Tuesday 1st April 2008
Today, government spokesman Uma Head made a startling announcement - that there were too many foreign operating systems in Britain today, and something needed to be done. She declared, "Over the past decade or so, we have seen an unprecedented rise in the choice of operating system, at the cost of our own native operating systems."
Naturally, her comments have drawn both fire and applause. One advocate of the scheme, Lou Smorals, agreed with Uma Head, stating, "The effect of other operating systems on the software industry in the UK has been devastating. Annually, the cost of damage runs into the millions of pounds, and it's about time something was done. These foreign pieces of software erode our own sales, leaving developers vulnerable to unemployment. It could take hundreds of years for the software trade to regenerate."
"History is replete with examples of our own national treasures been lost. RISC OS on the Acorn Archimedes was displaced by its American cousins, and frankly I am no longer willing to tolerate these events."
In the past, Uma Head has suggested various control measures, none of which have been used. This includes releasing a virus into the population that specifically hunts the undesirables. The proposal was rejected on the grounds that, while it might be effective in the short term, operating systems would eventually find defences against the virus and return to previous levels.
Another discarded idea was for the government to build a portfolio of software patents, while denying them to companies. Then, by bringing excessive numbers of cases to foreign companies, they would be trapped between expensive lawsuits and the fear and uncertainty over whether they really do run foul of patents. The concept was abandoned because, in the government's words, "This would mean nationalising software patents, and we never nationalise anything anymore. Well, usually."
When pressed on specific details, Uma Head revealed that there are plans to stop the downloads of foreign Linux distributions, already dubbed the Great Penguin-Proof Firewall of Britain. However, security expert Michael Estral asserted that the measure would have very little impact. "This is another example of government stupidity. Blocking such a specific type of download is very hard - or, to put it another way, this will likely become very simple to circumvent."
Of course, technical difficulties aside, the logic of the move has been questioned by some. Economist Sue Veneer explained, "For a government that supposedly promotes free trade, this scheme is a complete contradiction of what has gone before. This project is bound to cost vast quantities of money for very little benefit, if any."
Government official Bob N. Dukabit rebuked this by saying, "I think you'll find this to be totally in line with past government behaviour. After all, it's liable to cost vast quantities of money for very little benefit, if any." [Shome mishtake, shurely? Ed.]
Others have voiced concerns over the targeting of Linux distributions. One member of the community said, "I wonder why it's just Linux that is being stopped - surely it's easier to prevent sales of operating systems that come in a box? Naturally, I'm sure this has nothing to do with Uma Head's 'special relationship'" - clearly referring to the recent rumours that Uma Head has been involved with a certain senior member of a certain company in Redmond.
Opposition politician Marge Arine has defended the sometimes unpopular alien operating systems, stating, "We really need the public to get out of the mindset that these foreign pieces of software are stealing jobs from our workers. They are, in fact, a huge boon to our economy, and help to keep prices down across markets by being cheaper and more efficient than many native implementations."
Earlier in the year, one junior minister jokingly suggested that that foreign software houses should be destroyed by "ripping, ploughing, blasting and fumigating." This would prove to cause a major embarrassment when civil servants failed to recognise the joke, and, taking the orders seriously, began preparation before being told the minister was just having a giggle.
Uma Head is 46¾.