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John C. Dvorak's Microsoft Murder Plot: "How to Kill Linux"
How MS Might Lop Off Linux's Head, with "MS-Linux"

John C Dvorak's PC Magazine article called "How to Kill Linux," introduced the world to what he called "the lopped-off head approach" - the head being that of Linux, and the beheader being Microsoft.

Dvorak's notion is that, since the key to competitive success is to gain dominant market share with a proprietary product, all Microsoft needs to neuter Linux is to usher "MS-Linux" into the world, then cut the driver layer out of Windows and attach it to Linux directly.

"If Microsoft actually produced an MS-Linux that was the standard Linux attached to the driver layer of Windows, giving users full Plug and Play (PnP) support of all their peripherals, nobody would buy any other Linux on the market."

With that one driver element proprietary, in Dvorak's view, the murder plan might succeed, with Microsoft taking its distribution of Linux and selling it as a "lopped-off head."

Dvorak's key explanation is here:

"That means tearing away the entire top of Linux from the driver layer - and that would be MS-Linux. Users who needed to add the driver layers would be offered the standard Linux driver package, which would be attached with a utility program. The utility would sew the drivers back into Linux, resulting in an OS that would be more or less the same as everyone else's. Or the user could pay for the Windows drivers and attach those to MS-Linux, resulting in an OS that had the PnP benefits of Windows."

The suggestion naturally met with instant dislike and horror worldwide, with Dvorak being called everything from "strange" to "mad."

Strangest of all perhaps was the cloak-and-dagger way Dvorak chose to introduce the whole topic into his column. "While chatting over dinner with the executives of a middleware company during the recent RSA conference for encryption and security in San Francisco," he wrote, "I heard about a secret project. It concerned the development of a version of Linux that runs smoothly as a task under Windows."

The middleware company is never mentioned, but how many middleware companies are left, and of them how many think about Linux 24 x 7. We leave you, as ever, to draw your own conclusions.

John C. Dvorak's Bio: (http://www.dvorak.org/blog)

Current PC Magazine Columnist writing Inside Track, an essay and a weekly online column. These articles are licensed around the world. Also a weekly columnist for CBSMarketwatch, Info! (Brazil) and BUG Magazine (Croatia). Previously a columnist for Forbes, Forbes Digital, PC World, MacUser, PC/Computing, Barrons, Smart Business and other magazines and newspapers. Former editor and consulting editor for Infoworld. Has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, SF Examiner, Vancouver Sun. Was on the start-up team for CNet TV as well as ZDTV. AT ZDTV (and TechTV) was host of Silicon Spin for four years doing 1000 live and live-to-tape TV shows. Also was on public radio for 8 years. Written over 4000 articles and columns as well as authoring or co-authoring 14 books.

2003 Award winner of the American Business Editors Association's national gold award for best online column of 2003.

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John C. Dvorak's Microsoft Murder Plot: "How to Kill Linux" John C Dvorak's PC Magazine article called 'How to Kill Linux,' introduced the world to what he called 'the lopped-off head approach' - the head being that of Linux, and the beheader being Microsoft.

John C. Dvorak's Microsoft Murder Plot: "How to Kill Linux" John C Dvorak's PC Magazine article called 'How to Kill Linux,' introduced the world to what he called 'the lopped-off head approach' - the head being that of Linux, and the beheader being Microsoft.

Well. I think Mr. Dvorak is just trying to teach Microsoft how to kill ifself fast, instead of being a frog sitting in a pot of water that's being heated up.

My opinion:

Dvorak is an idiot, a driver layer is not the answer e.g. how the hell do you install the drivers, with InstallShield, Windows Installer or other windows dependencies, tell me!

As for Linux, no full drivers for so-called fancy hardware and no usable alternatives for good Windows software mean I stay on my stable Windows XP Pro PC (fully firewalled w/ F/W router) without SP2.

