Linux

5 phrases that diminish the credibility of Linux, Mac, and Windows users

TechRepublic member dcolbert lists five phrases used in Linux, Mac, and Windows flame wars that diminish the credibility of the argument.
This post was written by TechRepublic member dcolbert.

Much like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," if you see the same claim made in every argument, time and time again, that claim starts to lose credibility. I don't think there’s anywhere in modern life where this is more visible than in the Linux/Mac/Windows flame wars currently taking place throughout the Web. With that in mind, I'd like to present a list of phrases that are as overplayed as your least favorite Nickleback song.

  1. Constantly referring to the opponent's choice of OS platforms in "witty" and disparaging language I can't think of a better way to describe this, but when you can't call it "Microsoft Windows" but must, EVERY time you mention it, call it "M$ Winblowz," you're just destroying your credibility. It isn't building your "geek cred" – instead, it’s making people as uncomfortable as it does when you rant over the specific details of your favorite counter-culture Manga graphic novel. Oh, you didn't know that creeps people out, too? It does.
  2. Insisting that "Security through obscurity" is a myth

    I'm willing to entertain that there are physical design features of *nix based OSs that from a security perspective, when administered by a highly-skilled, competent, and dedicated *nix admin, are simply superior to the security design of Win32 and Win64 architecture. However, I'd be willing to bet that the careful qualifications in the sentence above disqualify roughly 98% of Linux boxes out there and probably even MORE Apple boxes from being thought of as "inherently more secure than Windows."

    With those truths in place, then the remaining reason that *nix based OSs enjoy fewer exploits, attacks, and compromises is specifically due to security through obscurity. If you’re a security expert with advanced Linux and/or UNIX hardening experience, and all of your *nix boxes are as secure as is possible, don't take this as a personal attack on you. It’s all the OTHER morons who haven't patched the glaring SSH exploit on their Ubuntu install or who upgraded to OS 10.6 but didn't fix the Flash downgrade who are to blame.

    Fortunately, the odds that these people will ever actually feel the impact of their sloppy security administration are astronomically slim, because even when an Ubuntu or OS X box is wide open, the script kiddies are 999 times out of 1000 more likely to go after a secured Win32 box first, simply because there are so many more of them to choose from.
  3. Calling your opponent a "Fanboy" This is especially true if you use some cute misspelling of the word to try and make it seem more... I don’t know, punk and edgy? And, here, let me raise my hand on this one. Guilty. I've done it. We've all done it. It is played out. Stop. Just stop. To be honest, when your opponent starts taking YOUR slur and using it with pride, it’s time to hang up using that word at all in your arguments. And if you're one of the people adopting the term "Fanboy" as a term of pride... don't. Drop it. Let it die.
  4. Responding "methinks"... to *anything*

    This one applies in general to every aspect of your life. If you want to ensure that everyone around instantly understands that you are a desperate, lonely, awkward nerd who is liable to end up in a bell tower with a high-powered rifle, then just go ahead and start a sentence with "methinks." It doesn't have to be technical, and it doesn't have to be particularly nerdy. Here’s an example:

    "Methinks that Jiff is likely a better peanut butter product than Skippy."

    See?!? There is nothing nerdy at all in the observation above – until you add a "methinks" to it.
  5. Calling anything – anything – “FUD"

    This attack instantly shows that you're biased and live for seeking out and partaking in flame-bait discussions online. Now, for those of you who aren't forum flame warriors, FUD does not stand for something obscene – it actually means "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt."

    We all know that FUD is one of the oldest tricks in the book, in matters far more important than if OS X Snow Leopard is Apple's "Windows Vista." Politicians, generals, and dating singles all successfully use FUD on a regular basis to increase their odds at success. For these folks, when the opponent or target of the FUD starts screaming that FUD is being used against them, how good does it make them look? How credible do they appear? How well does it defend their position – especially if that is their only response? So, why should it be any different in discussions about OS preferences?

    Listen, if someone makes a claim against your position, whatever it is, and you believe it’s "FUD", don't simply call it "FUD" and leave it at that – because that’s how I most often see this stupid phrase invoked in these arguments. Instead, make your counter arguments, point-by-point, that discredit the claim being made that you think is designed to create "FUD."

