Pros, Priests and Zealots: The Three Faces of Linux

Last week, in writing the column ” image problem and my own view of the Linux community. Much as the Linux community sees just one aspect of Microsoft, the bad one, I tend to see just one aspect of the Linux community.

Generally speaking, our view of a person, initiative or company often comes from select perceptions. If you read Slashdot, for example, even regular participants seem to comment that much of the discussion there is not based on what people have personally perceived but on what they have read about others people’s perceptions. Often, even these perceptions are based on second- or third-hand knowledge. My impression is that the vast majority of folks who are critical of my own columns have actually done a very good job avoiding actually reading them.

But just as many perceptions are colored by the opinions of what appears to be a large number of uninformed individuals, my perceptions — and the perceptions of several of us in the media — are colored in much the same way, and probably by some of the same people. So I thought it might be useful to share how my perception of Linux has been created over the last several months by a minority of those who back Linux. In reading this column, many of you might see similarities to how you formed impressions about Apple, Linux and even Microsoft.

EDITOR’S NOTE (February 2, 2004): See Rob Enderle’s new column “The MyDoom Effect: Crossing the Line into Terrorism” for a discussion of the MyDoom attack on SCO Group.

In thinking through this issue, I’ve come to learn there are three general types of folks who write to me about open-source software: Pros, Priests and Zealots. My opinions of open-source software have been formed, to a large extent, on the basis of the activities of the Zealots. As you read this, put yourself in the position of an analyst or journalist faced with meeting similar people and ask yourself which group would have the greatest impact on your beliefs.

Linux Pros

The Pros are platform agnostic. They just want to get the job done, and when they write to me they simply want to make sure I’m well-founded in my position before they take what I’ve said and use it to back a decision.

The Pros generally see things like the SCO legal action as someone else’s problem and have done their best to distance themselves from any related issues. They don’t love Linux or Windows. They are simply focused on finding the right tool for the job.

Rather than picking and promoting a single platform, these Pros are the most likely to tell me of things I could have been more critical of on both platforms. Also, they actually spend time discussing what they like about both platforms. These Pros are balanced and opinionated but not religious. In other words, these are people I would either like to work for or have work for me.

These folks will spend an inordinate amount of time helping me understand the daily problems they face and helping me see what is important to them. If they favor any platform, it is often BSD because it is simply less distracting than any of the other platforms while retaining many of the advantages associated with Unix and open-source software.

In addition to being Linux or BSD experts, the Pros often call themselves Windows experts and generally live in mixed environments — not because of some diversity driver, but because the environment grew up this way and is running just fine, and because fixing something that isn’t broken isn’t a priority for them.

Linux Priests

The Priests are nice people, but no matter what the question is, open-source software and Linux are the answers. Discussions with Linux Priests are more like one-sided lectures than give-and-take conversations. Priests can write page upon page of dogma, referencing link after link of online material, and they tend to be long on beliefs but short on facts.

What facts the Priests do have seem to be filtered through their belief structure so that even if the evidence would support a contrary argument, they will always argue that the evidence supports only their own position.

Priests do work at being nice to nonbelievers, much like an actual priest might work at being nice to an atheist who “just doesn’t get it” but who must get it to go to heaven.

To Linux Priests, Microsoft is Satan. These Priests won’t even acknowledge the possibility that their own community could be guilty of similar bad behavior. This group is defined by its faith, and that faith runs deep. Linux priests aren’t violent or nasty, and they appear to be competent in their jobs, but they are incredibly biased and don’t seem to recognize it.

Linux Zealots

The Linux Zealots generally hide behind phony names on the Internet — often, in fact, names of male body parts. The Zealots are rude and crude, and the sentence “two beers short of a six-pack” defines them well.

It is not clear whether the Zealots actually believe in Linux and open-source software or are just being antiestablishment. They seem to live by three simple rules:

  • Attack first. If you kill the messenger, you can always apologize later.
  • If someone disagrees with you, that person must be a crook.
  • Behaving badly — by attacking, lying or bullying — is only bad if someone on the other side does it.

    Many of the Zealots seem to be unemployed. It is hard to believe that they can stay with any one company for more than a few days by behaving as badly as they do. Were I an IT executive, the apparent fact that these Zealots are walking human-resource disasters would probably keep me up at night.

    I’ve watched these people fabricate stories about my own job history and events that I’ve written about — as they were happening. These Zealots have been the primary reason that I’ve come to believe SCO will likely win its lawsuit — because if the Zealots are lying about facts I know to be true, they must be lying about facts I don’t know about.

    This group owes its roots to similar groups that existed around OS/2 and the Apple platforms. The Zealots are generally seen as being part of the cause when the related platform fails or goes into decline. The Linux Zealots are similar to religious zealots and political extremists.

    Zealots and Terrorists

    I have a hard time seeing the Zealots as any different from terrorists because of the nature of their threats. I expect one of them — or perhaps a group of them — will go too far at some point and do significant damage to the open-source movement, the ongoing litigation with SCO or their employers.

    I strongly believe that if September 11th showed us anything, it was that zealots of any movement represent a huge risk to that movement because they do not consider the repercussions of their actions.

    In the end, I think we are all defined by how we are perceived. Our perception is 100 percent of our reality and doesn’t have to have any connection to facts to be real to us. Perhaps more of us — and I include myself in this comment — should look underneath our perceptions and challenge their foundations regularly.

    Whether it is in the Microsoft or open-source software communities, there are people who have good hearts and honest motives. Helping those people to succeed — while mitigating zealots regardless of where they work or whom they support — is in the best interest of everyone.

    Rob Enderle, a TechNewsWorld columnist, is the Principal Analyst for the Enderle Group, a company founded on the concept of providing a unique perspective on personal technology products and trends.


    • Having finally decided to sign in to the site so I can post comments (a fact that I find annoying, but is definitely better than the junk you got on /. you talk about), I came across this thread. Man are there a lot of posts…
      Well, I AM one of those, as you may have noticed, that doesn’t use my name. However, a search on Kagehi will turn up someone in Japan (not me) and a scattering of posts made by me, a lot of them at, where I have been heavilly involved with the forums for a piece of telnet client software I use. I have used Windows 3.1, which I always got entertainment from, due to the odd feature that it tended to get more and more stable as new dll version where installed, expect when it didn’t, because some other older program ate the new version and replaced it with an old one. I later used 95, which was an improvement, at least once I disabled the active desktop and some of the other integrations, thus freeing up more than 50% of the resources. It was totally unusable on the machine I had at the time with them enables. I later got 98SE and AM now typing on a machine that I fully expect not to reboot properly the next time I shutdown, something I have to do because creeping instability has caused it to swallow memory like a leaking bucket. Reinstalling, especially with all the needed patches over dialup, will take me 2-3 days. How do I know this? Because I installed a version recently on our other machine and that is how long it took to get the bloody thing to where it now still refuses to run one MS 98 game, which did run properly on the previous installation of the same OS. Go figure…
      I will eventually install XP on mine. Why? Because the ‘improved’ installers don’t work right under WINE in Linux, even though nearly everything once actually installed does, and I have thousands in software I can’t afford to replace and are tied to MS like people in the stearage section of the Titanic. Ah, but I meantioned Linux, so maybe I AM one of those Zealots..
      Not quite. I only got involved with it in the last year or so and since then I installed Fedora on our other machine, since I didn’t have disk space for it on mine. I don’t use it. I have booted up Knoppix once or twice, but again hardly every do anything with it. I AM simply tired of MS telling me I have to buy OS version blah blah, which will fix all my problems, except for the need to upgrade every bloody piece of hardware short of the mouse to run it. Why? Because along with the vaporware I don’t get, the bug fixes I do get and the new flaws there comes even less control over the OS, even more things doing stuff behind my back for ‘my own good’ and 5000 new bugs that didn’t exist in the last one. I read recently that MS itself admited that one version of its OS had 63,000 outstanding bugs. What they had time to count, but not actually fix them?
      Seriously, from what I understand XP isn’t even as stable as 2000 and there are still bugs in it from the days of IE 1.0 and Windows 3.1. This includes the code from some stuff from 3.1. Yeah, maybe the OS doesn’t technically use it, but it is still there anyway. The only major improvements seem to be in memory management, which prevents most of the unfixed bugs from causing quite as much havoc as they used to. But the bugs themselves are still there. But I AM going to buy it anyway, because unless I want to lose the investment I already may into buying stuff for it, I don’t have any other real choice.
      Frankly, I would have loved to be an MS advocate, but then I found out about a lot of their practices, which still continue today with being sued over now media player integration, instead of IE and in the near future integration of search functions such as found in Dashboard from Ximian and Novell already, AM ong others, but which ‘they’ don’t feel it necessary to integrate so much into the OS that people won’t have any choice but use it. I love how a 10% difference in code between XP Home and XP Pro means a 3x increase (or something like that) in price or how that 10% is merely the deletion of tools that came with all versions prior to XP from the Home edition. It scares me to see them making the new Windows Media Edition and trying to swallow that industry as well and if they ever do start making stuff to go in cars, I AM going to start riding a bicycle everyplace from now on. Though how I AM going to get on it with the padding and body armor I will be wearing to defend me against the cars whose brakes fail randomly and need to be rebooted every four weeks I have no idea. lol
      Yesterday I found this site, which pretty much sums up my own aggrivation and distrust of MS, their anti-"anything that isn’t our standard" and general lack of interest in real innovation or quality. In fact, it has made me seriously reconsider if just reinstalling 98 isn’t better than letting MS crawl even farther into my life:
      All in all, it is disturbing the number of people who both have used MS products for years, *and* in some cases even used to work for them, I have found recently when hunting for some bit of information who now refuse to have anything to do with them. If I could, I would be one of them. You don’t get zealots without one of two things:
      1. A substantial reason to hate the target
      2. Misinformation and intentional propaganda.
      I would be inclines to place most of the Linux zealots in the former, while a lot of MS supporters are in the later. Why? Because as the guy who made the site above says in his site, "Who can possible justify saying their systems that need to be rebooted an average of once every four weeks with 30 minutes of downtime are more stable that the products of systems that are up for literally months and rarely offline for even close to that long?" His answer is simple, people that have spent years convincing them that four weeks of stability and random crashes are ‘expected’ and know that as long as their three ring circus convinces anyone to buy something, that company is stuck with MS forever. As one of the stuck, I couldn’t agree with this assessment more.
      Oh.. BTW, why the heck does this comment system eat white space between paragraphs?

      • Ahh I see, so *I* AM being unreasonable by asking you to stop trolling and start writing actual, useful articles. I must apologize, I thought this was the grown up part of technewsworld I was posting to, not the daycare section. Good day.

        • Rob, i never read those articles that seems to be anti-linux stuff. i never do it because i already did a lot and found that most of them lack of enough (or even real) facts. benchmarks are always much more useful than someone else’s point of view.
          you are right, there are a lot of oss zealots out there. but comparing them to terrorists seems a bit too much. but what about microsoft zealots? and *.religion zealots? or even soccer team zealots (a problem here in Brazil and in other parts of world)? you’ll always find zealots of all kinds and you can’t stop them. they can be zealots. but they can’t cross the line that a terrorist crosses. and there is police or something like to stop them. i don’t see your point in being worry about them.
          opensource is their religion and you are blaming it and them in public, don’t expect to be welcome then 🙂

          • "I see too many in the OSS community who feel they need to kill, and I mean this literally, anyone that seems to disagree with them."
            Once again, you’re blatantly stereotyping and attempting to paint a massive group of *engineers* as criminals. I would really like to know exactly how many death threats you have received. I can only say "Get off the cross". Do you think you’re the only journalist who has received irrational or personally threatening criticism? *No one* is actually going to risk life behind bars to "get" you. No one actually cares that much.
            "Do you think that the picketers outside of SCO are not likely to get out of hand if SCO actually wins a round in court? Ever seen what can happen in a picket line? What do you think the news will be then?"
            I can’t miss the similarity between your "argument" and the fear-mongering argument that was recently made to convince us to invade Iraq. "What if they have weapons of mass destruction?", "bad things might happen", etc. You need to make up your mind. Do you support freedom of speech or not? Perhaps you only support *your* freedom of speech because, hey, you’re a responsible and reasonable guy, but these "Linux Zealots", well, they’re dangerous. Give me a break.

