Bloatware Comes To Linux

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, July 7, 1999

from the and-we-don't-mean-emacs dept.

Bloat is a feature, not a bug, according to a group of ex-Windows hackers who are creating a new Linux distro called BloatX. Trim, efficient, modular design is something you won't find in BloatX, but you will find plenty of easter eggs, resource-hungry programs, and unnecessary "features".

The new distro is inspired by Andrew "Microserf" Shuman's editorial over at Slate that claims bloat is something consumers demand. Shuman writes, "...it is you, the customer, who demands bloat, forever clamoring for new features. Software companies take your wish lists seriously, and then make them happen. It's like the violence-in-the-media argument: We hate it, but we buy it."

Eric Feston, the founder of the BloatX project, said, "If bloat is what consumers really want, then we're happy to oblige. The fact that Linux is relatively bloat-free might be why it isn't gaining widespread acceptance in the desktop market: Windows users apparently equate software size with quality..."

According to the BloatX press release, the new distro will contain the following bloated features:

  • During the boot process, the kernel will display a multi-megabyte animation of Tux Penguin throwing pies at Bill Gates. In addition, the kernel will be pre-compiled with every module enabled by default. Users will not be given the option to recompile the kernel with loadable modules or with disabled features. This fits in with the BloatX slogan, "Modules and bloatware don't mix!"

  • Every GPL'd software program will contain a COPYING subdirectory that includes, in addition to the obligatory text of the GNU GPL, the contents of the entire www.gnu.org website. "Most Linux distros already contain duplicate COPYING files, which, at 14Kb a pop, add a certain amount of bloat," explained a BloatX developer. "We plan on pushing the envelope by including the entire GNU website -- all 2.2Mb of it. We've already contacted Mr. Emacs himself, RMS, and he's quite happy about our bloated plans."

  • Easter eggs, Easter eggs, Easter eggs! If Microsoft products are any indication, you can't call your software bloated until it has a built-in flight simulator, a pinball game, and a 2.5Mb hi-res .JPG of the development team. "The Linux kernel will contain a new source file, easter.c, that allows for the inclusion of unlimited Easter Eggs launchable by secret command lines," Eric Feston noted.

  • BloatX will incorporate work done by the LinTux Project, which Humorix reported on in April. This will include the "Dancing Penguin" assistant that permanently resides in the X root window. "Heck, if Microsoft can get away with a Dancing Paper Clip in Office," said a BloatX hacker, "then we should have no problem with Dancing Tux. Long live bloatware!"

  • All included software will be produced with a special "bloatware-enhanced" C compiler that includes full debugging information and doesn't perform any optimizations whatsoever. And you can forget about shared libraries; all binaries will include everything (even a 120Kb .GIF image of a kitchen sink!). For instance, the BloatX fortune(6) binary is well over 500Mb alone, not including 14Mb worth of fortune data files.

  • The installation routine will have only two options: "Install Everything" or "Install Everything And Then Some!" Selection of individual programs and features won't be permitted; everything on all 20 CD-ROMs will be copied to the hard drive. "This is one distro we don't recommend downloading over the Net," joked one BloatXer. "With the abundance of super-capacity hard drives, we don't think the minimal disk space required, 15.2Gb, will be much of a problem."

An initial 0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.1pre-1a release (even the version number is bloated!) should be available within the next two months. A project website is under construction; it will be available as soon as an HTML editor is found that can produce webpages even more bloated than Microsoft FrontPage.

Don't let the enthusiasm of the BloatX developers fool you, however. Not everybody is happy about the new distro. "Whatever it is these people are smoking," one Slashdot Anonymous Coward said for the fifth time this week, "I want some!"

One kernel hacker told Humorix, "This is insane. If bloat is such a good thing, how come fat people are always going on a diet? How come people worship skinny women but not obese women? In my opinion, Windows is like the guy that's featured in supermarket tabloids for holding the world record for obesity. Is that a good thing? I think not. I'll stick with non-bloated Linux, thank you very much."

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