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Open Source Not That Open?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the consider-the-source dept.

Microsoft 339

mstansberry writes "At the Open Source Business Conference last week, Microsoft's Shared Source mouthpiece Jason Matusow argued the point that open source isn't really open. He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell. So as Linux is commercialized, it becomes less open. While Matusow made good points during his presentation, many in the open source community are skeptical of the idea at best."

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It all depends... (5, Funny)

OSS_ilation (922367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976504)

on what your definition of "open" is. Same defense, different Bill.

Re:It all depends... (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976675)

I can't tell what kind of argument he's trying to make. Is he trying to claim that you have to pay money to get patches or new programs added to the distro? Because if your changes are in the distro, RedHat will support it. Do you think MS will arbitrarily support you if you make random changes that don't have review?

If they think it's hard to get code in, that's pure nonsense. As a Fedora Extras contributor (fortune-firefly, and coming soon Nethack: Vulture's Eye/Claw) the process is relatively simple, and the people very supportive and responsive. Now, Fedora Extras is certainly less picky than RHEL, but I can't imagine it being too difficult to get code in. If it's not your own package, just simply a package carried by RedHat, you don't even have to deal with RedHat - you just deal with the developers of that package. If they take your patch, then your patch ends up in the distro.

If he's talking about "you make changes and then expect RedHat to immediately support your changes for you without merging it into the distro", however, that's a pretty preposterous thing to expect. That's not asking for a supportive vendor - that's asking for consultants.

Re:It all depends... (4, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976704)

The oddest part is that he is talking about 'open' as if being less open is somehow bad.

Re:It all depends... (2, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976712)

This is what it boils down to: Microsoft does not understand that the free in free software is not necessarily free as in beer; and, yes, it may cost more if you decide to go willy nilly on a coding spree and expect your changes to be supported.

Finally... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976506)

An objective evaluation from the leader in open source.

Come on... Microsoft!??!

I'm sold (4, Funny)

doxology (636469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976507)

It's a Microsoft spokesman saying it, it MUST be true!

Re:I'm sold (2, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976535)

You joke, but a lot of people believe just that.

Re:I'm sold (2, Interesting)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976552)

No kidding. I know an MSCE who absolutely won't allow any open source whatsoever on the hundreds of desktops and several servers he manages because he heard that open source was horribly insecure, like spyware and crap. If it didn't come from Microsoft, and it's not Microsoft certified, he won't trust it at all.

Re:I'm sold (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976613)

I'm an MSCE, and I want to slap THAT MSCE who said that to you. Seriously, who the fuck cares. Software use should always be about the right tool for the right job. The moment you start putting "faith" or "cult" into judgement, we start to have a serious problem!

Re:I'm sold (1)

atomic-penguin (100835) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976728)

Hmm, contoso.com. Dan Holme or Orin Thomas, I presume?

Unless that is just meant to be an MCSE inside joke.

Re:I'm sold (2, Insightful)

TheGSRGuy (901647) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976743)

I couldn't agree more. Use what you need to to get the job done. People who are militant anti-MS, for example, really end up shooting themselves in the foot since they cut out the possibility of MS software solving a problem of theirs. They often make more work for themselves just because they're holding themselves too strictly to some unfounded ideal. But they feel "above the rest of [you peons]" so hey, whatever floats your boat.

Re:I'm sold (1)

joe_adk (589355) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976560)

It's a Microsoft spokesman saying it, it MUST be false!

That's Might Only Be True... (4, Insightful)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976512)

...if you're running something like RedHat Or Novell. Of course, for those running Gentoo, or Debian, or Slackware, or Peanut, or whatever, it still holds.

One big thing left out... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976538)

You can change it on your own, and tell other people how you modified it, but I believe you only have to pay the companies if you try and sell it as your own and make money off it, otherwise modifying the code on your machine and telling others how you did it seems perfectly acceptable.

Re:One big thing left out... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976571)

That is the dumbest, most uninsightful comment about Open Source software I have ever read here on Slashdot, and I've read some pretty dumb comments.

Compared to you, the Slashdot editors look like geniuses and the moderators look like they've kicked the 5 dollar crack habit.

If there were a contest to crown the dumbest person alive, I'm afraid you'd get lost on the way to the podium.

Disney created a companion video set to Baby Einstein just for you. They call it Baby Schiavo.

That is not true (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976541)

For a while, I ran Red Hat. I modified the rc out of it. Literally: I wrote my own init scripts and a dozen other things in a half-dozen languages. I sure didn't pay RedHat for the priviledge to do any of that.

This man seriously needs to fsck his brain.

(Hint: I don't have a foul mouth. Those are semantic metaphors, not syntactical ones).

Re:That is not true (4, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976566)

For a while, I ran Red Hat.

Why is Bob Young posting as AC? Come on, Bob, show some backbone - we won't be that hard on you!

And if your paying for support (2, Insightful)

jhines (82154) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976556)

If your paying for support, which the article implies, then of course if you customize your kernel and system over a standard patch level, then yes, the support should cost more.

AFAIK, one can still get those distros without having to buy a support contract.

you mean Redhat wont support my modified code!? (4, Insightful)

weighn (578357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976661)

He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell

Redhat wont go the extra mile to support some code that they have supplied and I have modified.
Wow that's preposterous.
What next? Ford wont honour my new vehicle warranty if I modify the engine?

Re:And if your paying for support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976753)

"And if your paying for support"

If my paying for support.. what?

The Point (5, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976582)

The point of contention is open source vs. standardized distribution. Once you make a modification, your code base is no longer the "standard" distribution, be it RedHat, gentoo, or Slack. Therefore you really can't get support for it, free or otherwise (what, are you going to post on a forum "well, I tweaked this and this..."). So as Linux pushes towards standardization effectively the open-ness is still there and available to you but is marginalized in the sense that once you make changes then you aren't standard anymore.

