Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

A small rant about Linux and Slashdot

Well, I don't know how small this rant is going to be, but here goes.

I was reading an article on slashdot today about MS paying a 3rd party to discover the security holes in Linux. Then I decided to read some of the posts that the readers put up. I find that this constant religious war to be counter-productive and actually takes up more time then developing good software. Every time I see a bunch of MS bashing statements I feel like writing back "hey, if your OS was the most popular in the world and everyone was capable of developing on it because of its brain-dead ease you would probably have a lot of security holes too". And I think that is the fundamental point about the difference between Windows and Linux.

I don't like Linux, I have attempted to use it a few times as my major OS, and there are 2 things that I cannot do on it is...develop on it and play new games . I am not a C++ programmer, I am learning, but not there yet. Ok, there is Java, but I don't like Java too much(except when I get paid to do it). In my spare time at home I am a VB/C# developer. I want easy to use IDEs with nice UIs, that do half the work for me. Microsoft has built those features for me and I pay them back by using their product. Wow does that ever sound like rocket science.

Anyways, I don't want to get into the debate about which is better. Linux is probably more secure right now than Windows. One reason that Linux is more secure is that less people develop viruses and exploits for than Windows. That is definitely a benefit in and of itself. When less users use a product there is less chance of people exploiting it. A more concrete example of this is P2P networks. Pretty much any executable you download from Kazaa is almost garuanteed to contain a virus. But a file on overnet, does not seem to have the same kind of problems. Why is this? Less people know about Overnet and haven't spammed it full of useless virus filled files. Will this be the case forever? NO. As more people get used to using the program, more people will exploit it.

This works in anything that humans do. Humans have used the Law to their advantage to get away with things that they shouldn't. Humans have abused and exploited patents, intellectual property, free speech, government power, and religion to get what they want. The Slashdotters make it seem like Linux is immune to any and all security exploits.

I think they had better start rethinking their logic.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Boy are you lazy. You should be spending your time fighting the OS and struggling to develop like the rest of us rather than adding new features and making your customers happy.

Get with the program.... please
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"Boy are you lazy. You should be spending your time fighting the OS and struggling to develop like the rest of us rather than adding new features and making your customers happy."

Why just last week we made a text editor that allows you to see a whole screen full of text.  Can you imagine that a whole screen, not just one line.  Yeah, Linux rulz! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Slashdotters don't actually do anything but bitch.  Ignore them -- everyone does really.  Those that can't program just hang out there to reassure each other how alternative they are.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I'd bet that the morons posting comments all day on Slashdot are for the most part not the same people that hack the kernel or write Apache.

Linux isn't for everyone. I love it and use it on servers, but I don't use it on the desktop. It has its place just like everything else.

Take a look at some of the Windows web sites if you want to see the exact same comments you find on Slashdot, only by Windows zealots.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

You vi weenies are lazy dumbasses. edlin R00LEZ!!

Get with the program.... please
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I see the Slashdot readership as being mostly snotty rebellious teenage Free Software zealots. I do get a lot out of the news section, but I don't pay much attention to the posts for this reason.

Incidentally, if Microsoft is truly paying someone to discover security flaws in Linux, this is an amazingly GOOD thing. It's like MS playing to improve Linux. Hard to believe...

Dan Maas
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

>you would probably have a lot of security holes too

Uh, no. Security holes are built in. The number of
developers speaks to opportunity, not cause.
Linux is based on unix which wasn't a bastion
of security either.

son of parnas
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

edlin is just a bloated version of ed. Besides, real programmers use
cat > main.c

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Gp - I too check out Slashdot once per day and sometimes read the forums just to get some entertainment value and remind myself how much I dislike Slashdot. I usually end up doing nothing more than wasting a tremendous amount of time on the opinion of people I have little in common with other than the fact that we can both use a web browser. I mean what kind of idiots post to forums anyway?


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

You feel MS gets beat up on Slashdot and you don't want to start anything but you came here to claim MS rules and Linux sucks.  Let me use this logic for just a minute, keeping in miind MS is what keeps my office running. 

