The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Microsoft Money Machine Launches Full Frontal Attack on Linux

For those who may need to enlarge the print, please push the control and the + key at the same time until the page is comfortable enough to read.

Please excuse the different blogsite. Our traffic lately has been off the charts and bandwidth usage has spiked to new levels here. is just a bit more capable of taking the slash and digg affect than our server and in the interest of those who share space with me, we are going to do it this way for a while. Same words, same obnoxious style and content...just a different wrapper. - h


Two articles caught my attention this week. In that I am a Project Leader of the project, I am able to see how this substantiates our efforts. As well, given the fact that I have someone close to the source putting a bug in my ear from time to time, I thought it was time to not only bring this to your attention, but offer some ideas on how to best combat it.

Make no mistake about it, this is akin to a combat situation. it is a battle between a corporation who wants to completely dominate the way you not only use your computer, but judge how and when you access your media devices. Let me introduce exhibits a and b. We can go forward from there.

Colleague and author SJVN comments in prose and opinion what I only wish I could match in talent and intensity. This says it better than I ever could.

I'm not going to comment on this much further than saying that in my opinion, and that opinion is shared by many; he is right. To those that have wedged themselves between the opinion I may over-react and the allegation that I am an alarmist...all of you may have an argument right to a degree. I will openly admit times when I accentuated a position or point that didn't need that much weight attached to it. It is a set goal for me to moderate more carefully what I say here and elsewhere. However, I am not going to budge a micrometer on this issue. I am going to put it as plainly as possible so there will be no doubt as to my thoughts on this matter.

It is a frightened, lazy, uninformed or apathetic man that leaves an unfinished war for his children to fight.

Comment as you will. The headlines on this matter tell the story. To fail in interpreting the impact of these articles is to fail those that count upon us most. Some will argue that the measures we have taken to this point will suffice to win the battle. I say they are not nearly sufficient. In fact they have been impotent. Measure the meager market share Linux and FOSS have against Microsoft then tell me again how "word of mouth" has served to gain anything but a niche market.

Now agreed, this has not been a focused goal for the majority of the Linux Community, so charges like this should not be leveled, but only offered as a history lesson. A decade of effort has yielded us a whopping 4 percent of the this market? Fight on soldier.

If the Power and Influence of Microsoft isn't plain enough for some to fathom, I ask you to read the headline and subsequent article noted:

Microsoft Says Samsung Can Offer Linux

You would think that this headline says it all. Yes, it does, but Joe Barr's opening paragraph should seal the implications firmly enough for even the most disengaged Linux User to take notice. Note I said "should".
Lately, there seems little that can be done to stir many from their apathetic state:

"Computerworld reported yesterday that Microsoft and Samsung have signed a new cross-patent protection agreement which specifically provides Samsung rights to any of the unspecified patents which Microsoft claims are being violated by Linux usage. In return, Microsoft is given rights to Samsung's extensive patent portfolio."

I am not going to dissect this or pick it apart for you. Those of you who Use Linux as a rule, do not need this simple statement me or anyone else. The implications are obvious. Barr has done the job well and I think I am going to let his opinion and statements of fact stand. However I will bring something to the attention of the uninitiated or those not a member of the Linux Community.

Note the language used here. "Microsoft says Samsung can..." Oh, Microsoft is granting permission? Reading the language as I understand it, much of the permission being granted is for accessing and using code covered by unspecified patents? It's bad enough that we have major league players giving into Microsoft, but now we have second-stringers genuflecting in front of Microsoft before they ask permission to take the field. And what did Samsung gain from this magnanimous gesture?

"...In return, Microsoft is given rights to Samsung's extensive patent portfolio.

Stockholders cheer, others should scream for the head of Samsung's CEO. Not only did this deal place Samsung with bowed head and on one knee before Microsoft, it handed them the keys to the Treasure Vault.