It's not a distribution thing its a philosophical thing.

To make an allusion to a situation I have at work: we use a framework for development, and I have a tweaked copy I use for a pet project. But I don't dare ask for support on it, because I made modifications to the code beyond the specifications of the code. I can do that, because I am a developer and have rights to the codebase, etc. but then its no longer a standard. I can't expect it to support other applications built for the main framework and vice versa, etc...

But in truth he makes a point - the core of the OS in general doesn't need to be messed with, most tweaks and alterations do/should occur at the application level.

Just my 2 cents worth,

-everphilski-

Re:The Point (1)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976632)

So as Linux pushes towards standardization effectively the open-ness is still there and available to you but is marginalized in the sense that once you make changes then you aren't standard anymore.

I don't know what "open-ness" are you talking about. First of all open source isn't supposed to be open in that sense. And even if you want that kind of open ness if your changes apply to a lot of users they can always be incorporated in the standard distribution. If they are very specific then you are by yourself anyway. No "microsoft" can help you there. With open source atleast you can chang e the code yourself !!

Re:The Point (1)

jralls (537436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976692)

Well, now that rather depends on what you do with your changes, and what they're for.
If you've fixed bugs and submitted patches back into the tree, then there shouldn't be any problem with future support. If you've added functionality and discussed with the package developers what you're doing, and worked along with them to add the feature so that your interface looks like theirs, there shouldn't be any problem.
On the other hand, if you go off and make tweaks on your own, then you're on your own. That's true regardless of the support arrangements, and has been with all open source software forever. BFD.
The idea that this makes the SW somehow not open source is absolute BS. You have the source. You can study it and modify it, support or no. Just try to do that with M$Win, or any other closed-source software.

Re:The Point (4, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976726)

Once you make a modification, your code base is no longer the "standard" distribution, be it RedHat, gentoo, or Slack. Therefore you really can't get support for it, free or otherwise

No of course you can't. That's like me saying "I created a program on my computer, can someone offer me support without seeing the code or knowing much about it?" However if you distribute your software, and it gains a wide customer base, then people will be able to offer support on it, and nothing stops you from offering your customers support for your derivative.

Try doing that with Windows and see how far you get.

the core of the OS in general doesn't need to be messed with, most tweaks and alterations do/should occur at the application level.

And open source IS open, because if someone were to make changes to the OS, if the changes were good enough and the people distributing it professional enough, it would gain widespread use, and the other Linux distro's would be welcome to come along, grab his changes, and implement it within their own distributions.

To me, the MS PR person seems to have created a straw-man more then anything. But then again, why is this a surprise? Microsoft appears to hate the GPL and Linux, because it see's them as a valid threat to their own virtual monopoly. Whenever a MS person speaks, be very careful. He might be speaking the truth, but the likelihood of a spin is great. You should also be careful whenever there's a Microsoft article on Slashdot, because while the summary might be saying the truth, the likelihood of a spin is great. In this case, the summary gave the impression the article was primarily about Open Source not being open, when in reality, it's about Microsoft's shared source license.

Re:The Point (5, Informative)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976750)

You're right in not expecting specialized support on your modified code, but I think you left out some important points.

If you find a bug in a customized program, you try to reproduce it on a stock version. If it exists, you submit a bug report against that. It's their bug, completely.

If you modified the code, then you should be able to determine if the modifications are working as expected. If not, it's your bug.

Maybe you have shared your modifications with others who can help. Maybe it has already been merged into the standard codebase.

Even when it's not possible to reproduce the bug due to logistical contraints, or to determine whose fault it is, the vendor should still listen to the problem and offer guidance on how to isolate the problem.

Re:The Point (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976788)

(what, are you going to post on a forum "well, I tweaked this and this...")

And why not? A lot of hackers *enjoy* troubleshooting that sort of thing. I don't think you could *expect* support, but you could probably still find a lot of people who would be genuinely interested in helping you just to see what sort of changes you've made, and why this is causing a problem...

Re:That's Might Only Be True... (5, Insightful)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976639)

Except that everything that Red Hat makes is open source. Even its defensive patents can be used by any open source project (Red Hat gives irrevocable patent permission to any OSS project). The guys point in the article was that if I make a customization that isn't pushed upstream then I have to maintain that customization... no shit. That is true of any software or distro. The difference is... the source is open, I can go to Red Hat's ftp server right now and get the source for everything they've got and make as many changes as I want. The beauty is, if the patch might be more general than to just my specific needs, I have the option of pushing it upstream and if it is valuable enough to whatever project then it will be merged. If it doesn't have mass appeal then of course I'll have to maintain it, you aren't going to get the masses to maintain something specific to your company. Even if the upstream patch is rejected, if I damn want to I'll release my own version of the product (just like Whitebox or CentOS took all the source to Red Hat and released their own version). Lets see how fast Microsoft stops me if I take their source using their shared source license, make a change or two and start a new project called "Steve's SQL Server" and let anyone download it for free. This article is nothing but FUD being cranked out by the good ol' MS FUD machine. If they put as much effort into their software as they did their FUD then the software industry would be flipped upside down.
Regards,
Steve

Err... (2, Interesting)

penguin_asylum (822967) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976523)

Matsuow says: "you need to understand why you want to open certain software"

Now, presuming that he is disregarding any ideas of software being closed to *hem* increase profit, he doesn't really seem to get the idea...

I'd say that if anything, you should need to understand why you want to _close_ certain software.

