Howto: Derail the Linux juggernaut

When the final bell tolls and Microsoft is forced to confront the Linux tidal wave (instead of playing its current game of misinformation and attrition) there will be one Achilles heel that the Redmond contingent can take advantage of: Choice.

Simply remind the average Linux user that they have a choice on any issue, and a frenzy of infighting erupts. Watch:

See? Half of you have already punched the reply button. I haven’t even gotten started.

See what I mean? It’s a very simple trick to throw sand in the bull’s eyes. Just ask an opinion on anything, and the whole revolution is unhinged, too busy picking lint from its bellybutton to notice anything else.

It’s ironic really, and sometimes comical. It’s like arguing if a 400-pound gorilla should be wearing pink booties or blue booties. What does it matter? That gorilla is going to dismember anything in its path, just as soon as you get past the wardrobe debate.

It’s a little sad too. The greatest asset Linux has is choice. You can install, use, code or borrow just about anything you like, and use it however you like.

But you know what? If you’re going to squat like a self-important toad on any particular point of preference, and harass your fellow believers because they don’t like your favorite color … well, then the battle was lost before it ever began. Microsoft 1, Linux … Did not show.

16 thoughts on “Howto: Derail the Linux juggernaut

  1. Luke

    You forgot Vi or Emacs!

    Btw, this is nothing new. Wherever there is choice, there will be people religiously defending one option over the other. Let me demonstrate:

    Boxers or briefs?

    Tea or Coffe?

    Cats or dogs?

    Pen or pencil?

    Democrat or Republican?

    Some of these topics are more inflammatory than others but just about every person in the world will assume one of the following stances:

    1. Strongly prefers choice A
    2. Strongly prefers choice B
    3. Likes both, (maybe with a slight preference towards one of them)
    4. Doesn’t care about either one

    You will also notice that the opinions conform to a bell curve with 1 and 2 on the two opposite extremes and majority of people belonging to group 3 or 4.

    A question asking people to choose A or B will likely catch the eye of people in group 1 and 2, giving them a chance. They will write long posts “proving” the superiority of their choice and speaking harshly of the other choice. They someone from the opposite camp jumps to defend it, and BOOM – flame war.

    People from the group 4 will never participate because they don’t care. People from group 3 will post short neutral messages among the lines of “personally I like A, but B has some very cool features too” that will get lost in all the screaming done by groups 1 and 2.

    I think this bickering is just human nature. Every single message board has bunch of topics that are guaranteed to start a flame war – and most of them boil down to a simple “A is better than B” statement.

    Oh, and I’m a KDE guy myself. Kubuntu all the way. πŸ™‚ But then again, if you are working with an older machine you end up using whatever runs best on it.

  2. Luke

    Forgot to add that Windows doesn’t have these arguments only because there is no choice where it comes to these things. But windows users have their own arguments. Try:

    XP or Vista?

    IE or Firefox?

    MS Office vs Open Office?

    Outlook or Thunderbird?

    They don’t find about kernel, window/desktop manager stuff because there is no choice there. Where there is choice, there is constant bickering.

  3. Danny

    Choice comes with responsibility. And G-d knows, the consumer doesn’t want to assume any responsibility for anything. After all, when it breaks, who are they going to sue?

    You’d think Redmond would have learned the problem of choice when they rolled out Vista. But Nooooo…home, business, media, ultimate, and I forget the other versions.

    Maybe, this is one thing Apple got right?

  4. Michal

    Maybe years from now, after the

    fanboy infighting – this distro, that distro
    idealist infighting – GPL2, GPL3
    developer infighting – fork this, fork that

    all the Linuxes and BSDs will go the way of the dinosaur.

    Solaris may actually gain if they just manage to keep it simple.

    By the way, I am on your site, I use Debian, so don’t flame me πŸ™‚

  5. Mark

    Linux, Open Source and Free Software haven’t even gotten started yet. They already showing that people naturally do good things for the benefit of *all* not just the *self*. The true value will be seen when the world gets beyond the 0.01 social networking phase. No monopoly can buy into this – nobody will contribute stuff for free just for some greedy idiots to line their pockets with it.


