COLA FAQ 3 of 7 23-Nov-2002

COLA FAQ 3 of 7 23-Nov-2002

Post by Kenneth Down » Sun, 24 Nov 2002 09:26:45

#  Recent Changes:
#  24-Aug-2002:  Corrected to, thanks
#                to Ryan

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS - PART 3

          3.0   Part 3, Common Misconceptions About Linux

         What is FUD?  Why do People FUD Linux?
         FUD Defined and Described
         The Inevitable Discussion of Microsoft

         Common Misconceptions About Linux
         General or Vague Misconceptions
         Technical Misconceptions
         Misconceptions About the Community
         Misconceptions about Linux's Future
         Financial Misconceptions

     Other Debunking Sites


      Copyright (c)  2002.  This document is copyright by the individuals
      named in the credits, section

      Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
      under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1
      or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
      A copy of the license can be viewed at:


          ============================================================  What is FUD?  Why do People FUD Linux?  FUD Defined and Described

    FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.  It refers to the
    competitive practice of promoting your own product by planting fear,
    uncertainty and doubt in the mind of the customer regarding your
    competitor's product.  There is a nice definition at

    and a discussion here:  The Inevitable Discussion of Microsoft

    Because Linux threatens Microsoft's revenues, one would expect
    Microsoft to extol the virtues of their products and to downplay
    any advantages that Linux has.  They tend to do this by using words
    like "cancerous" and "anti-capitalistic" in describing Linux and
    the General Public License.

    Since early 2002 Microsoft spokespersons have been heavily attacking
    the GPL as a destroyer of jobs, decrying the alleged lack of support
    that those who choose free software will suffer, and promoting their
    own roles as innovators and protectors of standards.  

    Microsoft has also declared that the GPL directly harms intellectual
    property and has, as of this writing, outlawed the use of GPL
    software in at least one situation in the licensing terms of its
    CIFS networking products:

    The list of Microsoft arguments is long, but to read a penetrating
    and devasting refutation of Microsoft FUD, try this link:

    For definitions of the terms "free software" and to review the General
    Public License, see these two links, respectively.

    The term "open source" is often used interchangeably with "free
    software", but this technically is not correct.  To find out more about
    "open source", see the site for the Open Source Initiative:  Common Misconceptions About Linux  General or Vague Misconceptions "Linux is hard to use"

      Most people here on COLA answer this with their own experience,
      which tends to run along these themes:

      -> It sometimes seems harder at first because I was not used
         to it, but it actually makes a lot more sense than, say, Windows,
         when you get into it, and is well worth a little learning because
         it is so powerful.

      -> I read the manual and did what it said and it worked, what's
         the problem?

      -> I thought it was harder and I wasted a lot of time making it
         harder than it was.  It's not hard.  Just get a good book, read
         it, and do it.

      -> Bullshit!  (this is often the opinion of quarrelsome unix
         veterans.  But it's simple and succint, unlike  
         this parenthetical comment).

      To get a little more serious, Linux as unix is based on a philosophy
      of building up a complex system out of simple parts, each of which
      does one job very well.  This allows the user/admin/programmer to
      learn a few simple principles and then extrapolate in any situation.

      [Maintainer's Note:  I had some difficulty myself getting into this
       mindset, most often because I kept expecting Linux to be
       hard, when it is not.  It is detailed, but these details
       build up according to consistent design ideas, which makes Linux
       rather simple after all.]

      A great deal of thought, decisions about what is a "proper" design,
      goes into making sure that those extrapolations remain consistent.

      It does not happen by accident and things which break or ignore that
      precept need to be far better than what came before to continue
      being used.  "Linux has no GUI"

      There are two answers to this myth.  If you are new to Linux,
      then the simple answer is that this is false, because all modern
      distributions that go by the name "Linux" contain not just one,
      but several GUIs to choose from.  If you are considering a first-
      time plunge into Linux, don't worry, anything you buy or download
      will have a GUI, and you can get deeper into the technical stuff
      at your own speed.

