Rob Enderle Misunderstands Free Software and Swears a Lot

Tuesday, August 10 2004 @ 03:28 AM EDT

Contributed by: PJ

California Performance Review suggests the state of California should look into open source alternatives. Here's their summary, as to why:

"Each year the State of California spends millions of dollars on software, software maintenance and renewal. Many private and governmental organizations are turning to open source software as a cost-effective alternative to closed source software. The state should more extensively consider use of open source software, which can in many cases provide the same functionality as closed source software at a much lower total cost of ownership."

Since someone recently said only "idiots" use open source, I thought you'd like to know that the state of California is advocating boarding the ship of fools.

Here's what CPR explains, and it might clear up some misconceptions some of the older folks might have about FOSS. Some of them can't figure out that free means freedom, but it also means you can always get source code, thanks to the wonderful GPL. Yes, from Red Hat too. It's *services* you pay for, if you wish to:

"Open source solutions differ from closed source in many ways, one of which is cost. Open source solutions are typically free of charge, although some companies . . . often sell versions of open source software with related maintenance. . . .

"Open source software is developed with the source code freely available; anyone can use the software, and make changes to it as necessary. Typically changes are then made available back to the open source community using a common methodology for change control. In contrast to open source, most software development companies sell their products at a specific cost, but do not allow the user to see or modify the source code."

The reason I know some folks don't understand about free software and what it is and isn't is because I just read Rob Enderle's speech at SCOForum, which SCO has put up on its web site, unbelievably enough. I wonder if they cleared it with their lawyers. I won't give a url, and I'll tell you why. The language was so filthy, it is not fit for Groklaw and I'd never suggest anyone read it, for that reason. Anyway, if you want to, you can easily find it on your own. Really. I'm quite serious. I was offended. I've never in my life seen such language on a corporate web site. Are they not concerned that children may come to their web site? I'm starting to wonder what has happened to people's morals. Am I turning into an old lady myself or something? If you'd like a rundown, you can read Larry Greenemeier's blog about it. You'll see he was obviously a bit taken aback by the speech. I'll skip the part with the stars in it to replace one bad word, but he too tries to explain to Enderle that he misunderstands what free software is:

"Enderle warns against a world in which 'everything is free,' and suggested that a lot of the people behind the open-source and 'free-software' movement are former dot-com millionaires who made their fortune and have less of an interest right now making money than they do in keeping others namely, proprietary vendors from making money.

"Missing from Enderle's presentation, however, was the possibility that SCO itself could be perceived as a bully by using the threat of lawsuits to keep the Linux market from spreading as SCO dukes it out with IBM in the courtroom. Slowing Linux's growth seems to be the primary reason SCO in March sued AutoZone: for violating SCO's Unix copyrights. In other words, the auto parts retailer was singled out for being a Linux user.

"On Enderle's point that people and companies are 'fools' for thinking that they can get something for nothing, although I'm only one of many reporters covering the business and technology markets, I haven't heard any end-user companies talk about using Linux or open-source software because they think it's free. If I do find someone who says that, I'll let you know. Certainly, users point to Linux's lower cost when compared with Unix and Microsoft, but much of that cost savings they say comes from being able to use cheaper servers and avoid Microsoft licensing fees.

"This idea of 'free,' I'm told, refers more to the availability of source code than it does cost. Red Hat and Novell are in business to make money. They've found ways to do this off of open-source technology. It's just a different model than what's been tried in the past in selling operating systems, which was to make money off of OS licenses. Linux vendors make their money on services and the applications they package around the OS. SCO's not really so different, the company is looking at Web services tools and apps like SCOoffice as future sources of revenue. It also wants to charge specifically for its Unix OS. In the end, the market will decide who's right."

To illustrate his confusion, Enderle mentions several types of "free software" and the first example he uses is Gain. Gain is adware. Proprietary adware. Is there any other kind? There is no FOSS adware or snoopware. If anyone was silly enough to make some, anyone could look at the code and see they were being snooped on. That's the advantage of being able to look at the code yourself. Here's Gain's very proprietary license:

