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LinuxPlanet: .comment: The Weakest Link

Jul 25, 2001, 13:00 (59 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)

Stirred, at last, by the assault of Code Red and SirCam, Dennis Powell says enough is enough: even if Linux users aren't pushing these malicious bits of code across the Internet, we still suffer from their effects. It's time to politely demand our Microsoft-using friends and acquaintances either change their operating system, or take their machines off the 'net. A polite sample letter is included.

"...As Linux users, we've grown accustomed to enduring things that Windows users do not have to endure. We must shop more carefully for hardware, we can pretty much forget off-the-shelf software, and issues like hardware technical support are extra-special ordeals, as my colleague Michael Hall detailed in his memorable column last week.

We put up with it, mostly and with varying degrees of grumbling.

Time has come to draw a line -- a subtle line, but a line nonetheless. It is this: Anyone using Microsoft software in connection with the Internet simply cannot be taken seriously. This doesn't mean we should be impolite in dealing with these persons, anymore than we should be impolite to someone who is eager to show you his new computer and it turns out to be a Play Station. But the fact is that Microsoft has proved to be utterly unconcerned about security. Its own sites have been cracked, over and over. The National Security Agency has joined Linux development after having concluded that Microsoft's code is so corrupt that it cannot even be audited. Outlook macro viruses are commonplace. The web server has been so full of holes that Microsoft had had to keep trying to plug them, to no real effect. And based on this tarnished and pitted record they propose .Net and XP. Do you suppose there will be sudden fastidiousness where security is concerned? This is a real hoot, except that it is the Internet that we all use that their clumsy code will be screwing up. But the appropriate attitude toward Microsoft's willing victims has to be pity. That isn't to say that when someone you know fills your mailbox with Outlook macro virus crap, you don't have a right to be irritated and say so -- but at the same time point out that the person wouldn't look anywhere near as foolish if they were using software not vulnerable to such foolishness. As an example, this, which I just sent:"

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