I last wrote to you, the world was going to Hell in a handbasket. Well, it's a month later little has changed. So unfortunately, I don't have any good news for you."/>

Sinning with Windows: There’s no Bagels at the end of this Fast

When I last wrote to you, the world was going to Hell in a handbasket. Well, it's a month later little has changed. So unfortunately, I don't have any good news for you.

As I write this, the DOW has fallen to nearly 8000, and the Jewish high holidays have just completed. Last night marked the end of Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, where practicing Jews go to temple services, fast for 24 hours and ask God to forgive them for their sins. It’s kind of like Confession, but you get to save it all up for one day a year and you get to have Smoked Salmon, Bagels and Cream Cheese at the end. Otherwise known as “Appetizing”.

What isn’t appetizing, however, is that since the economy has gone completely to hell, there’s less and less work out there, and those of us who are in the IT profession have had to do whatever we could in order to stay employed. That means that even though we may be Open Source advocates at heart, we may find ourselves doing some less than palatable work, and there’s no Bagels to be found. No singing, no Manischewitz, no nothing. And sorry Penguins, no smoked fish.

A colleague of mine recently told me that they got a job offer from this large software company based in the Pacific Northwest to come join their consulting services group, and as a result of moving to this firm, their salary would nearly double. However, they would be stuck working entirely using — ahem, non-Open Source products, rather than working with Linux, UNIX, mainframes, and multi-vendor virtualization technology like they do now. Their focus would be much more limited, but it would be a huge promotion nonetheless.

When this individual asked me what to do, I said “Go for it. Who cares? This is your livelihood you’re talking about. Go work for Satan and his army of evil minions. And tell Steve Ballmer I said hi.

Personally, I don’t have any religious or major ideological quandaries with Microsoft. They make good products – Like Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V, which is one of the highest-performing Type 1 hypervisors today and runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server virtualized faster than anything I’ve ever seen. And I’m thinking about picking up an XBOX 360 for the holidays, now that the price has gone down to $200, because I just need to have Halo 3 on my 1080p LCD in my living room. And yes, they make some not-so-good products too, like Windows Vista. And Project. God do I hate Project. As far as I am concerned the entire development team should be lined up against a wall and put to death by firing squad, I hate that software so much. But I digress.

The point is, I don’t see any problem with having to go out and work with Microsoft software, or really anything non-OSS or Linux as long as it puts meat on the table. I do it all the time, more often than not.

If you’re an Open Source advocate, how do you rationalize it? How do you live with yourself? Well, I would say that if you can manage to stay with your current employer – which I highly encourage you to do unless something truly better comes along – that you try your best to demonstrate that Open Source software can in fact save money, and increase reliability and performance. We all know what the benefits are. And when times are tough, it makes sense to try to do more with less, and software licenses are definitely very expensive when compared with Open Source, especially if you already have in-house talent that knows how to make use of it.

And if your employer isn’t quick on the uptake with your eagerness to work with Open Source and makes you work on Windows consolidations and maintaining the status quo, that’s fine too. You can still promote Open Source – with your friends in family, who will be looking for solutions and to your expertise. The next time someone asks you if you know where to get a copy of “whatever”, or should they buy “X” software package, point them to an Open Source solution instead. Someone needs to get their PC rebuilt? Offer to do it on Linux. Get some more copies of Ubuntu and OpenSUSE running out there. Save someone some money, because everyone needs to conserve it right now.

We all want to work doing the things we really want to do. In IT, we can’t always pick and choose what projects we want to work on or what platforms our employer chooses. And that’s okay. We have skills, we can acquire new ones for later, and we can help out our friends and colleagues. That’s why we have “community” and the other guys don’t.

Jason Perlow is Senior Technology Editor of linuxdlsazine. You can send Jason email at [email protected].

Comments on "Sinning with Windows: There’s no Bagels at the end of this Fast"


I have to agree, I love opensource, but is is my employeers love of Microsoft that puts food on thae table, a roof over my head, and allows me to promote linux on my off hours.

Although I must admit – my use of linux has provided me a role when the AIX guys have a problem with thier Unix system – they go ask the Linux guy!


I wouldn’t advise anyone against working at a Windows shop or against taking a higher salary. It can be a powerful thing to have an open source advocate (think invader) in a Windows house. Some things, like setting up a Samba server instead of buying another copy of Windows just to serve up files, or like running SVN on a Linux server, are easy to justify on TCO.

