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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    chica go go

    Forbes Reports: "Is Linux for Losers?"

    NEW YORK - Theo de Raadt is a pioneer of the open source software movement and a huge proponent of free software. But he is no fan of the open source Linux operating system.

    "It's terrible," De Raadt says. "Everyone is using it, and they don't realize how bad it is. And the Linux people will just stick with it and add to it rather than stepping back and saying, 'This is garbage and we should fix it.'"

    De Raadt makes a rival open source operating system called OpenBSD. Unlike Linux, which is a clone of Unix, OpenBSD is based on an actual Unix variant called Berkeley Software Distribution. BSD powers two of the best operating systems in the world--Solaris from Sun Microsystems (nasdaq: SUNW - news - people ) and OS X from Apple Computer (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ).

    There are three open source flavors of BSD--FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD, the one De Raadt develops, which is best-known for its security features. In a sort of hacker equivalent of the Ford-versus-Chevy rivalry, BSD guys make fun of Linux on message boards and Web sites, the gist being that BSD guys are a lot like Linux guys, except they have kissed girls.

    Sour grapes? Maybe. Linux is immensely more popular than all of the open source BSD versions.

    De Raadt says that's partly because Linux gets support from big hardware makers like Hewlett-Packard (nasdaq: HPQ - news - people ) and IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ), which he says have turned Linux hackers into an unpaid workforce.

    "These companies used to have to pay to develop Unix. They had in-house engineers who wrote new features when customers wanted them. Now they just allow the user community to do their own little hacks and features, trying to get to the same functionality level, and they're just putting pennies into it," De Raadt says.

    De Raadt says his crack 60-person team of programmers, working in a tightly focused fashion and starting with a core of tried-and-true Unix, puts out better code than the slapdash Linux movement.

    "I think our code quality is higher, just because that's really a big focus for us," De Raadt says. "Linux has never been about quality. There are so many parts of the system that are just these cheap little hacks, and it happens to run." As for Linus Torvalds, who created Linux and oversees development, De Raadt says, "I don't know what his focus is at all anymore, but it isn't quality."

    Torvalds, via e-mail, says De Raadt is "difficult" and declined to comment further.

    De Raadt blames Linux's development structure, in which thousands of coders feed bits of code to "maintainers," who in turn pass pieces to Torvalds and a handful of top lieutenants.

    The involvement of big companies also creates problems, De Raadt says, since companies push their own agendas and end up squabbling--as happened recently when a Red Hat (nasdaq: RHAT - news - people ) coder published an essay criticizing IBM's Linux programmers.

    There's also a difference in motivation. "Linux people do what they do because they hate Microsoft. We do what we do because we love Unix," De Raadt says. The irony, however, is that while noisy Linux fanatics make a great deal out of their hatred for Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ), De Raadt says their beloved program is starting to look a lot like what Microsoft puts out. "They have the same rapid development cycle, which leads to crap," he says.

    De Raadt says BSD could have become the world's most popular open source operating system, except that a lawsuit over BSD scared away developers, who went off to work on Linux and stayed there even after BSD was deemed legal. "It's really very sad," he says. "It is taking a long time for the Linux code base to get where BSD was ten years ago."

    Lok Technologies, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of networking gear, started out using Linux in its equipment but switched to OpenBSD four years ago after company founder Simon Lok, who holds a doctorate in computer science, took a close look at the Linux source code.

    "You know what I found? Right in the kernel, in the heart of the operating system, I found a developer's comment that said, 'Does this belong here?' "Lok says. "What kind of confidence does that inspire? Right then I knew it was time to switch."

    Excellent read

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    I've always wondered why Linux tried to make a style identical to Microsoft. So what if people switch, if there's nothing new you can offer?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Northern VA
    There is so much truth to what De Raadt says. Some of it is obviously self-promoting but there is a tremendous under-current of Microsoft hatred that fuels the Linux passion.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Manchester (UK)
    I enjoyed reading that thanks...

    I agree with the hating microsoft aspect of what he said.

    However, he was a little harsh to linux users. There are two sides to every story, and it would be nice to see a reply from a linux guru who has an opinion on this matter

  5. #5
    Originally posted by slice16
    I enjoyed reading that thanks...

    I agree with the hating microsoft aspect of what he said.

    However, he was a little harsh to linux users. There are two sides to every story, and it would be nice to see a reply from a linux guru who has an opinion on this matter
    An opinion from a linux guru?

    That's where the IT community gets it all wrong.

    Instead of worrying about what the users think about Linux or Windows or the diferent flavors of Unix, the IT people want to know about what the 'gurus' think?

    The quality that the USERS want should not suffer because of the 'bickering' that goes on amongst the different development communities.

    The quality of a product should be measured by quality code and by performance in speed and getting the job done right and securely.

    Too often I read about how proud the Linux IT community is when somebody patches up a bug or a hole in the code that could've allowed some sort of attack. The 'false' pride comes from how quickly Linux developers performed the fix. Nobody worries about the quality of the code that went into fixing the code. That's the wrong way to measure quality.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    The differences in development philosophy and goals between Linux and various versions of *BSD are not surprising. Otherwise, we wouldn't have different OS projects as the result. Even the clash of personalities between their respective top leaders is no secret. The winners here are the users, who can choose what is best for their need, and not what someone tells them so. That is what matters.

    On the other hand, if anyone bothers to do some research on Dan Lyons and his writings about Linux in the last few years, it will become obvious that the man hates Linux and its supporters with a passion. He will grasp on any little thing that can be spinned to put Linux and Free/Open Source Software in a bad light (in his view). It makes people wondering if he indeed has a hidden agenda in his Linux-related writings.
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