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Fake News written by James Baughn on Monday, June 19, 2000

from the you-will-buy-cheesy-humorix-merchandise dept.

The race is on for software companies to turn their software into giant billboards and SMDS (Subliminal Message Delivery Systems) in order to attract megabucks from corporate sponsors. Microsoft is the lead innovator in this field with all sorts of new non-features slated for Windows Millennium. However, even Linux isn't immune: some Linux distributors, who are bleeding money, are hoping to cash in on the adware bonanza while it lasts.

Microsoft has already inked deals with McDonalds and Intel to attach their jingles to Windows sound events. Booting the system? The Intel jingle plays. Shutting down? The McDonalds tune plays along with the message "It's now safe to turn off your machine -- and head to your nearest McDonalds...". McDonalds is expected to pay $100 million for the privilege of annoying computer users worldwide.

In addition, Microsoft has teamed up with the RIAA in an unholy alliance to sell music. At random times, Windows will play a 20-second song snippet, and then a modal dialog box will pop up, asking "Do you want to hear more? Press 'Yes' and have your credit card handy. Otherwise, hit 'No' five times and then CTRL-X to cancel". A Microsoft spokesman reassured us that it will be possible for end-users to disable this innovative feature by hacking an entry twenty levels deep within the Registry.

But let's not get carried away with Microsoft bashing, because Linux is also getting in on the game. Lots of geeks like to read the kernel source code, which has provided Linus Torvalds an opportunity to reap profits by inserting advertisements within source comments. For instance, one new file in the 2.2.17pre4 kernel contains this comment-vert:

Hi, this is Linus Torvalds speaking, your Benevolent Dictator. I'm typing this today to talk about EyeOpener(tm) brand caffeinated beverages, for those really, really, _really_ long nights of kernel hacking.

EyeOpener(tm): When ordinary colas don't keep you awake for 72 hours straight.

Meanwhile, Linux distributors have been more than happy to accept sponsorship money. Red Hat 7.0 is slated to show advertisements during the kernel boot procedure. When the kernel, for example, has probed your NIC, you might see an ad saying "The kernel has determined that your Ethernet card sucks. Check out the latest models from..." Or, when fsck is working, you might see, "Checking and mounting your drives would be much faster if you had a fast SCSI or FireWire drive from..."

Several distributors also have their eyes set on turning the X Window System into a giant billboard. "Hey, if Microsoft can flood the desktop with promotional icons and ISP tie-ins, then there's no reason we can't either," confided one anonymous employee at S.u.S.E. "If the user doesn't want this stuff, they can simply hand-edit the 29 relevant configuration files. Most Windows users, however, never bother to change the defaults, which is what we're banking on here with Linux."

LinuxOne is trying to cash in, as well. This fly-by-night one-man operation is apparently still in business. We've heard rumors that LinuxOne has inked deals to bundle its distribution with the products of various companies, including: Burglar Queen Happy Meals, Dominator's Pizzas, Sugar-Choco-Bombs Cereal, and Dudwizzer Beer. Every single program in the crippleware LinuxOne distro will be infested with advertising. Sendmail will insert ads into any mail message it handles, bash will display ads while you type in commands, X will scroll ads on the root window -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Most users we interviewed seemed indifferent to the adware craze. "You can pry my copy of Red Hat 4.2 from my cold, dead hard drive. I'm not touching anything more recent... I'm doing everything possible to avoid corporate crap," one old-timer said.

In related news, LinuxOne shares rose 50% from Friday's close of US$0.00 to reach an all-time 52 week high of $0.00 on the NasFake market.

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