-  You are a VB  programmer.  In the context of what you do, Linux is of little value. 
-  You want easy IDEs.  But really, you want VB on everything, because that is what you know.
- You don't want Linux to be successful as each successful implentation is one less VB opportunity for you.
- You don't want to get into the debate about which is better, just that we agree MS is.

So far, you sound like Bill Gates and I am not sure that is good.  You then go on to:
- "One reason that Linux is more secure is that less people develop viruses and exploits for than Windows" is called a jump in logic.  This is the reason that more people are impacted, _not_ that there are more problems.  Your Kazaa example proves this, but you were so gung-ho on making the point, you missed it.

If you ask anyone who used Linux, they will not claim it is immune.  Quite the opposite.  All code is subject to mistakes.  However, the type of environment lends itself to how "bad" those mistakes become. 

In an out of the box, run everything as root/admin configuration, you could possibly make the case both systems are then at the expertise of the developer.  The problem is that the objectives of the two groups are different. 
- MS needs to put out a product to make money.  In essense, it ships as soon as it is good enough.  Linux does not have that need.  Instead, it ships when it is ready.  As developers, we all know that difference has a major impact on outcomes.
- MS needs a product that is easy for VARs install and inexperienced users to maintain.  Linux, when starting just needed something experienced people could use.  This was a big plus.  Experienced people know (or should know), not to run everything as root.  Further, they prefer everything be locked down and only opened if necessary. 

This is a major problem for MS.  To lock down a desktop, means that you need admin privledges to add software, that you need rights to services, and that you are going to need to change settings when doing installations.  So they are at a disadvantage in they cannot use the OS to protect them from some of this.

As for emotion, when you have the MS PR machine in full tilt, it is not surprising that people become excited, just in order to get heard.  This is psychology of survival.  Where MS has a PR machine and thousands of sales people, Linux depends on word of mouth and grass roots.  Some people tend to be more excitable than others. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Computer religious wars have been going on since before most of you were even born.

1968 IBM vs Univac
1978 Vax vs Data General
1988 PC vs Mac
1998 PC vs Unix

They aren't going to stop now because it upsets your sensibilities. Let them vent, it's a Unix-centric forum and they're only talking amongst themselves.  This is a PC-centric forum and I'm sure the slashdotters view it with equal disdain.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

> This is a PC-centric forum and I'm sure the slashdotters view it with equal disdain

Plenty of people (like yours truly) are on both boards

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

“I was reading an article on slashdot today about MS paying a 3rd party to discover the security holes in Linux.”

…as opposed to Linux users finding security holes in Windows for free?

19th floor
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"real programmers use
cat > main.c"

But advocate, will that work on my teletype?

CRTs are for wusses.

Get with the program.... please
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

what?  this is a pc-centric forum?  No one told me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I see lot of jealousy about slashdotters especially from some of these VB (I press a button to generate code) wonder they feel insecure because people who post on slashdot and dare I say those of us who read it are a lot more knowlegable about computers and programming then these VB "coders" who think an IP address is the location of their toilet.

Linux Bad. Java Bad. Microsoft Good. VB and C# good. Slashdot sucks......hey is that you Bill  ;-)

You shall be outsourced :-)

Code Monkey
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Listen, I've not had a windows desktop in years, but who the hell am I to judge anybody who wants one? Whatever you are happy with and more productive with.

I wouldn't let slashdot bother you, I mean, microsoft has a vested interest in reserach to make linux look bad, but it's not just one way, people hype everything up, and most of these 'results' come from idiots anyway, with no real background or clue.

Ever notice allot of the really smart people you'd like to hear talk about this don't, both on the open source in general and mirosoft side? They know it's a stupid argument, even if it wasn't, it's religious, and isn't going to sway anybodies opinion, just get everybody angry. The only people doing good out of this crap are trolls.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

:%s/doing good out of this crap/getting bait

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

It ain't fair to come here and bash /.