So, what are your thoughts? Do you agree, disagree, or think I'm just spreading more Winblowz FUD to try and make it easier for the M$ fanboiz to defend their lame OS choice? Is there anything that I missed? Let me hear your thoughts.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

110 comments
bruce
bruce

I think the far more interesting question is... why. Why? Why do people get so attached to their OS that they defend it to the bitter end like a religious zealot...? That, to me, is the most interesting phenomenon around this topic. Meanwhile. Ubuntu is the only OS any mind capable of thinking could possibly run. ;)

KimTjik
KimTjik

Nr. 1 is pass? and I seldom see it used these days, at least not among members of the Linux community I'm part of. I suppose they're more frequently used on sites like this one. What implication that has on these site's demographics I don't know, because I don't have any figures. Of course it's unfair, because Linux is a much harder word to play with. Nr. 2 looks like a mish-mash of information. Are we talking about exploiting bugs, "spontaneous virus infections through webb-browser", human intelligent hacking or what? The premise is in itself obscure, since obscurity of course adds to security. Then to claim that Linux is an obscure system today is a far-fetched claim. Today it's not about fame as in the days, but a simple rule: follow the money. Thus compromising Linux, especially servers, are of greater interest than random machines that are up running a few hours now and then. Does anybody doubt that human error or ignorance is the greatest security risk? What's of more importance is therefore inherited qualities. If the tools are there it's up to you to use it. If you don't use them you can of course only blame yourself. Or is the argument about which category of users that are more security aware? Even though that's irrelevant to the technology argument it would be interesting to make a survey among desktop users of the systems in question. Nr. 3 I mainly encounter this among Intel vs. AMD or AMD/ATi vs. Nvidia supporters. Why you support a company instead of simply buying the best product for the money, or supporting the competition, I don't understand. Within Linux users I rarely see it used against Windows users, more often in silly distro battles between youngsters. Anyway it's a useless and boring approach. Nr. 4 is something that I've not encountered. The folks I discuss with don't use at least. Nr. 5 since FUD is a regular part of what's happening on the Webb it's impossible to ignore the fact that a random nick that suddenly states something twisted could be a professional doing his job or an overly zealous volunteer of some cause. Hence my advice would be to not engage in discussions with anonymous folks, or aggressive ones that don't add anything to the discussion but heating up the emotions. It's better to ignore them an focus on the subject. It isn't difficult to find users of all OSs that have an open mind to discuss matters and challenge your perceptions without falling back to ridiculous statements. These discussions take place all the time and we learn from each other. The real FUD that takes place it much more damaging than unfruitful FUD fights.

OlyimpicSoftworks-Dave
OlyimpicSoftworks-Dave

As was stated above, this is directed much more towards GNU/Linux users than Windows or Mac users with the verbage from #2 and #5 being things that only GNU/Linux advocates can be accused of. Fanboy/fanboi? That is not as offensive as being called a shill though...surely that term would have rated here as well? Regarding #2. jlwallen already called it, but I need to second him on this since no one else has. GNU/Linux is anything but obscure folks, the number of of webservers, routers, phones, and other appliances means it is everywhere at every level of commerce and home use. The number of instances of LAMP running at any time is staggering. GNU/Linux is the most valuable target out there and anyone that comes up with an exploit for any large number of units would be an instant phenomenon in the Black-hat circles. GNU/Linux is built from the ground up with security as a focus. Connect a stock install of a modern GNU/Linux and stock install of Windows to the net directly with no NAT, no external firewall, and no third party apps. Only up to the day updates...see which machine gets compromised first. Regarding the correct way to respond to FUD. I am an advocate of GNU/Linux and have been for years now. Unless the FUD argument is delivered point by point, rebutting it that way is useless. Usually the FUD is one or two sentences long and is one of many common myths about GNU/Linux. Something like: Linux is hard to use, Linux can't handle multimedia, Linux has crapy support, Linux doesn't have good software. All of these are incorrect. But a reply several paragraphs long to refute 5 to 6 words just looks foolish. Therefore we use the FUD label, and I say let the person posting the comment explain him/her self. So I see using the term FUD as a response as perfectly reasonable.

Rambo Tribble
Rambo Tribble

Using "troll" against someone should be considered at least as disingenuous as "fanboy". Another, largely unmentioned, factor in *nix security is "security through diversity". With divergent implementations of filesystems, runlevels, initialization systems, etc. writing exploits becomes much more challenging.

egmccann
egmccann

Oh, my. These aren't *recently* getting added to the "overplayed" list. They were overplayed, overblown, and irritating back when we were arguing OS/2 2.1 and 3 vs NT (and it's "fake numbering,") Plug-and-Pray (which, truly, in 95 was closer to the truth, but that held on for some time) - I was seeing (and involved in, I must admit) these back before Linux had xFree, though there were still some *nix folks chipping in. FUD, as a description, at least had a place (with questionable errors back in Win3.1 if you were using DrDOS instead of MSDOS,) but if anyone's still affected by that, I think it's time to upgrade. These are past overplayed and tired. These are past flattened dead-horse. I agree, they just need to go *away.*

seanferd
seanferd

And calling it a "myth" is either inaccurate, or an attempt to stuff straw into old clothing.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

whom I recently had the pleasure of meeting over on ZDNet. I really wish he'd wander over here; he's more fun than Q- and WebNinja combined.

