I remember a time in high school when we had a substitute teacher. This teacher was previously retired but still subbed in from time to time. His look on things was of the old school circa 1960…so he ran quite a tight ship and didn’t appreciate any adverse feedback or smart remarks from the students. I never had a problem with him until the day that I chuckled at a fellow classmate who was in a tug of war match with another student over a text book (evidently, one of them stole the other student’s textbook…whatever) and the teacher decided to get in the fray…so here we have 2 students and a teacher pulling on a textbook in three different directions. I laughed aloud…it was silly to see an older teacher and two ‘punks’ as he’d call them pulling on that book.
I was immediately reprimanded and given detention. When I asked what I did, the response was “apparently nothing but you’re going to stay after anyway”. When I pressed harder for an explanation, I was told that since I thought ‘my two buddies’ were funny, I was staying after. I had been caught in a perplexing situation many people, groups and companies find themselves in…I was guilty by association.
I was reading an article at Linux Today earlier and saw this line from the article, which was penned in defense of Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (and rightly so…I have no idea why people would call SJVN a shill…he’s the farthest thing from it). I’m not so much concerned with people attacking SJVN so much as I am with the editor’s (it’s an editor’s note) second item that he’s bugged by:
“The other reaction that bugged me was this guilt-by-association that’s been glommed onto openSUSE. Why does this product and its developers suddenly have to take the fall for the actions of Novell?”
So…people shouldn’t do this. We all know that it isn’t fair…but the main fact is they are doing this and have always done this, just like that teacher of mine in high school. I wanted to understand why people aren’t making the connection that openSuse shouldn’t be held accountable for Novell’s actions…but then it hit me…The technology and code being sunk into openSuse as a test ground will one day make it into the Novell Desktop…which, as part of the now famous deal, will make money for Microsoft.
When you look at it in this logical manner, I don’t blame the people the article is condemning for targeting openSuse and I don’t see how anyone can blame them. How many Linux users out there do you know that want to bankroll Microsoft?
It’s how businesses operate. Most CEO’s in today’s society make decisions and lead their company…perhaps an approving board jumps in to give a vote of confidence…but overall, the common employee or programmer isn’t consulted on directions that a platform is going. It’s like this for just about every company I’ve ever worked for…the ‘small guy’ isn’t heard.
The problem with the Novell MS deal is that the small guy is a community of small guys…it’s almost like a union…more powerful in the group than alone. Novell didn’t consider what this deal would do to their community and they didn’t care…there were no channels of communication opened up…there were no private polling of resources within the community…nothing. The deal was brokered and done. But they forgot the community. They forgot that this is Open Source…it’s not business. Open Source isn’t about business and never will be. Open Source Software like Linux is about making a better product because you can, not because someone is paying you to do it. Linux doesn’t make decisions based on any revenue models or forecast loss charts. It is its own entity that bows to no one and serves no business, person, or entity in any greater capacity than any other business, person, or entity.
Novell forgot the community…and in turn, due to their lack of communication on the matter, now have to reap what they sow. Unfortunately, openSuse is not immune to the fallout.
Going further on in the article we see:
“I think these developers are, on the whole, good and decent people who are trying to make the best of a bad situation. They, like many of us, may not be happy with what the Microsoft-Novell deal means. And they, like Jeremy Allison, will have to make some tough calls in the days ahead.”
Let me be honest…I love openSuse and the desktop they’ve built. It’s professional looking, polished, and has a solid feel about it that is fantastic. But I won’t use it ever again. I don’t want any bug report that I make to go into squashing bugs that will eventually end up in a Novell Desktop that is part of any payment of any kind to Microsoft. So now I find myself floating away from openSuse altogether. I think the developers for openSuse are probably exactly what this article is saying…and if they’re smart, they’ll see past the trees to see the forest that is money to Microsoft…and they’ll do something about it sooner than later.
“But I don’t think it’s necessary or worthy to malign the coders participating in openSUSE, nor the results of their hard work.”
I agree we shouldn’t malign the coders…but the results of their work are fair game. Let’s say you’re completely anti-war and you hate all violent actions that some country has taken. You voice your opinion loudly and with vigor…now do you go and malign the mechanic that works down at the bomb manufacturing plan? Nope…he/she is doing their job and probably has a family to support. Do you malign the company that he/she is working for? Maybe a little bit, maybe a lot. Do you malign the IDEA that making bombs is about? YES.
Perhaps bomb making is a poor example…and for that I apologize. Hopefully, you get the gist of what I’m saying. IMHO, The works and the idea behind the works are fair game…they’re products that are part of monetary gain (eventual) for Microsoft. So perhaps we shouldn’t point fingers at the developers and coders…but we definitely can point them at what they’re developing and shout to the top of our lungs “Do you know what your product is being used for!?!?!” and we can also shout to the top of our lungs at the idea that the entire Novell/Microsoft deal encompasses. Can we hold Novell responsible? You bet we can. Can we hold openSuse responsible? It shouldn’t be that way but it is…so, yep.
Back in that classroom, I stayed after for detention. I didn’t whine or complain…nor did I feel it was wrong for my instructor to put me there…after all, I did laugh when I shouldn’t have…so I was guilty by association and I served my ‘time’ as it were right alongside them. The bottom line to all of this is that openSuse code may one day make it into the Novell Desktop which will give cash money to Microsoft. Do I want any part of that? Nope. If some people want to yell at others who don’t see this correlation to try and wake them up, so be it. When Novell neglected to get a pulse from their community, they allowed that community to be associated with their decision…they made openSuse guilty by association. Wrong, sad, and totally irresponsible all at the same time. Maybe some detention time will be good for Novell as well.