Business is not Evil (was: HOW-TO: Giving up Ubuntu)
tshepang at gmail.com
Wed Nov 16 07:49:40 UTC 2005
We (GNU enthusiasts) are often so entrenched in our idealism that we
tend to forget that business is among the greatest (and most
important) forces on earth. We also forget that free software is not
against business at all. We must realize that business does actually
improve free software -- I believe I would never have heard of Linux
(or the less-publicised and albeit superior cousin, GNU) if not for
the over-zealous marketing before the burst of the dot.com bubble...
Red Hat et. al. There is no ways I could be having a choice of such
superb GUI environments if there was nobody pushing these to compete
with Windows... Actually I think that Windows pushes free software to
be better and better [there is a say that if one wants to replace
existing, widespread technology, the new technology needs to be at
least 10 times better -- and we are getting there].
People who write software for free will logically write stuff they
find interesting. So why would I go and hack the monstrous OOo... I
won't and that's why Sun employs people to do that. There's numerous
exceptions since there exists various motivations, e.g. grand-master
Stallman suffered laboriously to create a complete Unix-like and free
OS and he mostly succeeded [www.gnu.org/gnu/thegnuproject.html].
The Desktop (DE) is where an OS matters to most of us. Though many say
popularity does not matter, it's unfair to those caught up in
proprietary systems. Popularity (caused by the marketing thing) is
what led to us having decent DEs; there was none in old libre systems.
Because most people would trade freedom for convenience/ease-of-use,
most people stay with non-free systems, but now, since GNU/Linux is
easy to use, ordinary people can do away with those proprietary
(unless you are a 3D gamer of course whose support in free systems
isn't satisfactory -- sometimes it works and sometimes not -- although
there's many working hard and providing solutions in that front).
It is not a good enough argument to say "let the Windows people stay
there; we don't need popularity to stay around; it's a free system
which means it will stay around no matter what." Let the Windows users
experience what free systems could give them [all that amount of
software of such high quality and all provided readily available; no
demos, registrations, product keys...]. Please motivate them rather
than chase them away?
This argument implies that I admire what Shuttleworth and his
Canonical are doing, and that is an excellent idea for any rich guy
wanting to provide a gift to free software [and that's one damn smart
strategist], while providing professional support to those
needing/requesting it -- a win-win situation for me. And by the way
you must read his argument against the criticisms of Ubuntu's binary
incompatibility with other Debian's systems... but I don't know why he
thinks the DCCA will fail though.
Derek Broughton <news at pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> This is the problem. We're not in a race. We have no need for a large
> number of converts. We don't need market share (in fact, free software,
> under the existing definitions, _can't_ have market share - no matter how
> many Linux desktops we have, the 'market share' will be restricted to those
> that bought a commercial Linux variant).
Why not compete if we can win? Competition is not a bad thing and we
can have market share and it's not restricted to those who bought a
commercial GNU/Linux variant... Ubuntu and Debian are not commercial
although the former required sizable monetary resources to get
started. Sure Red Hat and SUSE really helped push GNU/Linux
acceptance, but there's many other non-commercial players.
Derek Broughton <news at pointerstop.ca> wrote (again):
> Linux isn't a commercial OS. It exists to serve the needs of its users.
> Its users are its developers, and those who don't like a particular flavor
> of Linux will either use another flavor, use another OS, or start their own.
Nearly all computer users on earth are non-developers and I bet most
users of GNU/Linux are not developers either. This is a very old view,
going to those days on Minix and before... We are far beyond that
point. Your statement is very relevant to what HURD is today.
Serg B. <serg.belokamen at gmail.com> complements me:
> I was also trying to say that Linux is no longer a hobby OS. It is in the
> enterprise market and that in it self makes Linux commercial, you can
> buy it, you can sell it, you can buy and sell services related to it... So
> those who fail to evolve and of an opinion that it should be a hobby
> OS, take Linux community back a decade or so.
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