[nycbug-talk] "every bit as good as Linux"

Dru dlavigne6
Sun Sep 26 10:05:59 EDT 2004

Okay, I finally have a few minutes to put in my 2 cents regarding this 

We all know the premise of the article is ridiculous. Heck, I'm not even a 
programmer yet I can recognize the argument is technically flawed. 
However, the writer knows something which the BSD community isn't 
capitalizing on: FUD works, readers aren't necessarily technically minded 
or even interested in technical accuracy, and people remember what they 
see and hear, even if it's incorrect.

I'm not advocating the use of FUD. (frankly, BSD doesn't need to resort to 
it). However, the BSD community is missing the boat on exposure. This 
article, even though poorly written, is in a major publication. It's been 
read and retained by 1000s of readers who don't have the technical savvy 
to realize how poorly it is written.

What can we do about it? I see 3 things, 2 of which aren't effective:

1. Talk about it amongst ourselves. While it feels good to vent, we're
    preaching to the choir.

2. Put in a rebuttal. If you're lucky, you'll get a one-liner buried
    somewhere in the publication. Newspapers have been using this technique
    forever: publish something excitingly inaccurate on the first half of
    the front page and disclaim it the next day in a close to the back page
    one-liner. Guess which one people remember? Worse, the rebuttal/disclaimer
    is a _negative_ which puts the person who wrote it on the defensive.

3. Take a more indirect, offensive approach. Rather than deal directly
    with _this_ article, write an article that showcases what you want and
    get it published in a major magazine. Something like the Brett Glass one
    referred to by Ike. Great article, great venue, but how many of these
    have we had since 2002? We'd be lucky to count them on one hand! And
    Daemonnews, while a great resource for us BSDers, doesn't count here.

Do you guys see my point? We're outstanding when it comes to quality 
software and quality technical documentation. We suck when it comes to 
marketing. Where are the BSD case studies? How many major mags have at 
least one BSD related article per month? And I'm not talking just techno 
mags. What about mags read by CIOs, CSOs, accountants, bankers, government, 
gamers, arts people, etc. We have a huge potential audience who has never 
even _heard_ of BSD. Betcha they've heard of Linux, though, even if they 
never have the intention of using it.

As an example, Ike's email is an article begging to be published in say, 
Sysadmin or Software Development magazine. Most of us have day to day 
dealings with non-techies. What magazines do these people read? Have you 
been banging your head against the wall convincing, say, an accountant 
client to switch to BSD? What mags does your accountant read? Have those 
mags _ever_ had a BSD related article in them? Guaranteed those mags have 
nice glossy ads from major software vendors and the occasional article on 
the advantages of using a particular non-open source accounting 


On Tue, 21 Sep 2004, Isaac Levy wrote:

