Ban !

In a thread entitled “What are the benefits of open source?”, started by amicus_curious, one of the trolls of the Internet, I wrote:

“Fortunately Ziff-Davis has decided that OUR side of this debate is worth hearing.”

That is the problem. ZD does not love GNU/Linux. There is nothing wrong with being balanced but putting up a debate page and tolerating abuse is wrong. There appears to be no active moderation here.

There isn’t really a debate. Supporters of GNU/Linux bring out examples of good things happening with GNU/Linux and the trolls heap insults and ignore the data. The supporters of M$ bring out more trolls. The trolls look at data from M$ and USA when that is highly unrepresentative of global usage. The trolls put impossibly narrow conditions on GNU/Linux that are clearly biased.

GNU/Linux on the desktop has made great progress in 2007/2008 in spite of all the beliefs, knowledge and expertise of the trolls to deny that GNU/Linux is advancing quite well. I expect a good annual increase in share for several years. All the signs point to it:OEM units with GNU/Linux, new products like the eee PC, web stats even from USA, survey stats from all over, and Vista flopping and XP being killed. There is nothing the trolls can write that will stop this progress.

Which, I think is fair criticism of the moderation there when I can be called an “idiot”, “zealot” (in the derogatory sense of a mindless person), “teacher” (in the sense of those, who can’t, teach), and “from Canaduh, eh?” and “stupid” with no comment from the moderator whatsoever.

The moderator’s reply was:

“Pogson —

Oh, can it, would you?



So, it appears that enthusiasm by fans of GNU/Linux cannot be tolerated there but ad hominem attacks, wild disparaging remarks about GNU/Linux and users of GNU/Linux are just fine. The trolls there in recent weeks, on have spouted ideas like:

  • GNU/Linux on the desktop is not ready because businesses do not deploy it on 5000-desktop quantities. I replied with many examples of business doing that and my citations were criticized as irrelevant by the trolls, and the moderator did nothing. The trolls rarely document their criticism. It’s usually a one-liner or a very biased source.
  • GNU/Linux has progressed to only a 1% share in 15 years so it will never make it. I dug up numbers from SEC filings and web stats to prove GNU/Linux has more than a 6% share globally.
  • GNU/Linux is too hard and complicated. I recount the use of GNU/Linux successfully and with only occasional help needed by six-year old humans. I recount the difficulties just starting a brand new Vista machine (now, there’s complicated). Where was the moderator when it was stated in the forums that I was only a teacher and new nothing about IT, was incompetent, and was deceiving my students and employers about the usefulness of GNU/Linux? Nowhere.
  • Where was the moderator when the trolls threw out gems like GNU/Linux would never make it on the desktop until QuickBooks, PhotoShop and AutoCad were ported to GNU/Linux. When it was pointed out that only a few seats in most businesses would use those applications, we were shouted down as stupid ignorant nitwits by a chorus of trolls.

  • Coders of FLOSS were compared to monkeys by oldman who rarely does more than a one-liner. This is not debate. It is abuse.

    “The FLOSS community has far more coders than M$, for instance, and because the code is open whoever has a better idea and implementation of that idea wins.”

    10000 monkeys banging away at typewriters will not re-create hamlet.

    This reply could be seen as humorous but it completely ignores the fact that there are more than 100000 coders working on GNU/Linux around the world and many are top in their field or are working towards that. That is classic web trolling:

    • say nothing about the subject at hand,
    • change the subject,
    • hurl abuse/derision, and
    • begging the question.

One can see the magnitude of the problem by sorting out the players. These are the frequent posters:

Trolls Rational Humans
Truth (oxymoron) FThompson
RhoXS GWeeper
RhoXS2 Trio
Gadfly Tropical Monkey
Bitnaga pogson
Irronrabbit CrazyPenguin
Amicus_curious WalterByrd

What does it say about the site that trolls are as plentiful as legitimate posters, trolls hurl insults at rational human beings who cite reputable sources supporting their arguments, and the site is supposed to be about GNU/Linux on the desktop? There appear to be many thousands of visitors to the site but so few post because they are not masochists.

So, I conclude trolls and M$’s sycophants are welcome on and I am not. So I am done with that site. I will contribute more here where Google can find my comments. I have contributed a lot to the site in the last year and all I get is abuse from the trolls with no help from the moderator.

