21 January 2008
The Rise of Linux
Excerpt from the GNU Manifesto:
" I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement."
-Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project
If you've been paying the slightest bit of attention to recent developments in the notebook computer market, then you've undoubtedly noticed a growing trend: the ultra-mobile PC (henceforth referred to as the umpc). Normally, the smaller the PC, the larger the price tag, but with the release of the Eee (pronouced E-PC) PC from Asus, the opposite is true. The Eee PC, released in October 2007, had a starting price of $299.99, and it's been selling like hot cakes (I've never really understood that expression) ever since.
The popularity of the Eee PC has spurred other manufacturers to compete; Acer is developing a umpc with an 8" screen, Everex is releasing their Cloudbook and Apple answers the Eee with its MacBook Air. With the exception of the MacBook Air, all of these notebooks are pre-installed with a Linux operating system. And now to the point of this post...
Budget laptops, installed with the open-source Linux OS, and selling like mad. This is most certainly a huge step forward for the Linux Kernal, which, until recently, had maintained a reputation for being complicated and generally incompatible. Not unlike many others, the release of Vista prompted me to research alternative OS's; I feared that Vista would eventually make XP obsolete, considering it's the only OS with Direct X 10 (or equivalent). I needed something that wasn't crappy like Vista, but was also better than XP. I did research and found Ubuntu. Since the release of Vista I've been heavily looking into Linux distributions, learning everything I can about the pros and cons of each distro, and I think I can say with reasonable assurance that my favorite disto's are Ubuntu, and Fedora.
Ubuntu was the first Linux OS I saw that was sleek, simple, intuitive, and capable; the first real competition for the major players, Microsoft and Apple. From my perspective (which is admittedly rather limited considering I've only been paying attention to Linux for about a year now) Ubuntu kick started the initiative to make Linux as user-friendly as possible, and it's influence spawned gOS. Several variations of Ubuntu have been released and supported by Canonical, and a new distribution of Ubuntu comes out every 6 months, with the current version being "Gutsy Gibbon". Linux is emerging as a notable competitor to Windows for the first time ever, and it's truly fascinating to see the consumers embrace the Linux OS and the philosophy behind its creation. Not that I imagine a world where the open-source philosophy dethrones corporate copyright laws, patenting, and the like, but if people took seriously the core principles behind open-source software, society would be better for it.
Why should consumers be stuck with whatever "The Man" decides to put in his software? Why can we not legally modify it to our liking? Why can we not legally pass it along to friends? Why is it illegal to share?
Why? Because of money. Our entire civilization is based on getting more of it.
That's the reason I'm switching to Ubuntu Linux. I don't want to support the monopoly that is Microsoft, corporate conglomerates love to standardize everything, and I don't like that. Ubuntu is developed by Canonical, a company dedicated to open-source software in accordance with the GNU project, and by volunteer developers and the user community.
Thanks to this UMPC trend, Linux will continue to grow in popularity until consumers suddenly decide that paying next to nothing for a really cool looking, highly customizable lap top is a bad idea and I don't see that concept wearing off any time soon. The future of Linux is indeed bright.
For your enjoyment:
Windows Vista Vs. Ubuntu BerylLinux Journal Eee PC Review
Compiz Fusion on Ubuntu 7.10
The Tux DroidTux Vs. MSN