theillien
theillien

Please don't talk about things which you don't have a clue about. It makes me uncomfortable and doesn't increase your geek-cred.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I guess the reason is the same reason anyone begins to identify with a brand - they derive part of their identity from their "brand identity". Polo, BMW, Audi, Tommy, Ford, Chevy, Dodge... PC, Mac, Linux. I mean, we can find flamewars on all sorts of brand identity across the web. For the record, I consider myself a BMW guy, I don't like Audis. I think they've got heavy, leaden steering and use technology to mask engineering weakness and provide drivers an artificial edge. But you'll get a lot of people arguing a completely contrary point from my perspective, and most of the arguments on both sides rely on subjective experience, not fact. But if BMW really started to deliver substantially less well-engineered products and Audi strated to offer substantially compelling alternatives - I don't think I'm married to the blue ande white propeller. And to me, Linux and Ubuntu is a lot like Audi - close, but falling just short. I run Ubuntu on my Eee PC 701, which I very rarely use - but it does a good job there when I need it. I've also got an old Dimension 8200 at the office that I installed Ubuntu on, and it did a great job there. At home, I tried to install on a similar old Dell, maybe a GX model, and it had a terrible time with the video resolution. I had to hand edit the modes and refresh rates of the LCD in xorg.conf to get it to work with the restricted Nvidia drivers so that I had Compiz cube support. Yeah, this requires an itimate familiarity with Linux and your hardware that neither OS X or Win 7 require - one that is likely to be a deal breaker for the average user, and on an old machine like this, that is EXACTLY the place where a Linux distro should "shine". Once I got through that, I found that Ubuntu 9.04 has trouble with my Win32 home network. Oddly enough, mapping to a FreeNAS box (FreeBSD based) is problematic for this machine, although my Win32 boxes have no problem, my Mac Mini and Hackintosh have no problem. And those ongoing little inconveniences are what make OS X, Win32, so much more attractive. It isn't about branding. The thing about Linux is that often they make claims of "FUD", but perhaps there is a reason. Maybe Linux is the OS *of* FUD. Fear that I may waste a ton of my time trying to get this to work. Uncertainity that I will ever be able to actually resolve all the issues, doubt that it might have been a better idea to pay the premium for a Mac, or face the potential security issues of a Win based system. :)

jackie40d
jackie40d

I can run windows inside of Virtual Box and do the stuff I need to do with out having windows crash and it does the job . . There are companies which say they are not going to make any Linux software so I got to use the bleeping windows version . . IE using Virtual Box and then I can leave the internet conection runing and do stuff with out the worry about windows and spy bots or any other stuff which windows collects . . I can even use Magic jack inside of windows and make phone calls in the library hehehe . . Talk about FREE stuff and send FAXs same way . . makes the federal congress once again receiving my FAX's hehehe

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Unless the FUD argument is delivered point by point, rebutting it that way is useless. Usually the FUD is one or two sentences long and is one of many common myths about GNU/Linux. ... But a reply several paragraphs long to refute 5 to 6 words just looks foolish. Therefore we use the FUD label, and I say let the person posting the comment explain him/her self." I don't know why you think a multi-paragraph reply looks foolish, but I guess that's an 'eye of the beholder' issue. But if you wait for the person who posted the FUD to explain it, it's not going to happen. He doesn't think what he posted is FUD, and your labeling it so without explanation isn't going to inspire a reasoned reply.