    Bye bye greed.

  6. Robuka Kenderle

    So no choice is better than too much choice?

    How about we dont take your word and see how it goes instead?

  7. Penguin Pete

    And that’s why, being a geek blogger, I straddle all choices. Even if something’s not my favorite, I have to try it so I’ll know how to tell other people about it. This extends beyond mere desktops to embracing BSD, OpenSolaris, Plan Nine from Bell Labs, GNU HURD, and Minix.

    Then I spend *all* my time navelgazing. It’s soothing!

  8. Walt R.


    Linux is being derailed now. Consider the exponential growth of brain dead devices that only function with vole software. Mother boards full of integrated devices that only function with vole software. IE: the VIA sound chip requires the vole driver to play midi.

    Show me a motherboard that supports Linux 100 percent.

    The quality of linux software or the number of software choices does not matter, if there is not any quality hardware that supports it.


    Walt R.

  9. silo

    The more competition you have in the home country, the better these competitors can compete in the globalised world.

    What I want to say is that not only the choice is that is a big strategic advantage of Linux. Even more important is the in-house competition.

    Microsoft did not had this kind of competition regarding Windows for some time. Now, both Apple, the Linox world, and the Web 2.0 world launch their missiles on the weak and unprepared Microsoft. Weak and unprepared because Microsoft doesn’t know any more how to compete after several years of being in a monopolistic situation.

    So, please infighting! It only will make open source stronger compared to alternatives.

  10. taroogs

    I’m just a simple user of Ubuntu (started only a few months back) and that was the best choice I ever made — not Ubuntu, but to leave Windows forever. I’ll take whatever I can understand (and actually use) from the Linux World πŸ™‚

  11. γ³γ£γγ‚Š

    I’ll recommend the pink booties. And, can anyone point me towards a good store for buying a Beta system? I’ve decided to switch from VHS.

    I am a very conservative user and for a long time shunned Linux in favor of Windows, but this year I switched to Ubuntu. I could care less that many Linux converts are pedantic. My decision was based on the fact that Windows’ weaknesses have bothered me for years, but finally a reasonable Linux release came out.

    A system should be easy to install, update, and use for someone of moderate technical ability. I think after all these years various releases are crossing that line. It will be interesting to see how things go from here.

  12. Nik Butler

    Here here,

    Having spent 8 years promoting open source to small and medium sized businesses I have occasioned to return to the community to get more involved. At which point I become reminded of the reasons OSS has such slow traction into business.

    Some days its like the scene from Life of Brian where they are all sitting around trying to agree ( or Not Agree ! ) as to what they wish ( or not Wish) . etc etc etc.

    I really like getting things done but I dont want to have to see every decision and idea and concept spend time being voted discussed reviewed approved collated wikid and eventually not done because its been talked to death.

    The balance is ironically out there in open source development, you get something created and then see if it gets picked up and used. You dont ask people if they think writing it would be useful.

    Ive again moved away from the “community” because I just want to get things done and deliver answers to my clients. I realised I actually dont have to listen to the vicarious opinions and attitudes of people in the community who are not actually core developers or actually running and supporting a business for open source.

    Your article is Spot on and gives me something to bookmark and blog a little about later.

    Thank you

  13. Luke

    Nick, this is not unique to open source. Remember those old sayings about camel being a horse designed by a committee and to many cooks in the kitchen? That’s just one of the fundamental rules of group dynamics. Pure democracy where everyone has a vote and an opinion is a very slow, and cumbersome process.

    This is why software is developed in teams with project leads who make the hard decisions based on community input. Look at the successful open source projects out there – Mozilla is getting things done like clockwork. That’s because they have structure, a plan and leadership.

    This is what you have to do – you get a group of people who are interested in your idea, you implement it, and you toss it back at the community. Those who like it, can come on board and help support it. Those who don’t can just ignore it.

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