Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Don't Hate Linux or Microsoft

Here's a very interesting video called "Why Linux (Still) Sucks (And What We Can Do to Fix It)". Having recently settled on Ubuntu as my non-Windows test platform for my multi-platform software development (both for my job and as a hobby), I tried installing several other distributions (distros). I was not impressed with most of them in terms of usability, installability, the level of knowledge and research necessary to get them working. So this video comes at a good time. Technically, it is good. But I have a few quibbles with the presenter on some fundamental principles:
  1. The fact that Apple and Microsoft would not make these mistakes is because PEOPLE VOTE WITH THEIR DOLLARS. Sure, if Linux is free, it doesn't set very high expectations. The fact that it is good as it is, speaks well of the quality of the developers that are working on it, but they are not responsible to their customers. It is still a hobbyist-enthusiast-haxxor's platform.
  2. The fact that video card manufacturers have stopped supplying Linux drivers for their hardware doesn't make them "bad people". They have limited resources in a very competitive market. It is very expensive to design and build cutting edge video systems. They have to focus their limited resources where they can get enough return on investment to not get left in the dust and go out of business. It's a matter of survival.
  3. I'm glad he does mention funding. People just have to eat. Proprietary software isn't evil.
I might like to design video cards, or drivers, operating systems or weather software for free and the pure enjoyment of it in my spare time, but I have to feed my family. Even if I think the government can feed me and my family, somebody has to produce the goods and services for basic human survival. The free market and a currency system is how we establish the exchange rate, and place value on those goods and services, including video drivers, operating systems and computer hardware.

Free software is an anomaly, made possible by the amazingly high level of prosperity and standard of living that capitalism and the free market provides. If we did not have this level of prosperity, nobody would have the leisure time to produce software for free. We'd all be busy digging in the dirt for food, avoiding being eaten by wild animals, fighting disease, and trading food for shoes or something.

The best way to get open-source software to "work" is to work with human nature. Presently, it works against it. Human nature is motivated by profit. One of my progressive friends said "the free market is motivated by greed". Maybe so. But if you work against human nature, you will fail. If you work with it, you will succeed, to the benefit of all, regardless of motivation. That's what Thomas Jefferson was referring to when he wrote "the laws of nature and of nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence.

Richard Stallman might not like it, but it is a fundamental, non-negotiable fact of life, like gravity and the speed of light, or the value of PI - whether you prefer Barack Obama or Glenn Beck.

No comments :

Post a Comment

This is a moderated forum. Please try to avoid ad-hominem attacks and gratuitous profanity. Justifiable profanity may be tolerated.

I am sorry, but due to the un-manageable volume of spam comments, I have enabled the scrambled word verification. I apologize for the inconvenience.