SKDTech
SKDTech

"Something like: Linux is hard to use, Linux can't handle multimedia, Linux has crapy support, Linux doesn't have good software. All of these are incorrect. But a reply several paragraphs long to refute 5 to 6 words just looks foolish. Therefore we use the FUD label, and I say let the person posting the comment explain him/her self. So I see using the term FUD as a response as perfectly reasonable." Linux is hard to use in that the user experience is not uniform across all distros or even the most commonly used ones. Windows and Mac have a more uniform user experience across releases. I will admit that Linux is making good progress in some of these areas but (personal opinion) it still has a ways to go if it wants to achieve widespread adoption on the desktop. Linux does not enjoy as high a level of multimedia support out-of-the-box as Mac or Windows thanks to the portion of the community that feels that if it isn't totally free and/or open-source it shouldn't be included by default. Much as some may dislike it, MP3 has become a defacto standard for audio and there is no good reason I can fathom for not supporting it. Linux support can be quite hard to fathom for people who don't even know what hardware is in their PC, what OS is installed or that Word isn't Windows or vice versa. Software is a hard one to argue, there are wide libraries of software for Linux, Windows and Mac but the real test is the level of polish. Windows and Mac software looks great and users generally get what they are paying for/expect. There are great Linux programs out there but we come to the problem of finding them. I have Ubuntu installed on my machine, When I bring up the Add/Remove programs interface(this is what most are going to use) there is a box at the top which says Canonical maintained. I would not expect most users to realize that by clicking that box they can expand their list of programs. And installing from tarballs is even more arcane to them. Just because you think it is silly to write several paragraphs to refute a couple of words of FUD does not make it so. If you aren't willing to reply in a meaningful way then why should they. If you post a meaningful argument and they don't reply then you have scored the points. If you just say FUD and don't back it up then the debate that could have been never elevates above the level of playground name calling.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Is this an example where someone might respond... "methinks..." legitimately? :D Sure seems like the Linux crowd feels picked on here and is going to effort to try and justify many of the behaviors I call out here. Again, there are examples that I use that may seem to target Linux more than other OSes, but that is simply because I am more familiar with the Linux crowd using these tactics, if anything. That doesn't mean that these same tactics aren't used among OS X users, or Microsoft users. And, yes, calling someone a "shill" should probably go away, as well. No one, not ONE person, in any of these online flame wars is being actually paid to go out and find these threads and post a perspective that is completely biased one way or the other.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Servers and routers are behind firewalls, with a staff to tend to their care and feeding. Such systems aren't as vulnerable as the more prominent consumer systems, regardless of the OS.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I get your points and largely agree, however, diversity presents issues in and of itself. Isn't life just one big double edged sword? With too much diversity, systems become more and more unmanageable. With the sheer number of systems I personally manage at work, the more diversity I have the less I am able to be a "master" of each. Both standardization and diversity present their own unique advantages and disadvantages if taken to an extreme.

SKDTech
SKDTech

"Security through Diversity" arguments than "Security through Obscurity". Diversity such as you described is a greater factor in the "inherent" security of *Nix than obscurity. With Windows or Mac machines there is far less diversity in the basics you can count on between individual installs. Also with Windows there is a larger security hole in the form of people who do not update in a timely fashion. For example, Conficker exploited a hole that would have been patched in October of 2008 if the user had been updating when the patches are released. Everyone in my family was asking me about it thanks to the scare publicized by the media and I was able to confidently tell them all, because I maintain all of their computers, that they were safe thanks to automatic updates and good anti-malware strategies.

j-mart
j-mart

Security through design as with nix, the system has tools for securing system built in at a fundamental level.

dcolbert
dcolbert

There is a classic I had forgotten. And I think you hit on something... Many of these, at some point, were witty and relevent. But when they're still being used commonly and they've largely lost their relevency, it is time to let them go.

AstroCreep
AstroCreep

Yes, Linux, UNIX, and other non-Microsoft operating systems may be less of a target than Windows, but "Security Through Obscurity" only goes so far. Perfect example is that TCP/IP vulnerability that Microsoft recently patched on their systems; it affected the Posix/*nix systems as well. Buffer overflows are common to all, as is buggy, exploitable software. Remember, I can still run Quake on Linux and Office on my Mac. And when it comes to Macs, let's not go down the path of how OSX is being targeted more and more frequently now. Myth or not, it is definitely happening. Using a different OS simply means that my target is potentially smaller.

jdclyde
jdclyde

it isn't the one or two secure Windows boxes out there that are targetted. Mr. ScriptKiddy runs an app that scans a range of IP's on the internet that looks for systems that have specific ports open, and they go from there. So because of this, the linux system generally is not likely to have the same open ports, thus removing its self from the cross hairs. Which system is more likely to be compromised by viewing a web page? That is what I thought. B-)

dcolbert
dcolbert

But this isn't one of them.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Man am I embarassed now that everone knows I'm *not* into Japanese comic book porn - and that you evidenlty *really* are. I actually had to look up the word "manga", because I thought it was spelled "magna". *shaking my head in shame*