Linux has some nasty glitches with Java, does not support TV and video cards properly, Dia and Gimp suck, like too much OSS software because the GUIs usability is alien and not up-to-date with current best practice, Mozilla, Open Office, Apple and even Microsoft should be the benchmarks for GUI design NOT archaic Unix-style widget sets.

My Main OS is eCS (OS/2) and it works the way I do. Lindows (Linux) is my secondary OS for bells and whistles.

MS doesn't perform
any moves without expecting big $$ in return. Dvorak is
seriously mislead, and in need of a long vacation in the
sunny south.

No matter what MS does or tries to do to "KILL"
Linux off, it only affects the typical home user who is
"intimidated by computers", but not the users who were here
from the humble beginnings of linux. Those of us who use it
for the right reasons.... because Linux works, and it is
maintained, and is free. We buy hardware based on Linux
compatibility and have survive thus far. If you want to
build the ultimate game PC, save your money and buy a PS2
or Gamecube. (Xbox is just a botched PC anyways)

Is the driving force behind Linux based on public sector
sales? If we think for a moment that Linux generates large
retail dollars for boxed copies, you must be a microsoft
employee.

On the other hand, IBM made truckloads of money for the
big support contracts for their OS/2 OS. Even though they
didn't make money off of selling the actual OS/2 OS CD's.
Lou Gerstner kinda squashed it while the momentum was
getting good, but it showed potential.

In a nutshell, retail sales is not the reason why Linux
is here and being used in homes and at the workplace. Once
Microsoft and others realize this they will move on to
other tasks at hand...... like... screwing up the HDTV media
industry. ;-)

"friends find themselves getting irritated when placed in a situation where there is no alternative to Windows."

Exactly. And there are still *way* too many of those situations.

Like I said before, Foxpro is one of them.

There is a large body of existing programs written in Foxpro, a large body of very dedicated programmers who swear by the product, most of them since the pre-microsoft days when Fox Software hung out it's hat in Toledo, and not a single competitive product that even comes close.

Another huge obstacle is AutoCAD. There are some pale imitations for basic AutoCAD but nothing like Mechanical Desktop.

These are not, as someone else suggested, "Joe Sixpack" applications.

I've been using Linux almost exclusively for about 8 years now, and have set up quite a few boxes with Slackware and Gnome for friends and relations.

Slackware does nothing to pre-configure devices, but my feeling is that its strength is that it doesn't get in the way while you do it manually, and that's good enough for me, since I'm fairly experienced at it by now. Windows is not always as easy to set up as claimed; I have come across a great many difficult deliveries, and problems, once encountered, tend to be intractable, since there is no interface to fix them, and indeed very often no useful error message.

On the linux boxes I set up, pretty much universal feedback is that the interface is much more attractive than Windows. In particular, font rendering is now far superior to Redmond's offering, and lots of those friends find themselves getting irritated when placed in a situation where there is no alternative to Windows.

"Linux is not for people who only surf the web, read e-mail, word-process, etc."

COME AGAIN?

That's the *best* area for a person to be using Linux. Why pay exorbatent amounts of money for a platform that comes without office applications, and has the falkiest internet / email applications known to man? Why not just give that person a nice install cd of Mandrake, or better yet, a debian-based system like Knoppix (which really isn't difficult to install) or Ubuntu Linux, which is also quite a breeze to install. Your user doesn't have the bandwidth to download? No problem -- there are plenty of companies who will ship you a cd for a minimal price, or contact your local Linux User Group, who will most likely give you a cd *for free*.

On that cd, you will get a selection of great software, to accomplish all of your internet/email/office needs, some cool time-wasting games, and a friendly user interface. You will get an install less daunting than that of windows (proven in a study I read, and by my personal experience), an interface easier to use than windows (proven in the office network environment I manage, where my linux users are *very* happy with their machines, and prefer them over the windows equivalents). You will get software that is scrutinised by a large community of people who actually care about the software, not just taking money out of your wallet. You will get a system that boots faster (I mean real booting: not the psuedo-boot that you get with XP, where you can log in, and have an unresponsive system for the next 5-15 minutes), requires less expensive hardware (yes, that old PIII-500 that you have, with 128mb RAM, is an *ideal* candidate: no need to shell out for a fast, flashy machine, when you just want to do office/internet/email.)

