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Article > Attack of the Linux geeks!
Description :: They're all a bunch of commie terrorists, out to get SCO, don't you know?
MyDoom.A is a worm that infects vulnerable (Windows) computers, and launches a denial-of-service attack against SCO's website. MyDoom.B is a worm that infects vulnerable (Windows) computers, and launches a denial-of-service attack against Microsoft's website. MyDoom.A and MyDoom.B both closely resemble an earlier worm (a sort of computer virus) used by spam companies to turn vulnerable computers into email relays they could use for sending spam (unsolicited commercial email, usually hard to get rid of.) MyDoom.A and MyDoom.B still have that sort of functionality in them, able to act as their own email servers (in order to send out copies of themselves) if no others are available instead. Computers infected with these worms are open to further use as spam relays.

But it's those Linux people, you know? They're angry with both SCO and Microsoft, and they'd do anything to get back at them for their purported wrong-doings. The Linux community is a hostile group of money-haters, out to hurt good companies just making a profit from their work.

It seems that journalists are just as quick to blame an entire community of programmers and users for the act of, quite likely, a single person as they are to blame an entire society for the acts of a few individuals. Aren't all Palestinians terrorists? Shouldn't we retaliate against all of them? Shouldn't we retaliate against all Linux-lovers for these attacks against SCO and Microsoft?

We don't even know that the worm/virus was created by a Linux zealot -- in fact, it's quite likely this is just a diversion on the part of companies interested in having open relays for sending spam. But even if it's not -- even if this is actual the result of a Linux-loving programmer getting fed up with SCO's constant threats and accusations against a community of programmers who volunteer a lot of time and effort to make good, free software -- is it the Linux community's fault? Does putting pressure on the community, as a whole, reduce the chances that individuals will take action?

Besides, a true Linux zealot would have started a SourceForge project for his virus, posted the source code, and asked for contributions to the code to make it better. The project would have forked three times, possibly re-merged at least once, been taken by an outside company and turned into a commercial (non-free) product without permission, and been obsoleted at least once because a maintainer got bored and forgot to hand the keys to someone else. And we'd be able to check the CVS (concurrent versioning system, used to track changes on such projects) to see who posted the code to attack a particular website. As this hasn't been done, we can easily conclude this worm/virus author is a faker.

The Linux community is a good place to look for something that isn't authoritarian. You've got a bunch of programmers, artists, writers, testers, and users cooperating on an ad-hoc basis to create something of value. Nobody is really in charge, though a few people have control (for a while) over certain projects, and a few people are well-respected and occasionally get to make speeches someone listens to. But really, nobody's in charge, nobody orders anything. If you don't like the way a project is going, you can "fork" it, take control of your own splinter, and go along your merry way. This isn't exactly encouraged, but it's known to be necessary in many cases, and even useful. People have differing ideas, and letting them take a chance and express those ideas can lead to useful results.

To say that the entire community is responsible for attacks by a single individual is dangerous. You have to prove that the entire community, via some process, made the attack possible, ordered the attack, and did nothing to prevent it.

Palestinians barely have a government at the moment. They don't have constant elections (Arafat keeps putting off elections for "better days") by which to express their views. Their territories are split into smaller chunks, patrolled and controlled by the Israeli army. They're not innocent, but they're also not without cause for grief: Israel often retaliates against the civilian population for attacks against its own population -- but it's retaliation, not justice. (Those who commit the attacks are usually dead, so their families, relatives, and neighbors are the ones who pay the price.)

I can give credit to a country when its military achieves victory. A true army needs the backing of the civilian population. I think, however, that we give too much credit to entire populations for the acts of individuals -- individual suicide bombers, individual rogue programmers, and so forth. We're missing the trees for the forest, really.

The Linux community didn't attack SCO, and the Palestinian community as a whole isn't attacking Israel.

But Israel's army is the one keeping watch over the Palestinians -- can we therefore blame all of Israel for the acts of its military? Or perhaps its government no longer has the approval of the population, but nothing's being done about it? Oh, that gets nasty, doesn't it ... are we held responsible every time we don't take action against suicide bombers, but not when we fail to take action against corrupt, tyrannous, or criminal governments?

[in-progress, more later?]

Continued at top
Owned by Unordained - Created on 02/02/2004 - Last edited on 02/03/2004

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