Keith Lofstrom's Linux Rant

Since the early 80s, I have run some sort of Unix box and some kind of Microsoft box. I got into open source Unix with BSDI, which I purchased to help them fight their defense against the ATT lawsuit.

Windows 3.1 came along. I ignored it. Windows 95 was almost usable, if you could ignore the frequent application crashes and the nasty driver install problems. I found this increasingly difficult.

Enter Linux. In 1994 it was a toy. By 1998 or so, it was a much better way to support my particular business (IC design consulting) than BSDI. It also supported many apps - I found myself doing more and more of my business using Linux.

In the summer of 1991, I got a copy of the nasty letter from the "Business Software Alliance", threatening dire reprisal if I had any unlicensed software. Now, while I had paid for all my software, have you ever actually read a Microsoft E.U.L.A.? I did, and realized that I had agreed help them destroy my business if they ever decided they wanted to.

Meanwhile, I could see Microsoft engaging in all sorts of disgusting anti-customer behavior. Behavior that they couldn't get away with if they had not "enclosed the commons" and taken over communications between third parties.

But what really soured me is the prevalent attitude among ordinary users, like my father-in-law, that "ordinary people are too dumb to use computers". No, no, NO!!! The truth is, "ordinary" (that is, closed source) programming turns out code that fails when exposed to average users. The kind of code that is developed on all those little closed source islands out there is inbred and moronic. Secrecy hides stupidity.

My father-in-law can build buildings, manage dozens of employees, raise beautiful children, and talk to God. He can pick up a phone, push 11 buttons, and program the largest computer system on earth to provide an uninterrupted 64Kbps bidirectional audio link between himself and my lovely wife. Don't tell me that he is an idiot. He only made the mistake of assuming that a bunch of arrogant user-hating closed-source moron programmers could tell him how to use a computer. I shall help him and others recover from that small mistake.

I decided that I would be "off Microsoft" by the end of 2002. I no longer wanted to give a single dollar more to these mind-numbing twits, since they would use that money to bribe politicians to promulgate their irresponsible nastiness. Meanwhile, I would help others do the same.

I've almost made it.

Yes, I still run a copy of Win4Lin on one of the Linux boxes. That supports the only single running copy of my dozen legal copies of Windows 95. I use this for four apps, and the occasional check of an outbound Word document. More often, I just make PDFs from Postscript from Open Office 1.0.

The apps I still use are:
Quickbooks - my accountant is not gnucash compatable.
Internet Explorer - so I can read %^&$# FrontPage-generated websites. Though Mozilla can read damned near everything now ...
Orcad electronic schematic capture. Laziness - there are some open source possibilities now.
Tanner Ledit IC layout. Again, there are possible open source and closed source replacements.

But there are whole days that go by when I don't even use these apps under Win4Lin; I have not had to fire up a Windoze box in months. By this time next year, I will probably have all those apps replaced and be in pure Linux mode.

I will not have escaped closed-source - there are still some expensive CAD tools that are only available closed-source - but many of these tools began as open source, and to open source they will return. There are too many bright university students around the world with Linux boxes and no high-end CAD tools. I imagine a few tens of thousands of dollars would go a long way at a Russian university these days.

So there's my rant. I hope to decorate this website with a few useful tips and techniques for Linux.

last revision January 28, 2003