Even better than all of that, you will become part of a community that helps one another -- getting help is never an issue, and doesn't have to cost you $55 a call, unless you opt in to be a part of something like Mandrake Club.

I'm afraid your argument is more full of holes than that pair of socks my wife keeps on nagging me about.

Linux is not for people who only surf the web, read e-mail, word-process, etc. Unles of course they feel like using Linux, and possibly messing around to get things 100%. Windows users use Windows because it "Just Works". Most people DO NOT build their own systems, they buy pre-manufactured ones. That is how Dell, MPC, et. al. stay in business. Most of these people will NEVER upgrade their OS, they'll use it until a couple years down the road when they feel they need something better, and then they'll just go on to buy another computer. Linux is not for these people. Linux was not made for these people. Linux was not to take down Windows. Linux was made for people with a deep interest in computers. Linux was made as a free alternative to Unix, which you will not find on any desktop outside of an academic or business related application. Linux could be a viable desktop operating system, but only packaged in the way Zaurus does their palmtops. Linux could work for a desktop for people that never upgrade their system, or change things. Because it would "just work" right from the manufacturer. Rant complete, you know it's all true.

am i not glad to read this article. yeah, i sure had a lot of questions for the earlier article, but being not so technical, and not knowing the entire nuts and bolts made me nervous. but definetley - not scared or some half baked attack from MS. this one is the balm to calm !

First off, I'm a pro windows guy, and even we think the boy is totally off his rocker. If windows wants to Kill linux, its easily enough done by continueing where they are now and going forward.

WX Pro takes me 1 hour to install max, then say 15 minuts to get office in there, mabey 10 minuts getting hardware spefic drivers in there. Toss in the Virus scanner (havent seen a linux distro yet that comes with it, and their are linux viruses around) and boom I'm good to run in 2 hours max. Linux, and I have gone from Windows to linux and back several times checking on the state of other linux distro's, Fedora, Debian most recently, and I spend more time patching, upgrading, configureing, looking up documentation on the net. It took me 3 days to get InetD working so i got a working Ident server for IRC for running for crying out loud.

My point, linux is still far behind windows in a lot of areas. Replaceing the driver layer won't help a dam bit, thats really never where the enharent problems and fustrations in linux occured. Linux isnt going anywhere, people put off by old windows versions, and driver nightmares where 90% where between user and keyboard. REplaceing it with opensourse linux complied drivers... might as well give windows away, even if they did, I honestly think Linux users frankly wouldnt care. Those who run linux do, for their own reasons, not because MS has a strangle hold on drivers.

I wonder if I could get his job, I could have written a hell of a better artical.

Head I. Sand what the hell are you talking about? you can plug and unplug usb devices all day long in linux and they get recognised when you plug them in and are accessable and when you unplug them they remove themselves. no clicking to disconnect before unplugging like in windows. and automount has never given me a problem like it has apparently given you?

what are you using red hat 5.0?

My old Athlon PC runs Linux just fine. I can admit that getting a true PnP Linux was not easily possible until about a year and a half ago. Heck, these days, even USB thumbdrives plug and play without issue. I think the only weak spot is software installations (dependency hell, though this has vastly improved) and WiFi cards. Linux is getting very close to being joe user friendly all around.

Head I Sand wrote
"Linux is still nowhere near mainstream. Having tried the
latest 2 highly popular distros (fedora3 and suse9.2) I am amazed that I *still* cannot simply hot swap USB devices
like I can in windows"

If by "like windows", you mean you can plug it in, then it prompts you for another drive disk, or doesnt recognise it for 2 minutes, well.. I guess thats true.

Let me demonstrate how It works for me.. mouse is plugged in.

Mouse is out..

Move mouse to another port.

About to click "post comment"


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