Still I wouldn’t advise working for a large company. They are lethargic and stuck on arcane ways of doing things. That’s why I chose a smaller more agile company when time came to give up the grey cube.

Hey Jason, if you hate MS Project, you should check out LiquidPlanner – http://www.liquidplanner.com. We built it just for people like you and it’s built on a fully open source stack. :)



We’ll there has to be limits. When we talk about Gnu/Linux we are talking about freedom. Now if I am starving and doing my best then with in reason I am willing to do things that I am normally not willing to do. That is okay because we all give in to weakness. As long as we are doing are best.

However let us not forget that when we give in to non freedom that it makes it harder for the next guy. We want freedom to be easy because in fact that is the only cost to freedom in this world today. How hard is it to be free?

So if I already make enough to eat and I work and contribute to freedom in general and some one comes along and tries to appeal to my sense of greed so that I’ll support non free… well that is not right.

This article makes me loose respect for this magazine. If I keep seeing this magazine support non free then I’ll have to abandon it completely.


Good article! And there’s really nothing that needs to be rationalized. Its all about putting bread on the table, so to speak. And there’s nothing wrong with being a Linux geek working with Windows.

I do, and have done this for a good bunch of years, though currently semi-disabled post some cervical surgery – if I go back to work in the computer environment it will most likely be MS again.

And am going to school now, working MS Server 2003 (for a MCSE certification). Installed on a Linux desktop and laptop under VirtualBox OSE, and 4 installs for class purposes under VirtualBox on a Win XP Pro box.

I seem to find myself more impressed with virtualization than the MS product I’m studying, but so be it – study on I will…


Well, I recently got a job as SAP consultant, programing in ABAP, and it’s as closed as it gets. I also have to use a laptop with Vista, so it’s a far cry from my Kubuntu box at home. But instead of crying about it, I work and learn and program ABAP, and continue programing in Python at home.
And I also make the devil work for me, as I’ve installed Goonzu Online on the notebook and use it to play when the job is done for the day. Sadly, online protections make it imposible to run under wine.


I don’t work in technology, except as the “geeky guy” for friends and family. I have a clear policy on working on other people’s computers- I’ll work on Linux for free, and Windows for a fee.

In accordance with this policy, I’ve done three Linux installs in the past month and a half.


Support of the open source products seemingly become the biggest problem for the management side to acknowledge the benefits of the open source itself, and It happens almost in big companies.

We don’t have to work in a company who has the open source minded while we want to use the open source, we may affect the others slowly by showing them the benefits of using the open source products, thus people will realize the robustness of open source compare with proprietary products.


Well lets face it most of us are stuck in a Windows orientated environment, seems to me most of the strategic decisions are heavily influenced by what the non-IT bean counters use at home, ie. Microsoft. Doesn’t mean we can’t make little in-roads into the psychie though.

Example, we recently had that wonderful combination of an unreadable DVD from a client full of critical spreadheets & an account exec with a deadline to meet. The dvd did the rounds of the IT dept. with none of the Windows boxes able to read it. Lastly it comes to me (why me last? ‘cos I’m wierd & use stuff that Bill Gates doesn’t control), I slap it in my Linux box & wow! it instantly reads it.

‘How come your pc can read it?’

‘Duh! It’s Linux, it WORKS PROPERLY!’

Ok, it was probably pure luck, but so what? Little victories like that raise the profile & make people realise that MS isn’t the only solution in the world.


I have done a lot of application developments in UNIX, Windows, and now Linux. I find Linux is not as it advertise to be. It work great if you don’t need to make change to the system. As soon as you need to…not a good thing.

For example, I have a COT product required Red Hat ES4 (RHES4 out of the box) runs on GoBook VR2 laptop. The laptop has a new Intel GM965 video chip set and RHES4 doesn’t have it. Intel don’t have driver for Linux either but for Windows (why is that?). Contact Red Hat support, Intel support, and open-source support…..they all said, you’re on your own.

I have to spend so much time to configure the Linux, write video driver, update the kernel, X server, etc…instead of spend time to do the real work, writing application.

Like you said, because of food I will do the work…other then that, Linux still years away from competing with Windows for Desktop environment or application development capabilities and software compatibility.

I use to be a UNIX hacker …but my time has passed… I just want to complete the work as fast as I can, go home, enjoy life and food. Linux hinder me from doing what I want to do.

Good artical!!!!