yattwood
yattwood

(Okay, so I betray my "nerdom" by using a 'Star Trek' reference...) In the forgettable 'Star Trek V', Engineer Montgomery Scott declares: "The right tool for the right job" (if I recall correctly) On any given day, I am doing Oracle on HP-UX/AIX, SQL Server 2000/2005 on Windows 2000/2003, DB2 on AIX, and I have begun experimenting with Ubuntu on VMWare, even installing Oracle on it. I started out with MVS/TSO/JCL/CICS/IMS; I learned UNIX (HP-UX/AIX/Solaris/IRIX/NCR UNIX); I support SQL Server and have done some DB2. I've purchased MacBooks for my sons. Truthfully, I prefer the *NIX's - there's just something so satisfying about the ability to whip up a 'ps -ef | grep "LOCAL=NO" | awk '{ print $2 }' | xargs kill -9' I use GUI's, but I write scripts, too. "the right tool for the right job...."

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I agree. Rarely is a reply needed to be paragraphs and paragraphs long. Google the issue and provide hyperlinks to reputable websites.

dcolbert
dcolbert

At the start it seems like you are defending the lazy response of "it is FUD"... but by the end, it seems like you're agreeing with me, that calling it "FUD" and not backing it up is a lazy man's response that really serves no purpose and becomes more of a "me-too!" post than anything that contributes to progress or valuable discussion of an issue. Oh... wait... the first paragraph you are quoting someone DEFENDING the use of the term "FUD"... And then the rest, you are, point by point, addressing their argument in a reasonable, rational, and consistent manner. Yeah! Score one for the anti-FUD crowd, and with a GREAT an unintentional example of why the FUD argument looks so weak and serves no purpose. I love it, SKDTech! :)

jackie40d
jackie40d

words will never hurt me ! ! I have gone over to Ubuntu completely now and use Virtual Box to load windows to run programs which the companies say they will not make a Linux version ! Gee it never crashes and my hair is now growing out again hahaha And to shut off windows I just exit from the Virtual box . . Plus I can hook up the Magic Jack use the library and make REAL FREE phone calls looks kinda strange sitting in the library and using a dial up phone to make phone calls and its plugged into my computer . . And since they never shut off the computer inside I can be there after they close now and go on line . .

dcolbert
dcolbert

One of the things I am shocked by, consistently, from an enterprise management perspective, is the relative indifference about updates in the *nix and OS X world compared to the guarded hesitation about updates in the Win32 (enterprise) world. I know it isn't because OS X and *nix updates don't occasionally "break" things. I've seen it happen on both platforms, and on Win32 as well. If anything, I am less familiar with Linux or other *nix platforms running mission critical apps or services in a production, enterprise environment. If I were from such a shop, I bet I would encounter more hesitation in allowing the latest laundry list of updates and patches to automically apply to a production server. The point is, Win32 machines, especially server, especially enterprise, and especially production, suffer a double edged sword. They're more likely to be targeted (and I'll accept the argument of security through diversity as being at least EQUAL to security through obscurity in giving Linux an edge here) in the first place. In the second place, I think that production, mission critical, enterprise machines are less likely to be patched immediately to the most current release, as general IT "best practice" - because "sometimes the prevention is worse than the disease". My guess is that where you encounter OS X in mission critical enterprise server roles (or maybe "if you were to encounter OS X in"...)or where you encounter Linux in mission critical enterprise server roles, you'll find that they are NOT on the latest patches being applied automatically - because applying the latest patch automatically on ANY platform is a recipe to bring production down. Others have pointed out that the vast number of daily patches on most Linux distros is overwhelming. I can imagine especially so if you were manually reviewing and doing regression testing on those patches before allowing them into production. My *guess* is that there is a lot of "finger crossing" and cutting corners in Best Practice regression testing in the Linux server community, especially beneath the Enterprise Datacenter level. My point is, that yes, I can see your argument about security through diversity. An exploit that works on OS X works on OS X, that works on Win32 works on Win32, but one that works on Ubuntu may not work on any other distro. On the other hand, I think that if you didn't patch a SSH exploit that exists across all current *nix distros that have that particular version of SSH installed - you've got security through obscurity going for you far more than any other factor. Although I suppose we've got two different groups we're talking about here. Desktop end users, Linux users probably do update more religiously than desktop Win32 end users. At the production server level though, I bet it breaks down pretty much the same... that is, almost everyone is behind the curve and waiting to see how things go for early adopters before applying the patches themselves - if they're not applying the patches in test first and regression testing for a week or so. Either case, in which, living for awhile with the vunerability is often seen as less risk than applying the patch without knowing the possible impact.