"License Restrictions. You may not access or use Licensed Materials other than through the graphical user interface provided with the Licensed Products and you are prohibited to access or cause the operation of the Licensed Materials through the use of any type of high-volume, automated, or electronic processes. You may not distribute or copy (other than for backup purposes) the Licensed Materials. You may not, and you agree not to attempt or allow others to attempt to, modify, reverse-engineer, decompile, disassemble, or otherwise discover the Licensed Materials or equivalents of Licensed Materials including but not limited to GP's technology and methodology for delivery of advertisements and the content of any and all of GP's communications and content stored on GP's servers, or to access or modify the Licensed Materials' source code in any way. You do not have the right to create derivative works of Licensed Materials and any and all such modifications or enhancements to the Licensed Materials are the sole property of GP or its business associates. You further agree not to access GP or GP business associate services or software application by any means other than the interface provided by GP or such business associate to access the relevant service. You acknowledge and agree that any and all communications between GP and the Licensed Materials and the content stored on GP's computer servers and in its software includes confidential information of GP and you may not access, publish, transmit, display, create derivative works of, store, or otherwise exploit any such confidential information except as such functions are performed by the Licensed Materials in the ordinary course of operation. Any use of a packet sniffer or other device to intercept or access communications between GP and the Licensed Materials is strictly prohibited. Without limiting GP's rights, you understand that GP, in its discretion, may modify, discontinue, or suspend your right to access any of the Licensed Materials at any time; provided, however, in the event that GP makes such modification, discontinuance, or suspension of your right to access any of the Licensed Materials, you may terminate your obligation to receive GAIN Ads, and this Agreement, by removing all GAIN Supported Software as provided hereunder."

The next example he gives is "free trials" of Go Back. Go Back by Norton (now Symantec-owned) is also proprietary software, as you can see from their EULA, which you can get as a PDF from this page. Just scroll down to the link beneath "License Agreement."

Neither example has anything to do with free software. In short, he doesn't know what free software is, so nothing he said means anything, not that it wasn't interesting to hear about his pistol-packing, law-breaking days and all, running from a wife's husband or whatever that part was about, and his grateful ties to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. The Ballmer part has swear words embedded, but the Gates section is clean, so here you go, the reason why he says he feels biased toward Microsoft:

"With Microsoft my relationship goes deeper. A few years back, when I was first starting out as an analyst, I got myself into a lot of hot water by doing something I knew was wrong to prevent a crime from being committed. I am both an ex-auditor and an ex-sheriff and took the related vows very seriously and still, for the most part, live by them.

"By all accounts I would have lost my job and probably had to change careers again if it weren't for Bill Gates personally coming to my defense and pointing out that what I did probably kept a lot of folks out of jail. He didn't have to do that and, to this day I doubt he even remembers he did, but I remember."

Poor Microsoft. With friends like this, who needs enemies? Enderle does say one thing worth repeating, in case it is true. Of course, being immersed in the rest of the pile, who knows? He says BayStar is "still" trying to take over SCO. Now isn't that special? Microsoft encourages BayStar to invest, and then BayStar tries to take over the company, presumably IP and all. It's a good thing SCO wasn't able to find any infringing code and Linux turned out to be clean as a whistle, huh? And that's if SCO actually has any IP, given Novell's assertion.

Speaking of sheriffs, it's free as in freedom, Mr. Enderle. As in free speech. You know, the thing America's Founding Fathers laid down their lives for?

He also incorrectly states that you can't get free software for free any more from Red Hat. You *can* get it right here. How can analysts come to correct conclusions if they don't get their facts right? They can't.

His obvious bias makes it impossible for him to get anything right, including his slander about Groklaw. He wants SCO to win, and he hates IBM, and that's that. I have to admit, it doesn't feel nice when people tell lies about you, though, and he says several untrue things about Groklaw. I didn't send anyone to SCOForum, by the way, for one thing. Those folks are losing it, and how.

Oh. I'm not a former millionaire either.

Groklaw is information, presented with links to proofs, so you can make up your own mind. If we've been effective, and obviously Mr. Enderle thinks we have been, it's the facts that have done it, and we don't control the facts. We just find them. That's Groklaw's secret. Research. If that decimates SCO's case, we are not to blame. It's the facts that do it. Clear, convincing facts are not bullying. It's called truth. No one has ever threatened anyone on Groklaw, by the way, that I've ever seen. Never. I don't even want swear words used here. And our encouragement has always been not to email Mr. Enderle or have any dealings with him.

He wants SCO to win and he's entitled to wish whatever he wants to. But his prejudiced and unbelievably vituperative emotional display in this speech doesn't add up to analysis. It's not even FUD. He behaved badly and embarrassed himself. Did they serve alcohol at SCOForum or something?

One more little detail: SCO's new distribution is jam packed with free software. Free as in freedom. And one new product began life as a Linux application, which was later ported to UNIX. Just so he knows, before he goes calling people who use free software idiots. I believe he counts SCO as a friend, so I doubt he meant to call *them* idiots. I personally think it's bad taste to call anyone an idiot, but obviously we live by different standards.

So, Groklaw has been attacked within the space of about a week by two of SCO's triumvirate. I expect next Laura DiDio will put out survey results showing that 4 out of 5 Windows users find Windows has a better TCO than Groklaw.

I hope Mr. Enderle will come to his senses and do the right thing. If he's a gentleman, he will. Because if he's in his right mind, doesn't suffer from hardening of the arteries, and was not drinking, he really should apologize for what he said about Groklaw.