DOJ Bans Linux from US in Wake of iWidget Brouhaha
Apr 1, 2004 6:35 AM PT
In a bizarre twist of fate for the burgeoning Linux community, the U.S. Department of Justice has banned Linux from the United States.
The DOJ ruling comes after Darl McBride, CEO of SCO Group, and Linus Torvalds, original developer of the Linux kernel, agreed to arm wrestle over the disputed code in lieu of seeking a court ruling. Overall, SCO has been the subject of a great deal of criticism from the open-source community after charging that its proprietary Unix System V source code was illegally used in IBM's AIX operating system and Linux distributions.
With full approval from IBM to have Torvalds represent its interests, the arm-wrestling match was held last night in Dodger Stadium here in Los Angeles before a packed crowd of mostly bespectacled onlookers. Bill Gates and Richard Stallman agreed to officiate the match, which the wrestlers in advance agreed would settle the SCO-IBM dispute once and for all.
Torvalds initially attempted to use what he called a "pinch wrestler" -- hired IBM prize fighter and famed arm-wrestling champion Bob McFarthy, now a front-line developer working in IBM's grid-computing division -- but was denied pinch-wrestler access by Gates and had to go against McBride himself.
Tale of the Tape
Weighing in at a proprietary 100 kilograms with an arm span of a full 2 meters, McBride seemed to outclass Torvalds' wiry 90 kilograms and arm span of slightly less than 2 meters.
Analysts before the match debated the strengths and weaknesses of the players, citing Torvalds' hand strength -- derived from long hours coding at the keyboard -- as a distinct advantage. Others pointed to McBride's shock-and-awe persona, which has scared several companies into buying a SCO license.
"McBride's got the Doctor Evil thing down perfectly," said Laura McPhearson, senior analyst for Linux at Mars Inc., a consultancy based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. "I think they were even considering McBride to replace Mike Meyers for Austin Powers 4. Clearly, he's got the evil advantage."
Overhearing this comment, self-described "Knight Rider fan" Harvey Granger -- an area resident, OSDN founding "contributor" and regular Slashdot poster -- said he was rooting for Torvalds from the very beginning.
"He's Luke Skywalker," said Granger of Torvalds. "McBride is no match for when Linus uses the source." And besides, explained Granger, "Now that the truth has come out that McBride lives within 10 miles of iFiblio, the hosting company running Shocklaw.net, he simply can't win."
William Stonyriver, senior analyst at the open-source thinktank wing of John Harvard's Brewery, based in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, compared the tension surrounding the Torvalds-McBride match to classic Ali-Foreman "rumble in the jungle" gamesmanship.
"The only thing we're missing is an open-source Don King," said Stonyriver wryly.
Steve Jobs Debuts iWidget
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, made a surprise visit to Dodger Stadium just prior to the start of the match to debut a new granite-silicon prototype. Jobs, coming onto stage amid much fanfare, revealed what he called the company's new "insanely great" iWidget, a device that Bill Gates said "looks cool" and had Darl McBride pulling out a license agreement.
The new iWidget, according to Jobs, is a multipurpose computing tool in the shape of a polished granite stone -- which one analyst described as a kind of "pet rock" form-factor. Jobs held out the iWidget in an open hand, looked to the stadium full of enthusiastic technophiles and asked: "What is the sound of one iPod clapping?"
"This is the new iWidget," he said. "It does everything."
"Although the new iWidget appears to be just a rock -- an iRock, if you will -- this thing will signal the death knell for all death knells," Jobs added, alluding perhaps to the enduringly successful IROC Camaro.
"We're beyond keyboard-mouse input," said Jobs. "We're beyond gesture-based input. We've gone to thought-field input with the iWidget."
iWidget Leaps to Action
Jobs then eyed Torvalds and McBride, sitting at the wrestling table ready to begin the match, and, with a worried look on his face, turned philosophical: "Don't you see?" he asked. "We are all part of the universal panther."
"At that point, I think he went completely zen," John Harvard's Stonyriver told TechNewsWorld. "Clearly, he's either gone off the deep end or he's hit on some sort of universal truth about McBride and Torvalds being two sides of the same source-code coin."
While Jobs proceeded to take off his shoes and talk about the connectedness of all things -- speaking at length about the "universal BSD panther" and how Torvalds, McBride, Stallman and Gates are each images of "mother panther" -- the iWidget sprouted small granite legs and leaped from Jobs' hand onto the arm-wrestling table.
Seemingly acting of its own accord, the iWidget opened a small port in its side and projected a holographic 10-meter-tall virtual display that hovered in the smoggy air above Dodger Stadium. That image depicted what area resident Harvey Granger called "a large panther head."
The faces of Torvalds and McBride were simultaneously superimposed on the panther's face, which Jobs later called "mother BSD panther."
Jobs was escorted from the stage immediately following the holographic demonstration. The iWidget closed its video port and hopped back into Jobs' pocket as he descended the stage stairs. "That image was disturbing," said John Harvard's Stonyriver. "I think Jobs has been hanging out with the Illuminati or something."
The Match Begins
Torvalds, extremely distracted by what he later called "the love and harmony emanating from Jobs' universal-panther rhetoric" -- not to mention the palpable absence of the big panther head hovering in the sky -- immediately lost the arm-wrestling match.
"Told you so," McBride said.
Torvalds immediately requested a "do-over" but was denied a rematch by Maura McDio, the Department of Justice's Dodger Stadium representative.
Area woman Alexandra Finch, who bought a ticket to the arm-wrestling match from a local ticket scalper and part-time RIAA representative Dunbar Montclair, called the match "a big bummer" for Linux users.
The DOJ's McDio immediately produced binding court documents that all parties in attendance signed, effectively banning Linux from the United States.
Effect on Source
Just after the signing, however, Bill Gates seemed to have what one observer later called "love in his heart" -- no doubt having been affected by Steve Jobs' love-and-harmony speech.
Gates approached Free Software Foundation leader Richard Stallman with open arms. "Now that that's over," said Gates, "it's time to make some changes."
Stallman gave Gates a big hug and said, "It's about time. I know this was all a big misunderstanding."
"I formally declare all Microsoft software to be completely open source," said Gates. "We've defined the desktop, and now it's time for a new era of computing in which the model shifts from software to services."
The open-source development model was "the best one all along," said Gates. "We need the help of the industry to make users secure; we have the employee infrastructure already in place to do a great job as a services company. It's time to open the code."
Wrapping It Up
Torvalds, leaving Dodger Stadium quickly, was reportedly last seen booking a flight to Finland to continue kernel development there. TechNewsWorld sources say that McBride's first stop after the match was at a Hollywood costume shop to purchase a Darth Vader helmet.
Gates and Stallman were last seen "partying" at a local Los Angeles drinking establishment.
The ever-controversial analyst Rob Enderle, hanging out in the Dodger Stadium parking lot next to his bright red, SCO Edition Ferrari after the historic arm-wrestling match, spoke to attendees via bullhorn as they filed from the stadium.
"This love affair can't possibly last," said Enderle. "Stallman is sure to bring up the word 'free,' and Gates will drop him faster than Microsoft Bob."
"And yes, the Ferrari's licensed," he said.
Paul Murphy appeared on scene immediately -- arriving in a Solaris-powered personal helicopter -- to counter the naysaying. "The friendship between Stallman and Gates is the only hope computing has," said Murphy. "Unless, of course, Bill Joy comes back to Sun."
"Besides," said Murphy, "I heard Gates say that nothing's going to kill off open source faster than dumping 60 million lines of Windows code right on their pointy little heads."
Editor's Note: This piece is intended to be satire and appears as part of our April Fool's edition.