Saturday, May 25, 2002

Spiked online is usually quite good (the articles by Mick Hume are generally very good) but here is a piece that should never have seen the light of day: A line on Linux. Apparently this was written by a technology correspondent at the Financial Times. The nitwit in question, one Fiona Harvey, claims that Linux is a closed operating system only of interest to a scattered handful of geeks whose sole interest is in keeping technology in the hands of some high-priesthood. This is fatuous to such a degree that I barely know where to start. Among the the bons mots Harvey sees fit to dispense:

The real problem with Linux is that it is quite, quite unusable. Unless you have a higher degree in computer science, forget it. Do you know whether you should run Yellow Dog or WINE on an Intel processor? Do you want to?


Really, for all their insistence on the openness of Linux, for all their revelling in their underground status, these Linux people are actually a bunch of snobs. They don't want you to understand the secret language that makes them feel special. They want to make it as hard as they can to join their gang


Far from bringing openness and cooperation to the world of IT, Linux enthusiasts want to keep it as closed as possible - while collecting lavish praise from half-baked anti-capitalists - so they can carry on feeling self-important. After all, if these geeks could write real software, they'd be working for a proper company.

Like Microsoft.

I suspect that la Harvey has never written a line of software in her life. I, on the other hand, have. More than a million lines. It's my job. And only once, in all that time have I written for Windows. We very soon discovered that NT was such an abortion that we abandoned it for Unix, but not before I lost a $2000 completion bonus because the project ran late.

I have been working in Costa Rica for over three years, on four separate projects, and all of them were Unix-based (Solaris and Linux). My current project is running at 50,000 lines of code or more and is perhaps 15% complete. It's running on Linux and FreeBSD, since we cannot possibly afford to run an OS as unreliable as Windows.

And hard to use? Compared to Windows XP, most modern installations of Linux are a snap to install. I'm writing this blog on my Linux machine at home. It's got every feature and application I actually need. And it never crashes (current uptime: 37 days, since we had to turn the power off for maintenance - try getting a Windows machine to stay up that long). Anti-capitalist? I'm designing a fucking stock exchange for Christ's sake. Maybe Fiona Harvey should get her head out of her butt long enough to actually study what she writes about.


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