[Milton-L] Update on "My Doom" Virus

Zach Davis zach at crito.org
Fri Jan 30 15:14:15 EST 2004


> This is not quite accurate. Linux is only an operating system, and
> operating systems are utterly useless in themselves. If you are not an
> expert programmer and want to get any use out of Linux, you have to buy
> it along with the applications compatible with it from Red Hat or other
> companies offering it in usable form.
>
> Carrol


Actually, most linux applications are also free, and released under the 
General Public License or some variation of it. Linux distributions 
like Redhat, Suse, and Debian all come with applications (free) like 
Open Office, Gimp (a photoshop equivalent), etc. Even Red Hat was free 
-- it is now more or less defunct, since Redhat is focusing solely on 
the business market, and merged it's home user distribution into the 
fedora project -- although you had to pay for support.

While linux does still have it's bugs, I'm not sure it's fair to say 
that one has to be an expert programmer to use it. It's entirely 
possible to download, install, and use a linux installation without 
having any programming skills at all. One does need, however, some 
patience, and a willingness to learn a new system.

 From what I understand, by the way, most of the evidence around the 
origins of the MyDoom virus suggest that it originated in Russia, and 
that it really has nothing to do with the open source community. There 
is some thinking out there suggesting that the SCO attack "feature" of 
the virus is actually an attempt to mislead the authorities. This was 
recently posted on slashdot.org:

The poster "points out this article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution 
citing "experts who believe the worm was put out for criminal profit 
motives by spammers and not by Linux Advocates." Further on that, 
deadmonk writes "MessageLabs is reporting that the recent Mydoom virus 
seems to have originated in Russia. A place where nobody gives a wet 
slap about a court case in the U.S. Personally, I'm looking for a 
serious apology (or at least a retraction) for the 'alleged' link 
between this ugly little nasty and Open Source / Linux users." Of 
course, there could be evil spammers who also like Linux (or don't like 
SCO), but until someone's caught, or fesses up, it's impossible to say. 
Read on for some more MyDoom updates, including a new variant (with a 
new payload), ramifications for Australians, and a forensic analysis of 
the worm."

And, for those of you who are interested in the current state of 
affairs in the linux and the open source communities, the SCO 
controversy is worth looking into, especially since the intellectual 
property issues that it brings up are in some ways relevant to 
questions around intellectual property in the academy. I tend to think 
that teachers, especially those who put course materials online, would 
be well served by learning about some of the new licensing strategies 
that have emerged from the open source movement, such as various 
Creative Commons licenses.

best,
Zach



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