You don’t have to write a video driver. It is already done.
Check out http://intellinuxgraphics.org/documentation.html

It’s no surprise a 3.5 year old SERVER O/S doesn’t support a new LAPTOP video chip. It was made for 4 year old server H/W. Try installing original Windows Server 2003 media on a modern laptop and getting accelerated graphics. You might have better luck with downloading the latest update 7 of RHES4 ISO from RHN instead of 4-update-nothing media you get from vendors. Anyway, RHES4 runs on fine new Intel video, just in plain VESA mode. If you need 3D on new h/w, you need a newer O/S, or backport a driver.

If you want to honestly compare against the “Windows for Desktop” environments on a new laptop, try a good, modern Desktop Linux distro, not an old Server distro.



Hi. I am very lucky, in that I have been able to work with computers on my own terms for the last 8-9 years, using any desktop OS I want. But I also have very consciously stayed away from positions that would hem me in. Maybe it is because I work in a tech-savvy part of the country (Baltimore-Washington corridor, MD, USA)?

I’ve even gone as far as including the line “would prefer an environment hospitable to Open Source” in my Objectives section of my resume. And it has worked well! I have interviewed with several positions that not only *let* me use Ubuntu but use it themselves as their dev platform, and gotten offers from two different companies that service and support Open Source products.

I currently work for a company that does not use Windows for anything, really. (Except the CEO and CFO’s desktops :) ) We use Solaris as our server platform and Linux for development. Oh, and some Mac OS X in there.

My point? My point is that it is very possible to develop a tech career using tools that you love and want to promote. And that Windows really, really, REALLY is not the only game in town.

Now, I really don’t mind Windows, overall. I also don’t mind that MS is a huge company and needs to make money and grow and all that. I do mind the anti-Linux FUD that is all over the place.

ah, well, gotta stop commenting for now, but that’s my story. Seeya


While it is always good practice to hold high principles and keep to them especially if the increase in pay buys you more misery than the increase is worth, still it is possible to not only maintain one’s principles while “working for satan”, it’s possible to serve them even better.

If we look at trends it becomes obvious that the principles in “Cathedral and Bazaar” still hold true as evidenced by how little by little OSS apps slowly take over. Aside from the oldies like Apache, PHP, MySQL and a sprinkling of others that have been around for 10 years or more it can be seen that the growth of domination or at least stiff competition of many open source projects with perhaps one of the more obvious examples being Firefox, these principles are at work and irresistable.

As computing becomes more and more ubiquitous the need for not only cross platform but platform independancy grows with it since the average user just “wants it to work” and cares not for nuts and bolts. At some point the OpSys must become a non issue. Because it is now possible to find OSS apps that run on windows and because the cost is at the very least less than proprietary apps, while one may not succeed every time at supplanting proprietary software, one can succeed often enough to begin to nudge the house toward open source, instead of “preaching to the converted” thus defeating the “enemy” from the inside. Ultimately this seems best for the advancement of the role of computers in the future and it is that subtle but relentless riptide that must win out. So aligning oneself with the prevailing winds right where the barricades are highest can be subversion rather than selling out.


Project! I think lining the developers up against the wall is too good for them.

Instead, make them use Project to plan and schedule Project’s software development. Then we’ll never hear from Project or the developers again…


As long as I have the choice, I will choose to do the work in an environment where I can take the decision on what technology to use where. And often it will be OSS. Even if I can make more money on a “MS-only” job, I wouldn’t do it. Because my choice can not be bought. I wouldn’t feel comfortable at choosing or using software “because someone at the top says so”. What kind of business are you working for then? How to explain to the users? How can you get satisfaction of your job?

OK, it means that I work in a smaller company. It means no expensive supplier parties or presents. But I know that all the (extra learning) time I spend (even at home) is spend well. It is not lost when a supplier dumps its product. It is not lost when company x buys company y and dumps your software z.

I know there’s no guarantee that my employer survives economic troubles, but if not I will try to find a rich and free environment again, rather than drown in monoculture.


Hi I’ve had dozens of people bring me windows boxes with corrupted hard drives and years of family photos and music collections that they can’t access. I simply take out the windows hd and install it as a slave in my linux box running PCLinuxOS and TaDa!! Customers get their pics and movies saved. And I look like an experienced computer Guru. Love the Linux!


I think this is a good point. The reality is that we end up doing a lot of “tech support” for our friends on Windows. I’d love to convert them to Linux, but it’s rarely easy to motivate them to change. This might add a little incentive. (Oh, and some people really do offer to pay me rather than assuming I will work for free, so charging friends for IT services really isn’t out of line.)


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