In case any of the trolls drop by and are confused by the word, “sycophant”, I supply alternatives from Moby Thesaurus:

Moby Thesaurus words for “sycophant”:
adherent, adulator, apple-polisher, ass-licker, backscratcher,
backslapper, blarneyer, bootlick, bootlicker, bootlicking,
brown-nose, brownie, cajoler, clawback, courtier, cowering,
creature, cringer, cringing, disciple, dummy, dupe, fawner,
figurehead, flatterer, flunky, follower, footlicker, gillie, goon,
gopher, groveler, groveling, handshaker, hanger-on, helot,
henchman, instrument, jackal, kowtower, kowtowing, lackey,
led captain, lickspit, lickspittle, man, mealymouth, minion,
myrmidon, parasitic, peon, puppet, reptile, satellite, self-seeker,
serf, slave, snob, spaniel, stooge, suck, thug, timeserver, toad,
toadeater, toady, toadying, toadyish, tool, truckler, truckling,
tufthunter, votary, wheedler, yes-man

Pick whichever word you like.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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11 Responses to Ban !

  1. I enjoy technology but it is what you can do with computers/networks that is great in education. Many schools have XP/2003 with no web server/database. They are not getting much value for their IT spending except the web and word-processing. My kids get local interactive websites that they can manage themselves. If I had a decent server, I could put the web server right on the terminal server. That is performance. I warn people not to blink.

    I am really frustrated here. All my plans have come to nothing just because folks up the food chain did not bother to push pieces of paper… sigh. Where I am going next there is a working system that they like. I can add a web server with database and scripts and have the IT students work with it. I can do that with almost any old computer if we do not care about the speed.

    Oh, well. I cannot change everything. I did succeed in making a few hundred people aware of GNU/Linux. That may bring some benefit later on.

    Recently, I met the Director waiting in line at the store. He observed Vista was slow on his new dual-core machine. I received a bunch of Ubuntu CDs in the mail and gave him one…

  2. Trio says:

    Leaving debate about implementation aside, your efforts to educate are of prime importance. Kids should be exposed to a variety of options and solutions and it appears that your efforts follow that ideal.

    Most of yours and oldman’s flurries of techspeak usually went over my head, but I did learn to be curious about things that I might have ordinarily left alone …..and for that I thank you!


  3. I have used the IBM x-series. My present terminal server is a four-year-old 225. It has SCSI RAID. I needed more RAM, and, in spite of what the manual says, got non-ecc RAM to work that I scavenged from the machines in the lab. 2 gB runs my lab quite well. It has a gigabit/s NIC but I cannot get my gigabit/s switch to play with the thin clients. It wants to look for loops for 30s on each reboot… I have not the right cable to talk Cisco into stopping that behaviour nor the tools to make one. No rack. The beast is sitting on the floor in the dust.

    I have used SmoothWall and one other but I found them very anal in configuration (our way or the highway). I use stock Debian now. I get occasional stoppage of a process. Last week, lockd quit without any complaint and today I found the drive had filled up with logs and such. Did a cleanout of guest directories in /home and moved some large files to another drive. The next guy will have to persuade these folks to buy storage. I have failed utterly. At Christmas they told me I could spend money on servers including storage but nothing was ever ordered in fact.

    Students do like hands-on stuff. Even the least academically inclined have excellent vision and understanding of mechanical things. It is frightening to let a potential axe-murderer hold a $300 chip, so I usually do that as a demonstration. In one place, I showed kids how to take apart and replace all the parts of a PC. The next week RAM disappeared from a teacher’s computer. Oops! Many schools recycle older machines through the lab where students cannibalize the dead to keep the living alive, clean, install software and such to gain useful skills. Some schools are allied with larger recycling organizations and have truckloads of old PCs to work on. It is not fun installing software on an old PC so using them as thin clients works better but students can also do disk duplication with GNU/Linux in compliance with the GPL, so that works for us.