seanferd
seanferd

MS makes use of security through obscurity, as the source code and native API is not available for MS software. Just because something isn't as popular as something else does not mean it has some "benefit" of security through obscurity.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Mac has become high enough profile that it is attracting the attention of more exploit attempts. It is precisely because of the success of OS X that we are seeing more interest in exploiting the Mac in the hacking community. (The other thing we can infer here is the ongoing disinterest in exploiting Linux machines is indication of the ongoing failure of Linux to have a significant impact on the desktop OS market). As OS X becomes less obscure, it becomes less secure. Linux remains obscure, and secure. Someone used the example of port scanning and said that these ports would be "different" on Linux than Win32... um, the ports that are MOST likely to have exploitable services exposed on them are "well known ports", like Telnet, SMTP, and Web. A port scanner is going to find any exposed port on these well known ports regardless of what OS is running. I've had unpatched Linux machines with a well known exploitable SSH bug up and running for months, left completely alone, while my IIS logs were full of daily buffer overflow exploit attempts that failed on my hardened Win32 machines. I've *seen* Security through Obscurity in action - and so far here the attempts to defend the idea that "Security Through Obscurity" is a myth - fail to convince me otherwise.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I go by the same alias at ZDNet as I do here. It auto-logged me in when I clicked through after googling "Loverock". And yeah, guys like this actually do more damage to the discussion than good. It sounds like the guy HAS used Linux, and understands some of the historic issues with running Linux, but there is a clear disconnect between how Linux used to work and how it works today in L.R. D's world. http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-9595-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=69363&messageID=1325915 is a great example. I used to recompile Debian quite frequently. I haven't had a reason to recompile Ubuntu once. But there are Linux or OS X examples of this kind of behavior, too. People who are using arguments that apply to Win98 as if they're still an issue in Windows XP, Vista or 7.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If he's not getting checks from Redmond it's because MS realizes he's doing more harm than good. Google him, although he'd probably insist you use Bing.

cbnsingram
cbnsingram

Uh, your lack of "magna" knowledge is a good thing. You may stabilize your head in pride.

theillien
theillien

It gets rather old that so many people generalize manga and anime as nothing but Japanese porn. And I'd be inclined to consider you simply ignorant and uninformed. But, since you admit to having looked it up you should have become aware that there is more to manga and anime than what you moronically joke about.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That works, and sometimes I use it. Individual style and audience will play a big role. With a highly technical audience, if you provide links and the responses show that they're not being followed, it is easy to call your opponent on that behavior, which can definetly give you a credibility *edge* in a discussion. And, I know better than anyone, that being too verbose is a liability. I struggle with trying to be concise and efficient in my communications, but I'm just a wordy, long winded guy. It is in my nature.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

even I find the 'original' offensive. I'm sincere when I ask for a replacement analogy.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That was a Herculean effort to clean up the offensive quality of how this was originally worded. A+ for effort. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's a hideously incorrect analogy, but I haven't found anything better. "Arguing on the Internet is like being in the Special Olympics. You may win, but just participating tells people a lot about you." No offense intended, and I'd gladly accept a replacement comparison.

SKDTech
SKDTech

I have always felt that if you are going to argue something then you should actually put the effort into it to make it worth both your time and anyone else who may participate or listen/read. Throwing around playground level insults and making no actual points is a waste of time and effort.

jackie40d
jackie40d

Well since I am on Social Security and all that stuff I like being able to use something now and then . . By the way Magic Jack was not free it costs $40.00 a year ! ! So I am getting my use of the money I spent and as to Linux being a YOUNG MENS O/S ahummm I am Not one of you men maybe dyke on a bike but most definately not one of you men !

dcolbert
dcolbert

Linux people are often "frugal" for lack of a better word. I've got a friend who still works at Intel who likes to say, "Linux is only as free as your time". Now, I'm not judging your reasons, but MOST people are not willing to go to the library to make VoIP phone calls to save on a phone bill. MOST people are willing to pay a service premium to bust out an iPhone at the bar and impress friends, peers and chicks. This kind of "extremism of frugality" is a hallmark of many Linux advocates - and is something they seem to not get - that "normal" people will pay extra for convenience and luxury. The convenience that OS X, and Win32 provide. That MS Office and Photoshop provide. The Open Source community wants to blame users for not adopting GIMP or Open Office. But there has to be something more to it than that. People do NOT pay $xx for something when there is another product of similar quality available free. Ask Netscape. Linux is a Young Man's OS. :)

GreatLakesSkipper
GreatLakesSkipper

We all know of the occasional disaster - and then we manage by crisis. I don't know of many mission-critical WinX servers (of the ones discussed peer to peer) that are on automatic update: Every update is evaluated for effect and often reviewed with a vendor or two as well (or should it be "oftentimes"?).

