Linux in the news
All in one big page
See also: last week's Back page page.
The last dinosaur and the tarpits of doom is a story about "How Linux smashed Windows." This story makes an interesting read; have a look if you've not yet checked it out.
The Red Hat Contrib|Net site has come a long way in recent times. It is now a pleasant and useful interface to Red Hat's contrib area, though it does seem that one has to click through a few too many layers to actually get to the software.
January 21, 1999
Letters to the editor should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.
From: Jonathan Maddox <email@example.com> To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com> Subject: Creative Labs, OSS and Fairfax article. Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 14:56:45 +1100 It appears that the Fairfax IT columnist has made a bit of a mistake. Where the Creative Labs linux-kernel post mentions 'OSS', it doesn't mean "open-source software" (AFAIK, the abbreviation OSS first turned up in the Halloween memos) but the Open Sound System, the sound API used by the original Linux sound driver (written by Hannu Savolainen), and also for several other Unixes since Hannu went commercial (http://www.4front-tech.com) There are only 17576 three-letter acronyms. It's hardly surprising that some of them become overloaded, even in the same context. It seems that Creative needs to hire a Linux developer for exactly the opposite reason that Fairfax IT suggests. If there were no problem releasing programming specs, then the booming Linux business world (aka Alan Cox, financially supported by Red Hat) would write drivers for Creative Labs' new cards as a matter of course, at no charge to Creative. The SoundBlaster range has *always* been the best-supported sound hardware under Linux. Hiring a full-time developer gives Creative Labs three things: the ability to develop drivers under Linux right from the start (probably easier than doing it for Windows if Halloween II is anything to go by) and avoid the wait between product release and Linux support; the ability to include linux installation instructions in the packaging (which hasn't ever been necessary before, it's an image thing); and the option in the future of releasing drivers which aren't GPLed, saving them from releasing low-level hardware details. Jonathan
Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 22:38:10 -0600 From: "Moderate your conflict circuits, Maximals" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: FUD for thought I would like to make just a couple of points regarding this whole FUD debate, from a point of view I have not yet seen here. I think that the term FUD should _never_ be used, for two reasons. The first is, whether it is "correct" or not to call a particular criticism of Linux FUD, the useage of the term can be sorely misleading. FUD is a term I'd never heard before the Halloween Documents, and since that time hardly a day has gone by when I _haven't_ seen it used somewhere. At first I was kind of amused, then a bit beFUDdled :), and it soon passed into annoyance. Let's face it; FUD has become a buzzword of the first water, not unlike "information superhighway" (which isn't used as much anymore as it used to be, thank God). The meaning is murky at best, and at worst, it's simply another piece of mud to fling at someone who says something you don't like. Consider...what does FUD really mean? The acronym expands to "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt." Is FUD, then, any statement that can cause one to feel fear, uncertainty, or doubt about something? If I said (and we'll assume for the following examples that everything I say is the truth as I know it), "Operating System A's disk compression system fried my hard drive" or "Operating System B is too hard to install--I couldn't figure it out," is that FUD? If I gather information for a nonbiased article that happens to mention "Some users have found that OS A's disk compression system has caused them to lose data" or "Some users have found OS B too hard to install," is that FUD? If I take a neutral poll (yes, I know...consider it a theoretical concept, like the square root of -1 :) and report "8% of users report OS A's disk compression system caused data loss" and "12% of users found OS B too difficult to install" (to pull a couple of numbers completely out of my hat), is _that_ FUD? If so, why? If not, why not? Whenever I've seen the term "FUD" used, the definition by context has invariably been "specifically, that F, U, & D disseminated by someone with an agenda, hidden or otherwise, in direct opposition to the object of said F, U, & D." How can you _honestly_ determine whether someone has an agenda, and if so, what it is? Unless you know for sure (and I'll grant, in some cases (such as Microsoft) you _can_ be pretty sure...but not too many), it's just name-calling--and everyone else who reads it knows it. And secondly, the way everyone's flinging "FUD" around, you'd think it was just invented by Microsoft the other day. It wasn't. People have been using fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics in commerce, in politics, and in many other venues, probably for as long as man has been a rational being. It's one of the major tactics of persuasion that we have--anyone who's ever taken a college course in persuasion or public speaking should know that. "Antacid X starts neutralizing acid immediately, but Acid-Preventative Y takes at least an hour to work!" "If John Smith is elected, this city/district/state/nation will be driven into the ground!" And then there's the story of the two butcher shops in London, one of which put up a big sign in its window that said "THE QUEEN BUYS HER MEAT HERE!" and the other a sign that said "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!" If you're going to imply that Microsoft, or anyone else, is evil for using the dreaded FUD tactics, you're going to have to broaden that to include everyone else who uses those tactics too. Advertising, marketing, politics...well, not that they _aren't_ evil, but you should at least be aware of it. -- Chris Meadows aka | Co-moderator, rec.toys.transformers.moderated Robotech_Master | Homepage: <URL:http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/> firstname.lastname@example.org | PGP: <URL:http://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/rm.key.txt> email@example.com | ICQ UIN: 5477383