And many of you wonder why we are pushing so hard for the proliferation of Linux on the Desktop. Without large numbers, we are discounted as "that bunch of Linux Geeks". We are a tiny voice... first Novell, now Samsung and Friggin' Pete Rose knows best who will be the next to take what we have so laboriously built over the years...and hand it over to Microsoft. That brings me to my point. And consider yourself blessed. We still have the ability to do something about it.

It is a well-known fact that I am a Project Leader of the effort. I am not the originator, but one who saw the potential of this opportunity and answered the call. I was called to duty by Bob Moore. Bob has forgotten more about Linux than I will probably ever know. Let the record be set and corrected on this matter from here on in. Some of you have voiced reasonable, honest and logical questions about this project. I as well as anyone else will appreciate the thoughtfulness and integrity of these questions. I hope we have addressed them sufficiently in the faq at

Others however, have decided to actively work against the project. That too is a right that cannot be taken away or minimized by any entity. It is a right we own just as we own the skin that shields us. Unfortunately, there are some that have breeched the line of civility, integrity and honesty. I will say no more about this faction. Not now. There is much work to be done in this effort, and I have neither the time or the energy to deal with any diversion or division this attack has caused. Instead, I will redouble my efforts and even offer my thanks to those who oppose us. The "controversy" has oddly enough, stirred both awareness and possibly a spike in donations to this project.

I've made it no secret that I have a close friend and an x-in-law that works at Castle Redmond. He is fairly high on the Totem Pole and with any luck, will retire unscathed in July of this year. It was a bit before ten last night that my phone rang. I was in bed reading and my wife and I looked at each other before she reached over and handed me the phone. It has been my experience that the later the phone call, the worse the news.


My wife watched my face as I listened to the response on the other end. When I smiled and winked at her she returned her attention to her book.

"Were you asleep"

"No but I was working on it you pr... you priceless friend. So is it raining there?"

I make it a point to remind my buddy that he is stuck in the rain capital of the world while Austin enjoys some of the most moderate weather in the nation. He chuckled softly.

"I wouldn't know, they sent me to (left out for obvious reasons). I'll be here for a couple of days then head back. take up race car driving and forget to tell me?"

His voice held a slightly amused if I would be surprised he knew anything about it. I didn't bother letting him know I thought it was amusing myself.

"No, not personally, I hire that done these days. Where'd you read about it?"

"I didn't read it Skipper. It came up in a briefing Tuesday. (So and so) threw it up on the projection wall and read it to us then asked for comments. I can't say much more about it but I called to let you know that they are watching this closely. In fact they assigned someone to keep an eye on it. And no, I won't tell you who, you wouldn't know him anyway."

I glanced over at my wife as she read. She cut her eyes over at me, realizing I was looking at her. I winked and went back to staring at a muted Jay Leno.

"Well isn't that special. You gonna keep me posted?"

My buddy snorted. "Not hardly, if ol' Jack Daniels hadn't gotten me in a talkative mood, I wouldn't have told you this much."

Our conversation drifted from one usual suspect to the other and after 10 minutes of almost practiced back-and-forth topics and responses, I broke the connection and turned out the light on my side of the bed. I had to wonder what they were thinking or planning. Probably not least not now. The fact is, this is the same guy that warned us that MS was going to bring down the Linux Corporates, at least get partial control of them, then use that influence to quiet the community at large. He also told us that MS fully planned to hire away some of our best talent. He did so a full 90 days before it actually happened. I tend to listen to him now when he tells me things.

If he can swing it, there will be a book two years after he retires. There are some things he wants us to know. Knowing what I do, and it's only a fraction...there's gonna be hell to pay. As far as the divide and conquer plan...? That's a lousy plan and I don't know who they think they're going to control outside OF the corporates, but that is there plan none then less. Now, we could use some help in insuring their plan turns to dust.

There is no doubt that Linux has the potential to free millions from the tangled trap of proprietary software. It would be a small number of Linux users that disagree with this statement. Some of us feel it is our duty to make that happen. I suggest this. If you disagree with what the Tux500 project does, spend your energies building like projects of your own. If many of you had expended a fraction of the energy to this as opposing what someone else is doing, chances are we wouldn't be in the second chair, playing second fiddle to Microsoft. And possibly, companies like Samsung and Novell wouldn't have to prostitute themselves in order to satisfy a board of directors or some Wall Street expectation. There is a truth I hold within myself and there isn't a week that goes by that I do not reaffirm it.

