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Re: Critical "Times" article on Linux

Just thought I'd kick in my two cents on this.

I know Bruce thinks it best not to respond, but after reading the
article I felt compelled.  And I think that, with careful composition
and a clear head, it's possible to argue with an idiot and not look
like one.

Maybe I'm wrong; you be the judge.  Here's what I sent them.

Date: Thu, 24 Apr 1997 04:38:57 -0400 (EDT)
From: cph@martigny.ai.mit.edu (Chris Hanson)
To: editor@the-times.co.uk
Cc: an77@dial.pipex.net
Subject: Linux, the PC program from hell

I have just read the April 20 "Sounding Off" article and find it to be
extremely offensive.

I am a professional computer programmer and electrical engineer with
20 years of experience in this field.  I use the Linux operating
system for most of my work.

In sharp contrast to Mr. Hewson's opinion, I believe that Linux
provides an extremely productive environment.  This belief is based on
extensive experience using many operating systems, including Windows,
DOS, and OS/2, and several versions of unix.

There are some problems with Linux, as there are with all operating
systems.  It is well known that Linux can be difficult to install, and
that it is not as friendly to beginning users as some other systems.

But Linux has advantages as well.  Linux is faster and uses less
memory than most other PC operating systems, including Windows.  It is
far less prone to system crashes and lockups, which are a common
problem on all of the Windows systems, particularly Windows 95.

And there is an enormous body of software that runs under Linux.  This
software is freely available from hundreds of computers on the
Internet.  I can only conjecture that Mr. Hewson went to his local
computer store, which for obvious reasons doesn't sell free software,
and concluded that there isn't any software for Linux.

Mr. Hewson is entitled to his opinion, and perhaps the sarcastic tone
that he uses to deride not only Linux, but also users of Linux, is
considered acceptable at the Times.  But I resent being referred to as
"bug-eyed", "strange", and "obsessive"; I'm sure my wife doesn't think
of me in that way and I would hate for my children to do so.  I am a
responsible and respected member of my field, and when the Times
chooses to publish such an article, you show a lack of respect for the
talented individuals who make the Times possible through their design
and construction of the computers and software that you use every day.

Mr. Hewson could have written a reasonable article, presenting his
negative experience in a rational and calm manner.  Instead, he chose
to "liven up" the article by means of insult and sarcasm, and by
attacking the many satisfied users of Linux rather than the flaws in
Linux itself.  What this article demonstrates to me is his ignorance
and his disregard for others, and consequently the poor judgement of
the Times editorial staff in allowing such an article to be published.

Chris Hanson
Principal Research Scientist
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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