If you try hard enough, I suppose it’s possible to spin anything into an attack on your pet target. But the consistency with which Neil McAllister sounds the call of doom and gloom for all things open source is really quite astonishing. Especially when you consider he writes the Open Enterprise column for Infoworld.
Take his January 29th column about the formation of the Linux Foundation for example:
On the surface, the union of Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG) seems like a natural fit. Open standards and open source software are two great ideas that go great together.
But wouldn’t it make more sense to call the merged organization the Open Source and Standards Lab, or the Free Software and Standards Group? Why did they have to go and call it the Linux Foundation?
On the one hand, it seems a shame that the group should narrow the scope of its activities to focus on a single project. Linux may be the open source poster child du jour, but it’s hardly the only worthwhile project around.
If Neil had bothered to read his own magazine’s newsletter the previous week, he would have known that:
With Linux now an established operating system presence for embedded, desktop and server systems, the primary evangelizing mission that the OSDL and FSG embarked upon in 2000 has come to an end, Zemlin said. The focus for the foundation going forward is on what the organization can do to help the Linux community more effectively compete with its primary operating system rival Microsoft.
The combination of the two Linux consortiums was “inevitable,” said Michael Goulde, senior analyst with Forrester Research. “The challenge Linux faces is the same one Unix faced and failed — how to become a single standard.”
So what’s wrong with focusing on Linux, anyway?
But then again, maybe it’s not so strange — not if you conclude that the Linux Foundation isn’t any kind of philanthropic foundation at all. It’s an industry trade organization, the likes of which we’ve seen countless times before. Judging by its charter, its true goal is little more than plain, old-fashioned corporate marketing.
As such, the Linux Foundation is a unique kind of hybrid organization, all right — but it’s not the union of open source and open standards that make it one. Rather, it stands as an example of how to combine open source with all the worst aspects of the proprietary commercial software industry. How noble.
This is really amazing. No one ever claimed that the partners in this merger were anything other than industry trade organizations, but the fact that the new foundation will continue the work of it’s members is somehow un-noble. And nobility is the standard by which we should judge those who are trying to make Linux more competitive in the market.
His grammar and spelling may be better than that of the stereotypical Linux fanboys, who famously attack less-rabid supporters for their lack of purity. Or maybe he just has a better editor. But all the craft in the world doesn’t disguise the fact that Neil’s opinions are rarely more useful than the ramblings of an anonymous Usenet troll.