Rob Enderle; Linux: Cuba and the Communist Connection – Promoting "Fear"

(via Matt Aslett): I haven’t blogged about Rob Enderle for quite some time, but he may have outdone himself here. In this post, Enderle warns that the Cuban adoption of Linux could lead to it being considered anti-American. It doesn’t stop there though:

Linux, which isn’t really a product in my mind, as it co-defines the Open Source movement, is a brand. This brand has attributes that have been created over time and generally, at least for those that use it, represents something positive.

For some it represents the freedom to look at and mess with code, for others it represents “free” as in free beer, and for some it represents a strong weapon against capitalism, particularly with regard to software. I’m sure we could add some additional attributes, but the one that concerns me is this new concept that it is anti-American.

Can you imagine the NSA IT manager trying to get funding for a Linux based project right now? We are dropping into an extended election where the war in Iraq, terrorism, and nationalism are likely to be major battlegrounds. On the economic front, China remains a huge concern and in many battles it too is likely to come up, particularly as these battles are fought in areas where unions are strong.

If I’m running against an incumbent (who probably has no clue about software at all) and I know some organization under them deployed Linux and that it is being positioned as anti-U.S., might I not use that in the election? “Ladies and gentlemen I promise that under my administration we will not implement products like Linux that put the nation at risk, which contribute critical technology to the terrorists, and embolden our enemies.” In politics all you need is a grain of truth. In fact, sometimes I wonder if you even need a “grain.”

So he contents that using Linux could lose you an election. If that is not the ultimate “what if” scenario stretch, it has to be close. By that yardstick, Microsoft is responsible for nearly all spam, since it is cracked Windows zombies that is the main source. Quick, someone use that in an election. The basic premise here is so absurd that it’s hard to even argue against it in a rational manner. One statement I do take more serious issue with is:

One of the big problems with Linux, as I see it, is that certain topics (basically anything that may imply that Linux isn’t the best thing for every possible use) is off the table, because that discussion creates FUD.

I don’t see anyone saying Linux is the best thing for every possible use. I’ll go one better – it isn’t. There is no silver bullet in life, no panacea. That includes Linux. I have found that in a large variety of places, from embedded to big iron, Linux has made sense for a variety of reasons from security to stability to scalability. Does that mean that Linux is the only answer or even always the best answer? Of course not.

He ends with:

Linux will likely survive this latest internally created challenge but, at some point, someone better take ownership of the Linux brand or others will position it and supporters will probably not like how it is positioned.
What do you think Linux users should do about this? Who should own the Linux brand? And do you agree that Linux should not be used as a political weapon against anyone?

Linux isn’t a “brand”. Red Hat is a brand, as is Novell or IBM. It is however a trademark and that trademark does have a licensor. There is even a shiny “Report Abuse” link right on the homepage. That being said I don’t think the first question people asked when the US went to war with Iraq was: “What OS are they running”. After seeing Rob speak at DLS, I came away with a sort of new found respect for him. He slang little FUD and was a bit more cogent then in most of the items I had read previous to hearing him. I was so surprised, I even blogged about it. I don’t know what happened since then, but he seems to have fallen back off the deep end.


One Response to Rob Enderle; Linux: Cuba and the Communist Connection – Promoting "Fear"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting read…
    I find the article somewhat amusing, since Linux has also been widely adopted in China for a number of years already (TurboLinux seems to be a very popular distribution there). Yet nobody seems to hold a grudge against “Linux” for that, despite the fact that China is still communist and is Cuba's ally.
    And saying that the NSA won't be able to get funding for Linux related projects?
    The NSA has and still does fund a very important Linux based project!: SELinux
    [i]Linux will likely survive this latest internally created challenge but, at some point, someone better take ownership of the Linux brand or others will position it and supporters will probably not like how it is positioned. [/i]
    By the way, nobody can actually ever “take ownership” of Linux.
    Not only does this tell me the author has no clear notion between Linux the kernel project, and GNU/Linux the operating system, but he also doesn't grasp the notion that no single person “owns” all the code.
    There are far to many contributors in a project like the Linux kernel for someone to one day just come up and say “Hey, I'm taking over from now on and you will obey only me….because I helped write part of the kernel's networking subsystem!”.
    And another funny thing about Enderle's whole article is that he implies that Cuba (or any other communist country) just take and “use” Linux without giving anything back…its a somewhat one-sided view.
    Well as a matter of fact one of the senior members of the VectorLinux is Cuban.
    And Vector is not even well known when compared to Fedora or Debian for example, so the question is how many more Cubans/Chinese/Venezuelans are out there making contributions and working hard on Linux distros that will then be used back in the USA or Europe?
    Rob must have forgotten to look at that side of the coin.

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