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Stop the Presses: a Love Letter from Big Tux to Big Bux

None of the Big Boys have gone as gaga over Big Tux as Big Blue. We all know about the billion IBM plans to spend. We've heard about the server division changes and the R&D commitments. We've seen the beanbag chairs rolled out for geeks at LinuxWorld Expo.

But, that's not enough. We're talking about a huge crush here: the kind that calls for big sloppy displays of unfettered affection. But since large corporations aren't able to actually hug and kiss (it would never get past Legal), IBM can't help doing what comes only naturally to big old companies—advertise.

“Peace, Love and Linux” is the new campaign. It launches with a love letter in the form of a Flash Q&A on the Web. Here's how it starts:

What is “Peace, Love and Linux?”

A rallying cry. A clear, enthusiastic synopsis of IBM's excitement about Linux and support for the Linux community.

Why is IBM supporting Linux?

Because we admire it, we believe in it, we need it and it's good for customers.

IBM's vision is to help build the business infrastructure of the future, drive towards dynamic e-business and integrated, intelligent infrastructure. The complexity and demands of this vision are staggering, mind-boggling. We've looked hard at what it will take to get there, and two facts have become clear.

First, we'll never get there without wide adoption of open standards like Linux.

Second, that the complexity of the task is so great that IBM simply can't do it alone. No company can do it alone (although some still suggest otherwise). Only the concerted effort of the larger technology community can make it happen. And only the Linux movement can marshal that effort.

Here's what IBM says to the natural skeptics that comprise, frankly, our readership:

Is this collaboration idea real or just feel-good stuff?

Real. Very real. If you think it's just fluff, you've missed the point.

IBM spends $5 billion a year on R&D. And we're putting a billion dollars behind Linux. But even all that is nothing compared to what the Linux community will generate spontaneously.

This is a new way of looking at the world: companies, alliances, partnerships and individuals working together, each contributing their particular expertise to create a “massively parallel thinking” force that is immeasurably more powerful than any single entity, including IBM.

As always with this kind of stuff, the lover holding out the flowers makes a few little mistakes. For example, IBM doesn't appear to know about the Linux community's allergy to GIFs. To arrive at the love letter (www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/linux/passport.swf), readers of IBM's Linux page have to click through a series of GIF links. And, lots of us will be disappointed when we get there because they don't run Flash, either.

So a little advice to the suitor here: maybe you could take some of the web marketing money that's burning a hole in your pocket and bang some of it on, say, the Open Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org/). They need it, and it'll help them accomplish a bunch of the objectives you're bragging about.

—Doc Searls

They Said It

We've just spent 14 hours trying to get standards-compliant code to work in standards-compliant browsers.

—Jeffrey Zeldman

The Linux issue is whether this is a fundamentally disruptive technology, like the microprocessor and the Internet. We're betting that it is.

—Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM

It's the business model around free software that concerns us, where people get sucked into not paying for software. This will be a disservice for them, as they need established, well-funded companies to offer innovation.

—Doug Miller, group product manager for Microsoft's Windows Server Group

The Linux community support model has resonated with people.

—Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

In this business, the only real open-industry standard in the computer industry is Linux, which thankfully remains beyond the clutches of the moguls. Everything else is hokum designed to lock developers (and by extension, customers) into proprietary corners of the computing constellation.

—Charles Cooper, ZDNet News

Life ain't a rehearsal; stop acting and live.


Copyright today is a system inflicted on the public, not a system that benefits the public.

—Richard Stallman


Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal