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Linux Online: Linux: Don't believe everything you read.

Jul 15, 2001, 15:00 (43 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Jordan)

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This column maintains that media coverage of Linux is most balanced (and positive) when it comes from non-technical sources, that much mainstream media reportage is "Microsoft sponsored," and that Linux enthusiasts, having no publicists, will have to put up with this situation.

"One of my jobs here at Linux Online for the past year has been to post articles about Linux from both the specialized and mainstream press. After over a year of doing this, I have come to the conclusion that the specialized computer press really doesn't understand Linux. As a matter of fact, quite contrary to the rules of logic in this case, the popular press, epitomized by web sites like CNN's, actually does a better job at reporting fairly on the Linux phenomenon. You can count on them for a pretty fair "just the facts ma'am" reporting about our favorite OS. My hat also goes off to Stephen Shankland whose reporting appears frequently on ZDNet and CNET.

However, when you go over to the press that's supposed to know what it's talking about when it reports on IT developments, the fairly well-researched and objective writing about Linux gets pretty scarce. I'll chalk the reason for this up to the "meal ticket syndrome", which I alluded to in my article about Linux on the desktop. For the last decade or so Microsoft has overshadowed most of the computer world. Obviously, if you want to write about the computer industry, you had better learn to write about Microsoft. As an avid reader of the computer industry press during these years, most of the articles until about two or three years ago centered around Microsoft's latest offerings and how wonderful they were. I will say this though, reporting about Microsoft has gotten pretty objective. Most of what I've read in the press about Microsoft this week, despite being pretty negative, is quite accurate. We've seen that Microsoft is a monopoly in violation of the US Sherman Anti-trust Act. Microsoft is pushing it's .NET initiatives because its OS cash cow, probably thanks to Linux and in some measure to Mac OS X, is likely to end up with dry udders in the short term. Microsoft's best efforts to beat AOL at its instant messaging game is failing miserably due to technical glitches - "hardware" problems they say. God forbid the guys at Redmond have software problems! The latest Microsoft gaffe seems to be a problem getting preview versions of Windows XP to people who actually paid for them. That's why I find the software industry so interesting lately. You can get a copy of Linux, a great all-round finished OS for free and then there are people willing to shell out 10 US dollars to get some preview copy of Windows XP. We can debate the wisdom of things like that at some later date. I see that I am digressing here."

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