Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/12/12/otto_linux_flyletters/

Linux zealots proud to be as miserable as planes

Ineptitude is a five-man job

By Otto Z. Stern

Posted in Bootnotes, 12th December 2005 17:00 GMT

Stern response What's the difference between an open source zealot and a 747?

That's how one of the more famous jokes in the technology industry begins, and we explored the underpinnings of the laugher in my astonishing column penned last month. Slow planes stink. Crap pieces of open source code stink just as much. All it took was me pointing this out for the rest of you to really GET IT.

I'm proud of the work that I've done here, and I know that many of you are proud of my work as well. So, I don't want you to let this week's batch of letters get you down. There are a lot of slop monkeys out there, and they rarely miss an opportunity to purge, even if they're not invited. If I had a razor big enough and the patience to match, I'd shave these sloths of shallowness.

Instead, we're forced to hear what they had to say. (Translation: I have to fill space if I'm to get paid this month, and papa needs a new zester.)

Btw, asshole the OpenSource movement was not founded by Linux Torvalds, but another American, Richard Stallmann. Get your fact right before you publish crap. Its because OpenSource's pressure that good services are being offered to consumers or else you would be stuck with Crapped version of IE for the rest of your life without any fixes and with thousands of flaws. its because of opensource OS like Linux and FreeBSD that we have companies like Yahoo and Google providing services that are far better MSFT's MSN.

Look at shares of Google and Yahoo and compare it MSFTor SUN

Enjoy sucking up to MS


Okay, that might be a cheap shot, but you see what we're dealing with here. This pleb tells us to "get your fact right", while misspelling "facts" and "Linus" in the space of about ten words.

Show me "a normal 25-year-old" who owns a "bluetooth camera", and I'll show you a "journalist" who gets paid way too much to "talk shit".

Andrew Tonner

Okay, it's a deal but only if you show me a twenty-six year old ex-memember of the Bolshoi Ballet with slightly hairy arms and a penchant for packing jars of peanut butter.

I am struggling to type after a serious mirth attack :) That was FUNNY mostly because it was damned accurate. I am a Linux fan who believes that the open source community needs more careful lampooning, so fire away.

David Weber

Lampoon? Poonlamp? It's all the same to me.

I run Open Source (and Windows, and OSX), and I've built a LongEZ (designed by Burt Rutan). And I understand how airplanes work and therefore the technological limitations - obviously you don't. Why do you think you have to be so negative to be interesting?

Society improves through positive contributions. There is never any shortage of naysayers...

Philip Carter

You're writing "society improves through positive contributions" and accusing ME of being the problem? Why don't I just find you a dairy farm where you can end your days gazing at cows?

Dear Otto

I believe your wonderfully astute and perceptive analysis of the relative performance of OSS ranks as one of the more insightful pieces of anaytical journalism I have read in almost a week. Sadly I cannot relate to the parlous state of air travel in the US since I (fortunately) live in Australia. However I do understand some of the angst you deliver in the general direction of OSS.

It is clearly unacceptable that users should suffer poorly written software, especially given the amount that consumers pay for linux software. Oh? What's that? Linux is free software? Well I suppose the analogy with flying would only work if you could fly for free....

Do us all a favour, hop on the next free plane to finland and get a lesson in common sense.

David Howe

Clearly one of the leading members of an Australian think tank. Oh wait . . . . That's right. Let's not rub it in.

Hi there Otto, Had a dog called "Otto" once... dum mutt... Anyway, nice article, love your writing... But, you need to come up to speed sometime or at least catchup a touch!

Cheers, Justin

Without comment.

What is your problem? Are you getting paid by Micro$oft?

Do you have a MAC or a PC to work? You work for a newspaper. So it should be a MAC. Did you know that the MAC OS is build aprox 30% or more out of opensource? So if you say opensource is bad, it means you don't like your mac or what?


A Mac? A MAC? You sick bastard.

Again Otto, my good man, you have hit the nail on the head. Reading your articles always do two things for me: put a smile on my face (the balls it must take to post a letter from your mother) and open my eyes to other points that I might have failed to see. The airline industry won't change, you can think of it much like the industry I work for.

We won't get digital movies in cinemas because they spent $1.5 millions per crappy projector so they run them till they die and we are forced with subpar viewing condition. The airlines will run their planes till they fall out of the sky (has the happened yet?) and then perhaps (fat chance) we will get these amazing flying machines you are demanding! Open source? I laugh! Anyhow, again thanks for being you!

John Luko

Unlike the rest of you nancy boys, Brother Luko has some dreams and some vision.

As you're likely, sorry, certain to get flamed over the open source software is worse than flying article, here's a few words in support.

You have a point.

