Roughly six months ago, Microsoft sent a PowerPoint presentation to electronics retailer Best Buy–ostensibly to help their employees teach customers the differences between Microsoft Windows and Linux. Linux advocates objected to what they called Microsoft’s exercise in “FUD” (“Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt“). However, taking advantage of consumer conservatism is not a sin. In fact, there is a very good reason for this conservatism. Information is expensive, and, unless people are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the new thing/way/system is more cost-effective than the old one, people are simply not willing to spend resources (not just money!) to switch.
With this in mind, Microsoft’s choice to highlight Linux’ reputation for being “of the geeks, by the geeks, and for the geeks,” is simply fair game. It isn’t Microsoft’s fault that traditionally, Linux’ focus on programmer and developer choice tends to leave most users–who tend to be ignorant of computer science–lost.
However, Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation doesn’t just take advantage of Linux’ true or plausibly true weaknesses; instead, they often state palpable untruths–even inverting the truth. I was amazed, for example, that Microsoft had the chutzpah to claim that Windows is really safer than Linux. While it is true that Windows 7 represents a quantum advance in security from earlier versions, the fact remains that in a recent IT security convention, the Windows computer was breached (though on the last day), while the Linux (specifically, Ubuntu 7.10) computer went unbreached altogether.
One of Linux’ strong points is its stability. While Windows 7 is a vast improvement over the flaws its predecessors, for it and Vista, the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” (BSoD) is joined by a “green ribbon of death.”
My own experience seems to corroborate all this. My wife and I own two computers that dual boot Windows 7 Professional and Ubuntu 9.10. Each one is used roughly half of the time–yet, Windows 7 crashes more often.
Yes, Linux does crash! No operating system (OS) is perfect, and those whose work and play involve c0omputer “power using,” will experience a crash.
I think all Windows users have been–at least once–beset by viruses and other malware. While Linux is more secure against viruses–Smart Computing‘s Mr. Modem reports that Linux boxes are virtually virus-proof–they are not completely secure. My wife, for example, found a way to infect a Linux computer, by downloading “rogueware” (malware masquerading as an anti-virus) through Mozilla Firefox. However, I was able to clear it out by deleting and reinstalling the infected browser, then running a virus scan (Linux does have anti-viruses [ClamAV and AVG are examples.].). Try doing that with Windows!
Even with all this, Free (Libre) and Open Source Software [FLOSS] advocates aren’t guiltless here! The Free Software Foundation calls Microsoft a monopoly that engages in restraint of trade, which is illegal–even criminal–in the USA. Economically speaking, the very presence of open source software like Linux is an eloquent refutation of this claim–yet, FLOSS fans continue to spread this smear.
By now, I suppose the reader is asking, “OK, Danderson, what does all this have to do with apologetics or Mormonism?” Here is my answer: The same tactics used in the computer flamewar between Microsoft and its fans and Linux and its fans mirror–precisely–the tactics used by sectarian anti-Mormons and the Latter-day Saints!
Paralleling Microsoft, not only do sectarian anti-Mormons spin legitimate LDS doctrine out of context–as I report “Finn” doing, anti-Mormons also resort to outright untruths–or complete inversions of truth, as amply demonstrated in that awful film, The God Makers. I am hard-pressed to find active members who haven’t been told that they believe that Satan is Jesus’ equal, or that they do not read the Bible (Never mind that the Church posts the entire King James Bible online, to read and study in whole or in part!), or that they pray to–and swear “bloody death oaths” to Satan in the Temple.
Like FLOSS fans, Latter-day Saints aren’t free of sin. Evangelical Protestants are no more Nicolaitans than Latter-day Saints preach working toward salvation (contra Ephesians 2:8).
As a Latter-day Saint who is a FLOSS admirer, I find Microsoft’s rants–done, admittedly, with considerable malice (They ARE Linux’ competitors, after all!)–much less offencive than the venom spewed by “Finn” and Ed Decker, and other anti-Mormons in the name of “love” for the benighted “Mormon.”
What do you think?
UPDATE: An even more recent security conference found “exploits” (security holes) in both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard through Internet Explorer 8, Safari 4, and Mozilla Firefox 3.6. Though nothing was said about Linux being breached, since Firefox is the default browser on most “distros,” I would have to conclude that Linux is possibly also vulnerable, as my wife’s story demonstrated, above.