Re:Err... (1)

Synonymous Yellowbel (720524) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976572)

I'd say that if anything, you should need to understand why you want to _close_ certain software.

Indeed... if your software is open to begin with. But, closed software can always be opened again, whereas once software is opened it can't be put back into the closed-source bag. The license for future versions might change but the earlier open-sourced stuff will always be open (assuming an OSI-approved licence).

The real point is that change is risky, and all changes as significant as closing OR OPENING software must be carefully considered and be based on real benefits - not just done for the sake of it.

steve

What? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976526)

Is this stupid? Or is this just what Microsoft would like to believe?

There are far, far too many forks of existing packages just because people didn't like the way they were headed ande split off a development track to reach what they considered the goal.

I tell you, if there was a similar track to split off "geegaws" from real GUI development on XP, that's what I would be running! Instaed, I run Gentoo, 'cause Microsoft is in control!

Re:What? (4, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976774)

Which just goes to show:
  • Linux is like Darwinian evolution. The code base mutates and the stronger strains survive. Sometimes parts of version cross into another, analogous to natural selection on individual genes.
  • Windows is like Intelligent design. After all, nothing that complicated and intertwined could possibly have evolved by chance.

Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (4, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976527)

His entire argument is that if you make changes to the source code, Red Hat support won't debug your modifications for you as part of their basic support package.

I can do whatever the hell I want with GPL'd open source, short of refusing to share my changes when distributing binaries to other users. Microsoft has all these licenses, but AFAIK they've released nothing of worth under any of them. I can't view or modify any significant Microsoft source without signing an NDA and paying millions of dollars, or risking serious prison time.

Re:Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976637)

I can't view or modify any significant Microsoft source without signing an NDA and paying millions of dollars, or risking serious prison time.

Worse... when someone like Citrix or Symantec does a better job with 'closed source' base, MS will change the paradigm and break the better app. Running the better guy out of business. And a new crippled MS version of "Terminal Services" or "Anti Malware" will be born.

It's worse than that. (2, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976674)

His entire argument is that if you make changes to the source code, Red Hat support won't debug your modifications for you as part of their basic support package. I can do whatever the hell I want with GPL'd open source, short of refusing to share my changes when distributing binaries to other users.

Oh, but there's more. If your mods are excellent and usefull, they might be rolled into the upstream sources and officially "supported" by having others continue to mod and improve things for you. That's why programs like the GNU debugger have 87 authors, which is way more resources than any "traditional" company can afford to lavish on any program.

This is a typical Microsoft smear that should backfire every time. They take their perceived weaknesses and project them onto others. This form is more insulting than most. The unstated argument is, "When X grows up, they will be just like us in all the bad ways but lack our strengths." Everytime some M$ spokesvole says something like this, rest assured it's an admission they don't have something people really want, they are not going to provide it and someone else does it better.

Re:Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (0, Troll)

Sancho (17056) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976676)

The argument is certainly flawed, but other than the basic premise, everything he says is true. And it's an important point.

People tout the openness of Open Source by saying that you can go in and change anything. Imagine saying that to your manager, who then says, "Great. Let's get RedHat." Somewhere along the line, you have to make a tiny modification to support some odd piece of hardware, and suddenly your support contract is worth less than the paper it isn't printed on. What is he going to think of your Open Source when something essential breaks that you can't fix and Red Hat /won't/ fix?

Open is good. But you should use the right tool for the job. If that tool is Linux, you use Linux. If that tool is Windows, you use Windows. Where I work, we even have an old OS/2 machine running--why? Because it works and there is no need to fix it.

Re:Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (2, Informative)

penix1 (722987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976749)

"Somewhere along the line, you have to make a tiny modification to support some odd piece of hardware, and suddenly your support contract is worth less than the paper it isn't printed on. What is he going to think of your Open Source when something essential breaks that you can't fix and Red Hat /won't/ fix?"

That is just absolutely silly. If you have a support contract then use the damned thing when you get that esoteric hardware and make Redhat do something with it. then your contract is still valid. Why did you purchase it if you aren't going to use it?!?!?!

B.

Re:Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976779)

Imagine saying that to your manager, who then says, "Great. Let's get RedHat." Somewhere along the line, you have to make a tiny modification to support some odd piece of hardware, and suddenly your support contract is worth less than the paper it isn't printed on.

On the other hand, with closed source Windows, Outlook, SQL server and Office, these 'odd pieces of software' changes are done via Service Packs and patches. Suddenly, my Outlook which has been working smoothly, breaks down. And whatcan I do about it? Patch it?

I'm getting problems while patching..
"Size: 1.9 MB

A vulnerability exists in Outlook Express that could allow an attacker to cause Outlook Express to fail. You can help protect your computer by installing this update. After you install this update you may need to restart your computer.

More information for this update can be found at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=19527 [microsoft.com] "

This patch doesn't install properly. So what do I do now? Call MS for support? They say "First apply the patch".

What is he going to think of your Open Source when something essential breaks that you can't fix and Red Hat /won't/ fix?

Strangely, this happens very often with Windows and is extremely rare or unheard of in the Open Source world.

Re:Worst, Microsoft, troll, ever... (1, Troll)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976756)

His entire argument is that if you make changes to the source code, Red Hat support won't debug your modifications for you as part of their basic support package.

Yep, it's yet more FUD. Lets face it, if I install hardware without Windows Certified drivers and my computer becomes unstable, will Microsoft support fix it for me?

Supported? (5, Insightful)

Paska (801395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976530)

The key word here is "supported", you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

If you don't want official support from any vendor, you modify away - and support it yourself.

Re:Supported? (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976623)

The key word here is "supported", you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

The first thing just about any vendor, MS or a reseller, Apple, will tell you when you have a problem with the OS is to do a clean install. If you want someone to fix your Windows install while keeping all your apps and settings intact, you'll be paying a hefty call out fee.