A man who takes a knee to defer to another man is only one knee away from praying to him.

The fact that the Upper-Crust of Microsoft is aware of this project gives me reason for a bit of smarmy attitude as well as a jolting dose of concern. This project, on its face, seems like a no-brainer. A lousy buck fifty from one percent of the Linux Community and we have, for better or worse, a premiere sponsorship in the Indy 500. If we fail, we provide another indication that we are as weak and divided as Microsoft says we are.

The world is full of people who provide valuable suggestions and that is valuable indeed. I involved myself in Tux500 on someone else's idea, not mine...yet I dedicated every fiber of my being to it because I believe in it. It wasn't important to me that I be credited as the originator of this effort, or even mentioned by name as being part of it. It was my goal to spark an energy within this community, to show the world that we are surly here and a force to be recognized. That type of creativity and energy spreads rapidly.

But as some of you know, throwing bricks is much easier than building a house from them.

If anyone needs to borrow a trowel or my mortar mixer, come talk to me. I have plenty to go around.

All-Righty Then



IGnatius T Foobar said...

Geez, more of the patented Helios alarmism.

Look, I think the Indy car is a cool idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing it (already made my contribution, in fact) but I fail to see how it's going to do anything to fend off a Microsoft assault on Linux.

And you really ought to quit the alarmism. Your unspecified inside source at Microsoft making unspecified warnings about what they're going to do to attack us is just as vague and unreliable as Microsoft's assertions that they hold patents upon which Linux infringes.

Microsoft: show us the patents.

Helios: show us the inside-secret Microsoft plans.

Until either of you have something to show us, it's all just a bunch of smoke blowing.

kenholmes said...

I applaud Helios for his fervor and passion, especially in the face of chronic carping by others.

Unknown said...

"Geez, more of the patented Helios alarmism."

No, that is not correct. I have not filed a patent on my "alarmism" yet, but gee, do you really think it's good enough? I mean, I play with some pretty big boys and I just don't know...I'm going to have to give that some thought. maybe though...

Now Art, I haven't went to look yet, but I have just about decided that it might be a good idea...did you by any chance, post comments to either of the sited articles/blogs and hang the "alarmist" tag on either of them? I'm pretty busy, but I do believe I might go see for myself. I would hate to think someone responding in kind to their ideas would get credit for being the "alarmist". Wouldn't me just tying what they've already done make me a "supporting alarmist"? I would think so. In fact, knowing the reputation of these journalists as I do, I believe both of them would be pretty hacked off by you giving me the title they have worked so hard to achieve. I better go straighen that out right now. note to self - see above

Oh, and the blowing smoke thing...that's pretty good, in fact...being mentioned in the same sentence with Steve Ballmer et al is an honor. I don't think Steve-O-Reno has went quite to the lengths we have in advocating and supporting Linux, but he is well known for his brand of shenanigans. I guess being infamous is almost as good as being famous, right Art?

And tell me Art, and really man, please do tell do you define the difference between "blowing smoke" and lying? I really, really want you to tell me. (Que jeopardy music)

Anonymous said...

Well written. Microsoft takes great strides to ensure that they are not undersold as they did with IBM's OS/2 and Novell's Netware.

Fortunately for us that use Linux there are great strides being taken with the GPL. In some ways I concur with the notion that the new GPL must offer some protection against this new anti-Linux plan.

Another point that I feel is rather key here is that if the Linux community as a whole is to face up to the Redmond crew. Then we all need to maintain our composure and display a professional attitude at all times; in addition to remaining steadfast in refuting any 'greeks' bearing gifts. In this way any approaches made by Microsoft would be pointless.

Moreover, this plan by Microsoft is twofold. For, even if they cannot crush the Linux community by taking over the corporates. The implications that unspecified patents would have could create a barrage of lawsuits that would make the SCO lawsuits seem petty by comparison.