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'd point out a couple of things... I just dismissed the ability to get solid statistics on this in *general*. Just because you're saying the statistic comes from Ballmer, why would I give it any more credibility than if it were from, say Larry Ellison? Ballmer just made all kinds of statements trashing Win Mobile, too. He isn't very politically astute as the head of such a significant corporation. Second off, this is another one of those statistics that to me say that "Win NT" has *grown a significant share* of the web-server market. If, indeed, it is a 60/40 breakdown - then NT came out of nowhere to have a pretty sizable "minority" split of the web server market. Because the Web was around before IIS - so, assumedly at one time *nix had 100% of the web market with Apache and has since lost 40% of that share. I guess it is a glass half empty/half full thing, depending on your perspective. When Microsoft seems to own most of everything ELSE in the data center, having only 40% of the web server market seems like, well, not such a horrible thing. Not to mention, that 60/40 split doesn't break down into specifics. If Microsoft's 40% includes most major corporate datacenters, like Intel's, for example, and the *nix 60% includes mostly small mom & pop websites running on hosted DIY PC grade equipment (plus Google, EBay and France)... well, that 40% is actually a more significant portion. So let me get this straight... losing 40% of the market to Win32 is a *win* for Linux because... at least they didn't lose market share in web-serving as fast as Linux lost desktop OS share on netbooks? :) Ah... last point. Remember when AMD beat Intel to 1ghz and Intel said, "See, there is legitimate competition" and the DOJ dropped the anti-trust lawsuit against Intel? I do. Sometimes companies like Intel and Microsoft and Verizon *like* to have the competition "get one over" on them... because if it looks like no one else can compete with you, you start having problems with the federal government. Microsoft likes having Linux as a 3rd Party Dark Horse candidate. They like having OS X around too. And every now and then, they like for the competition to "do better" than they're doing - for example, having 40% of the market share of one narrow segment of the datacenter server market. Sometimes us propeller heads miss the business strategies that impact how technology is delivered (that is, sometimes the prize fighter pulls his punches, other times he takes a dive, and it is all part of the game).

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

Now that you have read the quote, see and listen to the man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApIQ3n353cg So, according to Steve Ballmer, OS share for web servers are 40% Windows and 60% Linux, *roughly*. Maybe Ballmer doesn't know what he is talking about, or maybe he is just partial, being he a strong Linux advocate. :) So, ... [what where we talking about?!] ... ha, security. Continuing on the assumption that Ballmer *probably* knows what he is talking about and did not lie to favour Linux. 40% of web servers run Windows, being compromised by the hundreds of thousand. 60% of web servers run Linux, being compromised by the hundreds. Maybe Linux is a bit more secure than Windows. Maybe there are far too many windows admins with a "minimum of knowledge" that simply don't "provide value to the organization", positive value that is. Then again, maybe not... Maybe this is all just FUD!!!! Signed: Linux user know for spreading FUD, CAT, PWD, MAN, GCC, TAR, GPG, and many other three letter 'words'.

dcolbert
dcolbert

"GNU/Linux is one of the most used OSs for web facing servers, *probably* the most used." That is not a "fact". When you have to use a qualifier like "probably", it means you don't really know for sure. We've already discussed this in other parts of this thread, that there is no meaningful, quantifiable way to really know how many Linux based, web-facing servers there are in the wild (or any other kind of Linux box, for that matter, or what they are doing). The *bulk* of Linux based web servers consist of two kinds of deployments. 1: Consumer and Small Business oriented hosting farms. These "Datacenters" often consist of row after row of PC grade "Linux Apache Server" built on cheap, DIY AMD beige box systems. 2: Super large, super custom deployments like eBay, Amazon and Google. I always hear Linux advocates talk about how prevelent Linux is in web-based environments - but I've worked in Fortune 500 Corporate environments since 1994, and the only data centers that did NOT use Win32/IIS for web-based applications used Solaris, not Linux - and at least one of those migrated to Win32/IIS solutions with the arrival and maturity of W2k. I'm not comfortable *proposing* facts that aren't factual, unlike you - so I won't claim that there is any solid proof one way or the other on this topic. But, to use a "FUD" like response, my *personal* experience - and I've discussed this at length in various threads - is that Linux is rare in corporate America, in small, medium and large business, including for web based applications. When I do encounter Linux professionally, it is almost ALWAYS part of a "utility server or appliace" with a pretty, custom, bolt-on front end designed by the manufacturer. (Cisco Call Manager, IBM XIV) and not really exposed externally. The constant claims that *LINUX* dominates the web seem like it is an attempt to spread FEAR that Linux is "everywhere", UNCERTAINTY that Windows really has a solid footing in the enterprise, and DOUBT that it is very wise to deploy IIS when "everyone else is using Linux"... I think you inadvertently stumble on the "why" of this. Qualified Linux administrators need to know more, and they cost more. Many corporations tried to dump MCSE "paper-tiger" engineers that were hanging on in Win32 environments into Linux platforms to "cut costs" and ended up with reliability disasters in the late 90s and early 2000s. Once they brought in qualified *nix engineers who could support complex Linux platforms and apps, that "cost savings" evaporated in far more expensive staffing requirements. But you're probably right, "GNU"/*nix admins are probably more capable of securing their servers than their Windows colleagues, across the board, at the *enterprise* level. I don't doubt that at all. You can get by in the enterprise with the minimum of knowledge in a Win32 shop and still provide value to the organization. If you have the minimum of knowledge in a *nix shop, you're a liability to the operation. Anyway, I think you fail to support your claim that my logic is "simply flawed" - when your logic itself is clearly, simply, flawed. Your argument COULD be right, but the fact is I see these CLAIMS all the time, but I never see supported, unbiased FACTS that back up the claims when I hear this argument, and all too often, I hear qualifier words like "probably" surrounding claims like these.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