            • "I see too many in the OSS community who feel they need to kill, and I mean this literally, anyone that seems to disagree with them."
              name one. if there are so many, it should be easy. a single name will do.

            • Not really on topic. But here is an interesting thought. Let’s assume that Boise and company learned one wonderful lesson from the Microsoft trial and that is that if you get the other side upset enough they will do some incredibly stupid things like try to argue the entire case, from their perspective, in the media so they can prepare in private to discredit every witness with their own postings or out of context comments. Remember the Judge in the Microsoft trial would have given Microsoft the death penalty if it had been within his power and much of this came as a result of Microsoft folks doing really stupid things. I think McBride is playing a game that Boise has defined, and it won’t be for some time yet before the rest of us fully know the rules of that game.
              A friend of mine just had a glimpse of the litigation strategy and while they weren’t able to share the details it was made clear that Boise is on plan and on schedule.
              That should keep someone awake at night as should the fact that Boise is still on contingency.

            • That’s true and partially my point. I’ve been colored by the minority of folks that write to me and developed a bias over time against Linux that I now need to deal with. I expect others have developed a similar bias. The majority of folks have been very nice but those that haven’t have been more strident and memorable. I’m suggesting that this may be true of a lot of folks. I’m also suggesting that just like I’ve taken some things out of context or perspective perhaps others have as well.
              Wars are interesting but generally to study at a distance not to participate in or cause. In the end we need Microsoft just like we need Linux both need to improve to become what we need them to be.

            • Hmm, how can I compare a group of folks that threaten reprisals if I, and others, don’t speak or write the way they want to terrorists? How can I not? What would you call them: Thugs? If a DOS attack is now defined as domestic terrorism, I’m curious, where do you draw the line if you are threatened? Perhaps we simply draw the line in different places.
              I’m kind of curios, however, given the beliefs of some of the extreame groups and their location do you think they are big Windows fans or avid supporters of OSS?
              An interesting thought, though clearly off topic. Or, maybe not.

            • Just a thought: isn’t classifying/forming-an-opinion-about a group of people by their zealots the same thing as calling all Muslims or Christians terrorists because people who are part of extreme sects of each religion have been terrorists. Or even calling all teenagers terrorists because a gang of teens once told you they were going to kill you? Yes you are right, zealots are bad, so what is the big news, and why are you allowing it to shape your views on an entire group of people?

            • Are you out of line? Only in your tone and the implication that I’m trolling, which was not my intent. What you evidently don’t understand is these are opinion columns, their purpose to get people to think not provide a how-to on a technology that others know much better than I do. You may find it interesting that there are those that actually have found these things both interesting and useful. The Pros I mentioned above for instance. I figure you likely get to read enough pieces that tell you what you already know.

            • Mr.Enderle, your question is not just off-topic,
              but incendiary.
              You can ask similar incendiary questions about
              any preference. Do you think – based on their
              location – that the terrorists are more likely
              to be avid supporters of gun control. gay rights,
              the color blue and miniskirts? What purpose can
              an answer to such questions possibly have?
              What connection could you reasonably imply?
              Also, if you describe software zealotry as
              terrorism, does this mean that you approve of
              labeling a DOS attack as domestic terrorism?
              I’m curious about that, because I see an increase
              in the use of exaggeration throughout our
              culture. Have you noticed (even in your own
              article) how the word "effect" is no longer used
              where it would be appropriate? Instead, everything
              is an "impact" – a violent event.

            • It’s not that I think such threats (if they did, in fact, occur) should be treated lightly. If it were I who was threatened I would immediately report it to the FBI and, if I thought I had a way to reply to these individuals, make it clear that I had begun legal proceedings against them. What I have a problem with is your blanket stereotyping that attempts to paint "Linux Zealots", as I suppose you are calling the people who threatened you, as some kind of large and ominous presence. Your article mentions that "Linux Zealots" often use pseudonyms based on male body parts and that you imagine they are unemployed. I could be mistaken, but it sounds like you are talking about a very small, narrowly defined group of people with whom you have had personal contact. If that is true, your entire article could be summed up as follows:
              "Every time I come out with a pro-MS article (which is pretty much every article I write) I get nasty responses. A tiny handful of people have even threatened to DOS my site. Therefore, it is convenient for me in making my point to group passionately pro-linux people together with these few idiot crackpots (or perhaps dangerous criminals). I AM so thin-skinned that I have actually allowed these thugs to shape my opinions about the technical merits of linux and the legal merits of the SCO case."
              Let me make it clear that I AM basing my addmitedly harsh criticism on the assumption that you have been personally threatened with a DOS attack by some small number of real or self-styled computer criminals. You then proceeded to abstract and extrapolate these few individuals into a group with a made-up label (i.e. "Linux Zealots") that emphasizes their OS preference over their criminal threats. It would be nice if you could clear this matter up for your readers and let us know to what extent your own fear and anger played a role in your conclusion that "Linux Zealots" are terrorists.
              I want to bring up one other point. In your response above you make it clear that you consider people who threaten a DOS attack to be in some way equivalent to terrorists. Let’s pursue that analogy. If you are the victim of terrorist violence, you are either dead, maimed, or horribly traumatized. The terrorists themselves are guilty of the highest crimes against humanity, punishable by death in many countries. If you are the victim of a DOS attack, you are inconvenienced and you might suffer some financial loss. Unless I’m missing something, these crimes have about as much in common as do vandalism and murder. So, what is your point?

            • > That should keep someone awake at night as should the fact that Boise is still on contingency.
              You may want to read SCO’s latest 8K.
              That might cause your faith in the strength of SCO’s case to shake just a little bit.
              Grep for the "Arrangement with Counsel" part.
              Remember, it’s okay to change your mind. Particularly for you.

            • >>> Not really on topic. But here is an interesting thought. Let’s assume that Boise and company learned one wonderful lesson from the Microsoft trial and that is that if you get the other side upset enough they will do some incredibly stupid things like try to argue the entire case, from their perspective, in the media so they can prepare in private to discredit every witness with their own postings or out of context comments. <<<
              Big problem with this theory. IBM lawyers are not that stupid. They aren’t going to grab Joe Schmoe Linux Evangelist off the street to start testifying about the evils of SCO. IBM will undoubtedly pick someone who hasn’t commented very extensively in public on the case. IMO McBride’s comments should be viewed purely as a PR ploy to pump their stock and to pad SCO exec’s pockets.
              SCO is in big trouble with all the patent violation lawsuits that IBM has filed. It was really nuts to pick a fight with IBM of all companies. I don’t get how one thinks they can come out ahead litigiously with the patent portfolio that IBM has. Losing virtually any part of the patent litigation would shut SCO down and the damages would bleed them dry.

            • problem with playing that game is that they would need to try to get the other side to go mad like that, not a bunch of people elsewhere, IBM and SGI are probably very unlikely to try to just argue the case from their perspective like you describe

            • IBM is very much disagreeing that Boies is ‘on schedule’, and has today asked the court to stop him repeatedly stalling.
              It’s very strange that you’re counselling silence in this case, but at the same time you can’t resist hinting that your ‘friend’ has been blabbing about Boies’ great strategy. Might it be that your ‘friend’ is not entirely objective?
              Take a look at what Boies is demanding as minimum payment for his contingency, if it is giving anyone sleepless nights, it will be SCO investors.

            • "A friend of mine just had a glimpse of the litigation strategy and while they weren’t able to share the details it was made clear that Boise is on plan and on schedule."
              You have a fondness for citing unnamed friends.
              SCO just had to borrow 50 million bucks, is desperately trying to stay out of court in both the IBM and Red Hat case, failed to license Linux, has been caught in at least a dozen lies, and is being sued for punative damaged by two companies. They are facing litigation in Australia, they already lost against LinuxTag in Germany, and they just replaced their lawyers in the Red Hat case.
              Sure seems like it’s working out well for SCO to me!

            • You’re kidding, right? When the case started, Judge Jackson originally was going to give Microsoft a slap on the wrist. The only reason that he ended up on the side opposite Microsoft is they took pretty much every opportunity to show him complete disrespect, in everything they did. He got sick and tired of their behavior. Talking to the press before the case was concluded was a mistake on his part, yes. However, you can’t seriously expect that everyone is going to keep buying the "poor, poor Microsoft getting screwed over by the mean ol’ judge" line. He had many legitimate gripes with the case.
              And Boies is far from the brilliant litigator you seem to claim him to be. His "victory" over Microsoft was anything but. The only reason that Microsoft lost the case was their complete lack of respect for the judge. His later cases have certainly borne that out in spades.
              Also, as far as zealotry goes, what about your own zealotry toward Microsoft’s products? I personally can say I’ve had encounters with a pretty broad base of platforms and operating systems – Windows, in its many incarnations, VMS, several versions of Unix, Macs, and so on. Can you say the same?

            • <<Not really on topic. But here is an interesting thought. Let’s assume that Boise and company learned one wonderful lesson from the Microsoft trial and that is that if you get the other side upset enough they will do some incredibly stupid things like try to argue the entire case, from their perspective, in the media so they can prepare in private to discredit every witness with their own postings or out of context comments.>>
              Tell me, if you know so much about Boies’ plan, why are you unable to spell his name correctly?

            • The problem is this isn’t an interesting thought if you’ve kept up with the lawsuits. IBM and RedHat are behaving like reasonable businesses and are overall very quiet regarding pending litigation. SCO, otoh, constantly spins every little event to keep themselves in the news. Sure, it’s great PR to keep their stock price up but they’ve completely showed their hand and if you had read the briefs they’ve filed in court you’d know that.
              The very fact that you toss out this hypothetical makes me wonder if you’ve followed the events at all. Note that it is SCO dealing with suing IBM, IBM’s massive counter-suit, and RedHat’s litigation all because SCO’s representatives can’t keep their mouths shut. Not the other way around. And it shows. Virtually every document IBM or RH sends down the pipe is a virtual bombshell.
              How do you respond to the fact that SCO has yet to supply IBM with the alleged violations so easily produced for the press under an NDA but in court it takes over four months? What possible plan could Boies have that runs the risk of having the entire case tossed out as frivolous because they cannot point to anything? Oh yeah, it’s definately clear that Boies is "on plan." Oh wait, Boies hasn’t filed a motion in months and has missed a few press opprotunities that SCO has said he would attend. Everything’s been done through Heise.
              What about the fact that SCO currently has no expert witnesses to testify in their behalf? Whatever happened to those experts from MIT? Where’s the discussion of IBM’s countersuit? Four patent suits, copyright infringement, and Lanham Act violations? Do you really think that given 30 years of byzantine contract issues that SCO has some open and shut case? That they’ll get to point to a hundred lines here and twenty there and say "That’s mine. Now give $3 billion" when IBM can pull out a textbook and show the jury the same code or derivative concept?
              You can swoon all you want over Boies’ firm handling the IBM case but quite honestly after reading the court documents and being inudated with SCO’s PR the only thing I’m reminded of is Joe McCarthy waving a bunch of papers in the air and accusing whomever he didn’t get along with of being a communist.

