why pay AT&T for connectivity? Why pay EXXON for gas? I don't
> understand the aversion to having to pay for something. The entire
> economy of the free world is based on this. You pay for goods and
> services.
That's true; why would I pay *Microsoft*...given that I don't want
Microsoft's products?  Now, Red Hat, that's a different story; I'll
gladly pay them for their product if I find it to be the best solution
for my job at hand.  If not, I'll go to another F/OSS support vendor, e.
g. Canonical, and buy their package.  Of course, if my staff already
know what they're doing with GNU/Linux, then I don't need to purchase
said support contract, and I can pour that money into other areas of my
business or school, e. g. buying textbooks or printer supplies.

You're right...why would *anybody* willingly do business with Microsoft
if they know there's a better alternative?  Maybe they're getting
something under the table--"co-marketing dollars", maybe?  :-)

> I always go back to the book [], the Cathedral and the Bazaar: A book
> about how paying for software was so bad...
> Cost of the Book: $18.00.
Bull-loney.  That book is about development methodology.  Totally apples
and oranges.  The Free Software movement has never been about not making
money from Free Software; matter of fact, that's a core freedom that you
*must* have.  Richard Stallman himself has made this clear for decades. 
Steer yourself on over to http://www.gnu.org's philosophy section.  If
you're really not either a Microsoft shill (read: "independent" tech
journalist) or an MCSE scared of losing your job, then you'll actually
read it.

The aforementioned Red Hat seems to do quite a fine business of making
money by selling bundles of Free Software and Support Services for it. 
So do the smaller outfits that we have contracted with at my district. 
For example, we paid a PERL hacker plenty of good money to add
authentication and authorization to NMIS 3.3.3, to use it as a
replacement for the (HORRIBLY expensive) HP OpenView Network Node
Manager, which we got rid of.  In the first year, that PERL hacker's
work more than paid for itself.

Today, NMIS 4.2.12 has that code merged in, and the upstream devs are
maintaining it.

> It seems paying for something is okay, as long as it is OS stuff..."
No, wrong; it's about not wanting to be forced to pay for something that
I don't want in the first place.  What's not okay is forcing a
"Microsoft tax" on people who want to buy your computer without
Microsoft Windows pre-loaded on it.  I don't want MS Windows, so don't
try to "inextricably" bundle it with a hardware purchase.

And since you mentioned Ruth's Chris, perhaps you'd like for them to
bundle a chicken with that steak that you ordered--a chicken that you
don't want and didn't ask for--and then expect you to pay for it?  Would
that be "okay"?

> ====================== end of post ===================================
> Thanks for the help
> Alan
> El Paso TX
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