The upside to this is that Microsoft is beginning to display a fatal flaw. They are starting to act like their feces don't stink. As such they are beginning to do really stupid things like pricing themselves out of the market here in the US... In addition, bad business practices like these recent agreements will ultimately serve to ruin Microsoft's reputation thus driving other large organizations to make a switch similar to what the state of Massechucets did.

Overall, it is very heartening to see that there are others like myself that are actively trying to bring to light Microsoft's practices, and to dispell many of the myths that abound regarding Linux and FOSS.

Navin A.Sylvester said...

Although I appreciate lot of individual efforts to promote Linux. I believe that we won't be making greater strides. We definitely need a collective effort.

Firefox is successful because the mozilla corp did well to brand it. If that is the case then who is promoting Linux as a brand. All the big distro manufacturers and companies who use Linux for profit are promoting their brands and they are targeting the focus only on enterprise scale.

We are strong on the technical front and we strive more for cooperation among companies for standards and app devel.

The major distro companies and companies which use Linux for profit(google, IBM, etc) should be made to realize that a collective effort should be made to brand Linux. This marketing wing should foresee strategies and function like our counterparts. Even if we can't match them on man count, we still can make a difference.

We cannot do fund raising for all the initiatives. We need to 've some fund backing and a team of professionals to execute. I believe this is only possible with coming together of all major parties involved which use Linux for their profit.

May be an community effort should be launched which could oversee the forming of the marketing wing. Companies should be made to join and if they do they can be termed as 'Linux Friendly'.

I don't want to undermine individuals who are putting their heart and soul into making Linux as a household name. But we can do better if we could muster a collective effort.

--Navin A.Sylvester

Navin A.Sylvester said...

Forgot to add that "Indy 500" is a nice idea and best wishes.

Hope you succeed and we pray for other initiatives too.

But i would like to stress on more collective initiatives in future.

And you let down a friend by giving too much information. To prove your point you shouldn't 've let him down. I seriously doubt whether it will be hard for Redmond to track and axe him.

Unknown said...

No my friend, I let down no one. see your email.

But i would like to stress on more collective initiatives in future. is just the beginning of a larger initiative called the LIFE project. Linux Is For Everyone. This is JUST the beginning, or at least that is the plan. This is a large community but unfortunately it is an apathetic one by majority. The users themselves feel insulated by their fragmentation, therefore unable to be harmed. What a nasty surprise is in store for them when MS launches a full patent blitz against the GPL and the community at large. No, this community will scream bloody murder then...and wonder why "somebody" didn't do anything about it.

The post considering a "Linux Marketing Team" is excellent and one I am considering taking on. However, equally loud screams will be heard by those wailing:


See the problems here. No one is going to do this as a full time effort without compensation. The community, or the vocal minority of that community will protest it and kill it in its tracks.

Much to think about.

IGnatius T Foobar said...

helios: even after your further comments I remain unconvinced. As I said before, you have to show us the threat instead of merely speculating about it. Until you do so (perhaps by revealing your sooper-seekrit sources), your comments constitute nothing more than alarmism. I'm not comparing you to Steve Ballmer -- I'm comparing you to Al Gore. Show me something substantial and I'll join the cause. Show me unsubstantiated alarmism and I'll continue spending my time doing what I was already doing.

Unknown said...

Show me something substantial and I'll join the cause.

So a man has to lose his substantial retirement and face the full fury of the most powerful corporation in the world so your curiosity can be satisfied?

That is not only the height of arrogance, thats a wad of spit in a man's face who is risking much to help this community...a community you claim to belong. That man happens to be my friend of 20 years. You are a few spots of demanding, insulting ink on a website.

Pardon me if I don't get up to show you the door.

IGnatius T Foobar said...