Particularly with respect to the infighting. I think the geeks have it wrong. Emacs vs. vi and KDE vs. Gnome (etc, etc.) shouldn't be called religious wars. Instead schisms in reglious organisations should be called geek wars.

Keep up the good work,

Andrew Richards

I can't quite tell which side Andrew is really on, but good for him for complimenting me.

Hallo Otto, Thoug i'm not unsympathetic to a number of your fulminated comments. I cannot comprehend what you've written by any means. If you're looking to start a 'holy' war i think you're really doing your very best.

As far as your comments on what you refer to as open sores i neglect them, though i do have similar 'complaints'. The testosteron level with these people seems to be digitaly induced for the best part of the day indeed.

Why someone who's, apparently, part of A Moral Action Group is writing such awfull mouthed language is beyond me. While reading across your 'writings' i simply _had_ to think about Johnny Rotten who loaths Bono and others for becoming the establishment instead of remaining true to themselves. Not i hold your comments to the same level of J.R.'s musings but still there's some inspiration there.

Should you need an extra Moral Voice on your team i'd be interested to see what you're up to.

Best Regards,

Joris Lambrecht

I doubt you're Institute of Technological Values material, but should you have some copies of your work, I'd be willing to spend three to four minutes glancing over the information.

I am not even a big open source advocate, but damn can anyone really be that arrogant or ignorant....first of all do you have any idea how hard it is to run a airline? You arrogant prick? Second, you think your so smart, saying other people cant spell 'fly'. You have a lot ot learn aoout life and treating other human being with respect. Seriosuly do the world of favor and next tiem you wann acomplain about your flight...open the door and jump out....moron

Jason J. Melo

Okay, Jason. Next tiem I wann acomplain, I'll take your advice. Until then, it's back to running my rather successful jet engine firm here in the Great American Southwest.

You obvioulsy have no idea what you are talking/writing about. Open Source means freedom. Freedom of choice. If you don't like it, don't use it. Complains are not fair because it's free, a fact which is not true for the OS running a "128-processor Unix SMP" machine you're talking about (unless it's OpenSolaris).

If you don't know about Linux and Open Source, then shut up! Oh, by the way: My Linux talks to my BT devices, loves to read from my V3 Razr, can print on my GDI laser printer, does real-time DVR and my server has an uptime of 93 days 11h. I suppose, except for the uptime, the "128-processor Unix SMP" does not even provide only one of the options. You must be a really frustrated guy. Go and get a life already.

Kenji Sugikawa

Actually, it's a 128-way SGI box running FreeBSD, so I do know what I'm talking about, and I know that when I try to link this box with my bluetooth can opener, it never ever works.

You know you're pretty much the same as all the other tech editorilists in main stream media: a huge ego and no idea what you're talking about. While I have no interest in your flying arguments, I always laugh when every single time someone is paid to bash open source, they focus on Linux. It's like the whole open source world is composed of a single product: Linux. Open your eyes and learn that without open source you would not be using a computer. Open source is what made email possible.

Open source is what made chat, web site building, the whole Internet possible. Open source is why all your Unix boxes can compile something that works equally well on every system, using guess what, GCC, instead of the original proprietary C compilers by each vendors which were completely incompatible. Open source is what created great products like Firefox, Open Office and the Apache web server, the server behind the vast majority of web sites. So next time you feel like bashing Linux distributions, think before you open your mouth.

Elf Guy

Oh, I'd say I'm hardly like every other tech editorialist. I'm much better.

Sir, All I can say is "Well Said" on the subject of open source development speed. The Jefferson quote sent shivers down my spine. I've sat there in a basement for years hacking code that will in no way make the world a better place. Now I'm off to Microsoft-land to see if I can develop something that people actually want.

While I'm extremely proud of our (open-source based) product as an end-user experience and simply because, goddamn, it's finally finished and out there - the amount of extra cruft we have to supply to make the thing usuable makes just packaging it up and then supporting it a huge task.

No, as a developer there's something to be said for paying for tools that make your goals actually attainable - and then to make it happen inside months rather than years. Rgds, Richard Bown http://www.ferventsoftware.com

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Before shouting off I would suggest doing some research.. I happend to be a Finn and even though Finland is next to Russia, we still manage to be more democratic than USA, thank you very much.


The last time I was in Finland two hookers tried to trade themselves for a pack of smokes and a crate of oranges. How do you explain that?

Without wanting to get into heated debate, if you think that the airline industry is the biggest problem America has today you've led a very sheltered, and capitalist life. Such views as you clearly hold are another example why any 'article' on The Register should not be taken seriously.

For one thing, the airline industry do not dictate that you stand in ticketing lines and are security screened. At least not in the UK. The airPORT industry, led by government decree such things. The two industries are discreet, albeit relying on each other.

