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The StartX Files: How Linux Could Lose to Microsoft - page 3

Electrocuting the Elephant

  • May 8, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

Perception is something, you may have noticed, I tend to put a lot of stock in. I know this earns scoffing from the more hard-core Linux user/hackers, who proudly proclaim that "Linux kicks ass, it will always kick ass, and there's nothing those [insert insulting expletive here] at Microsoft can do about it!"

Or some stupid thing to that effect.

This is a foolish attitude to take. There's a lot Microsoft can do, because right now, more people will listen to them than they will to the average Linux ´┐Żber-hacker. If you believe otherwise, then you may need to check your ego at the door.

Because when presented with a calm, reasonable-sounding statement from a large corporation versus sarcastic rants and flames from a bunch of apparent malcontents who do nothing all day but argue why Microsoft is an evil entity instead of stipulating exactly why their product is better, I will guarantee you that the average listener is going to give far more weight to the calm, reasonable-sounding statements every single time.

I am not proposing that everyone associated with Linux get haircuts, take manners lessons, and start wearing Tux-logoed polo shirts. But I am advocating that we don't rest on our superior technological laurels and think that's all we need to fend off Microsoft's very carefully planned attacks. Nor can we get so pleased with ourselves with how inventive we can get with hammering Microsoft with lofty insults. Because all of this is leading up to one inescapable conclusion: no one outside of our community is going to keep listening to this much longer.

And Microsoft knows this. Every time we fly off the collective handle when they do something threatening and they can just sit back and say "see how unreasonable those people are? See how derisive the keepers of this Linux technology can be?"

I want Linux to succeed, more than anything else. I want this because I believe Linux is an excellent operating system, that the GPL is a cool thing, and that open source in general is something worth building upon.

But does success for Linux have to come at the price of ripping down Microsoft? No, it doesn't. We don't need to attack them just because they're there. When we do, we are just making their case for them.

And when they try to distort reality with their perceptions, of course we need to counter their statements with the truth. Not with scathing flames and rants, however, but with our own calm and reasonable statements. We have to get the word out beyond our little community and into the mindset of the wider public view.

That is where this argument will be won, not on the PC.

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