And that is why your alarmist rants are utterly unconvincing. We know that we have to be wary of Microsoft's machinations. We know that they'll do whatever it takes to lie, cheat, and steal their way to 100.0% market share. It isn't news. I am skeptical of anyone who tells us that we need to be intensely fearful. Until you can tell us something more substantial, you don't have something worth writing about. And as I noted above, even if Microsoft is launching a "full frontal patent attack" on Linux, sponsoring a race car isn't going to fend it off.

Personally I think that if Microsoft had a good set of patent claims against Linux, and knew they could assert them without being drowned in counterclaims, they'd have filed suit by now. If they ever do get to that point, we will respond in kind, taking whatever appropriate measures we deem necessary at the time we see the nature of the attack. Until then there is no point in speculating. There is no point in agonizing ourselves with anxiety about it.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." --Matthew 6:34

Think of it this way: until Microsoft gives us an actual battle to fight today, our time is better spent writing code, writing documentations, doing installs, helping out friends ... productive things like that. What you're doing is exactly what Microsoft wants you to do: not promoting Linux. You're spreading Microsoft's FUD for them.

IGnatius T Foobar said...

And evidently there are a lot of us who feel this way. Please refer to this article by Roy Schestowitz in which he concludes that imaginary software patents are "the modern equivalent of vaporware." It's the classic vaporware/FUD game all over again. If Microsoft isn't showing its hand, it's probably because they're not holding something all that great -- but they want everyone to be fearful because with a "gut feeling" that there's something legally wrong with Linux, it'll hinder adoption.

Panic and alarmism over this type of thing is exactly what they want. The correct response is to ignore them until they actually do something.

Unknown said...

Think of it this way: until Microsoft gives us an actual battle to fight today.....

Might have happened last night:

Then again, maybe not. Look Art, you and I agree on much more than it would seem. OK, I am not going to convince you of anything different than you want to believe. That's not my goal. I know, I know for a rock-solid fact that Microsoft will, if able, destroy any and all competition it faces. I'm going to mention this again. Many of us have children and we want our children to have the same choices we have. IF MS has its way, that's not going to happen and no amount of idealistic or naive thinking is going to alter that. Not you...I don't see you there yet, I simply see you NOT seeing what MS can and will do if it sees a clear and direct target path to the heart of FOSS/Linux. My intention is not to frighten anyone, but to bring to their attention that this thing needs to be at least watched...the EFF and sister organizations feel the same, and names like SJVN, Doc Searles and Eric S. Raymond agree with me, or me with them...

No...I don't think you and I disagree on the problems, I just think we see them through different filtering lenses.


Navin A.Sylvester said...

yet to receive your email...

IGnatius T Foobar said...

I suspect that we already agree on 99 percent of what's already going on and what should be done about it. We already know that Microsoft will stop at nothing to destroy Linux and open source. We already know that we have to be vigilant and keep track of what they're doing. We already know that when a new threat does surface, we have to respond to it.

What I'm not grokking here is how the current moment in time is anything other than business as usual. Until Microsoft shows its hand, we don't have anything to respond to. What is it that you are trying to persuade us to do right now? The way I'm reading your article, it basically says "Microsoft is going to attack us with patents, and it is vitally important for us to respond by sponsoring a race car."

Unknown said...

LOL, Art...we sure had to do a lot of stomping around and hollerin' to get to a point where we can get a consensus here. At least I had to do all that. Seems I would have learned by now that it's not always necessary...

OK. I think I (finally) see your point. Yes. I see now how I have poorly communicated this issue. Let's take two things into consideration, fully realizing they are probably a mechanism by which I can justify less-than-concise communication.

I know there are things being discussed, planned, and to this point, partially implemented by certain powers that be. I don't think anyone can fathom the frustration I feel, not being able to communicate these things in an unambiguous way. Art, these are not small, inconsequential actions. They are a comprehensive plan to erase Linux and the FOSS community away. Or at the least, to fragment us to the point where we have no influence of presence in the Tech community. It disturbs my sleep more often than not. I am going to put this as plainly as I can without overstating it.

It's like I know that you are about to be hit by a bus and I can't do a damn thing to stop it.

