« Living Autopsy | Main | Absent Minds »

January 13, 2004

Linux Leap

I swallowed hard and wiped Windows from the hard drive of my main box at home this past weekend. After probably six years of toying with Linux, I'm finally gonna use it full-time. I'm using Fedora Core 1, an offshoot of RedHat Linux, but I'm open to other distributions, like Mandrake or SUSE. Distributions vary in packaging, support, and programs, but they all have the Linux OS at their core.

If you're not familiar with Linux, go here for a ticket on the clue train. Suffice it to say it's free operating system software, like Windows, but written and owned by everyone.

But it's also a lot more than that. It is, in a word, a revolution in who controls the infrastructure of a society. In the past, it took government or private industry to supply the capital to build telephone networks, roads, television stations, etc. But now, thanks to the paradigm shift toward information as the commodity, ordinary people are able to create software that runs the world's computers, outside the control of a few companies or governments.

Why is that important? Because control over software is control over information. You probably don't give a thought about firing up Windows to check your email, and Microsoft doesn't want you to. They want to provide, for a price, access to information. They want you to use their proprietary software to access everything from your online bank account to your movie theater's ticket office to the latest music video. As an example, they purposely break backward compatibility with every new Office release so you have to upgrade, for a price, to access information. Office 97 won't read Office 2000 files? Gotcha.

Linux seeks to break this control. By offering free and open source software, the Linux community is serving the user, not the corporation. Access to information becomes everybody's business and interest. Subversive and free? I like it.

I encourage you to try Linux. I know of two CD-bootable distributions you can simply boot from CD and play with without installing to the HD. Check out Knoppix and Mandrake's new MandrakeMove.

Posted by tat at January 13, 2004 03:03 PM

I think that Microsoft is finally running a bit scared because of open source. There's no other reason for them to be playing tv commercials for the new Office. I bet they start to reduce the prices soon, too. Not just their software, I think that they're going to have to reduce the cost of their training programs, too. Might not happen too significantly presently, but in the next 5 years, they're going to have to jump through hoops for us, not the other way around.

On second thought, maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Posted by: ToddDrevers at January 13, 2004 04:01 PM

This is good stuff. Thanks for the tutorial.

Posted by: Trickhorn at January 13, 2004 04:09 PM