            • I’m going to pull a Lumberg…
              Yeah… I’m going to go ahead and have to disagree with you on that one, BOB….
              It appears that Microsoft holds over 90% marketshare on the desktop platform. I would imagine that Microsoft "Zealots" outnumber the Linux "Zealots" expodentially.
              Furthermore, I don’t know about most of you, but I have been terrorized by the slew of vunerabilities discovered this past 2 months alone in Windows. It’s been a nightmare for techs that support Windows.
              BOB, perhaps you should reconsider your article and just say, "IT Zealots", in general. This would encompass the real threats, make your article more realistic. I also think you could probably use some credibility right about now. Most seasoned readers have coined you as troll, like it or not…
              Yeah, If you could go ahead and resubmit that article correctly, yeah… that would be great…

            • I know this thread has so far been a conversation between you and cypherpunk, how ever i felt the need to comment something. As you said, "In the end, I think we are all defined by how we are perceived.", it doesn’t have to be that you meant to be perceived as a troll, sometimes that doesn’t even matter, i’ve seen people fired from jobs just because they said something completely unrelated to the job and their bosses heard about it and used that as an excuse to fire them, because they we’re being unprofessional. i’m sorry if that doesn’t seem to fit in a whole lot to this but i’m rather tired and need to get some work done…

            • What ‘threats’? What ‘lies’?
              What YOU evidently don’t understand is that opinions that differ from your own can also be valid. Patronising those who hold alternative views and claiming you are ‘trying to make them think’ is just laughable. What you actually mean is that you are trying to make them think like your sponsors.
              I doubt you would ever say that Microsoft is dooomed because of its failure to silence the yowling idiots on the MSFT stock boards.
              I AM glad you have found a readership that appreciates your ‘style’.

            • I start out by stating that I don’t use my real name in posts as a security feature. I don’t uses my ISP email address either. A few months back a friend’s identity got stolen and I came to the realization that it’s just stupid not be very careful about the information you provide to total strangers.

              Secondly, every group has zealots. There is danger from each group of zealots within every group of followers. That goes for everything from elementary school to high power business corporations. How many days go by before you hear on the news of fatal shooting in a company. Not many. Isolating the Linux community is regards to zealotry is poor journalism. I’m sure more violence has been the result of an over bearing captialistic system that is driven by IP rights of large corporations and the surrender of the same by the very creators of the technology that drives the money wheel than ideals presented by a group of world wide geeks, let’s all face facts, promoting that creators of art (software in this case) get to keep the rights to use their own creations for free.

              The main problem I see with Linux zealots is the reaction of the mainline press to such an act. It would in fact probably be prosecuted as an act of terrorism and the defendant, if convicted would probably be sentenced to death. However, my arguement is this — in reality, the broader, more pervasive evil is the propriety business model in regards to IP protection. People really do die because of lack of job, money, or food when they are put out on the street by large US or world corporations. The theft of IP from individual artists (software creators or otherwise) causes tens of millions of dollars to be transferred from the true innovators to the very wealthy few. Thus Microsoft and other large corporations which "steal" by virtue of an economic system setup to favor large corporations in fact do cause real damage to world wide health. Is the death of one CEO really equate to the "death", either actual or intellectual, of millions of world residents equateable. That’s a whole separate arguement.

              I believe eventually there may be a shooting or violence in some manner. But such violence exists throughout all cultures, groups, and societies. Does this mean that all of civilization is evil? No. The best parts of each must be explored and treasured, otherwise humanity might as well be relageted to the trash bin of life. Your article, brings up the point that the bad parts of a society are bad — no news here.

            • <<Are you out of line? Only in your tone and the implication that I’m trolling, which was not my intent. What you evidently don’t understand is these are opinion columns, their purpose to get people to think not provide a how-to on a technology that others know much better than I do.>>
              Our statements are opinions as well. I can just as easily claim that all my statements are nothing more than a method to get YOU to think. You claim to be an well informed educated man making a judgment and giving recommendations to the industry. Your basis for you opinions are OBVIOUSLY flawed, I cite the reason you give for beleiving SCO has a case. Based on how you claim you form your statements, I can only conclude you are incompetent.
              Pontificate on that.
              I do not claim that my opinion carries any more weight than anybody else’s, and I don’t cite unnamed, un-researchable sources as evidence to further any agenda that I have, however you do. It is for this reason alone that anybody listens to you at all. If you participated on an open forum, your logical errors and mistaken beliefs would chase you out in an instant. It is only by controlling the forum you are able to gain any sort credibility at all. Have you considered that?
              <<You may find it interesting that there are those that actually have found these things both interesting and useful.>>
              What I found interesting is that the date that SCO placed this article of your’s: on their website here: http:/ you suddenly got positive feedback on your article where there was nothing but well thought out criticism before. I AM familiar with how press releations work, I’m sure you are as well. Microsoft has been caught doing this before, and I wouldn’t put it past any corporation who is trying to shape public opinion.
              In any case, appeal to the majority is a logical fallacy. I would expect an analyst to realize that.
              <<The Pros I mentioned above for instance. I figure you likely get to read enough pieces that tell you what you already know.>>
              Perhaps you don’t realize you cannot police people’s opinions or statements in a free country. Perhaps you should look over any newsgroup for anything, and realize that the Linux community is no different than any other.
              If you actually did any original research which based on your statements you don’t, you’d realize that the behavior of the Microsoft supporters, Mac supporters, Amiga supporters, Democratic supporters, Republican supporters, or any organization at all is the same. That you can be so isolated to only criticize a single group when the problem is endemic in all groups only highlights you’re inability to be objective.
              It’s for this reason I think you can be justifiably labelled a troll.

            • I’m a bit confused here …
              By their very nature ‘opinion columns’ are trolling. If, as you have said, you are trying to get people to question their beleafs, to think. Then you are baiting them. You are expecting them to react to your opinion. And you must accept the responsibality of doing so. And the consequences that go with it.
              To suggest that it is not so, is to make what you do of little worth. Thereby, you destroy your creditabley (sp). And render your opinion worthless.
              And it is, only reasonable, to expect that if one is to write an ‘opinion column’ on a tech subject, such as this. That one at least have a bit more then a passing knowelge of said subject. Which you make appear that you don’t. Or again, you, yourself render your opinion worthless.
              I AM not a ‘pro’, a ‘preist’ nor a ‘zelot’.
              I do use GNU/Linux as my primary/only desktop. And a very good one it is. I also use Windows. But it is religated to a very old, slow laptop. And it is there only as an ‘evil nessessity’. There are tools that I use on it, that I have not found a replacement for. Make that a replacement with which I AM compfortable with. Yet.
              George Bogart

            • So, I checked out that section and it seemed like a pretty standard agreement for a contingent deal. Since it is quite common for large companies to resolve these issues by purchasing the smaller company, Boies and Co. need to cover that possibility. Of course, if you don’t think like that, you don’t understand the reasons.
              I think that Rob’s articles over the past two months have been a welcome addition to the discussion around this legal action. It’s clear that some don’t like what he’s saying, but he’s only raising issues that need to be discussed. Neither you, nor I, nor Rob, nor IBM, nor SCO know for sure if SCO’s IP rights have been violated, but SCO clearly thinks this is the case. If you thought that someone was misusing your property, what would you do?
              I think that by asking this question, Rob’s seen what happens when passionate people disagree. The personal attacks on his credibility, the dismissal of his ideas, the misinterpretation of his ideas, rather than the rational discussion of the issues raised, do a disservice to those who support OSS and Linux.
              I think that Pro’s, Priests and Zealots exist when ever there is a philisophical debate. Personally, I ignore the Zealots and when forced to deal with them, expose them as unreasonable to the eventual judges, whoever they are. In business, if you’re a zealot, you lose focus on what’s the best decision for your business. There is nothing wrong with making a rational decision that supports the zealot’s position, but zealot’s rarely have a rational arguement.
              Thanks for publishing your opinions and insight Rob. I agree with your rational thoughts. Now I’ll wait for the zealots to pounce on this flamebait.
              p.s. IBM are the TV Evangelists, taking the earnings from the masses to line their pockets 🙂

            • As much as Linux Zealots hurt Linux, Microsoft hurts Windows for me. I AM not against Windows. However, the AM ount of abuse Microsoft throws at me is simply not bearable. I AM sorry, but it goes both ways.
              People just don’t seem to notice the Microsoft abuse, probably because the’ve lived with it for so long.

            • This happened to me. I was a training instructor at a MS school and was setting up a Linux box to use for comparisons and printing experiments. I had some trouble setting up CUPS properly for what I was doing, if I recall correctly. Asked for help, explaining the situation and got 25 or so Emails back. 20 were flames, one was helpful. This did more to form my opinion of open source than anything else.

            • Apparently you aren’t a regular to slashdot. Most of the readers know a good deal about IT, and many of them are in IT. Are you? I personally use a variety of OS’s including Windows, OS X, and Linux. I AM a professional programmer and maintain networks including MS networks as a hobby. You apparently don’t understand that companies rise and fall. No one platform is immortal. Many analysts are projecting that over the next few years we may see a new OS battle between OS X and Windows. Personally, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t discount it, and I certainly wouldn’t say "Microsoft is and will continue to be the worlds leading desktop environment." That shows an extremely narrow and uninformed view of life in general. Microsoft does still have a stronghold on desktop computing, however a lot of the programs that I use WinXP for have announced Linux and OS X versions that have been released or will be within the next couple of months.
              I would say that your post was one sided.

            • Just a side note – when I think of zealot and the IT industry, the first name that pops into my head is Steve Ballmer. Now, Mr(or Miss?) MHCBigs, I hope you do not consider yourself a Pro. I too have worked in a hospital, and the two main systems (admin and pathology) both ran on UNIX. So your statement "the majority are specialized systems for Healthcare. None of these systems run under Linux" is a croc (of s#!t). It is more a matter of the applications *your* hospital chose to use and nothing to do with what is available. Maybe you are not as knowlegabe in the health care area as you might think. MS have invested a lot of time money and effort to ensure product lock in. The reason your hospital will never run Linux desktops is that for the last 10? 20? years they have been buying/developing/investing in apps for windows. To convert to Linux, most of these will have to be re-developed at a very significant cost . Your argument is centered arount app availability and support. That means you are not judging them by them on how good they are, but what their market share is.(betamax and AM iga are two prime examples). Windows has had a 15 year head start on Linux, and that is its only advantage. If Windows and Linux started today, with a zero market share and their current products, it would be a very different story.

            • Have you ever noticed that when confronted with requests for evidence to back of any of his claims, Enderle never seems to be forthcoming in providing them – I wonder why that is? Why doesn’t Enderle simply publish the supposed threatening emails? The IP addresses can be traced quite easily. Isn’t this guy supposed to be tecnically competent enough to realize that the origins of an email, anonymous or not, are easily traced? Either he doesn’t, or the emails do not exist – neither bode well for his reputation.

            • What a terrific job of proving the writer’s point! Read (or re-read) the article. It was as close to 1,000% correct as anything I’ve ever read on Linux.
              "can’t see the forest for the trees". HUH?
              You know, the word ignorance comes from the Latin
              for "ignore" ance. That is what so many of you jokers do really – ignore. I often wonder if it comes from some sort of underlying void, or longing to be part of something "bigger than oneself". Join the peace Corp or something would ya!
              Here is the point:
              The PROS have it figured out. Linux can be be superb as the right tool. So can other O/S’s. We are not MARRIED to any of this stuff. We do a JOB in the IT industry. Move out of your parents basement and get some fresh air and sunshine once in awhile.

            • Someone should submit your comment to Webster. It could replace their feeble definition of irony.

            • <<"can’t see the forest for the trees". HUH?
              You know, the word ignorance comes from the Latin
              for "ignore" ance. That is what so many of you jokers do really – ignore. >>
              Surely you have to be joking. Enderle is claiming that the reason he thinks that SCO is going to win in court is because of a bunch of crap a bunch of morons are saying. Enderle is claiming to be an ANALYST. How idiotic do you have to be to base your expectation on a court outcome based on what a bunch of people on the INTERNET say. None of it is admissible.
              Never mind the fact that SCO has already been beaten to a pulp in Germany by LinuxTag. Forget the IBM has more lawyers than SCO has employees. Never mind the fact that SCO lied in their initial filing about their marketshare and ownership rights. Forget the McBride, Sontag, and Stowell have been caught in NUMEROUS lies since this began. It all boils down to a bunch of un-named zealots on the net – that will determine the court case, not the facts.
              This is from an analyst, supposedly. An objective well informed impartial observer. Sure.

            • It appears that you just proved the point that Zealots exists all over, not just in the Linux community.