But I Can and I am doing it in the only way I have available to me. Here is where I failed as a communicator and as a blogger. I did not tie in tightly enough the fact that the Tux500 project is just the first, albeit far-reaching step into a larger advertising effort. It doesn't stop at the Indy. This is simply the first thrashing splash in a long-term project. What we want to do more than anything else is get the community talking about how best to do this,,,because Art, what we have been doing to this point isn't getting us where we need to be.

That's with as many Linux users as possible. Behind the scenes, there are many of us that are arranging sound studios, film crews, voice and acting talent...all the things we need in order to do this. And we're doing it with Community members who are either business owners in these areas or employees of such. The Tux500 project is the way we introduce the community to a concept many of them are not comfortable with.

Real and sustainable growth. And growing hurts

Unknown said...

Ah Navin. The mystery is solved. The email address provided to this blog is a spam trap. My apologies for not checking my outgoing failure notices. email me at helios at lobby 4linux dottkom with a reachable address and I will email you again

IGnatius T Foobar said...

I'm still not sure I get it, but I will wait and see. I'll be there doing my part the moment whatever Microsoft is doing becomes visible. I'm just going to pretend for the time being that what you might have said was "dude ... Microsoft is up to no good again and they've got a big one coming ... heads up."

Is it your intention for the Tux500 effort to get Linux further ahead of the threat before it can do too much damage?

Unknown said...

Is it your intention for the Tux500 effort to get Linux further ahead of the threat before it can do too much damage?

Yes sir. That is precisely what we are trying to do. There is not only safety in numbers, there is strength. If there is one lesson to be learned from Microsoft's history as a predator, it should be OS2. To date, probably the most advanced OS created, and built with the potential ability to do astounding things. We know where that went and MS was able to fairly well talk IBM into delivering the death blow themselves.

"See...? Inept management...we didn't do it."

And that's the same thing we are seeing with MS working their way into Novell and Samsung via these "patent agreements". Smarter men than me have already made these observations. I just happen to be in the position to verify some of them....and many of them we haven't yet figured out.

I do not disagree with your stand now Art, nor your attitude. Life is way to short to be spending it worrying about stuff that isn't least in one's mind anyway. Just know that it is a strong possibility that unless we have the numbers sufficient to make the noise necessary, this thing we call Linux can be relegated into the dustbin with OS2 and Amiga. It is no longer just about computers and who sells the most operating systems upon them. It's about the Internet. That is the prize MS is after. Once they gain control of that, the Operating System as we know it will vanish. It will be nothing but web apps and the MS brand on every one of them. Given the Political favor they have gained in the last 10 years, it's not out of the scope of possibility they could control it in a decade.

The "Hardcore" users are the ones that need to keep vigil the EEF and the organizations of RMS. If this project I help in has proven anything, it's that getting the word out quickly and effectively is much tougher than anyone realises.

IGnatius T Foobar said...

Some weeks later now, I can't help but think to myself...


From my perspective, the Tux500 campaign has been an embarassing failure.

The Microsoft "full frontal attack" on Linux has been revealed, and it too is largely perceived as being an embarassing failure for them.

And I still see absolutely no connection between the two. Much ado about nothing. Two unrelated tempests in two unrelated teapots.

Was any of this really worth getting so worked up over?

Unknown said...

From my perspective, the Tux500 campaign has been an embarassing failure.

That's fair. From your perspective, you are protected and insulated from any harm. One must present a target in order to become one. Here is what I want you to do. Get 11 National newspapers, dozens of smaller ones, ESPN, The Sports business Daily, CNET, ZDNET,, the, a couple hundred blogs and three television appearences and over two dozen radio mentions out of less than 20K. AND...four of those newspaper articles have to be the front page of either the sports section or the business section. If you can get that done for 18K, you are my new marketing guy.

You have no idea of the responses we are having to answer about Linux from businesses and people who have now heard of Linux for the first time.

I need a string of these "failures" to follow soon. I can stand failures like this as often as possible.

But to fail this dramatically, you have to care enough to do so Art. You have to actually work to get results, regardless of the outcome. Therein lies the difference.