Ignore, laugh, fight and win


Linux courses at Lake Constance

Of course, I am biased towards Linux. Linux has been the operating system of my choice for more than a decade. In 2007, I founded a company, Bodenseo: Linux related software and Linux training.
I am a lecturer of Linux, giving numerous Linux courses and seminars both for beginners and for advanced learners.


"First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."
Mahatma Gandhi

The above statement is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. With "they" Gandhi didn't have in mind Microsoft, of course. But when I heard this quote for the first time, it stroke me instantly as a perfect coincidence with the situation the open source movement is in. The oppressor is Microsoft, the one who holds all the power due to his monopoly, - the oppressed or the "you", - is the operating system Linux.

When Linus Torvalds turned up with his Linux for the first time in 19991, it was understandable, that Microsoft ignored him and his operating system. As Linux said that time: "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones."
But Linux developped rapidly. Within a few years Linux was able to match Windows, though not an exact feature-for-feature match to Microsoft. But until the end of last century Microsoft kept his utter ignorance towards the David of the operating systems.

"Then they laugh at you". In 2000 and 2001 Microsoft became aware of Linux as a potential rival, the only one possible of threatening its monopoly. Ignorance towards Linux found an end and Microsoft started to laugh at the rivaling operating system, dismissing the idea that it might ever be a threat. It tried to bring Linux into ridicule. As the BBC said: "Microsoft is unhappy enough about Linux's newly acquired respectability to have produced a poster attacking it.
It shows the Linux mascot, Tux the Penguin, mutated into several outlandish creatures; an illustration, it says, of the dangers of relying on a system built by an often fractious community of independent programmers." (BBC News, Life gets serious for Linux, 25 March 2001)

When Microsoft finished laughing and realized that it had backfired, Linux was more popular than ever. The monopolist started to fight back: Microsoft used the weapons which it had successfully used in the 80s: "Microsoft soon picked up the art of FUD from IBM, and throughout the 80's used FUD as a primary marketing tool, much as IBM had in the previous decade. They ended up out FUD-ding IBM themselves during the OS2 vs Win3.1 years." (Roger Irwin, 1998, What is FUD)
FUD is an acronym for fear, ancertainty and doubt.
Microsoft claimed in 2004 without giving any actual prove, that Linux violates "more than 228 patents".
To increase uncertainty, Microsoft launched in 2004 it's Get-The-Facts-Campaign. Microsoft claimed that the total costs of ownership (TCO) are lower for Microsoft products than for open source programs. In August Microsoft had bein reprimanded over misleading advertising by the ASA in the UK. "Referring to research, it read: "Linux was found to be over 10 times more expensive than Windows Server 2003".
The ASA concluded that the comparison was misleading because the operating systems ran on different hardware." (BBC News, 26 August 2004, Microsoft's Linux ad 'misleading')

What's missing of Gandhi's "prophecy": The "you win"

I am doing my best to help. My company Bodenseo is specialized in Linux and Linux courses and seminars at Lake Constance. If you want to find an appropiate course for you, have a look at our courses overview

Text written by Bernd Klein

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