I've no problem with your swings at open source, but I fail to see how a supposedly educated man can write such utter nonsense about the airline industry. The speed issue that you mutter about is purely a problem of physics verus economics. We (Britain and France) provided an aircraft that could get you from London to New York in 5 hours. I suspect you never used it because it's operating costs were too high. That it never became more popular is purely down to market forces, not the airline industry inability to provide it.

The problem with super fast flight is summed up in two words. Supersonic boom. This phenomenon, which if you paid attention at school and got a real job instead of writing for The Register, prohibits supersonic flight above most landmasses in the world because it tends to explode windows, roof tiles, and other places that people often inhabit. There's nothing the airline industry can do about it, it's a factor of physics, so if you want it changed, do us a favour and let the big man know when you reach the pearly gates.

This leaves out the obvious fact that supersonic flight requires significantly lighter and smaller planes that consume more fuel per person than conventional flight, hence why they are more expensive to run.

However, if you're so great, please demonstrate so by providing the solutions to these problems rather than simply complaining about how poor they are. If you've nothing constructive to say why do you bother?

Of course this will be met be with a contemptuous response the like of which alll Register 'journalists' are capable.

Steve Brown

Thanks for setting the bar so damned low, Steve.

This is how I interpreted your article [Out of place quote] [Out of place letter from mom] "boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wahboo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah boo hoo wah wah wah"

[Bad analogy about Open Source] [A cheap shot at Linus and the Finns]

Dr. Otto Cry Baby

Er, pardon my slow cousin Harold. He just discovered the internet and thinks he's part of a meme stream. Susan, don't forget to wipe the custard off his brow.

Open Source progresses where people see need or have a want. Personally I don't have a need or want to connect a bluetooth camera. I can and do however very easily use my USB based camera.

Open Source also requires sponsorship to foster and sponsorship comes from capitalism. That capitalism is going to sponsor projects that have some level of value to the sponsor. Thus IBM and servers, RedHat and servers, HP and servers.

If you want to use your bluetooth camera, consider finding 5 - 10 other people that would like to use their bluetooth cameras and pay an OSS programmer to implement the feature.

I would be happy to help you with any of this.

Sincerely, Joshua D. Drake President Command Prompt, Inc.

Five to ten people? WHAT?!?! Susan, can you get a napkin for Mr. Drake as well?

Stern: Your butt joke humor suggests your cranial development is slower than both airline travel AND open sores software. Matter of fact, your attempts at smarmy humor rank somewhere just below the preteen musings of my daughter. Which suggests OSS was born, and has evolved entirely within the time your sense of humor has existed in utter stasis.

What *is* funny, though, is when cheap hack columnists become so filled with themselves they assume the writing style and humor of a movie or food critic, but without their constraint of topic matter.

Maybe soon you'll even be as funny as an MTV veejay. Could you one day actually be as funny as Kennedy or Carson Daly?

Dare to dream, Otto!


Let's not bring your preteen daughter and butt humor into this. Please. I'll sell you some dignity for five bucks.

I'm sitting here typing away on a 128 bugs Windows armed with an ultrashit file system and jet-fueled BSOD[bkue screen of death], wondering when the Windows freaks are going to solve their eternal bug problem[changing to linux?] so that something I buy actually works with my close shit PC.And whriting this bullshitgives me the idea that you must be full of shit writing this stupidity And letter to you MOM : GO STICK YOUR SON BACK WHERE HE CAME FROM CAUSE HE'S TALKING BULLSHIT!!!CLEAR?

Dart Weider

I can't quite hear you through the stream of bullshit, Dart. Can YOU SPEAK UP?

As great as you are, or at least as your mother finds you, I find your article to be the most idiotic article I've ever had the patients to read and to be honest I should have stopped reading after I saw your mother was speaking. You're confusion of issues and who to blame them on is amazing. Anyway to explain to you what I mean. You're view that "LIBERALS" are the ones responsible for the TSA safety checks is quite incorrect, it would be the religious right, that force us to do such things since they are the paranoid side that also requires us (the United States) to stay in Iraq in order to help rebuild the country which they destroyed.

That aside, lets get onto try to fix your extremely ignorance on open source. First off, no one with half a briain admits to running this operating system (don't worry I don't include you in the catagory of having half a brain you have made it apparent you have much less than half... I'll put you in the 1/4 section if you're lucky). These people usually figure they can get away with saying they run RedHat instead of admitting they don't know linux and are using mandriva. The others usually openly admit and Support their operating systems. I'd say there is more of a debate between Debian based operating systems (including Ubuntu) and RPM based operating systems (such as RedHat, SuSE(Novell Linux) , and Mandriva). In any case each has their place, and have their pros and cons. In any case I really hate smug writers that don't know anything about a subject but bash it because they don't understand something. Printer drivers? Dude get an HP Printer they usually support linux and work perfect.