It is /. that pointed me to this site few months ago. It
pointed me to sites of Cringley, to Paul Graham, to John
Walker and many others. Then /. pointed me to Wine and
Willows... speaking of which...

There is one thing with open source that MS (or Apple)
just could not beat. OSS gives you the simplest way of
learning how to program, with tons of source code of real
world applications you can read and study.

I am in the process of learning Win32 and Wine has proven
to be the best tutorial for me. And there is that library from
one Australian site I think, with source for creating menus
and controls in Office 2003 style. This too is OSS and great
"raed" if I may say so. Yeah, I do have Petzold and MSDN
but I need MORE! And if someone knows about other
excellent things to read please give us here some pointers.

So /. is not the worst thing on the internet. It may just be
one of the best, if you happen to be a geek in need
for stuff that matters.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

What is this "Linux" thing you speak of?

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

The comments aren't the only part of Slashdot that sucks.

The article posters at Slashdot tende to be very "selective" about what they post.  When someone makes an unsubstantiated claim in their weblog, it can end up on Slashdot, and become "news", even when it's a load of B.S.  They tend to post links to very one-sided articles.  It's very rare to see all sides of a story told on Slashdot. 

They're very quick to post things on their site, but they're not too quick to check the legitimacy of their sources.

Also, the article posters tend to spin things pretty heavily.  Sites like the Register and the Inq do the same thing (I think they suck too).

By itself, this stuff doesn't bother me.  The problem is that people mistake the crap on Slashdot for legitimate "news".  Slashdot is NOT professional journalism (nor are the sites they link to).  Just because you read it on the Web doesn't mean it's true.

Myron A. Semack
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Oops, clicked Post too quickly...

The comments part of Slashdot are useless.  I don't think anyone seriously disputes that.

Because of their blatant bias, they are also useless as a news site (at least to anyone who wants accuracy).

Basically, all Slashdot is good for is DDOSing web sites :-)

Myron A. Semack
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I don't think some people on this board understand Slashdot.

One.  There are more trolls on Slashdot than people think.  Many, many more.  So do not make hasty judgments on its discussion board.

Two.  The owners/editors of Slashdot know the discussions are screwed up.  They don't like the religious fundamentalism much either.  People often don't realize that the trolls often attack them on a personal level, so they have at least as much cynicism as anyone else.

Three.  The editors claim that about half the unique visitors have never read a single discussion.  They do not consider the discussion boards the most important part of the site.

Four.  Linux (and other Free Software) developers are generally also cynical about Slashdot.  It's a butt of jokes, especially when they know something is about to show up there.  They have also had to weather ignorant attacks.

Five.  It's not professional journalism, but generally superior.  A newspaper aggregates available news sources.  So does Slashdot, in its way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

"If you ask anyone who used Linux, they will not claim it is immune."

Really? Could you let the zealots know that please, because they didn't seem to get that memo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Really? Could you let the zealots know that please, because they didn't seem to get that memo."


if you are going to spend your time worrying about what zealots of _any_ set of beliefs think and/or say then you have a busy life ahead of you...

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I think the major problem is the average age of the people posting (mostly school kids or students I'd say).  However, I fing browsing at +2 takes out most of the rubbish. 

Funnily enough there always seems to be people with comments at +5 saying "I'm going to be modded down for liking Microsoft, but...". 

That said I prefer the level of debate here - one benefit of a mostly older professional crowd - and I prefer the news at the  inquirer.  I know the inq can be a bit irreverent but that fits in with the tone of British journalism, and anyone who's read Private Eye will understand where they're coming from. 

A cynic writes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

You guys know that slashdot is owned by open source companies? I forget which ones. It's not like an independent news source.

Behind the scenes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003 yes I did know it was owned by Open Source Development Network, Inc. ,which is in turned owned by VA Software Corporation, who bought off of Rob Malda (aka  Cmdr  Taco), who still runs it.

Interestingly this forum is owned by an ex-MS developer running a windows-centric company. 

We all have our own biases - the trick is to recognise them and not be limited by them. 