            • May be you should read some more on linux. It sounds like you’ve just been reading the "zealots" material. At least when I try and make a point I get more than one perspective to back myself up.
              Oh, and if you arn’t "married to any of this stuff" why are you being so ratty in your response?
              "Move out of your parents basement and get some fresh air and sunshine once in awhile."

            • Well said. I AM not a programmer but I have used all of the windows and three of the major Linux distros (SUSE, Redhat/Fedora, and Mandrake) and I have come to the conclusion that although I would like Linux for everything, it just can not be. In my case, I need a CAD program that is capable of working with Autocad files. To date, I can only get this using a windows box. A dual boot system is my current arrangement. Also, for file servers, Linux is used in our office. We had a mail server running Windows 2000 but it got broken into and we realized it is much easier to use a web/mail service (using Redhat) than keeping up security.
              Please keep in mind that we use open source programs on our windows boxes too. OpenOffice, mysql, etc.
              What I find disingenuous with Windows zealots (Steve Balmer being their ayatollah) is that they use as much smoke and mirrors as the so-called Linux zealots.

            • I have been watching slashdot for 3 years now. It is obsolutely anti MS, anit govt, and worshipers at the feet of Linux. It also seems to have a large population of extremely undesirable types. Most have no problem with violation of Copyright laws, computer tresspass laws, or anything else that gets in there way.
              It is also a place of free speech only if you hate MS, IBM, Large companies, the Govt, Property and intellectual property rights, and the concepts of capitalism and profit motive. Desent is met with flames, name calling, and threats of attacks on the computer and or person making the desent.
              As for any system /OS/application lasting forever, it is true that most come and go, look at OS/2.
              I do not see any OS replacing Windows in the near future, say 10 years. When you have a 80+ percent market share company ups and downs are less relevent than many might think.
              I have been in IT for 27 years, I remember the efforts by the Govt and the competitors of IBM to kill that company. Guess what, they are still an industry leader. I speak from a voice of experence. I work with or have worked with 15 different OS on systems ranging from Palm devices to mainframes.
              I have watched and been part of the move from mainframes to PC’s and all the rest. IMHO the entire PC industry owes Mr. Gates and Microsoft a great deal of praise and respect. It is an absolute fact that without MS the PC world would still be populated by a handful of Apple computers and a few small computer companies.
              MS and the bundling of thier products on PC’s formed the market place for just about every mass used application in the market today.
              When you have 27 years in the IT world and have seen the changes in the world of Computers you understand how it works.
              Oh, btw, i have a Linux, redhat 5, file server as the file server in my home. I consider Linux to be a poor desktop environment

            • I installed a copy of RedHat 6 and later 7 when I was still using Windows 98. I understand where you are coming from. I chose Windows 98 over RedHat because I, as you have with RH5 realized that it was not mature enough as a desktop environment for my needs. I later upgraded to Windows XP. I like XP quite a bit. It is a nice OS. I applaud MS for its efforts in Windows XP (not including the holdover security flaws that have been surfacing). I recently heard that RH9 had been released and decided to test it out (being a Windows user, not a linux zealot… I have rejected Linux up to this point remember…) I found RH9 more usable than XP for my desktop needs, a nicer more customizable interface, and most of the applications I use have recently come out in Linux versions, or have very good Linux alternatives.
              If you were using RH5 I can imagine it is worse than RH6 and RH7 which were not fit for desktop use. However this does not mean all linux flavors are the same, nor much more up to date versions. (I think I was running RH6 in 1997, I could be wrong though.) I would say to you: check out the new developments. Comparing XP or 2000 to RH5 is about the same as comparing DOS to Mac OS X. Of course it looks worse. Please don’t form your opinions on outdated technology. Try the new stuff, you may even find it to be par, or maybe better than what you currently use. To me XP, RH9, and OS X all perform about the same for desktop use, but I like the customizability (without 3rd party programs like TGTSoft’s StyleXP) of linux and the power of the command line much more than the laf of Windows.
              And finally, I AM not anti big business, government, capitalism, or IBM. I’m not real fond of monopolies though. I don’t particularly like Apple or Microsoft, but I don’t mind their existance. I AM a Conservative Republican. I AM a linux user. I could care less what other people use as long as they make an informed decision on what they are using. I use consumer reports when considering a car I don’t fall in love with the first one I test drive and defend it no matter how good or bad it performs, and I try to apply that philosophy to my use of all consumer products including operating systems.
              Sometimes 27 years of experience can turn into farsightedness, just make sure you can see the big and the small picture.

    • Thank you so much for that balanced editorial. Sometimes in the Linux/Open Source community it is hard to find the voice of reason AM ong the idle banter about Microsoft and Gate’s affiliations with Satan. The truth be told, Open Source/Linux still has a long way to go … starting with the zealots. One can draw the paralell between Linux and software development as pros = good clean code or design, priests = somewhat difficult to maintain code or design , and zealots = serious low level code bugs or design flaws. Indeed, the zealots will be the ultimate undoing of open source and Linux. I hope for all our sakes they find a new cause to be angry about.

    • I AM appalled at your accusations to attack the Linux operating system community. On each OS you have those that bring it down, and with other Operating Systems you also have those that complain about other OS’s they have used.
      I place myself under no category that you directly and stereotypically placed the whole Linux community. Me, I rely upon functionality, open-source is a big winner for me, and some tools that yes Microsoft provides are very good, but not worth anyway near the money they ask. Microsoft’s main problem and so was Apple’s at one point was to attack the market and get on the scene, they did so but with that came unclean unthought put-together code, granted it brought around another age bringing computers out of the console environment but with new technology comes bugs, less functionality than was intended. I AM not a linux fan, a BSD/SCO fan, or any of the above, I do classify myself as a person that uses what tools he needs when he needs it though… but to my own preference I do happen to use linux for its continued advanced development, mostly-stable environment, support by its users. I did use microsoft and didnt want to migrate away from it because it was what I first used but at the same time windows takes up as much memory as it can and swallows up hard drive space with virtual file memory like no other. My computer is a simple one running a AMD 900Mhz with 256MB ram, took ages to move around in windows and with linux I have had no problems what so ever.
      I firmly believe that you are a fascist when it comes to having a competitor to unix, granted there are alot of Linux distrobutions out there that shouldnt be even available in the marketplace because of lack of thought, coding, support and even representation.
      If this article is relating to the recent SCO’s incidents and claims, then this is rather redundant because it has already been released that they did not purchase the code from AT&T that they are claiming to have rights to. If anything its a last desperate grasp for an organization that was nearly bankrupt and trying to stay alive. In the last year the CEO has brought the SCO group out of the graveyard yes,but its not near enough to sustain a profitable future. That might explain the recent law proceedings that are and will take place.
      On a further note may I please ask why the FSF and open-source community even got brought into this? It had nothing to do with the malicious accusations you made against the community and had no merit even being placed into this article with no facts or evidence to back these claims up?
      On a last note who gives you the right besides the first AM endment to slander and attempt to disgrace such a fine community. As I said every community including one’s existing outside the Technology world have bad apples, if not we wouldnt need the existance of prison’s and other such mediums.
      Once and for all if your a linux fan, microsoft fan, apple fan, BSD/SCO fan, congratulations. Doesnt make you a bad person because of what you like/prefer. This man is trying to create a diversion away from what was not here to start with which means he is afraid of a ‘new’ world that will be coming of age very soon.

    • y’know, i’d consider myself still relatively new to linux (having only used it for two years out of frustration with MS products) and i used to think that all that propaganda about microsoft (and now SCO) being the devil was just that–propaganda.
      but man! you can imagine my suprise when i found out that groups like Microsoft and SCO really WERE the devil! if anyone needs evidence, i can provide you with a wealth of examples.
      anyhoo, i think it’s obvious that people (as in Linux people) wouldn’t react with such fervor if they weren’t under attack by groups like SCO, which we now discover has been taking money from microsoft to support their crusade. or should i say that microsoft has been paying a mercenary–in this case a near-dead company such as SCO–to do their dirty work?
      a "linux zealot"

    • Good article. Reminds me of the zealotry and legal battles that followed the introduction of electricity (Edison DC vs. Westinghouse AC), the telephone (Bell vs. Edison) and radio (Marconi vs. a whole bunch of guys). All this turmoil has a lot of historical precedent – typewriters, delay-wipers, you name it. I just hope when it’s done, we still have an open-source movement to enjoy.

    • I have never used Linux. I have always used Windows, since Windows 3.11.
      Windows has always dissapointed me, I barely recall Win3.11, but I think it worked fine, although my demands were not at all professional, nor in the end, really too demanding. My knowledge and experience were also limited. But since then, every new version of Windows has been less than I expected. I AM right now using XP, I AM not still sure if it is as stable as 2k, which has been the best so far. But, apart from the OS’s performance, it is Microsoft’s politics that make many people feel not very friendly towards them. Always with invasive issues that show a growing interest in dominating, aggresively, our desktops and navigating faculties. If Windows finally had to reorganize and acknowledge their monopolist attitude (lost lawsuit), it is already a very lousy image for a company, no? I want a friendly company to work for me, not a dilusively agrresive one.

    • First thing I want to know, what is it about open-source software that you are so adamant about getting rid of it? I cannot for the life of me figure it out.
      Second, Zealots??
      man, come on… you are preaching about propaganda. Yet you are posting stereotypical comments on the web. Is one better then the other? I believe a person should think of a screen name that is original.
      I love the comment "If someone disagrees with you, that person must be a crook."
      I believe in letting people have there own opinion. I do not believe a person should talk bad about another’s opinion.
      I AM sure a lot of the "Zealots" would have not said a word to you if instead of attacking them, you would have chosen your words more carefully.
      You are making a big deal about hackers/crackers, yet you gave them a reason to target you.
      I think the best thing for you to do is let go of the shovel, and quit giving people a reason to fight with you…

    • Dear Rob Enderle,
      I regret to inform you that after reading you overly simplified dichotomoy of the type of people who support LINUX, I’ve lost all confidence in your ability as a reporter.
      It’s acceptable to hold a different view than other people, but it is insulting to read that LINUX supporters only vary between those who are indifferent (Pros), those who blindly support it (Priests) and those who are terrorists (Zealots).
      This sort of journalism reminds me very much of McCarthyism (1. The practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence. 2. The use of unfair investigatory or accusatory methods in order to suppress opposition.) in support of SCO’s own witch hunt. It is the sort of article that encourages people to identify others, who appear to have strong beliefs, that they are terrorists and a threat to our society. In this case, you would have people believe that anyone too strongly in support of LINUX (the type of person who walks around in a penguin t-shirt with a LINUX admin book in their hand) are zealots, terrorists and are planning to overthrow the world and drown your babies.
      At no point, in your article, did I come across anything that resembled evidence to back up your arguements. In fact, all of it is just your personal opinion, which is not journalistic practice. Perhaps you should revise this and present us with more than just your (irrelevant) opinion, because people read your columns expecting an intelligent view.
      As for SCO, it is disgraceful they have gotten as far as they have. No one has yet seen concrete proof (that did not border into being ridiculous, vague and untrue). SCO claims that they cannot make it public, as it would reveal their intellectual property, however, this is a very curious statement to make, considering anyone can look into the LINUX code and find it themselves.
      SCO is now making a move for Europe, but I believe the europeans aren’t stupid enough to be bullied out of money like in the US and the EU will immediately question their case and eventually rebuff it. However, I look forward to the LINUX lawsuits versus SCO, as we will hopefully know the truth by then. If they are being honest about their IP, demanding payment for using their intellectual property is only fair. However, they have to prove it first before demanding money from people. I believe the same should apply to making slanderous articles, such as this one.
      Yours truly,
      – John J.