As for you're color scheme figure it out, you're a big boy with a quarter brain. The Linux community has come VERY far in the last few years, and have surpassed Microsoft in many ways and is still free. Also if you are really having a problem with Linux, where is your free operating system? These people are giving their work away to people and their stuff usually works well and bug fixes come out faster and better than the people at paid companies, and still you write this crap spitting in their faces saying YOU SUCK! You're an asshole dude! Open source community don't listen to this no talent ass clown! You're doing great!

John Moyer

I stopped reading at "as great as you are." So, thanks, John.

A Reg reader has the following comments to make on the story The only thing worse than flying is open source code:

The basic thought behing socialism is to take care of eachother, ever thought of what "being social" means? I suggest you do your reseach on Wikipedia before you write your next article.

Since I bet that there are thousands of people who have been filling your mailbox with this already, I decide not to take this any further. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion, even though your opinion is basicly wrong.

Yours truly, A happy Linux user.

John Doe

Look at that. He does all this Wikipedia research and can't come up with a more creative name than John Doe. Enough said.

You call Linus a socialists! WTF... You Son of a Bitch! You sorry mother fucker! If I should ever catch your ass out in public I'll be sure to stomp the side of your fucking head in. Now run and get a communicating a threat warrant you bitch!

Tom Wickline

Now, this man I can like.

The only thing worse than the airlines is the lack of technology in the world because of the criminal activities of capitolism. You heard me right. The capitolist pig bastards that wrote that 4 year old peice of shit that hasn't been updated in forever. Forget the fact that you can't modify the damn OS to suite you, your needs, and workflow, but try using it to transfer your propriatary, copyrighted, intelectual property, DRM'd, or (insert other stupid shit here) music that you paid for to your other computer. Fuck it, you can't even practice your fair use rights, just because some company paid your elected official to ignore it. And yes, I am talking about Windows XP.

The one other thing that makes me more sick than the Nazi Bush dictatorship is the %99 of the bullshit that comes in my store that DOESN'T WORK.... WINDOWS. The only things that work in this town where I live are 1. My Mac, wich runs an OS that is partly open source, and 5 years ahead of Microsoft’s theft ring, and 2. The two Slackware 9 Linux boxen in the back of my office that have been humming away with 11 month uptimes since their last updates. I don't know about you, but I would rather spend my time working WITH the machine than ON it. Windows is NOT for most people, or your typical grandmother. Grandmother doesn't understand why a commercial for ViAkaTra keeps popuping up on her 'peecee' with flashy colors on it, asking her to click it to get an erection.

Want a printer to work?. haha. You paid for the wrong OS buddy. How many Lexmarks have you plugged into a Windows PC, and it WORK without having to pop in the CD you can't find? Oh yea, you can go to Lexmark.com and download the closed-soure bug-filled drivers that you can’t modify, but most of this society is still using 'dial-up'. They are still on 'dial-up' because whiney little Baby Bell wants to cry about small business CLECs using their 80 year old copper. Bell has thousands of miles of unlit fiber, but instead of setting afire the light that could be 100 mbit broadband, they want to sit and cry holding their copper wand, waving it at elected officials, hoping they will dissapear, so that they can run the country. As long as greed stands in the way, America(C), the Land(C) of the Inc.(C) will STAY behind in broadband coverage. You think THAT is innovative?

Yesterday I plugged a Lexmark X5150 into a fresh install of Suse 10. Worked without having to do anything but tell it what tray to print from. Hows that for Innovation? Microsoft sounds pretty damn far behind to me.

In the Windows world you end up with empty pockets, and walk out with nothing. You pay for Music, and it comes back and bites you in the ass. You download your music for free, and it is forever no matter what you transfer it to. You pay $300 for an OS, and expect it to be good, but the reality is that it is shit, and breaks every chance it gets, like the fine and expensive china on the dinner table. Its expensive, and looks good, but it breaks too easy, and is useless. The name ‘Windows’ really matches Billy boy’s OS. Allow me to refer you to a good read: http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm And my upcoming book, (look for it in the near future): Rome II, The fall of Corporate America And I leave you with this thought. The best things in life are free. J.D. Meadows

Thanks for that enthralling trip into your mind, J.D. And thanks as well to the New York Times and Slashdot for giving me the credit I deserve. ®

Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern locked and loaded, corralling wounded iLemmings, nursing an opal-plated prostate, spanking open source fly boys, wearing a smashing suit, dropping a SkyCar on the Googleplex, spitting on Frenchmen, vomiting in fear with a life-sized cutout of Hilary Rosen at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest.