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by Franki

Even if you’re not a Linux fan, you should have a look at this because it makes for fascinating reading.

People that know me, know that I am no fan of Microsoft, I make no secret of it.
I do admit however, that they played a significant part in making computers the commodity they are today (and have been paid handsomely for it), and that their software is often pretty good from a usability perspective.

The problem is that they have used some extremely questionable business practices in the last 20 years, crushing or buying the competition, getting busted for appropriating code and then settling out of court with a non-disclosure agreement as part of the deal (DR-DOS anyone?). There are literally dozens of cases of this and related issues. The United States government themselves found Microsoft guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, as did the European Union, the problem is that neither significantly punished them for it.

Microsoft also doesn’t handle competition very well, rather then compete on price, security, features and value, they try to find ways to discredit, work around or wipe out the opposition.
A good example of this is the Stac Software trial, where Microsoft included Stac’s property into DOS, and refused to pay anything for it, after a very brief court trial, MS was ordered to pay Stac 120 million dollars. They then bought 15 percent of Stac and got a license to use the technology for a fraction of what the court ordered.
Their other well known tactic, is “Embrace, extend and extinguish” where they announce support for a new open protocol or standard, then they add all manner of proprietary hooks to their version and eventually try to have their version made the new “standard”.

Linux had a mostly peaceful existence for its first decade or so, no legal challenges, no hassles, just a worldwide community working together to make something for the benefit of all. Then, slowly it became useful to those outside the community, and a groundswell of sorts began. People and more importantly governments and corporations started noticing that Microsoft products were not the only way, and that a cheaper, more stable and more secure answer was available.

OK, now we’ve established as fact that Microsoft is a huge competitor of Linux and wants it to fail at any cost.

So now let’s look at who else might want Linux to fail.

Most of the old UNIX or alternative competition has faded into the background, IBM now enthusiastically pushes Linux, Novell actually went so far as to buy the second biggest Linux distro (SUSE) and started porting all their Netware apps over to Linux. Sun, HP, Dell and a dozen other big companies are happily selling both Linux and open source products. All of the old UNIX providers have started pushing Linux either instead of, or as well as their own UNIX products.
OK, so no enemies there.

Now lets look at the current situation, Linux is under attack from multiple sides. SCO has sued IBM claiming that IBM put SCO property into Linux, a fact that they just can’t seem to prove nor even show a valid example, despite two court orders ordering them to do so. Novell claims that SCO doesn’t actually own the copyright to UNIX, so SCO has sued Novell as well.
Then SCO went and sued DaimlerChrystler (a company that hasn’t used a UNIX product in seven years), because DC won’t tell them how many Linux boxes it is running, and they also sued AutoZone, a big auto parts retailer in the US, because they use Linux for their internal systems.

SCO have more or less admitted that they were in this to be bought out or paid off by IBM, in fact, SCO’s captain Darl Mcbride, has considerable experience with this sort of thing. Previously he worked with a company called “Silicon Stemcell” where the whole goal was to patent ideas and then wait for people to make a product with a similar idea and then sue them for $$$. Thereby avoiding the need to make an actual product.

We know for a fact, that it was Microsoft that put SCO in bed with BayStar to the tune of 50 million dollars to help with the litigation. (we know because all the parties have since admitted it.) We also know that Microsoft themselves paid SCO several million dollars (13) for a UNIX license they never needed before and most likely don’t particularly need now.

We know for a fact that Microsoft has called Linux a “cancer”, “un-American” and “bankrupt” and they have funded all sorts of research to make claims that Microsoft software is cheaper more secure, or easier to develop for.

Then along comes a “think tank” called AdTi, (one that has received funding from Microsoft in the past), and this group releases a book, that carefully avoids stating anything as “fact” instead preferring “opinion” (to avoid litigation of course). And this book, makes claims with which no knowledgeable expert in the field agrees. This wonderful piece of fiction claims that Linus Torvalds did not, in fact, write the first Linux kernel himself, that he in fact used Minix code and design to get started, a fact disputed by the author of Minix himself as well as the expert AdTi themselves paid to try and find any “stolen” code (totally unsuccessfully as it turns out).

Why would AdTi release a report that has been proven totally wrong by nearly every expert in the field that doesn’t have an agenda? All they have achieved, is to ensure that nobody will take anything they say seriously again. Their credibility is totally shot, and they had nothing to gain by doing this in the first place. The Linux “study” is far outside the scope of issues that they normally tackle. (For example, one of their previous cases was fighting for the tobacco companies, arguing that passive smoking isn’t harmful.)

Now we know Microsoft has a vested interest here, memos have been leaked out of MS saying “Don’t lose a single win to Linux.”. They have been caught starting or funding “grassroots” campaigns to fake user support when they can’t drum it up legitimately.

Ask yourself this, If Linux has no other big enemies but Microsoft, who is coordinating all this? And why did it all start around the time Microsoft finally admitted they were worried about Linux’s impact on their business?

Something else to consider, who else would benefit from all of this? SCO was about to be de-listed, their stock price was around 75 cents and they had no prospects, so we can safely guess their reasons. But who else would benefit from the SCO court cases? Who else benefits from all the “paid research”? Who benefits when reports like the AdTi book questions the legality of Linux? Who else benefits whenever something happens to slow down Linux uptake?
Finally, ask yourself who has used all these tactics in the past to great effect?

The answer is Microsoft of course. They have discovered (finally) that Linux can’t be stopped, because its not owned by any single company that they can fight. But by causing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about the safety or legitimacy of Linux, they can (hopefully) slow down its uptake and give themselves time to find reasons why companies should buy their own products.

Sure, it might all be a massive coincidence, and perhaps my tinfoil hat is on too tight. But after studying all the aspects of this, both factual and circumstantial you have to admit that if this is all a huge coincidence, we should all go out right now and buy lotto tickets.

Also, I am definitely not the only one that thinks this isn’t a coincidence.

Ironically, none of this has had any apparent effect on Linux uptake, it’s growing faster then any platform on the planet, and shows no signs of slowing down.
The biggest effect of all these tactics, is that companies that deploy Linux are less likely to talk about it in public until the SCO cases are tied up.



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