Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 23rd Jul 2009 22:53 UTC, submitted by Remy Chi Jian Suen
Editorial So, Microsoft submits 20000 lines of code to the Linux kernel, all licensed under the GPL. Microsoft, who considers Linux a great threat, and once called the GPL a "cancer". Opinions on this one are flying all around us, but what does Linus Torvalds, Linux' benevolent dictator, think about all this?
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While I admire Linus Torvalds greatly, I must strongly disagree with his characterization of 'hatred' of Microsoft as a disease. Hatred for Microsoft is a symptom, a defensive reaction to an infection that disrupts the proper functioning of the computer and its user. The disease is Microsoft software. Other symptoms can include increased blood pressure, sudden outbursts of profanity, mood swings ranging along a spectrum of rage through depression, and chronic hemorrhaging of cash.

As for trusting the maintainer, and by extension Microsoft, well, Mr. Torvalds does say he is an engineer and not a politician, so this extreme naivety can certainly be ascribed to that tight focus on the code.

Microsoft does not just make false statements, it lives upon and was created by false statements. Their first sale: An Altair Basic they hadn't even begun to write code for, misrepresented as already being in an advanced stage of completion. The first version of Windows was arguably based on code reverse engineered from Macintosh computers acquired under false pretenses. The list exceeds by far the number of characters allowable in this comment.

As for trusting the maintainer of the driver code, he works for Novell, which has an overly cozy and extremely disturbing and divisive contractual covenant with Microsoft. This puts Torvalds in the unenviable position of trusting the fox to watch the hen house, or at the very least trusting someone to whom the fox has paid millions of dollars in order to get them to sign on to yet another false statement, since no one who is exercising common sense takes Microsoft's word on its own.

It is well and widely known that Linus Torvalds and Richard M. Stallman do not get along well, and opportunities to take shots at Free Software are therefore rarely passed up. This is sad, however, as it is like the left hemisphere of my brain deciding it dislikes the right hemisphere. Stallman is a dreamer and an idealist, and Torvalds is a pragmatist who often looks toward the immediate practicalities and misses broader implications, as in this case. Together, their strengths would complement each other. In their opposition, the whole community suffers.

I would urge members of both the Free Software and Open Source communities to lay aside their differences and recognize that we are not the enemy. We are not even in opposition, any more than a telescope is in opposition to a microscope. They merely have a different kind of focus.

While this contribution of code itself may be entirely innocent, though I doubt it, we should not forget that it is in Microsoft's practical interest to eliminate Linux as a threat to its bottom line, and we should examine any interaction they have with us in that light.

Edited 2009-07-25 17:13 UTC

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