    • For a more reasoned idea about what this case it truly about and the realities with SCO winning or losing you may want to look at
      This case is NOT about Open Source developers although they have been mentioned. This case is a contract dispute between two companies.
      The analysis of the different character types is spot on the money. I can say this without fear applies equally to my vintage car club. The only thing is that we are not aware of any statistics behind the reasoning and why having what I would term whacko’s involved actually makes a difference. How many of each type exist? Is the cross section shown representative? The more radical elements tend to respond to articles but is this truly representative of the Open Source community and their ability to respond to a legal challenge such as this.
      For a while I thought that SCO may have a case, not because they were right or wrong but because of legal details. After some intense digging by some diligent people my opinion now sides firmly with SCO losing. This is not a zealot saying that but someone that took time to be informed about the issues.
      The only reason that I have taken the time to post this response is because this is the first article that is linked to by SCO. I want to ensure that there is a balanced opinion available.
      If you truly want to analyse the SCO case it is probably worth your while looking over the details in With a bit of digging there is a huge range of issues with SCO’s case. The reason why SCO will lose the case is the same reason that Linux is effective. If you can motivate a sufficiently large number of different people to work on a common cause then anything is possible, even world peace. SCO offended enough people and motivated them to oppose this case.

    • Rob,
      Your article comes across mostly like a defensive whine over negative email you receive. I imagine that you get lots and I imagine it must be annoying. However, this article, like many of yours, gets hung up on side tracks and misses the mark.
      You start by drawing an analogy between impressions we get of Microsoft to impressions you get of "the linux community." That’s apples and hamburgers. Microsoft is a company with, hopefully, a management hierarchy determining its public actions and its customer relations. Do we judge Microsoft by hot-headed user/advocates who bash all other OS platforms because their favorite violent game doesn’t play on them? Nah. We judge Microsoft by their products, their EULAs, their business practices, their interactions with customers and competitors and so on. That’s appropriate.
      You compare those kind of judgements with judgements about a community of users and advocates. Since you’re also making that judgement primarily on the user/advocates that respond to your columns you’re not only looking at the wrong groups but your selecting a subset of those groups based on what you write and how people react to it. You surely know that a political poll would be biased if it was based solely on people who respond to a political column. Likewise, your selection of linux users/advocates is a highly biased sample.
      To be fair, you seem to recognize the bias in the sample. However, you fail to demonstrate an understanding that the comparison between opinions about Microsoft based on corporate actions are not at all comparable to opinions of a community based on letter writers.
      In the end, you state the obvious: the zealots may harm a movement. That’s been true forever and it will continue to be true. It’s true for zealots in the anti-choice movement, zealots in the feminist movement, zealot Republican right-wingers, zealot anti-war liberals, etc. Ranting zealots create negative impressions. Ho-hum….
      What you wrote has little to do with making useful evaluations of products and services. As you said, it’s about impressions. For me, it did more to shape my impression of you and how you think than it did about linux or the linux community.
      Don Campbell

    • What a well-balanced article, Rob. Thank you.
      I will need to examine my own view of the current OS scene (with my love of Linux under control!) in the light of what you wrote.
      God bless.
      In peace and love

    • I agree with your depicition of people, with a minor correction on the Linux Pros. Like all professionals in the business industry, they are pretty much bound by the opinion of management and the fact that they have to play politics. Some may even seem open to ideas, but generally stick with what they know will work and pass managements approval. This to me makes most Pros close minded, not open minded, because they only see a narrow picture in order to keep their jobs.
      Now that you’ve singled out the three faces of Linux, I’m hoping you’ll do the same with the business/corporations, like Microsoft, SCO, IBM, etc. For Pros, Priests and Zealots exists in all of these environments. In fact, I’ hoping you’ll spend as much time on their negative sides as you did the negative faces of the Linux people. For isn’t it the truth that human nature remembers the negative far longer than the positive? Like watching the news, does any one ever remember the human interest story? No, they remember the war news, the murders and all the bad. The fact is no one will remember that you spent 267 words to present a positive side. They’ll remember only the 430 word used to get acrossed the negative point.
      It appears that if we want to foster the good in all environments that we must point out more of the positive and less of the negative.

    • Interesting read. Your post clearly demonstrates that you fails to understand something.
      At the end of the day, when u ae talking to *nix or windows guys, we are not refering to the laymen. we are referring to techies.. (I hope that we are talking about the same group).
      Majority of techies happen to be engineers. And Engineers have one fundamental belief:
      "If somethng works, it simply does not have enough features"
      This is in complete contrast to the "managerial" a.k.a adminsitration guys who tend to take things like — "If not broken, dont fix" — as you already pointed.
      This fundamental difference will always lead to issues like you posts. I think it is time for you to go to and get some bright ideas 🙂

    • Well Rob,
      There are several things I would like to say. Your article is very biased. That will instantly get you flamed in emails. I AM sorry that it is that way though. Every group has it’s misfits, just look at our societies jail systems. I AM also sorry that you have had such a bad expierence with "Linux Zelots". I would consider myself a "Priest" as you termed it. I do so because I find that there is little that most users do that require Microsoft software. For the most part, oss is capable of doing what most users need ie. net browsing, word processing, email, appointment keeping. I use linux because I don’t see a point in paying 300 dollars plus for something that I can get for free.
      I disagree with your sentiments on the SCO case. That is a case where neither side has presented its true case (all of it has been press releases, mostly pertaining to copyrights and not the contract that has been breached). There are many factors that will be needed to be decided in court that we will not see. That case can go any direction. Basing your opinions on how that case will turn out due to oss’ equivilent of a social misfit is strongly discouraged.
      I use Linux but manage a WIN2K network. I have yet to find anything that I do on that network that I couldn’t do on a OSS network. That is up to my employers though.
      I do believe that some of the anti MS sentiment of the open source community is due to lack of control. I can fine tune my system more in Linux than I can in Windows. The security issue is fairly moot. There have been numerous patches released for GNU/Linux this year as well. I AM of the firm belief that Windows is the target of most of the hackers out there because it is the biggest target. If Linux was more widely used, then it would be hacked more. Just look at the reported number of detected intrusions on web servers last year and my point is made.
      Please don’t judge the who community by a few idiots with keyboards. That is like judging (insert any ethnic background here) Americans by what we have in prison.
      If you have had a bad expierence with Linux before and are willing to try it again, just give me an email. I will gladly help you in every way that I can. I only ask that you judge the OS on it’s own merrits and not of the merits of it’s users.
      [email protected]
      (real name not given for security reasons)

    • I thought this was an interesting article, but I also had a few problems with it.
      1. Basing one’s opinion on a group because of a (confessed) vocal minority is foolish.
      2. My severe opinion(s) about Microsoft took years to come to fruition. Way back when Windows 3.1 was the "new thing", I gave it an honest shot. When I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted, I found people that knew it better than I did, and THEY couldn’t help me. I gave each Windows OS a shot as they came out (until Win2k, which I have only just now started to use, and XP I have only seen on other people’s systems), and they failed when it came to doing tasks I considered critical at the time. Consistent dropping-of-the-ball on Microsoft’s part are only part of why I don’t care for them. Their politics and business practices are the rest.
      3. As much as I like Linux (it is my OS of choice), I accept the fact that it is not always the best OS for a particular task. If one just needs a quick-and-dirty system for an end-user, a low-end Windows OS will fit the bill. If money is a factor (and you do not want to or cannot deal with license issues), perhaps a free unix variant will suffice, if there is a Techie that can get it configured to do what needs to be done. It depends largely on what you want to do with the system.
      As far as the three classifications go, I found facets of myself in each. There really should have been more than those three.

    • what about the people who have tried/own all 3 major OS’s (Linux, MS, and OS X) and are above average to expert users on all 3 that choose linux and attempt to get others to choose linux for desktop use.
      A. desktop use: meaning I understand MS might be good for other things like web development platform (my primary use as of late).
      B. Do you have a problem with someone trying to get someone to convert to using linux if they have evaluated all 3 for the specific use of a desktop (browsing, office, etc.) but realize that MS is more useful for other things (say for web-development, especially if flash is involved, macromedia products are basically unrivaled as far as I’ve seen in OpenSource)
      C. Your shaping your view from the zealots is as bad as calling all Muslims evil. Shape your view from the Pros, they are always the greatest common denominator, maybe the Zealots are more vocal, but that is no way to shape an opinion of a group of people.
      Otherwise I basically agree with your assesment of the types of people, however this doesn’t apply only to OpenSource but to all issues. Your article is nothing new, there are always Zealots, Priests and Pros in all things, thats how the society works. The question is Mr. Enderle, what are you in your beliefs? Are you a zealot for MS maybe, or a priest (not realizing it of course), or are you really an objective Pro?

    • Hi!
      The Linux Zealots generally hide behind phony names on the Internet — often, in fact, names of male body parts. The Zealots are rude and crude, and the sentence "two beers short of a six-pack" defines them well. </b>
      Let me point out that these stereotypes are not perfectly correct. I, for one, "hide" behind a phony name inspired by a male body part. I AM not a terrorist. Although I would encourage everybody to use free open source software, I realize everybody should make his/her own choice based on his/her views (or whatever).
      Denes Balatoni
      pnis at coder dot hu

    • Or are they terrorists…I can’t remember…maybe they’re geeks…whatever they are, they’re scary and I don’t like ’em!
      September 11th sure has taught us a lot hasn’t it. It taught us that anybody who is passionate about anything is probably going to kill a few thousand people at any given moment…at least that seems to be what you got out of it.
      Well lock your doors and hide your children, because I just saw a guy all painted up at a football game. There’s no telling how many people he’ll senselessly murder when his team loses.
      What an AM azing exploitation of the lives of everyone who died at the hands of people who thought they would be greeted warmly in heaven if they could just kill themselves with a few thousand others. We’re talking about an operating system. You toss the word "terrorist" around like it’s a punchline.
      Well, last I checked, whenever we have a serious threat on our hand, history shows our policy to be to round up everybody that has any association whatsoever…like rounding up all the Japanese Americans in World War Two…I think you said you’ve used Linux before…uh oh…
      I’d be careful equating terrorism with with anything involving passionate opinions at all. Replace this topic with any thing else, it’s the same issue. Nobody ever told a Chicago Cubs fan that they would go to heaven if they managed to murder a few thousand people in Atlanta.

    • "These Zealots have been the primary reason that I’ve come to believe SCO will likely win its lawsuit — because if the Zealots are lying about facts I know to be true, they must be lying about facts I don’t know about."
      THIS is what your metric is for determining if one company has a case against another? Is this what an analyst does for a living? Make judgements based on email rather than ANALYZING?
      I seem to recall that in another article of your’s ";
      You claimed:
      * One of the strongest indications I have that SCO might win is that several of the financial analyst groups who work with me, after reviewing the SCO submissions, have concluded that SCO might actually have the advantage.
      – you never named any of your financial analysts group though.
      * When I tried to point out that SCO might actually be in the right, suddenly the attacks shifted to me in a very personal way in an apparent attempt to shut me up.
      – you never explained why you think SCO might be in the right, and your explanation in this arcticle is the first *I* have ever seen. You should also publish the emails, I’d like to see them.
      * At the time, I wasn’t siding with SCO, I was just pointing out that the company’s position might have merit, and that I knew some of the folks and they weren’t as evil as people seemed to think. I’m an analyst; this was analysis.
      – you again never have shown any analysis why SCO might be in the right, you even missed IBM’s AM mended contract, even though it was repeatedly pointed out to you:
      * You stated in that article "What seemed to be different was that the open-source community seemed collectively to say, "Theft is okay as long as we benefit.""
      – which is, frankly, an outright lie. The Linux community from day one has offered to mitigate, it’s SCO preventing mitigation. The offer to mitigate is still open incidentally.
      What is fascinating is that in this current article, you state "Attack first. If you kill the messenger, you can always apologize later." – this seems to be YOUR behavior, not our’s. When SCO loses their court case against both IBM and Red Hat, where will you be?
      Incidentally, why don’t you point out all the lies in all these threads below? I’d like to see them.

