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Pinballed into pissed off

I learned something pretty important about about making sure you make your information clear to the press. In the process, I somehow managed to really annoy a lot of people in the Linux community who follow SUSE LINUX with a passion. It’s all related to a recently published online article.

Here’s what happened: I was at a big analyst conference in Orlando, Gartner’ s fall Symposium. I was waiting for an analyst session about open source to begin, hoping to learn how Gartner advises customers to approach open source products. Someone struck up a conversation with me while waiting. When I introduced myself and what I did to this gentleman, another’s ears perked up. Within a couple minutes I was in an informal interview with Mr. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols of eWeek fame.

One of the things he asked me about was how Novell Linux Desktop relates to SUSE LINUX Professional. I told him how Novell was gearing one for use as a business desktop for companies who needed the quality and security assurance of a major vendor backing their desktop distro, while SLPro is more geared to be a retail-available product targeted at enthusiasts and the community, sort of like Fedora. (That last little clause was my mistake: I should have been much more explicit.)

Well, that became a statement that SLPro would become more like Red Hat’s Fedora. And that bounced off of eWeek into the community that Novell was going to dump SLPro into community development–a step that had gained a fair amount of bad will among the Red Hat faithful. And that became: Novell is effectively killing SUSE LINUX. In hindsight, this whole transformation of my meaning makes complete sense, and I feel like I should have caught it as I said it to Vaughan-Nichols.

Well, I didn’t, and it followed the above course, whereupon I become made akin in evil to one of Bill “Zabub” Gates’ twisted minions.

I explained what the mistake was on a usenet group, and I’ve seen that little meme bounce around for a bit. (Last seen here.)

Most people have responded that my true meaning makes sense, and thanked me for the clarification. But, of course, conspiracy theories are all to easily propagated among the bulletin-board frequenters. One hypothesis was that Novell was actually leaking the idea as a test to see how the community would react.

If only I were so clever.

But under the conspiracy, isn’t that what you would expect me to say?


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