Re:Supported? (1)

JPriest (547211) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976647)

But that is exactly the point he is making. If the code is not supported by anyone but you, and you can change Windows code, then isn't Windows really just as "open"?

PS. I am not saying I agree with the position, just offering clarification.

Re:Supported? (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976694)

You would be right if windows code was open.

Re:Supported? (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976699)

Well with Linux/OSS at least you have a choice, with Windows - not so much. And if you make a valuable contribution then I'm sure that you can get it rolled back into the official release and all of a sudden your new version is supported.

Besides, I'd like to see how often this is actually relevant. Most people don't customize their code, and those that do are typically capable of fixing it themselves.

It's just a straw-man attack att OSS.

Re:Supported? (2, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976745)

you can't expect Redhat, Novell or even Microsoft to support your modifications.

You can't even expect Microsoft to support their own modifications.

Re:Supported? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976751)

The microsofties comment is very interesting in that they would expect the Linux vendor to support your modifications. The microsoftie just goes on to say the Linux vendor would just charge you a bit extra for learning and understanding the changes to ensure that their support continued to provide the quality service that you would expect and the Linux vendor continued to generate the same "competitve" margins as they would from an non-customised version. Another classic example of a microsft rep so confused with all lies and half truths that he ends up promoting Linux instead of attacking it.

Microsoft would also support your modifications, straight into court for a massive settlement fee and a long term compulsary supply contract. After the marketing lie of shared source that isn't shared at all (by any reasonable persons definition of the word "shared"), it is just a massive long term copyright liability (look at it once and in terms of copyright law you will have been expected to memorise it all to ensure you don't accidently reproduce a single line of it for the next seventy years, good luck and the same for anybody that hires you).

in other news (5, Funny)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976531)

Microsoft software isn't all that closed. There are always open holes to exploit.

Re:in other news (1)

doxology (636469) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976614)

Formal Proof that Microsoft's software is not open:

A set is open if for any X belonging to the set, there exists a Ball(X,delta) with delta>0 that is contained in the set. Ball(a,b) is defined as a ball of radius b at a.

The set of Microsoft's software, however, contains no balls, so no balls are containted within the set.

Therefore, Microsoft's software is not open.

Q.E.D>

Re:in other news (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976617)

I don't say any holes in your argument, but I think MS wants some reasons to release Service Packs.

It's open (5, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976534)

It's open. You just can't force someone else to change their codebase. If you really want to change it you make and maintain a patchset or your own seperate version of the codebase. Look at how many different kernel sources you can get, yet very few of those patchset ever get applied to the "real" kernel at kernel.org.

The point is you can do whatever you want with the code, but you can't force someone else to use it. I mean think about it. Imagine a code repository where every developer could write anything and it was fully open. It would never build. Code that is good enough usually gets accepted upstream, that darwinistic process helps open source, not the opposite.

Re:It's open (1)

istaz (694207) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976737)

upstream, that darwinistic process helps open source, not the opposite I would say intelligent design and darwinistic process helps open source move further up.

Re:It's open (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976757)

...but you can't force someone else to use it.

Which is why OpenSource runs absolutely contrary to the MS business model. They want windows on everything.

Pure FUD & other assorted bullshit (2, Interesting)

n54 (807502) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976537)

I'm not a linux zealot (I use Win2000, Knoppix, and OpenBSD and most of the time only the Win2000) but I still say this is pure FUD etc.

I read the article and it's as thin as water. Nothing to see here (move along), not even anything real to discuss here (except perhaps that /. has begun selling pagehits?).

An Open Discussion of Shared Source (2, Informative)

Zevon 2000 (593515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976540)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . Whatever you think about M$, the distinction between "open source" and "shared source" will be worth knowing going forward, and I'm skeptical of any source that claims Linux was the province of "the blue-haired ponytail set" in 2001. I don't even know what that means.

Of course! (1)

Asgard (60200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976544)

A company buys an 'enterprise' Linux distribution exactly because the rate of change has been slowed, and that they don't want to internally manage the code updates. Redhat has priced their offering based on what they know they support, so if a client wants support beyond that they have to pay for it. However, support for a open source product has an upper bound - the cost to hire someone full time to support it.

Equivalently, if a company standardized on Debian Stable, then its going to be harder to get a patch with a new feature into it.

The end user remains free to change (4, Insightful)

kihjin (866070) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976550)

"But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

Perhaps. But even so, the end user remains free to make changes. Even if the license (oddly) prohibited redistribution, supplying the source code to software with the software itself will always be better that not. Closed source is a dead end. End users have no choice, they must rely on the vendor to issue security patches and fix software.

This is not to say that every user will be tempted to change his/her software. The majority of users will be content with what is, and may not even be aware that the source is available. The freedom still exists, however.

Guy is full of it (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976554)

Many distros only come only with open source programs by default. Which you can go yourself and change without paying anyone anything.

And the Linux kernel is also open. Just don't expect your changes to necessarily go into effect on the 'official' kernel. Just like the MS's shared source code will have 1 official version and then whatever the customers changed out there which they can't even share with each other because they signed NDAs and whatnot up the wazoo just to see the code. Unlike Linux.

MS, stop attacking Linux and mind your own business. You have less and less credibility when you keep attacking Open Source in general with your FUD and your customers are catching on. It's better to salvage what dignity you have and shut up. If and when you stop spreading FUD, your credibility might go up and you can stop spending billions advertising yourself and attacking others. But then, that would totally go against the grain of what is a marketing company, not a software engineering company.

More MS FUD (5, Insightful)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976555)

"But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said.

