Two-Wheel Linux, and Other Reasons to Be Thankful for FOSS

As Thanksgiving Day approaches in the U.S., it seems only natural that Linux bloggers would wax sentimental about their favorite operating system.

Sure enough, Datamation’s Bruce Byfield kicked things off early a few weeks ago with his column, “Why FOSS Matters to Me (But Maybe Not to You).”

Inspired by the Free Software Foundation’s “Why is free software important to you?” video contest, Byfield noted that “it’s a timely topic, with Windows 7 just out and with the free software community’s bickering so bitter as of late that common goals sometimes seem in danger of being forgotten.”

Nevertheless, free software is succeeding, Byfield concluded.

“Looking back over my decade of involvement, I am often amazed by the progress I have seen, both in the software itself and in its acceptance outside the community,” he wrote. “All the same, free software might succeed more quickly if those involved in it reminded themselves of its importance more often, and realized how puzzling it can be to newcomers.”

‘Linux Is a Stayer’

It’s true that FOSS can be confusing to newcomers, r_a_trip wrote in response on LXer.

“Reading [Byfield’s article] brought back memories of my own apprehension toward FOSS in the beginning. I had long forgotten those early fears,” r_a_trip explained.

Of course, “years later I’m more confident that Linux is [more of] a stayer than that other OS, and I trust FOSS more to do what I need than proprietary products,” r_a_trip added.

Since it’s hard to imagine a better time of year to ponder the reasons to be thankful for FOSS — as a recent TuxRadar post also underscored — Linux Girl invited others to share their views.

All About Portability

“I now manage Linux desktops, Linux servers, FreeBSD and Solaris workstations and a lovely Windows Vista laptop of my wife’s,” Monochrome Mentality blogger Kevin Dean told LinuxInsider.

“The greatest thing to me about the FOSS world is that I can use the same application to watch my videos on each,” Dean explained. “I can run the same word processor on any of those systems, and I can log into my IM accounts using the same application.”

Portability, in other words, is what Dean is most thankful for about FOSS, he said.

‘The Freedom to Learn Anything I Want’

“What FOSS has done is essentially made the operating system an insignificant component,” he asserted. “It’s the day-to-day applications that drive my life, and the rapid adaptation to different systems ensures that I’m productive on any of them.”

It’s also nice having “a FOSS AMD video driver that can play videos smoothly now — something quite new for this chipset,” Dean added, “but that’s somehowa little less… profound. ;)”

Linux “is the freedom to learn anything I want and combine the software however I want,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told LinuxInsider. “I got into Linux because I wanted a very flexible system, and the freedom to tinker has made it even better.”

Of course, Mack added, “it also helps that I now make a good living supporting Linux.”

‘It Is All There and Ready to Go’

FOSS “matters to me because I can take a freshly installed Windows machine and fully outfit it for my customer for a whole $0.00,” Slashdot blogger hairyfeet told LinuxInsider. “Times are hard, and most folks don’t have a lot of money to spend. The best Xmas gift this year seems to be off lease office boxes instead of new builds, like in years past.”

Even so, “I can take my handy dandy freeware CD and load them up with everything they need to make it a productive machine,” hairyfeet explained.

“OO.o, GNUCash, Paint.NET, Firefox, Songbird — better than iTunes, IMHO — and a few other pieces of freeware, and they are good to go,” he added. “Everything the Average Joe/Jane does with his/her PC — music, bills, office work — it is all there and ready to go.”

‘Imagine a World Without FLOSS’

Free and open source software “matters to me because I really, really, really enjoy computers that work for me and not against me,” blogger Robert Pogson told LinuxInsider.

“In my present position I am attempting to ‘fix’ a few machines running XP, and it is like pulling teeth: hours of fiddling, with no assurance of success,” he explained. “With GNU /Linux, I can apt-get upgrade them any way I want and keep them humming. I feel a proposal coming on…

“Imagine a world without FLOSS,” Pogson suggested. “I remember (US)$1,000-per-use licenses for Unix OS,” he recounted. “I remember a time before malware. Now look at the mess non-FLOSS software is in.”

Two-Wheel Dreams

Monoculture in software may have been an improvement over “the previous chaos,” but “monoculture has its problems for monopolistic pricing, epidemics of malware, rigid licensing and a constant struggle to get machines to work for us,” Pogson asserted.

FOSS, on the other hand, “is the right mix of chaos and order,” he said. “We need both to have a healthy, innovative, flexible infrastructure in IT.”

In other words, Pogson added, “way to go FLOSS!”

As for Linux Girl? Let’s just say this: The OS that makes possible the new E-motorcycle TTX02 from Mavizen is the OS that wins her heart! 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

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