A cynic writes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"It's not professional journalism, but generally superior.  A newspaper aggregates available news sources.  So does Slashdot, in its way. "

I don't have a problem with aggregate news.  (Yahoo News is great for this)  The problem is that Slashdot doesn't aggregate legitimate news sources, and only aggregate news sources that follow the party line.

I dunno if I consider that "superior", but whatever floats your boat.

Myron A. Semack
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Can you name one unbiased news source?  The closest I can think of is something like Lexis-Nexis, though I haven't looked at it closely.  For mainstream, Economist is not too bad.  Anything else, from the NYT down, is too full of bias to meet your criteria.

I said "generally superior."  If you don't believe Slashdot is better than the cesspool that is the average newspaper, there is no ground on which we can agree.  If you believe the NYT is pretty unbiased, we might only achieve agreement after long argumentation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

No news source is unbiased, that's a given.  But Slashdot is even more biased than the Register and the Inq.  Slashdot is a tabloid pretending to be a news site.

Probably the closest you can get to unbiased news is feeds from Reuters or AP (which is where most local papers get their feeds, btw).

And yes, I do consider my local paper to be far more professional than Slashdot.  A newspaper doesn't post a link to Heywood Jablowme's Weblog about how he thinks M$ suxors.  At least they have reporters that go out and actually find stories, check their facts, conduct interviews, etc.

To be fair, Slashdot and my local paper cover totally different topics, and the quality of the local paper can vary heavily from town to town.

Myron A. Semack
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

In my experience:

"unbiased" usually translates as "agrees with me",
"incisive"  usually translates as  "I didn't expect them to agree with me, but they do"

OTH I could just be a wee bit cynical.

A cynic writes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

You know it's a real pain when someone your disagreeing with  slips in a sensible reply that you'd be happy to sign your own name to.  Sorry Myron.

Just ignore me - I never could get the hang of Wednesdays

A cynic writes
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I don't want to insult anyone/to start a rant/provoke any reaction, but I think all the people who post here/who post elsewhere/who never post, are stupid/generalizing/morons, except me/me and the users of IDEA/Linux users.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Slashdot works best when the filter is set to 2 or 3.  Even when I have mod points I never set it to zero.  I have learned a lot on slashdot, but you do have to tune out a lot of noise.

For example, there was a very interesting thread there about mainframes a few days ago.  I have never worked with mainframes, so for me it was enlightening.  Mixed in among the script kiddies are technical experts from a variety of fields.  Today there was a tutorial on batteries.  In the past there was one on fiber optic cable.  Most of the MS v. LINUX arguing is confined to articles about those OSs, so I have found that stuff pretty easy to sidestep.

Generally speaking, once a discussion board becomes popular it is quickly dragged down into the trash.  The moderation system has done Slashdot a world of good.

Ran Whittle
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Yes, moderation definitely works. I only wish it would go over +5. I have my filter set to +5 and still some topics have 10-20 posts, only a few of which really stand out.

I agree that Slashdot is a biased source of news. But I prefer an openly biased source to one which has unclear or hidden biases (like most of the more mainstream news sources).

Dan Maas
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Most large circulation newspapers and magazines are free of blatant bias. They run a range of views even if they personally disagree with them. This is certainly the case with technology stories.

By comparison, slashdot is more like a PR firm pumping out stories from a particular angle. Very cleverly, they even paint this as a playful news thing, so it looks more credible.

Behind the scenes
Thursday, November 13, 2003

> Most large circulation newspapers and magazines are free of blatant bias. They run a range of views even if they personally disagree with them. This is certainly the case with technology stories.

Sorry, this idea is wrong from start to finish. The range of ideas expressed in most large circulation newspapers is laughably narrow.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

<em>You vi weenies are lazy dumbasses. edlin R00LEZ!!</em>

edlin - son of ed -

if your interested might want to read my post on *ed* ... [there is no *way* but Ed was the first,]

to see where *ed* fits in.

peter renshaw
Friday, November 14, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home