Microsoft CEO and incontinent over-stater of facts Steve Ballmer said that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” during a commercial spot masquerading as a interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on June 1, 2001.
Needless to say the open source community has been up in arms over this remark. Right now open source is still a small segment of the software industry. BSD has been the platform of choice for many years until Linus Torvalds developed his new kernel which is designed for the 80386 CPU and above.
Linux is free, it is maintained by a legion of developer who maintain all of the components. Corporate support has come and gone for open source and we expect it will continue. The advantages of open source is easy for anyone who has had to recreate 5 million lines of code will attest to.
GNU is not the only open source license. BSD System V is freeware and opens source and we have used their software as well for many years. FreeBSD has been published on CD-ROM to make it easier to install.
Open source means a new developer add new features or fix problems with it. This way software can be maintained easily and the cost of creating new software is reduced.
Steve Ballmer objected to the idea the GPL forced all further development to continue to be open source. Open source is a solution to abandoned projects. GPL is not public domain, it simply attaches a requirement to release the source code to any modifications.
Ballmer touches on a few other items, including Microsoft’s new product activation (Office 2000) and licensing schemes, which, it is hoped, will pave the way for a thriving software rental business and its subsequent endless revenue stream.
Office 2000 was the first commercial product to require activation. Then Windows XP extended activation to the operating system.
Linux is already expanding rapidly for web servers which kept costs minimized as commodity hardware prices continued to decline.
One of the biggest headaches for patent holders is that Linux being free and open source can circumvent the law. This is one of the reasons for the comments by Balmer.
Windows is protected by copyright and many patents. Microsoft has spent countless billions developing it and sales of Windows has been very strong. Windows is largely preinstalled on new computers,
Linux is used mostly when a machine has become obsolete. Microsoft does not support every version of Windows perpetually.