Steve Ballmer : Linux is not free

One of the nice things about Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft Corp. is that he always is full of FUD.
This time, he continues on the subject of my previous ‘war on fud‘ post, where he stated that “linux users owe Microsoft“.

According this article on Zdnet, he repeats his threats against Linux, and states:

“I would not anticipate that we make a huge additional revenue stream from our Novell deal, but I do think it clearly establishes that open source is not free, and open source will have to respect the intellectual-property rights of others, just as any other competitor will,”

So, let us first focus, once again, like I have done countless of times over the last 8 years in this business, on the word “FREE“, and what better then to quote Richard Stallman (once again), who’s most famous words are without a doubt:

“Think Free Speech, not Free Beer”

No one ever said opensource software is free of charge, no one ever said you can not make a lot of money on opensource. You are allowed to charge people for using your opensource product. You may NOT however, withhold the source code of your product from them. That is what opensource is all about, giving your customers and users the ability and right to review, modify, and analyse the product they are paying for.

Now sure, a lot of open source software comes free of charge. Ubuntu is a mere download away, and can be used without having to pay anybody. Red Hat Enterprise Linux comes for a fairly (and if you ask me, unreasonably high) hefty price, but there’s always the Free-of-charge variant: CentOS. However, does this mean that the software you download is actually for free? No, someone spent time on it, which gives it value. You need to download, install it, and configure it. Which makes it costly. Though a good engineer can do this in little time, with little effort, and yes, as little cost as humanly possible. It’s still cheaper (and arguably faster) then installing windows 2003, configuring, deploying all the hot fixes and security patches.

So once again Steve, you missed the boat, the car, the plane, the space shuttle, and most importantly of all: the message! Go back to school, and learn. I’m not saying Open Source is better then Windows, though I clearly have my preference plastered all over this website. I am saying however:

The modern internet and IT infrastructure on a global scale will consist of both closed software and open software working together and existing together. Each have the strengths and weaknesses, and their applied purpose in the field.

So can we please, for once and for all, stop with all the marketing BS, and focus on making software better, faster, more secure, whether or not it is open or closed software? they will have to exists together anyway, so better join forces. (Like Microsoft already has since they used the FreeBSD TCP/IP stack for windows ever since windows 2000 – not so shy of Open Source when it’s needed hey Steve?!)

Hypocrisy has no place in business, it clutters our vision from the truly important matters: building good software and environments with which to serve our respective customers.

So why is this statement from Steve Ballmer FUD?

It’s quite simple, if Linux had truly contained patented (oh, we don’t have software patents in Europe, thank goodness) technology from Microsoft, Microsoft would have sued individual developers, Linux Distributions (Ubuntu, Red hat, Suse) a long long time ago. The purpose of this statement is simply to discourage American companies from considering the switch to an Open Source product like Linux. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, in it’s most vicious, disgusting form.

War on FUD is a series of blog posts I have made, concerning all manner of FUD and why inteligent lifeforms should not pay attention to it.

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