So Sue Me!

May 23rd, 2007

I recently built a new box to serve all my music and movies. It running Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, with all the ‘Silent Bells and Whistles®™‘: 1.2TB of disk space (western digital, 400, 400, 300), Intel Pentium E6300 1.86ghz core 2 duo, new style patented Zalman CNPS9700 LED figure of 8 copper CPU fan with blue led, ABit IB9 motherboard, 1gig OCZ DDR2 high speed memory, DVDR, CDR, Zalman Fatal1ty Champ1on case, Asus EN7600GS Silent Nvidia display card, Antex Truepower power supply.

I have dumped Fedora permanently…its just not worth the hassle. I have transfered all of the data from my legacy drives that were on NTFS and FAT, so we are now 100% Microsoft free.

Which brings us to the recent M$ FUD about Linux infringing 200+ M$ owned patents.

It is, of course, utter bullshit.

We all remember Darl McBride and the baseless attacks on the license under which you are free to use Linux. For months SCO refused to show the sections of the source that it claimed were infringed.

Now Microsoft is claiming that patents it owns are being infringed by Linux, but like SCO, it will not list which patents are being infringed. Microsoft is so terrified of distributions like Ubuntu that they are resorting to these infantile and pathetic tactics to try and scare people off of dumping their bloated garbage for Stuff That Actually Works®. Dell is now shipping Ubuntu. This means that it wont be long before they stop selling computers with Vista; why should they ship Vista when they can deliver a superior product that costs them nothing, and which enhances their hardware offerings far more than Vista does?

Eventually they will build a team that customizes Ubuntu with their own branding. It is a perfect solution for them. Microsoft are in a blind panic over this, which is why they have put out this nonsense media attack instead of going straight to court with the facts.

It has to be pointed out also that even if they did go to court and demonstrate that indeed, Linux distributions infringe, say, their patent on notifying when the other person is typing in an instant message session, these insane and bogus patents only have force in the USA. The EU doesn’t recognize software patents; that means that every linux distro can distribute a fully working OS that doesn’t infringe on the 235 M$ patents but which has an installer that retrieves the missing parts of the OS from servers in the free world. Ubuntu already does this in a seamless and effort free way for codecs that are illegal to distribute in a Linux OS in the USA.

There is now nothing that Microsoft can do about the explosive spread of Desktop Linux. They should have done what they always used to do; ‘embrace and extend‘. If they had rolled their own distribution they would now control the perception of Linux. All desktops in the world would run MS Linux (or Redmond Linux) and they would then be able to sell Office and other proprietary binaries to the punters on their own brand of Linux. Now, they cannot do this. It is too late for them to dump Vista and change tactics…or is it? They could easily offer their own badged versions of Ubuntu and Open office, and then sell them just like they sell their junk OS Vista. What is for certain, is that the tactics they are using now will not stop the march of the penguins. It will only make things worse for them.

Bill Gates is often called a generous philanthropist. This is actually not the case. When you give away something that you have in abundance, in this case, money, it has no real meaning in terms of generosity. Money for Gates has no value. He is giving away literally nothing, since his money has no value to him.

If he were a true philanthropist, if he were truly generous, and was making a true sacrifice, he would give away his dominance of the desktop for the good of humanity, since every M$ OS since Winblows 3.1 has been a menace to society. By adopting Linux, The Cathedral and the Bazaar Open Source and the Gnu Public License he would be actually performing an act of sacrifice, and helping the world by giving away something that means everything to him – power.

This does not mean that Microsoft would stop making money; indeed there is no reason to suppose that they would not be able to maintain their profitability; they can still sell Office and all their other gunk, only it would all run on a stable platform instead of bloated garbage. Its a no brainer. They would also be able to steer the way the Linux world works by contributing code. The fact of the matter is, corporate types are as thick as shit, and they would rather buy Linux from M$ than take Ubuntu for free. M$ would be able to maintain their position, neutralize the linux threat, take advantage of ‘owning’ a better OS…its pretty obvious.

But I digress.

Gates is no generous Philanthropist, that is for sure, and it doesn’t matter how much money he gives away or what it is worth to other people. His actions in this pathetic patent infringement threat show what his true nature is; venal, evil and against humanity, and no amount of good works will balance this out.

If you run Linux, or get your email from a server that runs Linux, you should sign up to be sued by Microsoft:

Why I am offering to be sued

I believe that Microsoft is hurting competition on the desktop, which affects me directly as a consumer of desktop software. I believe it is for the good of society for Microsoft’s patent claims to be tested in a court of law. If Microsoft wins, then so be it. If Microsoft loses, then the rest of us can get on with creating innovative business models for desktop software. I am not challenging Microsoft this way because I hate Microsoft. I don’t admire their software, nor do I admire their business models, but I am not challenging them because I want to sink their ship or damage their business or harm their reputation. I am really only interested in seeing whether their claims have any merit, which I think is probably not the case.

The other reason that I am offering to be sued and encouraging others to offer to be sued is that we will have the chance to show the world how many people really use Free Open Source Software directly on the desktop. Of course, all of us use Free Open Source Software when we use Google or YouTube or Wikipedia or Yahoo or the Internet Archive, because all of these companies use Free Open Source Software as an important part of delivering their services. And if Microsoft’s threat just hangs like a dark cloud over all that innovation, we will all be the worse off for it. But I am talking about us uniting on one list to show the world how many institutions and individuals use Free Open Source Software.

Maybe this list will never go anywhere. On the other hand, it will be fun to try!

So c’mon, Microsoft. If I infringed your patents, show me. After all, I am one of the members of a distributed team of film makers who is trying to document the real world digital tipping point that is probably pushing you to rattle the litigation saber anyway, and I am attempting to use all Free Open Source Software tools to do so. If you can shut me up, all the better for you!

And that is why.

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