    • So, let me get this straight. IBM will lose to SCO because of some 3rd party zealots. I hardly believe that the zealots will be the ones in suits and ties reading dockets and displaying evidence. Those people are known as lawyers and they are hired by people who have a clue, otherwise known as "Professionals".
      Then, you go on to stereotype a set of people into three categories and claim that one third of that set is criminial, terroristic destructors. The second is self-righteous mouthpieces. The last is people who are AM bigous and are only intellegent because they believe the same way as you. If you had instead changed the word "Linux" to "African American" you’d have quite a few organizations delivering supeona’s to your door instead of rather comparitively benign and possibly self-imagined "DoS" threats. The "Zealots" would be people like Jesse Jackson. The "Priests" would be people like Al Sharpton. The "Professionals" would be people like Collin Powell. (I chose Collin for this because he is a professional and according to your definition, he fits.)
      While I don’t use Linux, I AM an Open Source user and developer and I take great offense at this form of pidgeon-holing. You can claim that this is a piece asking the Open Source community to "Clean Up" and not be as enthusiastic in their ways like 99.9% of Windows/AOL users. Oh.. did I just make a stereo-type? Shame on me… At least it was a personal opinion and doesn’t reflect on the credibility of my employer. I better get my anti-DoS defenses up and running when all the Windows/AOL Zealots start bashing my server and threating my life.

    • I use Linux and I have a love/hate relationship with that "wretched hive of scum and villainy" known as Slashdot, so it is with great hesitation that I AM posting the following:
      The Rules of Slashdot
      1) You can’t talk about the rules of Slashdot.
      2) Never read the article before commenting on it.
      3) Anything proprietary is bad. Anything open-source/free-software is good.
      4) Information wants to be free. So IP theft is OK and encouraged.
      5) All patents are BAD and should be abolished.
      6) Practicality is irrelevant. Running Linux on any piece of hardware that was not meant to run Linux such as a toaster, toilet, or toothbrush is considered uber cool and totally 133t.
      7) If you have stolen source code from a previous employer (see Death Star) use the GPL to liberate and protect it, then post it anonymously on the Internet. Using a free hosting site like SourceForge(tm) works best.
      8) Open-source/free-software really is communism but you can’t admit this publicly. Flame into submission anyone that even hints at the communist connection.
      9) Software licenses don’t destroy jobs, CEO’s do. It is OK for open-source/free-software to destroy domestic software jobs. It is BAD when domestic software jobs are sent overseas "off-shored" to countries with cheap labour rates such as India or China. Yes, hypocrisy is sweet.
      10) Those who actually do the work don’t waste their time posting on Slashdot.
      11) Trolls that push the Slashdot agenda are GOOD. Trolls that offer a differing viewpoint are BAD. Yes, the hypocrisy is again sweet.
      12) CmdrTaco can’t speell correctly or form coherent sentences and neither should you or me.
      13) Slashdot is the new world order and all your base are belong to us!
      You might think the above 13 rules are a joke. They are not. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I know I AM .
      BTW, I really enjoyed Enderle’s article. I thought his 3 rules were right on the money. I believe Linux’s worst enemy isn’t Microsoft or SCO but is in fact the Linux community, or at least the ones that post on Slashdot. To categorize myself I’d say that I AM a Linux Zealot but I see the truth. Gates and Stallman are the extremes, the true path is somewhere in the middle. Maybe I AM a BSD user and I just don’t know it?

    • Can someone rectify the following for me:
      "As you read this, put yourself in the position of an analyst or journalist faced with meeting similar people and ask yourself which group would have the greatest impact on your beliefs."
      Then in the Pro’s section you go on to say:
      "In other words, these are people I would either like to work for or have work for me."
      Kind of answered your own question.
      Further I have to question the value of a journalist or analyst who readily admits that he can’t see the forest (Open Source) because of all the trees (Zealots). Just like any other movement, Open Source has some undesirable members, but as a journalist or an analyst your job is to cut through the tripe of the minorities involved and find the facts.
      Thank you for admitting that you don;t have the facts on Open Source, and that you likely won’t get the facts because you let fringe members of a group, who you know for what they really are, to color your impressions of the movement. So because some Open Source people are flaky or irresponsible you find that sufficient grounds not to establish the truth?
      If you can’t remain as objective as the Pro’s are about OSes in forming your own opinion of Open Source, since you readily admit that your position on Open Source is defiuned by the zealots, despite your frank admiration of the Pros, then how is anyone supposed to take your criticism and suppositions about the zealots seriously.
      I’m all for humility, but destroying your own credibility on the score ceratinly sets a new benchmark on that score…
      Really, I’m a Pro, at least by your definition, and by your own definition, you are not.

    • Your article is poorly construed. I’m sure you have covered elsewhere why you believe SCO will win…from everything I have read on the topic, including the what court docments are public and relevant from the old BSD/AT&T fiasco, it seems eminent that SCO will not prevail and may in fact lose all future possibility of liscense revenue for SysV.
      At any rate, don’t you feel a little bit obtuse to categorize open source supporters into threeboxes which you yourself label and describe with high subjectivity. And I believe that you significantly misconstrue those three boxes in the first place.
      In my experience, true PRO’s are few and far between…you don’t know that many and you certainly can’t whether they truly know the ins and outs of Win and Unix platforms by conversing via email.
      "Priests" are simply philosophers but you must remember…whatever you may believe…the open source movement is primarily a philosophy in nature…so you have to expect a run in with the occasional philosopher. And often times, philiosophers (priests) or set on the opensource dogma because they were and are true PRO’s who know the dirty little secrets of proprietary platforms.
      Zealots are an unfortunate nusance (sp?) but honestly…most of these people are highschool and college kids who got a Linux install to boot once and zealous due to the perceived geek factor…they are loud and noisy because they don’t have jobs or least jobs that require them to stay busy. But they are a far cry from hijacking planes and running them into the world trade towers…so please, cut the ridiculous comparisons to 9/11… it cheapens the memmory of that infamous event and is really un-imaginative on your part. If some band of wild linux zealots hacks into and destroys the computer systems of major banks and credit companies in the name of free software, you can call me on my criticism of your 9/11 allusion.
      Also, in any good piece if ciritical journalism, it is general practice to acknowledge arguments made by the "opposition" and address them. whatever your stance, it is hard to ignore glaring flaws inherent in the Win platform/business system.

    • Rob, one thing I wonder about is why would you let zealots to form your opinion about an entire open source community?
      I think that the Pro/Priest/Zealot categorization can be applied to any community. Reach and anonymity offered by Internet gives zealots an opportunity to voice their "opinion" without facing any responsibility for it.
      I also observed that zealots are often people that don’t know much about the subject, don’t have skills to get stuff done, but still have egos and like attention. Usually they wouldn’t have a gut to stand up and say the same thing looking their opponent in the eye. But they will surely vent their zeal while hiding behind a bogus nickname on an Internet forum. They will say anything to stick out. Does it make sense that it affects one’s broad picture?

    • I have been using computers since 1977. I’ve seen countless platforms come and go. Almost every one of them had advantages and disadvantages. I AM a capitalist through and through. I tend to support computer platforms that don’t lock you in to one vendor or another. I like Linux a little, I prefer BSD, I like Windows a little. I’m a Unix Systems Admin by trade, I used to be an NT admin. The one thing I have constantly noticed is the fact that I have yet to meet an NT admin who is trained at any other operating system than Windows. I find it sort of like eating quiche every day, how will you know there is something better or worse till you’ve tried something different. I want competition, I want many OS’s. I want the OS to be largely irrelevant when it comes to which apps you’d prefer to run. In the Unix community, I see that. On MacOSX, Linux, BSD, Solaris, Tru64 Unix, etc…etc…etc… for the most part you can run the exact same applications, thus it all comes down to which hardware platform will give you the most bang for the buck. I also, from a business standpoint, would hesitate to put myself at liability by any measure if it means that I can be penalized $150,000 for each and every copy of software that’s not licensed. Especially when most companies, Unix, and Windows alike tend to make it so very difficult to keep track of your licensing. For me, most often open source allows me to mitigate that liability.

    • *****quote*****
      Why are all of these developers spending their time hacking the kernel, the drivers, and the applications that make up a typical GNU/Linux distribution?
      Bragging rights. Not because they have an undying love for each other and care if l33tgvy sleeps well at night. 15 minutes of digital fame is nice.
      There’s so many things I could quote, but I’ll wrap it up as such: those that are flying off the handle, issuing challenges, bets, sending letters of hatemail, foaming at the bit and indeed responding like you’re 2 cans short of a six pack, you’re exactly the irrational ones he’s referring to.
      The ones that create the bad metallic taste in the mouth. The ones, that while trying most vehemently to defend the open source community, give it a black eye. Relax and reread the article. I didn’t get the impression that he was saying you’re going to strap a bomb to your butt and blow up a nursery.
      Some of you do sound like (as logical as) The Iraqi Information Minister.

    • Sir, I just want to know one thing. Have you ever used Linux? I don’t mean "I saw it once". I mean have you ever actually tried to use it? If you have, your one of the few people who’ve actually gone back to Microsoft products.
      I would guess 99.9% of Linux Fans started using Mac or Windows. We, the users, can honestly say, "Yes, Linux is better than anything out there for every application I use." The applications _I_ use.
      The only thing I can’t do with linux is play the high powered video games. But, never fear, I have a wintendo partition on my personal system.

    • Coming from a Linux user’s standpoint, I can see the phenomenon you are talking about, (as difficult as it is to admit). To go out and get proof of Linux zealotry, one has only to log onto any IRC server and join a #linux channel. You will never find a greater conglomeration of self righteous, elitist snobs anywhere on the net. The saddest part is that these people have the least effect on the actual progress of the community. While they sit there all day badmouthing everybody else and each other, developers are busy making the system better.
      Now that I have finished putting a face on the dregs of the open source community, I would like to say that I’m a Linux supporter through and through. I tend to support open source solutions, & When I start projects of my own, I like opening them up because I believe in the ideals of the community. Allot of people use Linux for technical reasons, and it is arguably a very excellent solution based solely on technical merit, however, if technical merit were the only draw to using Linux, then Linux itself would never have been created. Your article in summing up the personalities in the community seems to have overlooked the most important aspect of our community and relegated it to priesthood. Perhaps the priestly class should be a little more honest about their reasons for championing open source,and perhaps they try to explain it to people and are woefully misunderstood. The latter has been my own experience as I find it very difficult to explain to people why it is that I enjoy using Linux over other systems. It’s arguably more work, (although not so much anymore). "Where is the payback?" they ask, "is it faster?", "is it more stable?", "is there no blue screen of death?". My answer has to be "no", these are not the reasons. I use the system because I exercise a certain ownership over the system that I can’t have with other platforms. I flatly don’t feel comfortable using other platforms anymore. I feel like someone has strings attached trying to bend me to their will when I use other systems. This is my reason for being here, and I feel it’s a good reason. I champion the adoption of Linux for technical reasons, and when I hear people give complaints of what they’re running that sound like some of the concerns I mentioned above, sometimes I give them a nudge over to my world, and sometimes they take the bait, and sometimes not.
      I hope that possibly I have clarified my position as one AM ong many in the open source world.

    • Actually, Linux is no different than any other technology with respect to your Pros/Priest/Zealot analogy. I did vb6 contract programming for 3 years and I can assure you that their are Microsoft Pros, Priests, and Zealots. In fact, most of the people I met were Priests/Zealots with very few pros. That has remained unchanged in the years that have followed. I have also met Cisco and HP Pros/Priests/Zealots. This is hardly an insightful observation.
      In your article, in the zealot section, you said "These Zealots have been the primary reason that I’ve come to believe SCO will likely win its lawsuit — because if the Zealots are lying about facts I know to be true, they must be lying about facts I don’t know about."
      The trouble with that statement is that not only are the zealots saying sco is lying, so are the pros and the priests. I hope you don’t base any real life decisions on the kind of logic.
      I would say the purpose of this article was more about getting a reaction from the linux crowd than trying to right an information piece.
      As a software developer, I don’t appreciate this kind of article.

