Boycott Novell: Defenders of Freedom, or Offenders of Freedom?

Ladies and gentlemen, sit down. You have all been taken advantage of in the worst manipulative mental carnival imagineable.

FUD. We all know the term. Wikipedia states it as: "Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic of rhetoric used in sales, marketing, public relations, and illiberal democracies. FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative (and vague) information."

For the longest time, this tactic has been largely connected with Microsoft. Free Software advocates have lashed out against these unfair statements, in an attempt to maintain a fair playing field.
There is one site, however, that tries to "play dirty" with Microsoft, and Novell. Enter the era of double-standards and bullshit. Boycott Novell is the unsatisfied FUD-mongerer's answer to corporations.

First and foremost, there are many differences in ideologies in the Linux universe. In many areas, projects such as Ubuntu and Debian mix proprietary software with Free Software. Some teams, such as gNewSense, strive harder for utter freedom. And finally, there is the polar opposite: distributions that try to expand into a corporate/business environment. Some of these distros, such as SuSE, have made prospective deals with Microsoft to ensure interoperabilty in the corporate medium. Is there anything really wrong with this? Ordinarily, people would shrug and not worry too much about it. However, Boycott Novell treats it as an "Unholy Marriage between Freedom and Shackles"

Anti-Microsoft FUD has been nothing new. It has circulated for years in Free Software communities, and everything's been hunky-dory. However, many of the said Anti-Microsoft FUD has degraded into brainless forum posts by users who otherwise do not know any better. A good example is Microsoft Office. While there's nothing really wrong with OpenOffice, many people are disgusted with MS Office not supporting ODF, an ISO Standard. Finally, after Microsoft publicly stated that it "Will be supporting ODF in the near future.", a FUDstorm from Boycott Novell states that "Microsoft is playing us, to HAMPER Free Software"

Well, Microsoft is a COMPANY. They've been making Office software before Linux was even around. Of course they're going to be skeptical of adopting a new format standard, the ones they've been using have worked just fine. As a COMPANY, Microsoft has to make decisions that are the most sound, not just radical, dangerous ideas. Besides which, is it really anyone's business on how they run things, if we're all running a non-Microsoft Operating System? How is that going to affect the price of rice tomorrow? It WON'T.

Nevertheless, Boycott Novell spreads FUD like a plague. It has misled hundreds of thousands of Free Software advocates, and it constantly works on staining the reputations of companies that have done nothing wrong. What's worse, they often have little proof of anything. Ever read a Boycott Novell article? Funny how they cite themselves 10 or more times in every article, rather than actually pointing to any relevent news. Give us facts grounded in reality, for Christ's sake!

The articles themselves are playing on a single card: fear. Their so-called "news" is nothing more than overblown forum posts and speculations that were stretched out to be crap-filled articles. They play the mentality of everyone's least favorite forum trolls, stating "OH MICRO$HAFT IS EVIL, USE LINUX ITS BETTER! LOLOLOLOLOL!". Some people are just fine with using Windows/Mac/BSD/etc. An OS does NOT make a person, actions and words do.

And, as stated before, they use themselves as sources of information. A real journalist would know to link to real information sites, or at least speculation sites. They could say "Well, it's completely possible that..." instead of "NO! THIS IS FACT! BELIEVE LIKE US! THINK LIKE US! CONFORM! BE AN INDIVIDUAL!", it's a worse case than the rampant Mac-fanboyism.

There is a way to reverse this problem: knowledge. Real tech journalists should stop buying into the bullshit. Instead, they should start doing real research and facts, rather than the "Yellow Journalism" that has left Hearst and Pullitzer to roll in their graves. As a group, Free Software supporters need to end the hate and anger against faceless companies. It's counter-productive. Furthermore, it's just damn silly.



June 10, 2008 at 5:33 PM

Amen. Amazing tirade you've got there, but I totally agree.

  Chris Lees

June 11, 2008 at 5:05 AM

I don't think Boycott Novell has mislead "hundreds of thousands" of free software supporters. It's become almost fashionable to remove Mono from Linux systems, but that started before the Novell-Microsoft deal. When it comes down to it, most FSdaily readers already know that BN is a very extremist site, and dismiss its articles as self-important fiction.

  Dylan McCall

June 11, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Thank you, sir. I think you may have started a trend! I like that you pointed out how BoycottNovell is misiling free software advocates.

It should be noted that these maniacs are causing serious damage to the community, for example spreading a firestorm of FUD about Miguel de Icaza. I am not an enormous fan of his current wanderings and I don't agree with all of his opinions, but I know that I owe him a lot; we can thank this fellow for bringing us the GNOME desktop environment, as well as the fantastic Gnumeric. Mono has resulted in MonoDevelop, which, Mono or not, is one of the nicest IDEs I have ever had the pleasure to use.

Give the guy respect; his absense would leave a tremendous hole the free software community. If someone really does not see how much this man's work has given us, I seriously doubt the value of that person's opinion. It is a testament to Miguel's persistence that he is still here.

BoycottNovell may claim to be removing a disease, but in doing so they are creating something worse. Hell, if I was them, I would be suspecting BoycottNovell of being sneaky Microsoft-hired forum ninjas working to rip apart the free software community into uncooperative camps (as a desperate act now that FreeDesktop is working to bring the groups closer together). It is not much of a stretch.


June 11, 2008 at 6:55 PM

I wouldn't call Boycott Novell to be "Offenders of Freedom". However, I would attribute it as being misguided and lacking critical thinking.

  José Mota

June 12, 2008 at 1:23 AM

When I read BN's articles - that is, if I could actually understand half of its purpose - I thought it was kind of overrated. I mean, I don't like Microsoft either but I do acknowledge that 90% of the market is theirs for some reason, wheter that reason is clean or not.

A fantastic post here. Nice job!


June 12, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Well I agree and disagree. first I think your right that BN takes things to silly lengths. However I don't think that we can afford to just ignore Microsoft and live on our own little island. MS has plans to try and get rid of Free Software. They have used dirt tactics in the past to get rid of competition and we can't say that this won't happen with us. for instance you said "if we're all running a non-Microsoft Operating System? How is that going to affect the price of rice tomorrow? It WON'T." Actually I think it will effect things. Because if Microsoft gets really nervous they have lots of patents they are just sitting on. Also they could get similar legislation to the DMCA passed making Free Software Development even more difficult then it already is.
Another thing I didn't agree with "Of course they're going to be skeptical of adopting a new format standard, the ones they've been using have worked just fine"
Microsoft is interested in lock in. Just look at their track record. remember the wps. file format? there is nothing that can open those things. not open office not MS office. if there is an open standard like ODF that means that people can do everything in ODF and never be locked into the MS Office suite. That is bad for business. That it would seem is the real reason that they have waited so long to implement it. and they didn't even implement it Sun micro wrote the plugin that allows for the support not MS. Then MS has tried to release its own standard which there is patents on. look at the dirty tactics they used to try and get it passed by ISO. and BN was not the only ones reporting on it. Many respectable sites did. Bottom line: Yes BN is FUD and just silly a lot of the time. Yes reporting needs to be more responsible. NO we can't overlook the threat of proprietary software who is trying to control its users and the market. if we do we will find that their is no Freedom left to hold onto.