Thermodynamic catastrophe looms; insane number of "Linux Myths" rebuttals blamed

by Leonard Richardson

Published on 10/07/1999

Eggheads for Social Responsibility, an international group of cosmologists and mathematicians, today issued an open letter to the Linux community, urging individuals to stop creating rebuttals to Microsoft's recent "Linux Myths" document. The letter cites a fear of disasterous thermodynamic consequences as the number of such rebuttals approaches the number of elementary particles in the universe.

"A huge number of rebuttals to the Microsoft document have been published," says the letter. "However, all the rebuttals encode the same information, with minor variations. As the number of rebuttals increases, the energy required to find new ways of encoding the same rebuttal information increases exponentially in proportion, resulting in a dramatic—and, we feel, hazardous—increase in local entropy."

According to the ESR letter, this increase has reached the point at which the heat-death of the universe, once thought to be at least 1014 years into the future [1], may be brought about in as little as six months. The letter paints a bleak worst-case scenario in which the universe becomes a mass of undifferentiated hydrogen and low-level microwave radiation, posessing only enough local variation to encode sentiments such as "Analyses of Solaris do not apply to Linux" and "2G memory limit can be circumvented with kernel patches".

However, according to ESR member Nick Woodhouse of Oxford University, the most likely situation is one in which the entropy increase is checked by an exhaustion of Earth's natural resources and the corresponding extinction of any life forms aware of the "Linux Myths" document. Astute readers will note that this option should be avoided as well.

The ESR letter calls on responsible Linux advocates not to start any new rebuttals to "Linux Myths", and to only add to existing rebuttals if they actually have new information to offer. ESR also calls for a freeze on plans to broadcast "Linux Myths" into space, for fear that alien civilizations may receive the document and attempt to write their own rebuttals.

"Only by working together," says the letter, "can we avoid this senseless increase in local entropy." A footnote to this sentence, apparantly intended for the lay press, says "A senseless increase in local entropy is a bad thing."

A similar catastrophe was narrowly averted last November; when Eggheads for Social Responsibility managed to tone down the rampant rebuttal to Microsoft documents released by another ESR, Eric S. Raymond.

[1] See RFC 2550, section 2.4.1.

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