    The next guy has been offered the job. I do not know whether he has accepted but he will have his hands full trying to get this place to comply with the curriculum. Grants of money that were readily available were let go from lack of trying. We could have had 50 more seats just for asking… Now we have only a small number of machines in classrooms. The place where I am going has 1-4 machines in each classroom and add more each year. I will propose they look at GNU/Linux in the mix of implementations but Vista will not run on old machines very well and XP is what they like now. There will be a huge cost if they have to buy new versions of software just to work with Vista. I would rather they put such money into hardware but they have almost enough seats now. Lots of choices and questions, no answers.

  4. oldman says:

    Servers are always more noisy than desktops because they are designed for “greater durability” As far as being “fire extinguisher proof” is concerned, you’ve got me there. I’ve always been fortunate to have mo servers in closed machine rooms that keep out any problems. I presume that is is bad teaching form to “break the fingers” of the miscreants 😉

    Your plan of turning a server provisioning/maintenance into a student project is an elegant one. Given the circumstances that you have work in, I can see how this would become an attractive alternative. I would still worry about maintenance after you leave, but if the powers that be approve of your plan, then that is what counts. You certainly have all the bases covered otherwise.

    If you do wish to look at a rack mount commercial server I recommend the you take a look at the IBM x series servers as well.
    Their products are rock solid -I recently had to mercy kill an 11 year IBM server that had hung on long after all others died. I’ve pointed you towards their AMD offerings. As you will note they are not that much more than the number you were thinking of.

    The URL is

    Also I dont know if you need this but I have been looking at the Vyatta Open source router ( It has the virtue of being a stand alone router that is (IMHO easily programmable) It is debian based (which I know you will appreciate) I have been looking at it as the router (In comes in a VMWare format virtual appliance version) for a virtual test environment that I am building personally (I can no longer look at it professionally because of the debian OpenSSL debacle). It is as far as I can tell both rock solid and a good candidate for being the core of routing component of the kind roll your own network that you tend towards.

    Hope the rest of your year is a good one and enjoy your summer vacation.

  5. The new job does pay very well, much more than here. I included this URL in my resume and they had visited the site before hiring me for next year.

    I build my own systems. For a school I would buy or build depending on the requirements. For example, there are courses I could teach about assembling hardware. The server could be part of that. I want to know what is in my boxes. Those details are not readily available for some off-the-shelf servers. No server I have built since 2003 has yet failed. I do know what I am doing. I need to know where the bottleneck will be before I build the thing so that I know it will do the job. I always see what people need before recommending anything. I have been working in schools for a long time and I have seen all kinds of usage. A big advantage of building a server is that it can be serviced locally. By using ATX parts, we can always buy current stuff for replacement parts and there is no premium on name-brand parts. If I teach students how to build it they can always maintain/service it. Sometimes I include a video of the operation to document it. Fun for all.

    I have looked at some of the Sun servers. Such rack-mounts tend to be noisier than I like. I also need more tolerance to dust than some of them have. You never know when a kid will fire an extinguisher under the door…

  6. oldman says:

    My experience with computer system over 30 years is essentially the same. Computers do indeed tend to last for years once past “infant mortality” My comment came directly out of my recent experience with a dell portable (a 640m) that blew 5 hard drives in a row over less than a year and a half(I’ve since replaced it with a Lenovo Thinkpad R61) Had I not had a warranty with Dell, I would have been SOL.

    Too bad about your postponed retirement. I hope the work pays well at least!

    It is my understanding that virtualbox has indeed improved and should at this point be the best “fuss free” open source virtualization solution. I would definitely give it a try.

    As far as your IT plans are concerned, At the risk of being boorish, I would make two suggestions:

    1) That you take a close look at the state of the wintel useage from both a people and a hardware perspective where you are going BEFORE, you suggest anything – I would even suggest that you might keep you opinions on wintel to youself until you know your environment. Being Linux oriented is fine, but I have found what you see as peoples “biases” can also be seen as their own desire to maintain their own productivity. I have found that being sensitive to this pays dividends later on. I would suggest that moving people towards what you see as a better solution would be in my mind just as desirable as Someone who is productive in wintel for whom it “works” is going to need to be shown something very special from their own perspective before they will invest the time to make the radical shift that a forklift upgrade to Linux/FOSS entails for many people.

