Thursday, March 06, 2008

Linuxville history and crossing the border

As your guide in Linuxville I feel you should know a little about me and my obsession with Linux. Not being totally taken in by the advertisements and the new car smells of ownership (actually a lease), I have been free to consider other options. The economics of life have played their part and also the opportunity to acquire a different solution while not having to change my habits. Of course I did a background check (history), a cost of ownership study, platform migration plan and an exit strategy. I have had a good Linux experience and after much consideration I will pursue permanent dual citizen status.

I confess, I am a Linux fanboy. I watched the movie "The Pirates of Silicon Valley" and if that was a accurate portrayal of Jobs and Gates, the kingdoms they've built and the product outcomes, then computing and users are doomed to a lifetime of abuse and servitude. If not, then excuse my misguided judgment. I also watched the movies, "The Code Linux", "Revolution OS" and "The Free Software Movement" and came away with a different impression. I have heard Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman talk on YouTube. I am totally amoured by Linux and open source software as a movement and as a product. So the "dynamic duo" has become "the three Musketeers" and according to personality, Mr. Torvalds is the stable one among them. He has produced an outcome not as glitzy as Jobs but more stable than Gates. The clincher was when another millionaire, Mark Shuttleworth, funds and develops Ubuntu Linux and gives it away.

I know how we value the apparent success and dependency upon the product outcomes of Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates but it does not mean that there are not other solutions in the world. Linux grew up along side and with the internet, and while not a model of the American dream, it is still a successful outcome. The genius of Jobs and Gates has been trumped by the genius of Torvalds who just wanted a free operating system. It works on the server and to the dismay of many (including server admins and Linux power users) works on the desktop too. Linux is not really a new comer, its heritage is older than both Macs or MS, but you all know that. We have been under the marketing and use of Macs and MS for so long that we can't imagine another platform making inroads. We resist, compare and try to discount any idea that Linux is just as good and worst if some say it is better. That is all a human nature thing. Over time the smoke and mirrors marketing and the pony shows are over. The stuff going on in the background becomes reality because somebody just wanted a free operating system and set it in motion. Linux, so complex it takes years to know it all, yet so simple you could work it with six commands, point and click, drag and drop, cut and paste. Though having to learn myself and teach others about Linux, I am having fewer to no MS Windows problems or commitments in writing (end user agreements). Linux is green, portable if need be, low or high powered, it is adjustable, configurable, and flexible. Linux is free ( no coupons to clip, no money back guarantees) or if you must, pay for it. But in any respect the Linux genie is out of the bottle and its allure is being discovered, soon we will all have to check it out. Welcome to Linuxville.

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