      From a purely technical standpoint, however, the statement is true,
      because "Linux" proper refers only to the kernel, the innermost
      part of a complete operating system, and that kernel does not support
      a GUI.

      In fact, there are several GUIs that are commonly used on Linux.  
      Many distributions include most or all of the popular ones
      listed here.

      The "mainstream" GUIS are often cited as being easiest for those
      who are coming from other popular systems such as Windows:

        KDE  :  

      The specialty GUIs, used most often because they require less
      resources than KDE or Gnome, or because they better fit the personal
      preferences of the user:

        IceWM        :
        blackbox     :
        fluxbox      :
        fvwm         :
        Window Maker :
        xfce         :

      To keep things simple, the above paragraphs have used the word "GUI"
      in an over-generalized way.  The GUI itself is actually broken up
      into the X Server, the Window Manager, and the Desktop (where even
      the word "Desktop" is a little vague, a collection of programs and
      libraries that create a certain look and feel). A complete
      discussion of this system is far beyond the scope of this FAQ, but
      generally when people talk about a Linux GUI they mean the X Window
      System, plus a window manager and desktop (listed above).  You can
      find out more at

      It is also very common to run servers without a GUI to save those
      megabytes of RAM for serving data over the wire.  The ability to
      eliminate the GUI altogether, an ability not shared by all
      contenders for the server market, is often cited as an advantage for

      See section 2, "Why We Advocate Linux", for more information on the
      capabilities of X. "Linux help is terrible"

      First, it is the universal advice on COLA to anyone getting started
      with Linux is to buy a good book.  There is a strong liking of
      anything by O'Reilly ( ), and the book
      "Linux in a Nutshell" (currently in 3rd ed) is often mentioned.

      Now, to be completely technical, when we speak of help for a
      Linux system, we do not usually mean help for that single piece,
      the kernel, that is Linux proper.  We usually tend to assume people
      are talking about help for the GNU command line tools, the X
      windowing system, or other popular free/open software that is commonly
      included with a Linux distribution.  That being said...

      The general feeling about the actual myth is that it is not true,
      because Linux has a lot of different types of help, each of which
      addresses a certain need.  Trying to find what you need in the wrong
      place can be very frustrating, so let's go through the types of help
      that are available (we've already  mentioned that a good book is an
      enormous help).

      Task-oriented documentation is found in what we call the HOWTOs and
      Mini-HOWTOs.  These are useful for specific tasks like setting up
      a dual-boot machine.  Find these at the Linux Documentation Project,

      Purely reference material is found in the man system, while the info
      system tends to more expository text, examples, and explanations.
      We can make the following generalizations about them:

      ->  The actual help text is stored in two systems, called the
          "man" pages and the "info" pages.
      ->  Man pages tend to be self-contained, treating one command
          or idea to completion in a single concise document.  They
          are also intended to look

read more »


COLA FAQ 3 of 7 23-Nov-2002

Post by Seymour » Tue, 26 Nov 2002 16:39:08

Quote:>Yet many new hardware devices are released without Linux support but
>with  Windows support OOTB.

That knife cuts both way; sometimes Linux has better hardware support
than 'doze does. In the early OS/2 days I complained about the poor
OS/2 support for a certain graphics adapter, until I found out that
the windoze drivers for the card were even worse. The Devil is in the

Quote:>Most Linux people are OK but a significant number are downright
>hostile and  rude.

See "Sturgeon's Law". Plus the fact that mild[1] hostility and
rudeness are a way of life in Usenet.

[1]They don't really have flames on Usenet. They think they do, but
that's only because they've never seen the real thing. Back in the old
days, before FIDO, when men were men and sheep were scared, there were
some real flames.

     Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz, SysProg and JOAT
     Atid/2, Team OS/2, Team PL/I

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