    2) I also suggest that you seriously consider NOT “building” any system that you recommend. A basic Dell Poweredge 1900 class tower server with a 1.86Ghz Quad core CPU 2Gb RAM and 160Gb HD is not going to set them back much more than what you could build. Couple one of these boxes with either EduBuntu or CentOS 5 (the latter is my community distribution choice for vendors like dell who only really support RedHat) and you have IMHO a solution that might be better for where you are going maintenance wise once you leave.

    Please do not take these comments as anything more than an honest attempt to offer some friendly advice that comes from over 30 years
    of doing IT support for Faculty staff and administration in a major educational institution.

  7. I do not see much value in the long term warranty. Most devices last many years after burn-in. I will probably take my chances and be OK. Extra memory is always useful on a GNU/Linux system, but Dell charges a lot. I will see the manual for user-added memory and buy generic. Virtualization is very useful for demos. I tried VirtualBox and found some stability problems. That may be fixed by now. I really want a gigabit/s NIC but I can get that by using the notebook as a terminal of my old box. I may modify my old box to go quad-core dual-socket Opteron. Loaded with RAM that would be able to do anything and I would still have a pretty screen in front of me. I presume Debian will release this fall, but I would like to try testing branch before that. Virtualization would be useful for that. If I get my beast on the LAN we could give anyone in the school the option of booting PXE or making a remote connection to my server to try different software.Usually that is easiest in the lab.

    It will be fun. The new job starts in August so I get double pay that month… By September, I will be able to afford the upgrade and quad-core is already affordable. Thanks to the flop of Vista, and Moore’s Law huge RAM is very affordable too. I figure for $1500 I could run a pretty large school from a single server. They are satisfied with XP but none of their equipment will run Vista. Likely by 2010 they will need an upgrade and I can set up a wiki and demos to help them make a plan for IT. They also use diesel power so thin client may be useful. I could try GNU/Linux thin clients with remote desktop to multiply XP systems… Who knows?

    If some people have managed to keep ’98 going all these years, we may be able to keep XP going just as long. The big thing is malware. It would only take one incident of the right kind to shut us down. I recently saw what damage a guy did with a single click bringing in a ZOLB variant.

  8. oldman says:

    If you do buy the Dell I strongly suggest that you pay the money for the 3 year 24×7 Home support service contract and I would also inquire if you can buy the 5 year contact. Given the isolated areas that you work in, money spent on the service contract will pay dividends, if only in protecting your investment.

    I would also suggest that you might want to spend some extra money for The additional Memory and disk space to support virtualization. Memory is more important an investment for this feature (2Gb minimum 3Gb if you can afford it) Imagine being able to arrive at your new site with a running clone of your current working configuration (Terminal server/Main server) with all your tools installed on your laptop ready to demo!!!. I do this all the time with a combination Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fedora 8/9 and Ubuntu 7/8 using the free/closed source VMWare Server product. Since you will most likely object to using a closed source product you should check out VirtualBox Open source Edition (

    Hope this is useful.

  9. ml2mst says:

    I tried to warn users on the Desktop Linux forum about Amicus Curious, since this guy has a huge history of trolling Usenet newsgroups and astroturfing:

    Unfortunately they ignored it.

    So please don’t bother being banned from that kinder garden forum. It’s not worth the time and energy you invest into it. The desktop linux forum was hijacked a couple of years ago by Microsoft “evangelists”. So sad, no cure 😉


  10. Thank you for your kind words.

    My retirement is likely to be postponed – again. I have been offered and have accepted a position in another school. Their guy is going on a sabbatical leave, so they don’t want me to do anything too revolutionary but the time is right for me to give input/help organize their IT plan for future expansion/replacement of XP.

    For the new position, I am strongly tempted to buy a Dell 1525 with Ubuntu in bright yellow. It has everything I want except a normal keyboard and a gigabit/s interface. Maybe, I will get one anyway and lug my old box up one more time…

    I had high hopes for “”. GNU/Linux on the desktop is happening and that site claims the name. The forums should be indexed by Google and to do that it must have better software/moderation/policies/participation. I think it cannot grow/progress without radical change. I might return if something changes there. SJVN did a good job of writing articles but I doubt he enjoyed that board much and rarely gave feedback in the forums.

  11. oldman says:


    Whatever you may think, your input will be missed, at least by some.

    I wish you luck in you impending retirement and a long and healthy life.

    Enjoy the blueberries! 😉

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