That's a new meaning for the phrase "lock things down" that I hadn't heard before. I don't believe redhat locks anything down. The customer might be responsible for fixing problems with their own changes, but that wouldn't affect the support that redhat provides (i.e. so long as the problem was not caused by a customer change).

In effect, it's more FUD from M$. They really appear desperate now, grasping at any possible argument against Open Source. I didn't see the M$ spokesman telling the audience that Microsoft would support its own software which had been altered by customers.

So Mr Matusow, please explain again, how a license which allows customers to do more than your license allows is bad for those customers? That's like the RIAA claiming that 20-more years of copyright post death of author is good for the consumer.

Re:More MS FUD (1)

Soko (17987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976641)

I don't use a commercial distro, but what if you find a bug, make a patch and work with the vendor to get the patch in the main distribution? Better still, what if you work with the vendor to make the patch in the first place? Does this cost extra? I hope not.

That's what having the source does - it facilitates collabortion and partnership between you and the vendor.

Soko

Re:More MS FUD (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976705)

There's no reason that someone couldn't ship non-open source software with source in a distro and make restrictions on redistributing that source, but this looks more like Sun's "when we talk about Linux we mean Redhat" bullshit. If you use a distro like Slackware there's no such limitation, so as usual, kindly software giant Microsoft is simply lying.

Remember this the next time one of their mouthpieces shows up to do with an interview with a Slashdot editor, telling us all how Microsoft is a friend of open source. Any Microsoft salesman (no matter what open source project the Quizling may have worked on before) is nothing more than a spreader of lies and disinformation, and should be shown the door.

Not the point (4, Insightful)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976559)

That's not really the point. First of all you CAN alter the source if your need is desperate enough. Thus if some app needs your change you can weigh the pros and cons of blowing support vs getting the enhancement. - CHOICE. Secondly, if Red Hat dies and goes broke you have the source. Thirdly, you can make your enhancement and submit it to the maintainer and with a bit of luck it will come out in the next version of RedHat as the official supported version. Fourthly, somebody else might scratch the same itch and submit the patch which comes out in the next version.

The catch is this: change something, lose support. (5, Informative)

Da w00t (1789) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976565)

What TFA [techtarget.com] is saying (while being overly general) is that when you move outside of the box to an unsupported configuration, you lose support -- and if you want support, you'll pay through the nose for it.

What the article doesn't say, is that M$ [microsoft.com] has the exact same stance. You run 3rd party software with Microsoft Exchange, you lose support from Microsoft on not only Exchange, but probally your install of Windows 2003 Advance Server. Go read your EULAs from top-to-bottom, and you'll see what I mean. For any Microsoft product.

God I hate people slinging FUD around.

Re:The catch is this: change something, lose suppo (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976599)

This is why people like me bitch about being forced to use Redhat because vendors are retarded and think Linux means "Redhat".

I'm a fan of portable software. Why, for instance, are tools like Verilog compilers not 100% portable? They're userspace text reading applications. Not like they need something from a kernel other than a heap and a file system.

Every time someone tells you "I use word" or "We only support $DISTRO" tell them "then you don't get my money".

That'll curb this idiocy fairly quick.

Tom

Re:The catch is this: change something, lose suppo (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976742)

What TFA is saying (while being overly general) is that when you move outside of the box to an unsupported configuration, you lose support -- and if you want support, you'll pay through the nose for it.

It should be noted that by "unsupported configuration" the OP means "Grabbing the source code, making various changes, recompiling the code and installing it." He doesn't mean going into the menu and unticking a box.

Re:The catch is this: change something, lose suppo (1)

DavidRawling (864446) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976747)

Oh please.

Are you suggesting that Microsoft will turn down your money for a support call on a Windows XP BSOD because you have installed Firefox? I doubt it.

I've had MS in both Australia and the US assisting in the resolution of an Exchange issue (to pick your choice of server app) where the servers had non-MS antivirus, non-MS drivers, HW vendor management software, unsigned code ... and nary a peep from any of the specialists [sic] they employ about "We won't support it because you've installed non-MS software".

Perhaps you meant to say that MS may require you to help reproduce the problem without the non-MS software installed? And yes they will - but that's normal troubleshooting procedure. Find the minimum product set in which the problem surfaces.

Would you like to troubleshoot a kernel panic on $DISTRO with 50 different apps from 50 different vendors, and not get the product set to a minimum state? Would you prefer any $DISTRO support org to say something like "You've got a program installed from another vendor. Since you're paying by the hour, we'll just work with it as is. You probably shouldn't try to save everyone's time and money - and get your system running faster - by minimising the problem app set." And don't fool yourself - the cost of a support incident is set according to the amount of time estimated to solve the average problem. If you make all support calls take twice as long, your Linux support will be twice as expensive too (as will MS, Oracle, IBM, etc etc etc).

Anti-MS FUD is still FUD.

Matusow has a point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976570)

I mean, if I were to change the Linux memory manager and ask for support from Red Hat, RH might have an issue with that. And if I were to change the Windows XP memory manager...

Um, where do I get the source code for the Windows XP memory manager?

MS source is available to some academics/customers (2, Informative)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976765)

I mean, if I were to change the Linux memory manager and ask for support from Red Hat, RH might have an issue with that. And if I were to change the Windows XP memory manager... Um, where do I get the source code for the Windows XP memory manager?

Strangely enough I have a friend who did just that. Now the research project he was working on had been granted access to Windows NT source after signing NDAs but the license was transferable if the project moved to another university, they were not prohibitted from publishing, etc. It was a pretty reasonable deal.

