Wheres Steve?

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2008-06-24 Print this article Print

Bill ran to the convention center as fast as he could. Standing there, in front of a sign that said, "Linux: Built for hard-core geeks by hard-core geeks," was a large, bald man.

Bill ran up to the man and said, "Steve, Steve-you have to help me. I think I'm going crazy. Everything is all wrong!"

"No problem, sir," said the man, without an ounce of recognition. I understand your frustrations with the operating systems of today. Here's a copy of Slackware 20, the latest and most intuitive of Linux systems. I can show you how to install it in 42 somewhat simple steps."

"Linux?!" cried Bill. "What are you talking about, Steveo? Don't you recognize me? Don't you remember the company? All of the proprietary systems we created? All the money we made selling software?"

"Selling software?" said the large, bald man, blinking his eyes. "I assure you, sir, that I do not sell software nor have anything to do with proprietary systems. Software should be free. And I mean free as in free speech, not free as in beer. Come to think of it, I think it should be free as in beer, too. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting with my friend, Richard, to discuss the latest version of the GPL."

"No, Steve, noooo!"

Bill dropped to his knees and began to cry.

"Clippy! Help me, Clippy. I want to go back. I want to run Windows on XOs. I want to play Halo on my Xbox. I want to surf the Web with IE. Please, Clippy!"

With a start, Bill found himself back in his plush office.

"Bill, there you are."

"Get away, Steve-I don't want to hear about you and your Linux buddies," said Bill.

"Linux?" asks Steve, "I hate Linux. I won't even run a wireless router that uses embedded Linux. You know that!"

Bill looked up. "Wait, is it really you, Steve?"

"Sure, it's me. What's wrong with you? Your retirement party is about to start. I even invited a whole bunch of developers, developers, developers."

So Bill followed his friend to the retirement party. And, on the way, he saw people running his operating systems on PCs that had become ridiculously inexpensive due to the commoditization that his company made possible. He saw workers taking time off to play video games on a console that had helped revitalize a moribund market. And nearly every system he saw, even Macs, was running one of his pieces of software.

Bill began to think. Sure, lots of people hated him and his company, and some of that hatred was probably earned.

But his company had done a lot of good, too, and accomplished quite a bit to help bring about the current computing age. And if the company was sometimes the villain, that wasn't such a bad thing. By being a force that many felt they had to compete with, his company had helped mobilize many different groups across the industry. And that helped bring about much of the diversity and innovation that is driving the economy.

Bill smiled and thought to himself: "You know, my life is pretty darn good, after all."

And, as he walked into the party, he saw all of his friends-like Steve and Nathan and Ray. And, walking up to give a toast was one of his oldest friends, Paul.

Paul raised a glass and said, "To my friend, Bill, the richest man in this-or any other-town."


Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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