I thought for a week or so I was going to be fired. Why? For running Ubuntu. Let me explain.
To most, the term "freeware" is sometimes synonymous with "shareware" - which reeks of intonation-filled malware & spyware. Security-weakening browser exploits, toolbars & system slowing executables are the earmarks of freeware and shareware which we all want to avoid and should never, never, ever confuse with Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS), yet in my experience, corporate America, flying under a Microsoft-led banner, is almost entirely ignorant of this fact - but not necessarily for the wrong reasons.
Gone are the days of illegal peer-to-peer filesharing at work, cracked versions of software running on work computers and pirated operating systems. In fact many companies require use of a "standard image" now for numerous reasons: licensing, security and ease of support - all three very important for reasons of corporate compliancy, industrial espionage and maintaining high productivity levels. Identical operating systems with standard applications create quick, repeatable fixes and minimize the introduction of new problems.
And I whole-heartedly support the "Standard Operating Environment" (SOE)...if you're in management, engineering, sales, human resources, supply chain, warehousing, or any other area except IT. It baffles me how many people both within my own company and client site ask me why I run linux on my laptop. "Do you have any idea what it is I do?" I ask them. "What else would I possibly run?" Of course I'm often undermined by those unix system administrators who do, for many varied reasons, use Windows - one of which is the requirements for the use of Windows to manage primarily unix applications! I'm speaking of management apps such as ESX vCenter, HP/UX Integrity Onboard Administrator, Checkpoint Firewall, and EMC's SAN-manager, Control Center just to name a few I'm familiar with. Why?
I'll tell you - I dunno. For awhile it was the prohibitive cost of MOTIF licensing - the unix graphical user interface (GUI) behind CDE - which led to writing applications in Visual Basic and why not, everyone was running Windows anyway! And outside that dreadful Sun abomination Java Desktop, GNOME being the fully matured product it is, has swept through most of the Big Iron operating systems quickly and severely deprecating CDE. But not before all development was moved off X11, creating plenty of perfectly valid reasons to run Windows as a unix administrator. Woe.
This next part is entirely my fault. There are those of you in the know who will understand this: Many linux distributions are "going green" by asking that you download their operating system images via torrent. That is, share the bandwidth. In fact, some distros will let you direct download a 700MB iso, but not their DVD-sized 2GB+ iso's. For those, you MUST use a torrent. I also know that those not in the know think that all P2P is something akin to that legal nightmare Napster, or worse - virus filled Limewire. Cue the heavy sigh.
I've been working a lot with linux since the beginning of the year - so much so that its nearly supplanted my HP/UX work. And I've been downloading a LOT of iso images. On one of them, I accidentally launched Ubuntu's built-in Desktop torrent app, "Transmission" then lost it behind another window on another workspace.
For a week.
And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now. Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. Suffice it to say, I know that my client site blocks all incoming and outgoing torrent ports. Most companies do. Most companies also monitor and log incoming and outgoing connections. Eventually, a week's worth of trying to peer-to-peer fileshare from within the firewall got noticed. It was during this point I felt like Peter Gibbons from Office Space as everyone in my chain of command, in both my client site, and my employer, was coming by my desk to remind me that we have a long-standing policy against P2P applications. Yeah. I got the memo. And I understand the policy. And the problem is just that I forgot the one time. And I've already taken care of it so it's not even really a problem anymore.
But that incident was only the fuse to a much larger one.
Remember that autonomy under which I operate? So I have two static gig-ethernet runs under my desk, one which acts as the primary interface for my hypervisor, and the other provides connectivity to a switch for the hypervisor's virutal switch and DHCP for my other physical machines. Stacked atop my now-defunct Sun 420R are two HP DL380 G4s, and a G3. One of the G4s is running ESX, which hosts my Windows environment (required for Lotus Notes and the occasional IE launch (see above)) and every other operating system you could think of for testing purposes, and the other is running Ubuntu 10.04. The G3 is running Fedora Desktop 12. At some point I decided to rename my laptop "eric_ubuntu" so I could identify & access it on the DHCP network. This tipped the scales away from my favor.
"Why is Eric running African freeware?"
According to Wikipedia, the origin of the word "ubuntu" is rooted in the southern African language Bantu, and describes a humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other - its the quintessential African concept which helps define them as a people. Ubuntu the operating system was named after this principal. So I've single-handedly raised a red flag because my Debian-based Open source software was named after a South African ethical ideology. I tried to explain that a name is simply a label used for the purposes of distinguishable differences, like hostnames or...or even my name! My dad named me Eric because he'd recently returned from a tour in Germany and thought it sounded cool. I'M NOT REALLY GERMAN. Alas, the damage had already been done.
A special thanks to Mr. Witwicky, who bore the brunt of the official Q&A and who's mere presence defines, "cooler heads."
So. Not fired.
Power to the people.