Here nearing the middle of 2011, to make sense of the current open-source landscape, I need to look back and discuss 2010.
2010 will be remembered as the year when Linux made HUGE inroads into the mainstream. Huge strides into giving people a real player beyond the entrenched forces. On the mobile market Android (based on Linux) exploded onto the scene, creating a platform that quickly rose past Rim’s Blackberry (stupidest name ever for a phone, I refuse to use anything that has such a stupid name) and went mano o mano with the market leader, Apples’ Iphone.
On the server side, Linux continued its march toward adoption. But it was on the desktop side, with distributions like Linux Mint and OpenSuse, that Linux proved itself not just ready for Primetime, but valid, and in many cases preferred, alternatives to what Microsoft was hoping to be their hail-mary… Windows 7.
Windows 7 while a definite improvement over Vista, learning and adopting a lot from both Apple and Linux, still fails in that it carries with it a culture of DRM, locking their users down. Out the box Windows 7 requires lots of expensive software, to do just basics.
Whereas the Linux distros, allow access to opensource repositories, thousands upon thousands of applications, so it’s an operating system that, as long as you have an internet connection, is endlessly adaptable and upgradeable.
I haven’t used Windows as my operating of choice for well over 3 years. And Windows 7, like stated while an improvement in Microsoft terms, in Linux terms it’s just a crippled operating system. And 2010 was the year a lot of people started feeling the same. The three major Linux distros, Ubuntu, Linux Mint (an off-shoot of Ubuntu), and Opensuse released their most amazing and user friendly distros ever.
So in 2010, with Linux making unprecedented strides on both the mobile, server, and desktop markets, why is this article entitled pessimistically and I hope incorrectly The Assassination of Linux? It’s because the entrenched powers that be replied to this abundance of choice, the threat of Linux, the way scared corporate dinosaurs have increasingly responded to valid competition, the RIAa and MPAA way,… by trying to sue it away.
The courtroom has become the new battlefield to stifle innovation and choice. In 2010 lawsuits flew fast and heavy, and this year, we’ll see some of the fallout from those lawsuits.
Even more insidious is Microsoft (or Microsoft affiliated partners) buying its way into fantastic Linux Distributions such as Linux Mint (an Ubuntu distribution) and (to a lesser extent) OpenSuse.
I’m not one who has any particular ax to grind against Microsoft. If you want to use Microsoft please do, my only interest is in insuring Linux Distributions… remain. I just want to have a choice beyond Microsoft or Apple. And the current machinations of Microsoft, are very similar to their past machinations, during the early browser wars, pre-firefox, which resulted in the crushing of competing browsers, such as Netscape Communicator, and a host of others.
And that monopoly remained for quite a while. Until the rise of open-source and firefox.
Choice is a good thing, whether in browsers or operating systems.
Unfortunately the venal, seldom think so.
The monied companies, led by Microsoft, are working hard to in-twine themselves into open-source, and open-source projects, and competing operating systems, and cripple them from within. The whole purpose of much of the DCMA was this crippling of opensource, particularly Linux,
And already you can see increasing actions to patent this, and outlaw that.
Again I’m not interested in Microsoft, I would leave them alone, however with them co-opting open-source and Linux distros, they are making that… difficult.
My favorite distro, before Microsoft bought its way in, was Linux Mint. But with Microsoft as a partner I have fear for the future of that Distro specifically, and open-source in general.
Like I said, I’ve been around long enough to have seen Microsoft do this numerous times. Make friends of those innovations they would destroy.
If you’re reading this and have not tried Linux and would like to, I would recommend trying it… sooner rather than later. A good place to start your hunt is here:
Distro Watch having a great overview of the major players. Ubuntu is a good safe bet for a distro to start with. There is of course a learning curve, with everything, but with most Linux distros it’s a very rewarding curve.
Plus if you’re a subscriber to this blog, let me know and I’ll send you a copy of the Linux Distro I use. You can always download distros for free, the greatness of Linux, but sometimes it’s just easier to have a CD or DVD sent to you, plus I include tips/tutorial that will keep most newbies from pulling their hair out. 🙂
But however you get the Distro, get it, and see what you’ve been missing.