April 24, 2019

The StartX Files: Peace, Love, and Linux? My Foot!

Who are they kidding?

  • March 5, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

I enjoy a good ad campaign as much as the next fellow, as I crave being seduced by the ad-meisters of Madison Avenue like most other red-blooded Americans. My current favorite TV ad, for example, is for a certain German car that comes plummeting down out of a tree after being inexplicably stuck there. Good slapstick comedy--gets me every time.

So does inadvertent irony, which is why I started laughing very loudly when I saw the latest IBM ad for Linux.

Peace, Love, and Linux? Are they kidding?

I mean sure, I recognize the reference, of course. They are trying to convey some of that free-thinking, stream of consciousness, touchy-feely stuff that was a big part of living in the Sixties. At least so I hear, since I was more interested in Saturday morning cartoons at the time.

On that level, I really liked what this ad was trying to convey--since I think at its best, Linux does engender the kind of community spirit and openness IBM is trying to represent.

Then I find myself writing sentences like that last one, and I end up shaking my head in wonder.

IBM? Peace? Love? Sixties? Segfault error.

If you talk to anyone of age at that time, they would tell you that IBM was part of the crypto-fascist ruling class that was trying to put down the will of the people with their suits and punch cards. In short, IBM was the Man. And now, thirty years later, they're telling us about peace and love.

Okay, okay, joke made. IBM, after all, is just trying to sell a message, and you can't blame them (or their ad agency) for being creative. You can, however, hold them a little bit accountable for having the blinders on.

Because while this touchy-feely sensation is true of Linux at its best, Linux is hardly at its best these days, now is it?

Hippies, Meet Corporate Sharks and Idealist Thugs

I have watched with some alarm these past few weeks the growing number of conflicts that have been popping up around Linux. Many of these conflicts are simply new twists on seemingly age-old problems.

KDE enthusiasts reacted with alarm when Ximian purchased keyword ads on KDE-related information on Google. Actually, alarm is a bit of an understatement--it was like kicking a hornet's nest over and watching them swarm. So began yet another round in another skirmish in the great desktop war.

Blah, blah, blah.

"Ximian is evil," the affronted KDE users cry, "they don't play fair!"

"KDE is evil," the defending (this time) Ximian supporters holler, "they're just mad they didn't think of this first!"

"Are not!"

"Are so"

"You started it!"

"Nuh uh!"

Please, I can get more intelligent arguments from my eight-year-old.

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