> Hi all,
> Can someone say POSIX?  Or um, Berkeley Software Distribution?
> It seems to me, ironically, that this 'Linux Base Standard' feels a lot like 
> what BSD was before it was a full-blown OS... folks, this has all happened 
> before.  Too bad this tech-writer printed nearly slanderous misinformation 
> about the OS family that was at the ancient root of interoperability in 
> computing.
> "BSD stands for "Berkeley Software Distribution," the name first given to the 
> University of California at Berkeley's own toolkit of enhancements for the 
> UNIX operating system.  Created by the students and faculty, BSD was not part 
> of UNIX itself, which was created by Bell Labs. Rather, it was a widely 
> distributed package of software enhancements for UNIX -- a supplement that 
> made the operating system, which was originally strictly a research vehicle, 
> useful in the real world."
> http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0%2C1558%2C555398%2C00.asp
> On Sep 16, 2004, at 4:30 PM, michael wrote:
>> Linux Standard Base Is Exactly What Platform Needs
>> By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
>> September 15, 2004
>> "Take, for example, the open-source BSD operating systems: FreeBSD,
>> OpenBSD and NetBSD. They're all good. You can argue, as I have, that in
>> some ways they're every bit as good as Linux, if not better.
>> Then why aren't more people running them? Why do we have a Linux
>> Magazine but not a BSD Magazine? Well, it's simple, there are three of
>> them. "
> It goes on right after that to state something I can seriously dispute below:
> "There are some open-source applications, such as Apache and Samba, that will 
> run on all of them. But if you want to make the most of each one, you need to 
> write an application that will take advantage of their unique virtues. For 
> most software development companies, or even most open-source programmers, 
> that's just too much trouble for too small a potential market."
>> Say What!?!  Yea, really... read the rest:
>> http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1646495,00.asp
> WTF?  Write an application to take advantage of their unique virtues?  I just 
> don't understand where this guy is coming from.
> --
> OK, I really just wanted to get it up somewhere online here, that this writer 
> is simply foolish, and here's why:
> I'm a web application developer who works with Zope.  For those who don't 
> know it, it's a huge open source application server, with nearly the 
> complexity of a small operating system, that lives often in the realm of 
> large enterprise software.  In my life as a Zope developer, I invariably 
> compile tens of dozens of other softwares on a regular basis, and plug them 
> into Zope in one way or another.
> Now also, my work often takes me onto a UNIX which my client has selected for 
> one reason or another, though I prefer to use the BSD's when it's my call, 
> BECAUSE, all the software I use and write compiles the same from one BSD to 
> another, period- and I can't say the same at all for Linux.
> With that said, I install a LOT of apps, all the time, on lots of Open 
> *NIX's.  Portability is very important to me.
> For example, in the last 9 months I've built full-blown Zope-centered 
> systems, with dozens of other supporting apps, on the following OS's,
> For Clients:
> - FreeBSD
> - OpenBSD
> - MacOSX Server
> - Red Hat Linux
> - Debian Linux
> - Mandrake Linux
> - SuSe Linux
> For Dev/Personal/Fun uses:
> - NetBSD
> - OpenDarwin (straight)
> - Dragonfly (recent release)
> With that stated, I'm not trying to puff out my chest or start any flame 
> wars, but I'm trying to illustrate that I know what the heck I'm talking 
> about here with a handful of apps portability- and BSD wins, hands down. 
> Everything just compiles, and works together as it should- because of the 
> ANCIENT adherence to POSIX guidelines, (yes, even when it hurts sometimes).
> Lets talk Developer time and ROI- the reason behind this article:
> On average, off the top of my head, I'd say that my work on BSD platforms 
> took less than 1/2 the time for the same level of complexity on Linux- due to 
> portability and compatibility issues.  I deal with too much software to 
> remember tweaks and tricks for a given OS, and usually never build the same 
> thing, therefore I encounter new problems with each project.
> Most of the rest of that time on Linux is tracking down a missing library in 
> userland for a given distro, installing things which are common to one Linux- 
> and not another, and the joys of de-activating or de-installing daemons, 
> which are often hacked beyond sane configurability, conflicting with 
> something I'm needing to install.  All of this, with some of the most poorly 
> maintained and most inconsistent man pages in the UNIX world.
> All of that is a waste of time I could spend making interesting or useful 
> things, while eating away at my client's ROI.  In english, my client pays 
> more and gets less- and I'm bored off my rocker with the tedium.
> I'm not trying to outwardly slam Linux here, as there are some really amazing 
> ideas and code in there, but portability definitely isn't one of it's strong 
> points.
> This article is a foolish attempt to create buzz about an an idea from the 
> Linux world, which is an ancient idea in BSD manifest in a thriving codebase 
> in the BSD derived OS's.  BS like this is expected from the folks who write 
> all that buzz-pulp to confuse and befuddle IT managers into buying crud they 
> don't need- BUT, when a writer like this, lazily and rudely prints 
> misinformation that is incorrect and negative towards the BSD's, the hair on 
> my back stands up, and my claws come out.
> --
> If someone wants to flame, I'll simply be sending those to /dev/null
> If you have something constructive to say about this, or if someone can shed 
> some non-bs light on what the 'Linux Base Standard' actually is, I'm all 
> ears- but this writer sure just did it some damage- and came off quite 
> historically un-informed while doing so.
> --
> For anyone interested in more historical information about BSD and 
> portability:
> http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/taoup/html/ch02s01.html#id2886020
> It's a fun read about history and process- with a lot of insight into how 
> open standards evolved.  :)
> Rocket,
> .ike
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