Recently, I was compelled by a friend to download GNU Privacy Guard, GPG in short, in order to do things “properly”, when we were gonna exchange some possibly sensitive data. Now, GPG is a open-source re-implentation of the venerable PGP, Pretty Good Privacy, which was one of the first widely used programs using the public-key cryptography. Public-key crypto is socalled asymmetric-key system, since the sender and receiver of a messege do not share a key before hand. It allows total strangers to communicate securely over in-secure lines. The internet’s SSL (which is usually what’s used when you see https in the address bar of your browser) is built on this technology. So what we’re dealing with here is a serious attempt at a full blown cryptographic system, used by people across the globe, wishing to communicate securely. With all this in mind, the experience I had when reading the following snippet in the Windows readme was even more jarring
The term “W32″ is used to describe the API used by current Microsoft Windows versions. We don’t use the Microsft terminology here; in hacker terminology, calling something a “win” is a form of praise. Keep in mind that Windows ist just a temporary workaround until you can switch to a complete Free Software system. Be the source always with you.
The Windows API is normally referred to as “win32″ (the 32 is a reference to the fact that it’s a 32 bit machine API). So by refusing to refer to the term “win32″, and instead use “W32″, it merely comes across as a totally juveline display of non-professionalism. Being termed a “hacker” is an honorary term in the programmer community, and as with all such things, you don’t get to name yourself a hacker. So it’s not only slightly buffoonish with the allusion to the hacker term “win”, it’s also quite campy with it’s Star Wars reference.
I’m all for the Unix philosophy and open source. In fact, I think it’s healthy for the IT world, that some people think in terms of more then just money. But when dogmatic advocacy gives trumps real world pragmatism, I’m off the train.