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 10:09:31 -0500 From: Peter Leif Rasmussen <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "Moderate your conflict circuits, Maximals" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: FUD for thought Very well said, point taken! I agree to that "FUD" is very broad and perhaps too broad for some to use as an argument in a discussion. The way I have learned to use it, though, isn't to try to find out what exactly was a fear, an uncertainty or what was doubtful in a statement, but to detect when someone is trying to support an opinion with smoke-and-mirrors. Remember, the Linux world is [mostly] technical so if someone has fear about something breaking they can ask about it in a straightforward way and expect to get an answer in a similar way. The same goes to uncertainty and doubt, so those situations aren't really high-profile problems, but usual and everyday problems. The reason some mudslinging becomes necessary is when someone without a constructive agenda appears on the scene and someone has to make everyone pay attention. So, in my opinion the statement "this is FUD" usually tells me that the person saying so thinks that there is something murky, unprecise or a hidden agenda in an article or whatever, ie. "FUD" has become a buzzword (or "keyword") where everyone sort of know what is going on and at least have an idea of the direction. Ergo, I can't explain to you when something is or isn't FUD, because it will depend on the pre-opinion of the holder. However, if the appearance of the acronym has meant that people elsewhere (sales, politics, religion, etc.) realizes that there is more to what people tell them, then I think that is great. Thanks, Peter
From: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: re: FUD and Linux press To: email@example.com Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 11:01:08 -0600 (CST) Peter Rasmussen wrote: Following various mailing lists, eg. on vger.rutgers.edu, you will see plenty of criticism, so the Linux community doesn't think Linux is perfect. A valid argument, except that most of the rest of world doesn't follow those lists. They follow the path of least resistance (ie whats the easiest thing to get to) and read things like Slashdot, LWN, and Linux Today. They get to these through more mainstream press like LinuxWorld (which you'll note has no links to any mailing lists - except for archives of c.o.l.a, which is editorial free anyway). Additionally, mailing lists are not news sources per se. People don't go there just to hear what is going on in the Linux world. I have to agree with Barry's original point: much criticism of Linux is referred to as "FUD" by the Linux community's online news sources. In a few cases the original articles were simply written by those who had no interest in using Linux, much like I have no interest in using Microsoft products. This isn't "FUD" - its personal choice and a valid point of view. I consider it unprofessional to refer to dissenting opinions as "FUD" and will not make such references in my column, The Graphics Muse. If we want to be taken seriously we - the Linux press - have to act as if we'll take the competition, or detractors, seriously as well. Rebuttal by example to show where the original article is in error is fine, but name calling is just not acceptable. "FUD" may stand for "fear, uncertainty and doubt" but in its acronymal form it has become a derogatory expression. It should no longer be used by the Linux press. The Linux world is one of high quality and support. There is no reason the Linux press should not be the same. As to LWN not tolerating alternative viewpoints, I'd say that isn't really true. They do post critical opinions in their Letters to the Editor section. But they also occassionally refer to articles which attack Linux as "FUD". And I don't agree with that. LWN is a good and vital source of Linux information and should strive to avoid the use of such terms. Michael J. Hammel The Graphics Muse firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.graphics-muse.org
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 12:31:53 +0900 (JST) From: David Moles <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: corel netwinder I'm not sure this is as much a letter to the editor as it is a cry for help. :) But -- The Netwinder looks like a great box. The form factor alone probably makes it worth the money -- since what I do doesn't require much floating-point. And for software development, it's always nice to have some non-x86 platforms floating around to make sure your stuff doesn't have hidden dependencies. Unfortunately, I've been trying to buy a Netwinder as an evaluation box for my company for the last three months, and haven't had any response from Corel after filling out every form on their web site. (I'm in a time zone close to the date line, so calling Ottawa isn't really an option.) If anyone from Corel Computer is reading this, drop me a line! Or if anyone has an email address for an individual human at Corel, I'd appreciate that, too. Thanks, David Moles P.S. Dear editor -- I don't know if this is the sort of thing you'd put on the back page, but if not, I'd appreciate it if you'd at least put a summary of the note somewhere where it might be seen. Thanks.