How to kill a community


I was looking at the inquirer (which is unusual for me) and saw this article that talks about an organization called “Linux Australia” that has been commissioned to get companies that are using the Linux name to pay AU$5000 to continue using it.


Huh?  It gets worse – Linux Australia is a “community organization”. 


And article uses Linus Torvalds’ name – saying that he is endorsing the move.


The really interesting thing is the reason behind the move which was stated as “to protect the quality of products that go out under that brand”. 


It seems to me that the “linux brand” is becoming less free all the time, and starting to look more and more like a commercial entity of some sort.


Having a “community organization” doing this sort of work in the community must be really disheartening for the linux community members.


Comments (12)

  1. SomeOne says:

    Instead of spreading FUD, please check what Linus Torvalds himself has to say about the whole thing –

    http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=linux-kernel&m=112458521702385&w=2

    The whole thread is quite interesting. Take a look ! (Of course I am hoping you had a good intent when you wrote this FUD 😉

  2. Dean Harding says:

    My understanding is that they’re trying to protect the "Linux" trademark, not "Linux" software. I’m sure if the offending companies were to take the name "Linux" out of their products, they wouldn’t be required to pay.

    That’s the problem with trademarks – unless you actively protect them (by issuing cease&desist notices to people using it without your concent), they become useless.

    I guess issuing a $5,000 bill is not a very polite way of going about it, however.

  3. dburling says:

    I didn’t dig on this at all. Nor was my intention to single out Linus and say hes a bad guy – thats clearly not the case.

    My first point (and still remains) was that a community organization carrying out this sort of work in the community doesn’t leave a nice taste in my mouth.

    If Microsoft asked me as an MVP (when I was one) to go and sort out it’s legal problems, I wouldn’t have been interested and it would have made me less interested in working with them in the future. [p]My other point about the Linux brand becoming more commercial also still stands.

    Trademarks (for whatever reasons) are about protecting intellectual property. Granted the GPL prevents much of the software from becoming commercial, but the world of Linux doesn’t have the same "roaming free" feel to it that it used to. And it’s inevitable that it will continue to be more commercial as more people try to make money off it’s momentum.

    And no – I dont have any vendetta against Linux. I used to be a proponent of it (http://groups.google.com/group/nz.comp/browse_frm/thread/509481c5f7808633/b169323dfbd809c5?tvc=1&hl=en#b169323dfbd809c5). 🙂

  4. Linux was trade marked because of unfortunate incidents where people tried to misuse the name — for example registering LinuxChix as a porn site.

    This sort of community minded behaviour is common in the open source world, and it should be noted that the people complaining are those whose commercial interests are affected. Linux is already a trademark in many countries, this is merely a case of the mark being extended to another country.

    What bothers me more about this is that Microsoft seems incapable of competing based on the merits of their product. Instead you feel the need to resort to gutter politics like this. How does this reflect on Microsoft when you post like this without researching the issue more than superficially? Poorly is the answer.

    So, why aren’t Microsoft talking about new features, security, making users more efficient, not locking users in, and so forth, instead of throwing mud?

  5. James says:

    Just a minor point, the GPL doesn’t prevent commercialisation it prevents closing off the source. This is a big difference. It is possible to make money off F/OSS.

    Also your treating the linux community as if it’s a commercial entity, it isn’t. It is a community of volunteers and organisations, one of which happens to be Linux Australia (http://linux.org.au) the guys behind the Linux Conference Australia a conference for developers and users of Linux.

    You have one thing right, trademarks are about protecting a name/brand. Linus Torvalds decided that he needed to protect the name Linux from people who would abuse it, I’m pretty sure that Bill Gates has a similar policy.

    This is not a money grab.

  6. dburling says:

    This is not gutter politics nor is this journalism. Its a blog. A place where I put down things that I’m thinking about and that I want to share. Beat up the reporters who did the initial story if you want to hang someone for lack of facts. I’m consuming limited amounts of data – thats all.

    My point was (and still is) that a community should not be divided against itself. A community organization performing legal action inside the community seems divided to me.

  7. Klaus says:

    Michael –

    What bothers me is the fact that a Microsoft employee can’t pass gas without people like you weeping openly about the unfairness of it all and making tired arguments about how Microsoft "can’t compete" and so it must resort to "mudslinging". Perhaps you should go tell the people who run your community’s main mouthpiece over at Slashdot that posting inflammatory claptrap and outright "FUD" about the company day in and day out, all happily sponsored by one of Microsoft’s competitors (OSDN). For example, the "Vista virus" at http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/08/05/0411254&tid=109. I can dig up *hundreds* of these, literally. From somewhere else? Here: http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/38606/index.html. Or just go to any random zealot blog to get your daily share of "M$ is teh evil" FUD vitamins. There’s thousands of those out there.

    And when Microsoft tries to reach out to the "community" you get the crap that goes on on the IE blog (see http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/08/12/451099.aspx as just one example of the slashbots descending on a blog).

    So spare us the "OMG teh evil MS is attacking poor little us" mantra unless you and your friends grow up. Until then understand that MSFT employee blogs are personal in nature and content. If you can’t deal with that then I suggest you stop taking offense at what they write – or better yet, just stop posting.

  8. dburling says:

    I’m closing comments on this post.