Some customers have source as well for the very reason many around here trumpet open source, they want the ability to make changes *iff* necessary. I know I've been very fortunate in alwyas being able to get employers to purchase source licenses for libraries we wanted to use, not the less expenside binary only licenses. It always seems to have paid off.

So open source's advantage is not that you get access to source, it is that little guys get access to source. When you are a big enough and you are buying enough everything is negotiable, even access to source code.

Re:Matusow has a point (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976794)

Here:
#include memio.h
#define MEMBLOCK BIGNUM

main(){
malloc(x,MEMBLOCK)
sleep (100)
main()
}

Somebody who actually speaks C can fix that up.

This is the same reasoning... (2, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976574)

As the auto-industry flaks from Detroit who claim that Hybrids are bad because you only get 40mpg when 61mpg is advertised... while leaving out that their non-hybrid models are so much more inefficient, and also suffer from the same problems when dealing with EPA estimates (ie, up to 20% decrease in efficiency if you drive it gung ho, or are stuck in traffic).

In the meanwhile, those who know and care will buy the best option available, while looking at historical data for reliability, TCO, and ownership experience... and then laugh at those who run the American software/vehicle upgrade treadmill.

Author of TFA must be an idiot. (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976580)

From TFA:
"Shared source is Microsoft's foray into community development, started back in 2001 when Linux was just a hobby for the blue-haired ponytail set."

WTF?!

Re:Author of TFA must be an idiot. (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976626)

Didn't you know? Microsoft invented open source...

You must be new here.

Re:Author of TFA must be an idiot. (1)

lancelet (898272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976665)

Yeah... I was definitely using Linux in 2001. I've never had blue hair, or a pony-tail. Does that make me wierd? :-) I guess all of us Open Source zealots are really just copying Microsoft (as usual). Heck, we've even gone and ripped-off a licensing method that they clearly originated. Big old Linus is beating-up poor little Billy and stealing his lunch money!

Re:Author of TFA must be an idiot. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976730)

Yeah... I was definitely using Linux in 2001. I've never had blue hair, or a pony-tail. Does that make me wierd? :-) I guess all of us Open Source zealots are really just copying Microsoft (as usual). Heck, we've even gone and ripped-off a licensing method that they clearly originated. Big old Linus is beating-up poor little Billy and stealing his lunch money!

I've had the ponytail for decades. The beard too. And I'm blonde, not blue-haired. I've been using Linux since before RedHat 3.0.3, starting with SLS, before moving to RH. That's what, 7, 8 years? And while 98Se had a spot on my hard drive for a good long while, I dumped it 3 years ago, with some distro of Linux on my desktop.

Rule number 1: (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976586)

Never believe anything to be true, until Micorosft says it isn't.

Microsoft philosophy (1)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976595)

FTA "Microsoft's philosophy is to only share code where it makes sense, with a specific goal in mind."
What's the "specific goal"? anyone? anyone ...

So basically... (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976598)

You can make all the changes you want. What he is describing is a limitation on the support certain companies provide.

It's a bit like saying that Slashdot isn't free to visit - because if you do it at work you might get fired. It's true, you might get fired, but that's because of the terms of your employment, it's not a property of Slashdot.

Air is not free (5, Funny)

truckaxle (883149) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976603)

Scientist just discovered that air is not completely free! Researchers at Phillips Morris institute have completed a study that calculates the number of millicalories required for each breath of fresh air. This study is demonstrates that the air you breath is not entirely free but requires expenditure of energy and coordination of dozens of different muscles. This study is being release just prior to the companies announcement of a new product that uses a rechargable battery operated turbo-enhanced tobacco injection system.

Sometimes can get support for changes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976605)

We have made changes then submitted the patches to RedHat.
Redhat eventually picked up the changes and we had a fully supported system again.

You can't do that with closed source since you can't make the modifications in the first place.

Yes Microsoft and some other companies offer shared source or somewhat open source. However do they give you enough that you could build it yourself, make changes and put it into production? I don't know since I haven't seen them myself but I would bet not. Being able to see the code and being able to build and run the code are two drastically different things. If anyone knows if you can actually build say a full Windows XP system from what Microsoft will share with you I would love to know.

The other major issue is that with open source if the vendor goes under or decides to discontinue that product you have the option of maintaining it yourself for as long as you want. You can't do that with closed source. This part gets especially bad with product activation.

What is really occurring here is.... (1)

jesusfingchrist (853886) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976612)

MS continues to beat up on linux cause they realize more and more what a threat OSS is.

When someone hates on you, take it as a hidden compliment.

Keep drinking that HATER-AID M$, we be loving it.

Re:What is really occurring here is.... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976754)

When someone hates on you, take it as a hidden compliment.

Considering the endless blind bashing of anything MS says and/or does what does that say for them? Not to flame your post but your logic is the kind of thing they teach at sunday school; it has no value in the real world.

Developers, by Microsoft (2, Insightful)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976618)

"...Experts said that by addressing the open source community, Microsoft hopes to promote its position that software should continue to be developed in the traditional "closed" way, while at the same time attempting to cash in on the community development phenomenon... ...Matusow said opening up software can add value, "but you need to understand why you want to open certain software. We are building intellectual property into software and trying to sell it. We throw code over the wall for the community to build on it...."


By reading those comments I get an odd sensation that Microsoft is trying to use "developers, developers, developers" like a bunch of highly exploitable hippie enthusiasts.

Chaning the code in Windows? (4, Insightful)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976636)

And i suppose its possible to change the code for a small fee in Windows then? Not? STFU then.

Ofcourse RedHat cant support somebody elses code, the programmer changing the code might as well be a monkey and there is no way RedHat can magically fix things if an idiot sits down and hits the keyboard with a pillow. What you can do is send those fixes upstream and if the fixes are good it will get incorporated into the next release.

