Open Source Developers Threaten To Strike

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, September 3, 2002

from the hell-no-we-won't-make-install dept.

BOSTON, MA -- Taking a cue from Major League Baseball players, several hundred free software developers have threatened to go on strike, setting a deadline of September 5 at which time they will step away from their keyboards until their demand is met.

"We've had a enough of this crap," said one of the 511 coders that have banded together to form the Union of Professional Software Developers Producing Amateur Half-Finished Open Source Programs. "Unless we get some satisfaction, I hope to take a nice long vacation away from my terminal -- well, at least for a few days until my Quake addiction strikes back."

Earlier today, several protestors protested in front of the Free Software Foundation in Boston, holding signs and chanting, "Hell no we won't code/Mr. Stallman, hit the road!" and "What's the matter with GNU? Everything!"

Of course, the group -- composed entirely of programmers without a single public relations flack -- had difficulty getting their message out. It wasn't until this reporter did some actual legwork (instead of merely regurgitating press releases) that it finally became clear what the hackers were threatening to strike over.

They want Richard M. Stallman to stop insisting that everybody call everybody's favorite operating system by the name "GNU/Linux".

"Here we are, slaving over hot computer terminals for hours on end, and what happens when we go to a Linux User Group meeting?" asked 'BurritoGuy', the head of the union. "RMS comes in and starts roasting us for saying Linux instead of GNU/Linux. I'm sick and tired of this insanity and I'm not going to take it any more!"

RMS has refused to budge from his position. The two camps have not attempted negotiations, which makes the chance of averting a strike about the same as that of Microsoft going out of business today.

One union member has drafted a compromise proposal in which Open Source developers would agree to use the name "GNU/Linux" once for every five uses of plain "Linux". "This acknowledges the contributions of the GNU Project without making us say a mouthful all the time," the member said.

Another Linuxista has offered a compromise in which 'GNU' is replaced by something a little less ugly. In a Usenet posting, he explained, "This wouldn't be so bad except everybody always wants to know what 'GNU' stands for. Just as soon as I mention the words 'recursive acronym', their eyes glaze over. How many Pointy Haired Bosses have been turned off to open source software because of GNU's Not Unix? Maybe if RMS would come up with an easier-to-say name that doesn't scream 'Geeks Only!' then maybe we would adopt it."

The possibility of a compromise, however, seems remote. The union and the GNU Project remain poles apart on the issue. "It seems clear that Mr. Stallman is going to stall," one industry observer observed. We'll probably see more progress from the, GNU/HURD project than from this."

If the conflict escalates, however, the union may be forced to back down. While open source developers are sympathetic to the goal of the union, many have refused to join. Said one, "I'm not going to let Microsoft get a head start because we're busy fighting over something so trivial. While my brethren are striking, I'll keep working -- and I'll sidestep the whole problem by referring to Linux as simply 'The Operating System', or 'Tee-oh-ess'."

Stayed tuned to Humorix as we monitor the situation and continue to make up fake news about the first work stoppage (er, hobby stoppage) in Open Source history.

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