    • Mr. Enderle,
      I could not agree more with your analysis of the Linux community, exspecialy those that post on Slashdot. I work in a hospital systems running under a wide variety of OS. Yes, we do have Linux servers, but we do not and never will have a Linux desktop environment. It is a matter of application availability and support. We have over 260 applications. of these, the majority are specialized systems for Healthcare. None of these systems run under Linux.
      As for the slashdot people, I see a distinct hatred for anything none Unix/Linux. Weather they like it or not, Microsoft is and will continue to be the worlds leading desktop environment. They know little of IT and offer nothing of value.
      These Zealots berate, slander, and insult anyone that dare support MS. All All you have to do is look at the image they use to depict Mr Gates. Actually the Linux Zealots are the ones screaming "Resistance is futile….."
      Well it is not. They do not understand that in the world of IT that the bottom line is more than cost, it is availability, flexability, support, and functionality. For every one of their "look who is leaving MS" articles, there are many more organizations adding or upgrading MS products.
      They are one sided and to be totally honest, infantile in attutide.

    • Well, as a linux programmer (who came in from working as an MS programmer) I can say thank you for the article.
      If you read through posts on slashdot very often you will note that there is an entire slough of posts that are modded down because they are racist or trolls or {insert insult to someone}.. With mod points you end up spending all of them just to get rid of the junk and so it becomes hard to actually see decent posts because everyone is just doing damage control.
      If you look at the stats on slashdot something like 93% come there using windows.. another 5% on Mac and 2% on linux (roughly, don’t quote me on that).. So the majority of the guys who are so "pro" linux are usually guys who have an idea about it and are still not using it, know just a little about it or have just started using it.
      Seldom ddo true linux guys post there because it is usually a waste of time (similar to usenet and why not many linux guys post there anymore either) additionally you end up setting people straight more often than not and this usually starts some sort of random flame war..
      I AM thinking is mostly script-kids and nouveau-tech children.
      So, don’t let them get you down..
      good article..

    • Rob, first, as a Linux user, my first reaction was one of shock and horror. However, after reading the article, I will say that you present a few good points. Unfortunately, the general point of your article (That zealots of any type do more harm than good) will probably get missed by 90% of the people that read this article. Such is the case with all opinion based articles.
      Myself, I feel I fall somewhere between a Linux Pro and a Linux Priest. I frankly don’t care what someone uses. Personally, I prefer open source. I work on open source, and will work with open source. However, just like a Linux Pro, I will work with Microsoft if that’s what’s best for the job.
      However, as much as Linux, and open source in general has zealots, so does Microsoft. These are the people that rattle off every FUD article out there with regards to Linux and open source. I understand you are aware of this, but still, Microsoft zealots can be just as dangerous.
      However, while your article is though provoking…I must contest one part.
      "These Zealots have been the primary reason that I’ve come to believe SCO will likely win its lawsuit — because if the Zealots are lying about facts I know to be true, they must be lying about facts I don’t know about."
      That’s just it though, it’s not the Zealots who are doing the fact finding. The Zealots are simply regurgitating what they read on /. and other places. The real work is being done by what you call "Linux Pro’s."
      Can you really base your opinion of legal and factual standings on the opinions of zealots? To firmly set in the ground your belief that SCO will win because a 32 year old living in his mother’s attic without a job running linux because he is ‘1337’ told you so?
      What of all the "Linux Pro’s" who present clear and insightful commentary and fact regarding the SCO case?
      To put it another way: If you can make a judgement on a case based on one facet of a community, can portions of that community make judgements based on one facet of another community? You make judgements about a legal case because of a bad portion of the Linux community. Is that really a good thing? Do you really feal comfortable in basing your opinion on the ‘facts’ Linux Zealots have presented? Isn’t that the same thing as taking financial advice from a second-grader?
      "Little Johnny said do this, so obviously, we need to do the opposite…"
      On a side note, I AM always fond of the negativity "terrorism" gets. Oh sure, terrorism in general is not nice, but how little Americans (myself being one…) forget that the USA was born on the backs of terrorists. I AM not condoning acts of violence mind you, just something to think about.

    • It doesn’t matter what side you are on. When there are opposing views, the people on both sides will resort to true zealotry while at the same time accusing others of zealotry when they are simply advocating. In reality, one side’s "advocate" is another side’s "zealot". It could be argued that Enderle, himself, is a zealot for the Windows camp.
      The real issues:
      1. Microsoft exists solely for profit. Their technology is mostly bits and pieces bought from other companies and integrated into their prodcuts. We all know how DOS came about and that’s pretty much been Microsoft’s approach from day one. Microsoft is a business.
      2. Linux exists as a labor of love for some people. Think about it. Why are all of these developers spending their time hacking the kernel, the drivers, and the applications that make up a typical GNU/Linux distribution? Some of them do it because they get paid, so there is some profit motive. But by and large, it’s soley because these folks love computers and love to code. Linux is not a business (even though there are businesses based on it).
      In our capitalist society, the only reason for being for many people is to make money. Since a lot of people (people who would support Microsoft or SCO for example) have accepted that as the way to "make it" in our society they feel threatened when there is something that they can’t easily capitalize. It makes them feel threatened and they begin to find ways to try and attack it in the hopes that it will either fail or that it will change and fall into line with their view of the world.
      As the subject line states, everyone has an agenda. My agenda is a personal one. I may be rare, but I don’t think I’m that rare. I see coding and working with Linux at home as no different than the man who has a wood shop and makes his own furniture with no intention of making a profit from it. It’s done for the love of a craft. And it’s also done for convenience and possibly frugality. With all the things my computers at home do for me (Nearly 100% Linux based), I would have had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on commercial software. The only thing I’ve had to spend on my systems currently is my time. And considering that I love working with computers, it was more of a pleasure than a burden.
      Enderle has an agenda too. It’s fairly clear from his articles that he despises Linux. I can’t speak for the man’s personal interests, but I would also guess he’s one of the folks who believes in capitalism lock, stock and barrel. He makes some very strong statements about Linux based on his interactions with a small, vocal segment of the Linux community. He said this himself in the article. His agenda is clearly in support of Microsoft. And what he does say about Linux tends to be very negative. From the perspective of a happy Linux user, Enderle is also a zealot. Which, by his own reckoning, would also make him a terrorist. (How do you like that Enderle?) My point? Anyone who strongly and vocally supports an opposing view is going to be seen as a "zealot".
      In the end it comes down to this:
      One man’s advocate is another man’s zealot. Congrats Enderly, you just undid yourself.

    • "Many of the Zealots seem to be unemployed. It is hard to believe that they can stay with any one company for more than a few days by behaving as badly as they do. Were I an IT executive, the apparent fact that these Zealots are walking human-resource disasters would probably keep me up at night."
      Has it ever occurred to you that maybe these are college students? Or that maybe they are well aware of what is necessary to keep their jobs and that on the net the let their hair down somewhat? Tarring a large group as mostly unemployed on no evidence at all other than your dislike of them is quite irrational.
      "I’ve watched these people fabricate stories about my own job history and events that I’ve written about — as they were happening. These Zealots have been the primary reason that I’ve come to believe SCO will likely win its lawsuit — because if the Zealots are lying about facts I know to be true, they must be lying about facts I don’t know about."
      Another irrationality. Without looking at the merits or otherwise of the SCO cases you have decided that SCO will win because some crazy people are opposed to SCO’s position. Do you likewise judge Christianity by the actions of Jim Jones or Jimmy Swaggart?

    • All I can say is, "wow." Enderle equates people who feel passionately about a technology to the terrorists from 9/11? Amazing. Truly AM azing.
      Sorry, but to me it just seems like a terribly, horribly bad analogy. No matter how rude or obnoxious "Linux Zealots" are, I have a hard time understanding how someone can put forth an argument like this and expect people to think they are reasonable. What’s next? Bill Gates as Attilla the Hun? Benjamin Franklin as a pinko communist (he did come up with that socialist "public library" idea, after all!)?
      Too bad, really. Some of the other points about misbehaving zealotry were actually quite good. But credibility flew straight out the window when the author thinks that someone who is capable of saying, "Bill Gates Sux, Linux rules, dude!" is equally capable of flying an airliner into a skyscraper.

    • There really ain’t much to this story.
      Rob Enderle seems to say Linux, when he in fact could have said anything: Any organisatino, religion or (as in this case) OS.
      Now, for the comparision to terroists. Sure, let us take another example:
      Religious Christians (Is that 90%+ of America’s population?).
      We have the Pros that chose their religion and exercise it in peace. Nothing wrong here.
      We have the (actual) priests that tries to convert others to their faith.
      We have the zealots that shoots abort surgeons. Terroists? Hell yeah!
      What about Microsoft Zealots? Sure, they are out there, just like any other <insert organisation/group/os> has their zealots.
      What is interesting is, … why doesn’t Rob Enderle mention this and what does that make him?
      A Microsoft Zealot?

    • The reason this is a violation of Godwin’s Law (or something close to it): your first "characteristic" of Linux Zealots. No matter how zealous, no Linux advocate (or any computer advocate, as far as I’m aware) has ever actually _killed_ a messenger. But maybe you think you’re making a valid point — that Linux zealots sometimes the rough moral equivalents to *real* terrorists who actually *kill* innocent people.
      This is so obviously ridiculous that… it’s almost unbelievable. All I can say is, I’m not a zealot (or advocate of any kind). But I have known Zealots, and worked with them, and they aren’t murderers, bombers, or tyrants.
      Even if they lie and bully to get what they want… that’s morally repulsive, and they may hurt their cause, but it’s not any near as morally repugnant as the killing or maiming of innocents. In the end, in *this* game, we all go home to our families.

    • Dear Robert,
      I write to say that you should also make a distinction between those who simply defend linux, and those who actually develop it. If you begin researching with the people who actually develop Linux, I believe you’ll notice a much more mature stance from the developers themselves regarding Linux and windows, or Macintosh, or any other operating system. (Not infrequently, developers write and use many OSs).
      However, you’ll find the predominance of Linux (or rather, not Linux, but GNU — Free software, and some Open Source software –, simply because of the Freedom that they understand it gives them. And that alone makes most of them dislike Microsoft. A feeling that is the generally the ethos of the rest of the comunity because of the restrictions notorious to Microsoft — restrictions not only to the developers, but also to the users –, and thus, the result of the Zealouts a and Priests’ actions in general.
      But by no means can these people be understood as the mains comunity. The comunity is not there, in the emails you recieve trying to convince you that Linux is better or worse, but rather in the GNU/Sourceforge/Freesoftware/Opensource lists, writing code, and improving GNU software. Thats where you should research: in the IRC channels of the softwares, in the IRC help channels, in the user-Mailing lists of the software. That’s where you’ll find the real GNU/Linux Comunity, one that is generaly (more) respectful of your choices, and who can argue, in technical and political terms, why they prefer Free Software or Open Source, better than Microsoft.

    • I don’t have read the article, I don’t will. The insult in the start – and calling someone a terrorist that isn’t one is a harsh (!!!) insult – makes any other information from this author irrelevant till he makes a public excuse.
      Note that calling someone terrorist just for the sake of making a point is a punishable deed by e.g. German law, which prohibits insulting others.

    • I think this is an excellent opinion piece. The zealots are certainly doing no one any good. I’ve encountered people (and you’ve probably seen postings on the net to the same effect) who have been put off of Linux because of zealots — it’s far too common that someone asks for help while trying out Linux for the very first time and all they encounter is abuse; this not only discourages people from considering Linux but it gives these people a very negative (and undeserved) impression not only of other users but of developers as well. On another topic, how would you classify muckrakers such as those at Microsoft who have been charged with discrediting Linux and other free and open software?

    • Somewhat accurate i think.. but also rather short sighted. Maybe its because i have a background in Anthropology, but very often typologies are innacurate. Only three types? what about hobbyists? What about the merely curious? What about all the 3rd world economically challenged, who are merely seeking a low cost alternative, in an effort to make computing ubiquitous in their own $$$ starved countries? Oh..just one more thing. Why even bother writing an article about the "minority" of the linux community. I mean i understand that you are writing about people who write you.. but..gee..this is the topic for an article? It must have been a slow week. How about an article on the rise of the "litigation" as a business model movement in the IT and software world? Thanks Rob, for listening.. and no flames intended.