Not Surprising (2, Informative)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976649)

So I guess they are right: RedHat won't support a patch from out of the blue (say a patch I made for my ultra-custom setup) without testing (which might cost RH consult billable time).

But that isn't a big deal because MS doesn't either. It isn't like MS will support driver modification from ATI let alone anything I could come up with either so what is the advantage of MS's way?

Does my company "pay through the nose" for Centos? (2, Informative)

msimm (580077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976651)

I'm not sure where the pay through the nose thing came from but between Taos, Whitebox, Centos et al I don't see having a supported distro a big expense. If you want changes that might break something you make sure you don't. Big deal. How Microsoft competing against that? And on what planet wouldn't changes to the core operating system be problematic?

Tread NOT on the OS of the Penguin Clan!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976672)

Whew!

(Look @ the "penguins" going crackers...)

* :)

Hehe, well, all I can say @ this point is this:

"Mock not the OS of the penguins, lest ye incur their fearsome WrAtH!!!"

(Even IF what is said is fact! Lord knows, penguins get their non-existent feathers all ruffled if you tell the truth about their precious Linux!)

Don't get me wrong - Linux IS good stuff, but if somebody makes a point about the "open-ness" of Linux NOT being that open? Well, read this thread in its replies body entirety & get a HUGE laff!

APK

P.S.=> LOL! Ok, guys, take it easy now... the statement does have a point, in that apparently Novell for example demands its tribute if you play with the innards of their SuSe variant of Linux! apk

MS Software is Wide Open (0, Redundant)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976697)

it has more security holes than a Swiss cheese.

So, it is not the lack of openness that bugs me with MS software, quite the contrary...

Red_Hat != Linux (4, Interesting)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976709)

Here they go again, saying that Red Hat equals Linux. Hey I got one word for their comparison... CentOS. It's RedHat EL without all the trademarked stuff. And yes, they could make all the changes and offer it under CentOS if they wish. Their big point is that changes to Redhat's codebase isn't going to go back into Redhat's Final Product necessarilly.

So? Roll your own distro. Can you do that with Windows? No. Can I tweak XP and sell it as my own? No. Better yet, can I tweak the codebase for Windows Server 2003 so that I have a company wide distro for our internal systems? Hell no.

I'm sorry but this Microspin Doctor's argument looks to be in beta still. As per usual, I don't expect Microsoft's final argument to be worth anything until the third release.

This point has traction in some circles (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976717)

In summary - deviate from the standard and your support costs go up.

I was in a meeting recently regarding platform development (i.e. the company sells the entire box, hardware and software to their customers). The talk of porting the app to Linux came up and the chief honcho dismissed it as neither a benefit nor a loss.

His point was that their product requires certain OS-level customizations. They can either purchase these customizations from a proprietary-source OS vendor and pay out the wazoo for them, or they can contract for them in Linux and pay out the wazoo for support on linux. Either way, money is flying out of his wazoo.

In addition, he made the point that his company's core-competency is not in building OSes, so building and maintaining their own linux distribution is considered a high-risk/low-reward endeavour.

He had a point, and it was pretty close to this MS rep's point. In this company's case, part of moving to linux was also moving to cost-effective (i.e. cheap) commodity hardware, and away from proprietary (expensive) "big iron" unix systems. So, in his case the value is really in moving from overpriced hardware to the "sweet-spot" in the commodity hardware market. But, from this MS rep's point of view - Windows and Linux are already both in that sweet-spot, which takes that argument away from the pro-linux crowd.

So, my point here is that despite trying to define the problem in terms of "open" (which it has little to do with) the MS rep does have a reasonably valid point - customization costs money no matter how you go about it.

But, the MS rep's point starts to fall apart when you ask how manys customers actually need customizations? Since the vast majority of proprietary software is one-size-fits-all, sticking with proprietary versus Free gets you nothing special. Might as well go with a standardized linux install and worry about officialy support for an official release.

I was at the conference and was in the audience... (5, Informative)

Woodie (8139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976718)

OK -

first off, the argument went like this:

Say you're running SAP or some other large enterprise system. Say it's running on Linux. The fact that it's Open Source doesn't gain you much. You're extremely unlikely to be able to change things as companies like SAP, Oracle, etc. all specify exactly which versions of some of the various fiddly bits of Linux they support running their application on. If you deviate from those supported configurations - they don't support it.

And guess what - it's true.

Oracle isn't into supporting you bump-reving your kernel, and your upgrading to the latest c lib. They'll test a working stack - identify known issues (and work-arounds) - and that becomes a "known good" configuration. So - while you can do whatever you want with the source, that doesn't mean that other people are obligated to support it.

In any case - it's sort of a straw man argument. The fact of the matter is (and he even pointed this out) for the most part most people just use software. They aren't interested in actually modifying it in any way (substantively speaking). They aren't going to look at the source code, change it and re-compile it. Only 1% or 2% of software users are in that class. So realistically the fact that you can modify the source isn't such a huge advantage in practice. Other people have cited here what the real benefits are: Freedom of choice - you can still choose to make the change and support it yourself, and security - if the company supplying your software goes away, you still have the source...

And I see a lot of people reiterating the following OoC (Out of Context):

"But if a customer modifies the source code, [Red Hat] can't help you [without charging you extra]. They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

What he meant by that - and clarified - was that Red Hat has supported configurations, and other software vendors upstream (Oracle, SAP) have supported configurations. They "lock things down" (not in the literal sense, damn us programmers are always soooo literal - I'm suprised more of us aren't fundies) to provide value - is simply saying they limit the scope of what they support... Deviations from those known configurations are not generally well supported. I'm very curious about how well Red Hat supports the following on the current set of it's "Enterprise" edition:

1> Downgrade a core component such as the C Lib, or similar library or set of system utilities that a lot of the system relies on.

