Linux rocks, and I would love to see everyone using it but I know that won’t happen. Not because the software isn’t good enough or that the other options for software are better. No you are not going to see Linux taking over the desktop any time soon because the principles that resulted in the creation of all Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) will not be compromised. I was reading today a piece by a FOSS user who is enthusiastic about FOSS but he suggested that the open source community change their principles so that it would be more compatible with more people.
FOSS software in itself can be used for many things but the principles it is based upon preclude some items for a reason and in doing so is self limiting by design. We don’t do DRM because it is fundamentally opposed to the ideals that started the foss movement. So if you feel you have to have netflix get an iPad. (The iPad OS is based on Open Source Software.)
That is really the problem with many suggestions people have for changing FOSS and Linux in particular, like people thinking that Linux desktop will ever be a general use desktop if only we would change. Our ideals do not allow it because most people do not fit the ideals of the FOSS movement nor do we want them to. (We are not out to change the world, just give them an alternative.)
At the heart of everyone’s idea that at some point Linux desktop will rule the world is the fallacy that the Linux and FOSS communities in general should change to make themselves appeal to the mass market OR that the masses will change their ideals and become aligned with the FOSS ideals. And neither of those will ever happen. But that doesn’t mean that FOSS and Linux are doomed or that we shouldn’t try to improve and get people to use it. These are tools. Tools have their place. But some tools are not meant for every job and not every job requires the same set of tools.
So some distributions like RedHat are able to sell their distribution and provide paid support. Others include non-free software. And Linux is the best and most used server OS around and for a lot of people it’s the best Desktop OS out there. But it’s not everything for all people and it has to fulfill the needs of the people who make it first. After all most FOSS software started as something the original author needed and then he decided to share it with whoever else might also find it useful. And since this is open source people are free to offer their own improvements to the software back to the original author. This collaboration makes the software better, allows more people to use it and continues the cycle of sharing.
It’s this sharing that is the heart of our movement and sharing means sharing equally. SO if you have something you make but don’t want to share, and so have DRM on it, then don’t share it with us, but you are free to share our FOSS products it you want to, we won’t hold your not sharing against you. If we want it we will pay for it. Sharing equally is not only sharing with people who share back but sharing equally no matter who wants it. FOSS does not discriminate, we do not demand something in return the way closed source does.
There are many different OSs and distributions. Each has their strengths and each has their weaknesses. The ideals behind each dictate their efficacy and effectiveness. Once people have learned that lesson and taken the time to fully understand it then they are free to come back and be able to discuss how we should realign our ideals, but feel free to use our free software while you mull it over, it really is free.
But there are some things we would hope you will do if you do use our software. Partner with us to make the software better. This does not mean you have to learn programming, if you do that would be nice but no. We would like you to constructively help us by telling us how we can improve it. We realize that no software is perfect and we want our software to improve. But you also need to know we are not perfect and we aren’t about to change. So a lot of us will come out in our software and hopefully when you contribute some of you will come out in it as well.
- Linux is Not Windows (Some thoughts on the “Linux is not Ready for X” arguments) (linux.oneandoneis2.org)