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Unamerican?

Microsoft calls Open Source software "Unamerican".

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Microsoft calls Linux "Unamerican"

Microsoft is speaking to lawmakers to have open source software outlawed.

Open source software is computer software created by a bunch of people from all over the world working together on the Internet to program computers for the fun of it and then release the software to the public free of charge. Linux is a classic example.

Their immediate goal in Washington is to poison our leaders on the idea of open source software and prevent it from ever becoming officially accepted and supported software in government offices. If the government starts using open standard software (as opposed to closed proprietary software) they would save a lot of time and money but Microsoft would lose its biggest customer.

Open source software is already seriously eating their profits. Only through creative book keeping (counting proceeds from their investments as bottom line revenue to make up for shortfalls in software sales) can they keep up their appearance of profitability and stock price. Of course they will never succeed in outlawing open source software (I hope) but the idea that they are even spending time thinking about such things is frightening. Remember that corporations are amoral. Not moral or immoral but amoral. They logically determine how to make the most money. They make decisions without regard to compassion or ethics much like a computer. Individuals don't work this way but when you put a bunch of individuals together and call it a corporation they do. They are legally obligated by their stockholders to do this. If the stockholders found out that a big company gave someone a break and didn't do everything they could to maximize shareholder value they would get their pants sued off. It has happened. Not to mention the problems caused by the large egos and greed in the executive ranks of many companies.

Microsoft VP Jim Allchin says that he "...can't imagine something that could be worse then this [open source software] for the software business and intellectual-property business." Of course this is rather short-sighted because it appears that the entire concept of intellectual property is about to be destroyed by another new technology: Freenet ( http://freenet.sourceforge.net ).

Automobiles were the worst thing for the horse and buggy. Surely the buggy makers were annoyed. Perhaps if they had $50B with which to lobby government and society via clever marketing such as Microsoft does we would still be riding in buggies! But the advantages to society by letting them be replaced has been incalculable. One astute person wrote on slashdot.org that "Amish barn raisings should be declared illegal because they threaten the innovation of contractors across our great land." If it weren't for open source software the Internet wouldn't even be possible and Microsoft is attacking those who did this great public service.

When one company controls all of our critical computer resources such as MS does and won't let anyone see what their software is really doing you would think people would be worried. But it seems that nobody is. There are foriegn governments using Linux instead of Windows because they can audit exactly what Linux is doing and they don't want to have to rely on an American company for such important computing tasks.

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -- Samuel Johnson

Appealing to patriotic values by painting open source software as "un-American" and inferring that it is somehow related to fascism or communism is an embarassment to anyone who values their freedom and understands what this country has gone through to get it. It is unfortunate that most Americans do not care to understand the computer and business world even though our future (and our freedom) relies so much on both of them.

If this continues I may one day be sitting in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee with a modern McCarthy asking:

"Are you now or have you ever been an advocate of open source software?"

History repeats itself and we can look back at another popular freedom movement that was ultimately successful. A motto of the Open Source/Free Software community for years now has been:

<cite>"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."</cite>

-- Gandhi

This is the exact path Microsoft has taken with open source software. When I first got involved with Linux 8 years ago we were in the ignore stage. We are definitely in the fighting stage now.

Also see:

Are Linux and Open Source Un-American? http://www2.linuxjournal.com/articles/conversations/0020.html

Life, liberty and the pursuit of free software http://www.salon.com/tech/log/2001/02/15/unamerican/index.html

Rant Mode Equals One: The Linux Reality Versus the Microsoft Dream http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-02-15-003-20-OP

Microsoft: Stop Whining http://www.unitedentropy.com/microsoft-rant.html

-- Tracy Reed
http://www.ultraviolet.org

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