    • Rob, let’s try this from another perspective. I’m self-employed, and currently trying to devise a very inexpensive kiosk system for coffee houses, bars, etc. The idea is to provide a desktop with Internet connectivity and basic tools which will hold up to use in an enviroment with food and drinks. Trying to do this with Windows leaves me with a lot of troubles.
      The first of these is price. A Windows license is close to three hundred dollars. If I want to use Office, I need to add around four hundred dollars – or more. On the other hand, Linux is free and a decent Linux distribution comes with all the software I need – also free.
      The second of these has to do with issues of fine control. While the user has some influence over the desktop, the behavior of Windows tends to be hard coded. Making Windows grant the users exactly the software and priveleges I want it to grant is difficult. In some cases making Windows do what I want it to requires add-on software, which also costs money. With Linux, I have exact control over things like file permissions and user priveleges. This means that giving the users reasonable freedom while making sure they can’t damage the computer is very easy. Most of the desktop’s behaviors are defined in text files which I can hand-edit as necessary. In addition, the Linux distro I’m using comes with several different desktop programs. Being able to start with the right GUI made things very easy.
      Lastly, the superior reliability of Linux makes me much more willing to put it in a high-stress environment. Linux also offers the advantage that I can add a second kiosk at the same shop for considerably less money by making the second kiosk run off a "dumb" terminal, such as a ThinkNic, by using the LTSP software. In other words, Linux is the right tool for this job.
      That’s the Pro part of things.
      After getting the desktop working just right, including hand-editing themes, altering the user priveleges of configuration files so the users can’t mess up the desktop, getting the right software into the box, etc., I finally confirmed to myself that I was ready to take the next step. I ordered a vending unit to attach to the computer. This unit stops the mouse and keyboard from functioning unless a coin is inserted. In theory, this unit solved a lot of my problems, including the problem of how to keep user data on the screen while someone gets up and negotiates for more change.
      Unfortunately, the coin collection box had only been tested under Windows. Under Linux, the mouse doesn’t recover when time runs out and a new coin in inserted. I’m not a programmer, so rewriting the X-Windows system isn’t an option for me. Now I’ve got to get this vending company to make their product run under Linux. If they can’t do that I’m stuck using the wrong operating system.
      That’s evangelism, so now I’m a priest.
      Meanwhile, I’m also dealing with the problems caused by people like Darl McBride, who want to charge me $699 for a "free" operating system, so I find myself working very hard to act as a Linux advocate, because this little pissant company that hasn’t a clue about their own code, the history of Linux, or the legal system is trying to double the cost of my kiosks.
      That’s the zealot – and no, I’m not planning on killing anyone to make my point, despite your nasty attempt to imply that a Linux zealot is indistinguishable from Osama bin Laden.
      So where AM I going with all this? I’m really trying to make a very simple point – that your assumption that you can chop Linux users up into little boxes is silly. Do some research, find out who you’re really dealing with, and maybe you’ll write something that doesn’t make a well informed Linux user sigh and shake their head sadly.

    • I normally don’t respond to opinion pieces, since I feel that everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, when I read the above story, my jaw dropped. Sir, how in Heaven’s name can you equate any group of computer enthusiasts, no matter how rude or abrasive they may be to you personally, with a movement that wantonly kills people for no reason other than to advance their political agenda?? I consider this a vicious slap in the face to those who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 attack.
      By the way, I too AM a computer enthusiast. My ire with you, however, has nothing to do with which operating system I happen to be using at the time (and, for the record, I use several, including Linux, various versions of Windows, OS/400, and even some Unix variants in my daily endeavours). I leave it to you to judge for yourself whether the outrage I feel at your comments brands me as a "Pro", a "Priest", or a "Zealot", and for which particular piece of software (as if that were relevant).
      Also for the record, I AM not "hiding" behind a fake name in sending this message.

    • Dear Mr. Enderle,
      I would like to suggest to you something which you may have overlooked, which also may be important: the people who write to you may not be a very representative of Linux users and developers. This could be true for any journalist–the type of people who write to you about your columns are self-selecting (they feel motivated to write for various reasons) and are therefore not necessarily representative of a particular group.
      I know some people who fit into all three of your columns (Pros, Priests, and Zealots). I also know quite a few people who don’t fit any of those categories, but who are involved with Linux in some way.
      It is possible to be concerned with "getting the job done," while at the same time considering the ethical and social aspects of the software world.
      I mainly use Debian at home, and my work environment is mixed Windows/Macintosh (I work in publishing). In my view Windows (especially XP) is an excellent home operating system, and is also the best choice for very many business solutions. Both Macintosh and the varieties of UNIX are good for business/large organisation solutions, though I wouldn’t recommend any flavor of UNIX (Linux included) for most home users.
      I don’t try to convert people to Linux. I have a cap with Tux on it. Sometimes people ask me what’s up with the penguin, and I usually say it’s the mascot for a hockey team, the McMurdo Station Penguins. I even have a whole story made up about how the McMurdo scientists play the Russian scientists once a year. I don’t want to explain anything about Linux unless I know the person is interested ahead of time.
      On the other hand, I use Linux because I personally prefer it to Windows; I also dislike Microsoft as a company, though I must say that MS has produced many excellent products (e.g. there has never been anything as good as MS Office).
      I imagine you get a lot of mail from various people in the Linux community – a lot of it probably consists of flames and other immature drivel. It’s also easy to find a lot of that on sites like Slashdot. On the other hand, the Mandrake Forums have a lot of posts from Linux users who are neither Pros, Priests, nor Zealots.
      Please consider that you may have oversimplified in characterizing what is actually a very diverse group.

    • I AM a Network/System admin in a mixed environment. My preferred platform is Linux. My users, however, could not do their work without windows, HP or Sun. When I think of the gap that is filled by our linux systems and the damage you point out can be done by the zealots there is some anxiety. No single platform has all the answers. Forget what marketers say. If I were to loose one of my greatest tools (Linux) because of the anti antis, well …
      Right tool for right job keeps me employed. Being able to identify the right tool for the job furthers that cause. Microsoft isn’t the problem. People that use the wrong tools are the problem.
      Too many zealots, priests and the like fail to put the blame where it truly lies. That blame lies on the heads of those customers that by products (i.e. tools) I wouldn’t expect a platform that excels at user apps to be the best choice for a corporate firewall any more than the firewall platform can excel as an application server – apples and oranges (expect flames here).
      In the end the courts won’t be the ones making the decision, it will be the market place. The playing field will be more level and we will all benefit.

    • First of all, the "one bad aspect" of Microsoft is actually quite large and comprised of many many smaller bad aspects. Collectively they’re also pretty hard to ignore. You don’t have to dig for the "one" thing to dislike.
      Secondly, your view of "Linux Pro" is fairly broad, and manages to include other technologies. Fair enough, yet you for some reason decide to not touch upon the "Microsoft Priests". For example, Steve Ballmer, who has gone from "un-American" to a "cancer". Not quite Satan, but still.
      They’ve also hired Martin Taylor to be their Arch-Bishop of Linux bashing. But it’s okay, if you are happy to "be happy with Microsoft" and spread your ignorant bliss.
      On to the zealots. For the love of all that’s good and Holy, Slashdot is but *one* blog in the world. And a patently transparent one at that. You should not be any more surprised to hear pro-Linux stuff there, than to hear anti-Linux stuff as from one of a number of political lobbyists.
      Grown ups don’t go to Slashdot for their information, so I don’t see your point that they are doing all this damage. At least if folks do get their info there, they take it with the obligatory "I may be talking to a mid-pubescent boy trying to make a psuedonym for himself".
      What you can’t marginalize with one sided arguments is the massive adoption Linux and Open Source in general has globally.
      It seems the "one bad aspect" must be pretty bad after all.
      You can, if you’d like, stand in front of the tanks rolling through your once great city and declare war if you’d like. But it won’t stop them.
      I won’t even get into the *fact* that the 9/11 attack was the culmination of foreign policy mishaps and not soley the act of zealots. Just as there is more than one technology in the world, there is more than one religion, but you don’t strike me as the sort of Zealot who looks beyond the line they’ve been fed, let alone the type who’d understand false metaphors.

    • Does this mean that IBM are "priests"?
      I think if anyone is a "zealot", it’s Darl McBride… and I mean that in the worst possible sense of the word.
      It’s possible that some misinformation gets spread around by Linux zealots, but Darl McBride has been busy shoveling a heaping pile.
      This article also completely neglects the majority group, which I suppose lies between the so called "pro" and a "priest". This would be the "real pro"… someone who uses the right tool for the right job, and knows that open source software is preferable to closed source software, because if you need to make a small change to the code to get the software to suit your needs, you can do it with a small AM ount of effort.
      To get a minor change made to a piece of commercial software usually involves spending between $100,000 – $1,000,000 (depending on the company) and waiting from six months to two years. That’s on the rare case that the company is willing to make this change for you. Sometimes a source code license is available for somewhere inbetween the above mentioned prices if you’re lucky.
      I’ve been using both Windows and Linux for about ten years. I’ve also been a computer programmer for about twice as long. I think this puts me in a position to give a _real_ opinion rather than a bs one given by someone who not only has very strong biases, he pushes them onto others, labeling them as "priests" and "zealots" as if of some whacked religion.
      So here’s the deal…
      Most people just want to use whatever is convenient, easy to use, and gets the job done.
      What this is depends on what you’re trying to do, and no solution at this time is perfect for every situation. Windows sucks as a server. Linux is lacking as a desktop.
      Things are changing though. Linux has improved exponentially over the past few years as a desktop system. Windows has also improved as a server system, but I wouldn’t say the improvement has been dramatic.
      If you look at how things have been coming along over the past few years, Microsoft’s massive ivory tower has become an increasingly large target… not unlike the WTC. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
      Certainly Linux zealots may be "dangerous" for Microsoft… but not in the sense that they might launch a terrorist attack, but instead in the sense that they may band together and through sheer numbers and persistence make Microsoft’s offerings obsolete.
      While a few years ago, Microsoft laughed off such a thing, they’re not laughing anymore.
      The important thing to note, is that the open source community is doing this without countless billions of dollars, without buying up the competition, and without expensive lawyers.
      Not only can you obtain most of the software without paying a cent, the source code is also freely available. On top of that, clever licensing ensures that the source code will remain freely available.
      As for the SCO issue… remember that Linux, being "open source" exposes all of the code for all to see. There is nothing to hide.
      The SCO accusations are against IBM (and SGI), claiming that they contributed code to Linux against their licensing. So why blame "Linux zealots" for the actions of major corporations?
      These are still just accusations. No proof has been provided, and from what has been shown thus far, it is clear that SCO has no clue what they really own the rights to.
      They seem to be under the false impression that they own the rights to every bit of code in their possession, even if it was previously released to the public domain, or if it was licensed to them from another company. SCO seems to believe that everything they merely touch belongs to them.
      This case may drag on for a year or two, but in the end SCO is going to end up being an unpleasant memory, and the companies that invested millions into them are going to be pretty sore (in every sense of the word).

    • Rob, while I think watching the Linux community react to your articles characterizing them as terrorists will make for *lots of fun*, it also makes it difficult to see your "analyst" credentials in any other light than that of a linux zealot baiter, so to speak. On the internet, people who bait arguments to get a specific reaction from a community are called "trolls". Certainly anyone who threatens you personally is not a particularily moral person, however response calling them "terrorists" is hardly that of a rational person either. If I may offer some advice to you on this issue I would say that, perhaps if you spent less time, forgive my frankness, whining about the response your articles get and more time researching and discussing actual technical issues (of which I assume you have some relevant skills) surrounding the technology itself, you may actually find that you recieve less negative feedback. The only remaining question of course, would be with so many highly skilled Linux journalists out there writing fascinating articles about Linux adoption in small and medium business, kernel internals, support and training issues, etc, what kind of relevant technical content could *you* provide to make your articles more interesting for the "linux pros" rather than the zealots? By the number other articles out there writen up by people with practical and relevant Linux experience, it appears to be possible, so what exactly is holding you back? I guess that is one question you will just have to figure out on your own.

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