2> Upgrade a core component as above.

3> Crossgrade a component like the file system to a different one.

Once that's been done, I'm also wondering what kind of support you'd get out of a company like Oracle or SAP...

Re:I was at the conference and was in the audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976762)

Say you're running SAP or some other large enterprise system. Say it's running on Linux. The fact that it's Open Source doesn't gain you much. You're extremely unlikely to be able to change things as companies like SAP, Oracle, etc. all specify exactly which versions of some of the various fiddly bits of Linux they support running their application on. If you deviate from those supported configurations - they don't support it.

The problem here is that Oracle and SAP are closed source. If you're running a large system on Oracle, you might as well be using Solaris on a Sun box. But take something that is running on all open source software, and your choices for who to get support from can increase.

I agree: GNU is M$ (0, Offtopic)

CaptainPinko (753849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976724)

Now with that flamebait title I should get some curious readers :D.

The most un-open thinkg about open-source I'd have to say is GCC. It encourages you to use it extensions*. To me one of the core concepts of freedom is portability/being free from vendor lock-in... well GCC does not provide that. IIRC Intel's CC can't compile the Linux kernel... so now you are locked into using GCC. How this is any different from Microsoft's "embrace and extend" I cannot fathom; nor do I assume RMS to have any nobler intentions than Bill Gates from that matter (both insane genius off on self-serving crusades which may accidently benefit others).

What if I'm on a platform not supported by GCC or one for which GCC produces poor binaries or I have special tools for a particular compiler etc?

*(I've read release notes where they begrudged removing an extension when becoming more compliant and there is a comment about not trying to check for ANSIness in the man page)

Re:I agree: GNU is M$ (3, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976748)

I disagree with this statement 100%. I routinely write software that I primarily test by compiling with GCC that works out of the box with ICC v8, MSVC [CL version 6, 7 and 8] and CC from various UNIX'es [e.g. AIX, IRIX and HP-UX]

Yes, GCC supports things like a smart assembler inliner and packed structures. But I ask you, why doesn't MSVC? In this day and age it still uses the "we put code in verbatim with params" model that Watcom made famous in the EARLY NINETIES.

With GCC I can say "pass me these variables in registers" and then mix with C and ASM code in the same routine. GCC will sort out which registers to assign and even alias the variables automatically as possible.

With MSVC it's totally atomic. You can't tell it to alias registers with variables and once you leave your asm block you're totally fucked.

HOWEVER, when striving to write portable code GCC is a hell of a lot more compliant. Where are "long long"s in MSVC? Where are VLA and other C99 keywords?

Speaking as someone who actually works on a diverse set of platforms I'd like to qualify your post as "cheapshot".

Tom

Arrogance... (1, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976727)

This is really nothing more than another Microsoft expression of arrogance.

I mean they do have the singularity OS....

But so what? (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976729)

He said you can't just go changing code on supported Linux offerings without paying extra to companies like Red Hat or Novell. So as Linux is commercialized, it becomes less open.

But so what? IT wasn't free for your programmers to make that change in the first place--why would it be free to get somebody else to support your changes? Unless they get incorporated into the distro, you really should expect additional expense from supporting custom software--whatever OS you use. Show me one vendor that will support your random custom software changes without any kind of fee and I'll show you a stock to short-sell.

Again in other news. (1)

zwilliams07 (840650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976735)

Recent study done by Microsoft employees shows a link between all known cancers and using non-Microsoft software. One spokesperson was quoted as having said "Macs? Yeah you can use them, if you want football sized tumors in your brain."

Don't listen to MS about value (2, Informative)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976771)

They have to lock things down to provide value," Matusow said. "As open source becomes commercialized, it becomes less open."

Biased much? No, to provide value they don't need to lock things down (although last I heard DRM wasn't intalled on Linux distro's, you don't need a registration key to use a distro, you don't have to call up to register your installation. I'd hate to see what Matusow claims Windows is, if he believes Linux is locked down). To provide SUPPORT they need to lock it down. Linux has been able to offer value in it's distro's for years without locking it down. Although value is subjective, so I'm sure many MS cronies will disagree.

Thats Like saying.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976775)

Cigarettes not really deadly? Ocean not really blue? Microsoft not really a megademon?

oh puhlease (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976778)

That's just frelling stupid. Like the MS QC talking head I heard a the PNSQC conference recently who said he didn't use any open source testing tools because if he did then he would be forced to give away the source to Windows.

The Myth of Unwelded Hoods (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13976780)

Some people think that having a hood on their vehicle that gives them access to the engine means that they can actually be their own mechanics. This simply isn't true. Sure, you might change your own oil, replace an alternator, keep an eye on your belts and your transmission fluid. But that doesn't mean anything, really.

You can't single-handedly change the way Honda or VW manufacture their products. Just because you replace your ECM with an after-market high-performance ECM doesn't mean that Chevy will start including the ECM you chose in all future models. So you really haven't accomplished anything! It's all a big falacy.

Ford should weld their hoods shut. It would reduce the risk of people tampering with the engine while the car is parked on the side of the road. And it might improve the impact safety in the event of a collision.

Open hoods accomplish nothing but a lot of noise and hoopla.

America isn't really the land of the free (0, Redundant)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13976791)

America isn't really the land of the free, because not anyone can vote in an election. To provide leadership, even America has to lock down it's election process. Not only do you have to be an American citizen to vote, you have to be over 18 and be registered with a particular party, and also provide your home of residence and keep it up to date.

NOTE: This was intended as satire.
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