A sprawling article that defies an excerpt. Starts us out with
abusive zealots at Red Hat, likens desktop advocates to "the
Japanese soldiers on Guadalcanal who refused to surrender years
after the bomb ended World War II," touches on more abusive
zealotry, gets opinions from Alan Cox and Rob Malda on flamers
(they're against them), and then moves to the core of its thesis:
the Desktop War (against Microsoft, not the intramural one) is
"Here's one way to coax desktop computer users away
from Microsoft Windows and over to Linux instead: Wait until
they're not looking, strip all Microsoft programs off their hard
drives, and leave them to ponder the error of their ways. Lost
data? Too bad, baby. The open source revolution has arrived, and
you're part of the problem. Deal with it.
That's exactly what happened to Anne Speedie, then an editor at
Wide Open News, a Web site owned by Red Hat, the best known of the
140 or so distributors of the open source Linux operating system.
Speedie needed to use Microsoft Word because the Linux word
processors at her disposal were saddled with spellcheckers so
abysmal they caused more problems than they solved, skipping over
misspelled words and offering bizarre alternatives for words
spelled correctly. One program, Applixware, stumbled on Web site.
Fair enough - the term can be spelled several ways. But Applixware
offered none of them. Instead, the program suggested podesta. Yes,
podesta. Look it up.
Clearly, Speedie couldn't depend on such software and expect to
maintain a high-quality Web site. While Red Hat management had
asked employees to use Linux programs when possible, it did flash
the green light on any software essential to getting the job done.
But this didn't sit well with computer support, or with many of Red
Hat's software engineers, who, like much of the Linux community,
share a monomaniacal antipathy toward all things Microsoft.
Speedie, preparing for a business trip, turned her laptop over to a
technician to get some dialup software installed. When he returned
the machine, Windows was gone - along with all Microsoft
applications and Speedie's work files. Outraged, she complained,
and when her boss (that would be me) confronted the technician - a
stringy little guy in a black trailer-trash T-shirt - he simply
stared back and smiled."