GNU/Linux is one of the most used OSs for web facing servers, probably the most used. Yet web facing Windows/IIS servers are hit far more often and far harder than GNU/Linux/Apache servers. There where recent news of a botnet of GNU/Linux based servers. Around one hundred compromised machines where known to make part of it. Compare that with the several cases where Windows/IIS machines where compromised in the hundreds of thousand. One could argue that GNU/Linux admins are more capable of securing their servers than their Windows colleagues but I doubt that very much. Anyway, whatever the reason is for the different security situation between GNU/Linux intalled base and Windows installed base saying that GNU/Linux is less successfully targeted than Windows because it is "obscure" is simply flawed logic and simply not supported by the fact.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I understand the point you are trying to make, that in a formal or traditional sense of "Security through Obscurity", the "obscurity" is that the source code and APIs are "obscured" because they are not available to the general public. I think it is disingenious to deny that an alternate definition of "Security through Obscurity" has *since* come to mean "having less of a target footprint due to less market penetration and therefore a less desirable target for exploits". Both definitions of the term "Security through Obscurity" are applicable. The first, closed source code and APIs being "obscured", is a valid definition... But so is the concept that Win32 is a bigger target and that Linux is a more "obscure" target simply because of the popularity and lack of general familiarity with the platform. Trying to make it a one-or-the-other, false dichotomy definition is splitting hairs and reminds me of adamently demanding for a legal definition of the word, "is".

j-mart
j-mart

Believe the "Security through Obscurity " if it makes you feel good. I would rather go with the concept that good security starts with good design. "nix was designed by some very clever people as a multi user system with security in this environment as part of this design and not an add on.

dcolbert
dcolbert

But thought it was an intresting Freudian slip. "There are no accidents". :)

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

The folks over at ZDNet tend to be a bit less inhibited than here. Quite often, they get downright rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. Not to mention kind of fifth-grade insulting. Fun sometimes, though.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

and I agree. I'm not over there very often, usually only as the result of links in the TR newsletters. The format also doesn't use the member names as links to profiles. There also doesn't seem to be as much activity over there.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It is so similar to the layout here at TR, but I find it much harder to navigate and to follow up on posts and threads over there. Not quite sure what the difference is, but this site works better for me.

pgit
pgit

No self respecting soul would leap down into the slime to squirm with the bottom dwellers. (eg engage in any "discussion" with Steve Ballm... er, Loverock Davidson...) After ZDnet's illustrious Steve.. er, Loverock, failed for the umpteenth time to produce one shred of evidence or admit he's wrong, I began answering him appropriately... with a total non-sequitur. Actually, Loverock inadvertently gives me hope in my fellow man. Most folks that encounter him quickly realize he's pure flame bait and disengage.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The thing is, Theillien, you can't troll in an empty pond. But there are some ponds where you can always count on them biting.

theillien
theillien

...if not for his follow up. Re: "Geez, it's a 'one-off' throw away quip".

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Just as long as the guy on the other side of the mirror still respects me.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Speaking the truth very rarely makes you a popular person.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Geez, it's a 'one-off' throw away quip. "...it?s making people as uncomfortable as it does when you rant over the specific details of your favorite counter-culture Manga graphic novel." You're providing a general example of the behavior described.

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