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Paul Ferris, Pundit for a Day

Aug 04, 1999, 13:52 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Ferris)

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By Paul Ferris, Staff Writer

Well, they might be listening to Vinod Valloppillil again behind the mighty walls of the Redmond castle. In case you don't remember, Vinod was the guy who got charged with writing the Halloween papers. During his write-up he made the statement that traditional FUD tactics won't work against Linux.

Looks like they are listening to him. Maybe.

We see less FUD and some people speculate that some of the other things we have seen are a new kind of combat entirely. Sort of a taunting over the castle walls by industry "pundits". I don't think that Bob Metcalfe is really working for Redmond unless he's had some of that secret brain augmentation I mentioned earlier.

Even so, I'm reminded of those French castle guards in the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". King Arthur in his never ending search for the Holy Grail approaches a castle where the French (in mock Python-esque style) hurl insults and garbage down upon his entourage. Arthur tries to charge but the French are high up in the safety of the castle walls.

My favorite line in this whole exchange comes as Arthur is retreating: "And if you think you got a nasty taunt-ing this time, you ain't heard nothin' yet!".

That's kind of how I feel about what Metcalfe is doing. He's kind of turned into the Open Source heckler. He sits on the sidelines and nit-picks while the battle is going on and yells what at best could be described as pointless insults.

Then we have Bob O'Donnell's "predictions" about what will happen to Linux and Microsoft. He doesn't do a very good job of explaining how Microsoft is going to "go after" Linux. He just says it will become the OS/2 for the Millennium. Microsoft will get another slap on the wrist for anti-trust violation, and we will all bicker amongst ourselves turning Linux into a big fragmented mess that will ruin it all.

At this point, you might think that I was going to address these criticisms. I have spoken before about how we must all be civilized and conduct ourselves with the utmost dignity.


I've decided that I want to be an Industry Pundit for a day. It looks to be far too much fun in comparison to actual work. If you want to see something logical on the subject, I recommend that you read Bryan Pfaffenberger's very fine piece "Linux -- Not Just for Communists". No, this isn't being done because it's the right thing. Actually, it's not. Logic and reason should address malformed emotional concepts. This isn't being done because it's fair. It's not fair, I'm no industry pundit in real life, so what is my opinion to Bob Metcalfe's or Bob O'Donnell's?

No, I won't do this because its right or fair. I will do this just for fun.

Here's a brain core-dump of badly formed logic and prediction, bound to make those Redmond stock holders quake in their boots.

[drum roll please]

Paul (Industry Pundit for a day) Ferris's thoughts and predictions about the direction of the software industry:

0) Microsoft will fail on November 9, 1999 when Bill Gates quits.

I've often seen it in print that he would quit. Usually when I write it down, and then re-read it. But he will really quit in disgust when re-runs of "My Favorite Martian" get canceled on his cable TV network. Knowing that Ted Turner won't give him a copy of the shows (That'd be "pirating!") and having failed to figure out how to capture even one episode of this, his favorite TV show, onto writable DVD with Windows 98, Bill will go into a funk. It will be so depressing that he will simply give up and say "I don't give a crap, and Microsoft can just go to hell."

The effect will be devastating. The company crumbles virtually overnight, and so many people leave the Redmond campus that it gets converted into a university complex for Amish babbage programmers.

1) Microsoft will actually WIN the anti-trust trial.

Even though almost all of their credibility was shot. Even though they failed to rebut almost all of the trial testimony. Even though they are proven to have a monopoly. They will beat the rap. How? All of the evidence will turn out to have been stored on a Windows 3.1 computer by the secretary in Judge Penfield Jacksons office. The trial drags into January 2000, and *bam*, there goes everything. Penfield will be quoted as saying that it's just too darn bad, but without any evidence they have to let the buggers go. It will be a blow to justice but it won't matter because Bill will be gone by that time and the company will be worthless.

2) All major benchmarking between Linux and Microsoft operating systems will show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Linux is faster on the same hardware.

This won't be due to any meaningful data. Having studied the Microsoft benchmarking methods in detail, the Open Source community will create benchmarks so slanted that there will be no possible way to win. The first benchmark will be done on a Sun Sparc with 2 gig of RAM. Since Windows NT won't even boot on the system, they will show that the speed difference is close to infinity. Linus Torvalds will be quoted in public betting 100 Billion dollars against Microsoft even coming close to the figure. As a theoretical limit, 1/2 infinity will suffice to lose the bet. Since by that time Bill will have quit, no one at Microsoft cares and the challenge lays unanswered.

3) Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OS/X will all merge into one super O/S called Bill-UX.

Since Bill has suffered a huge identity crisis he re-invents himself, joins the Open Source movement and becomes the tie that binds. He succeeds in climbing over Linus Torvalds and Alan Cox as kernel hackers and merges the FreeBSD, Linux, OpenVMS, OS/400 and finally even the Mac camp into one massive bloated Unix clone. Bill-UX is popular with everybody, especially hardware manufacturers since it only runs on a maxed out Merced. Bill rewrites the GPL into a new license called the BPL. The BPL is just like the GPL only better because the last line reads "All rights reversed".

4) The Year 2000 bug will be fixed, except for one Windows 3.1 machine.

Of course, we're still talking about the one in Penfields office. As the date rolls over, the machine crashes. On it's way down, the 14.4k modem in the computer dials out to the power company, and in a death throw shuts down the power grid for the entire eastern seaboard in a trice. The load is too much for the rest of the grid to handle, causing massive power, bank and champaign delivery failure nation-wide. The resulting chaos and depression causes huge numbers of people to become dis-enchanted with technological progress. These people all decide at once to join the Amish style of life.

5) The Amish church, faced with a sudden massive influx of unexpected souls, and severely overloaded administrative needs, decides it's time to get with the 21'st century, and computerize.

Since there is only one operating system - Bill-UX - available, they end up paying close to 200 Billion for one copy. A new breed of Amish hacker revolts against the newfound (but familiar) tyranny, and creates Amish-UX. Amish-UX executes on Babbage style wheel and cog mechanisms. A fairly stable OS, it's wide acceptance by the newfound masses is suddenly stopped when under severe load, the systems begin to crash and kill people in huge flurries of flying cogs and spindles.

Well, there you have it. My predictions for the coming age. I'm sure this will piss off a few of you, but since it's bound to get me links to the major Windows news publications, I don't care. If any of you are upset with what I have to say, I'll just use it as fodder for next weeks column. And if you think you got a nasty taunting this time....