Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Linux or Microsoft, where do you stand?

Linux or Microsoft, where do you stand? Why, is it that the choice of a computer operating system and its associated products, support services, and even user base becomes a question as to wither or not you are the proper kind of person or country? I have been reading a few blogs lately and it seems that some alarmist are quite convinced that Linux is anti-American, anti-capitalism, the choice of terrorist, a threat to national security and the work of godless people. These types of opinions are leaking into the "FUD" machinery of Microsoft supporters. Some have even claimed that using Microsoft products as opposed to Linux is the god approved way to live.
Well, I don't have the words to defend Linux from all the various attacks. It seems to me that some folks see conspiracy in everything that didn't originate in America. I myself believe that America has not always provided the best ways to deal with things, the history of slavery and immigration comes to mind. You can also see that America has not always produced products suited for use by the whole world. There are in the world, other products and other solutions to problems.
Some have rallied against global competition by this notion of protecting "American technology secrets" and "Intellectual Property". It seems America is always leery of anything dubbed international in scope. We still have a hard time with co-operating with other countries. America, as a government and as a business is always seeking an economic or political advantage.
I can make any number of observations and pronouncements but what has all this to do with Linux? Does using Linux really make you anti-American, or even ungodly? Well just whose side am I on anyway? I myself never thought that using an operating system was a matter of loyalty to my country. I never thought using Linux meant I was participating in undermining the American way or that using Linux was equal to being anti-Christ. I can't see what is so right about using Microsoft products in lieu of some other choice. I don't think that the history of Microsoft's growth and development or its dominance in the marketplace qualifies it a kind of sainthood. There is nothing American about using only Microsoft products. We import products from just about every producing nation on earth. We really need to see that, especially when it comes to electronics, we import just about everything.
The obvious thing is that Linux is not a child of our American economic model and has been a solution produced and provided by the very people of the world who use computers. It is an amazing thing that an idea freely communicated across the internet has grown into a workable operating system. Linux is the work of thousands of programmers and users in a world wide effort to produce a free alternative to what is on the market. Linux has been free from many of the barriers imposed by businesses and governments and language. It is in its own medium of exchange in the world. It has become a "Rosetta Stone" of sorts. I can understand the mistrust of some who must be concerned with property rights and protecting the rights and liberties of their countrymen. Linux does not fit into the vision of controlled access and deployment. Linux does not fit well into the profit motive or the political/legal leverage ideal.
Linux is not owned or developed by one person or company but is a solution produced by world wide collaboration. This is dream stuff. We have always talked about this kind of effort among the nations whose governments can never agree on anything. I think it is a pretty good effort and a pretty good product. I don't think you can compare the Linux world to the Microsoft world point for point and come up level and clean. It is comparing a nonprofit endeavor to a for profit operation. In the whole world of computing, who meets your needs? In a whole world of choices, will you pay, pirate or choose the free one? I don't think you can account for all the reasons and motives behind the things we deal with in life. I don't think everything can stand up to that kind of scrutiny. The best things in computing have been used to harm people whither it is paid for or pirated or freely accessed. Linux is a choice and has been a choice from the beginning. Choosing Linux does not mean you are anti-American, a satanist, a queer, or any such thing. The world is full of choices that are good ones.

No comments: