freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose

Janis Joplin defined freedom one way, and the open source community has its own definition of free. A recent comprehensive report on free software use in the developing world (pdf 772k) bridges the gap, singing the blues and triumphs of free software.

Key conclusions, which may surprise some: that skilled people are the primary limiting factor, and that there is more familiarity, and unofficial support, for proprietary software. Key conclusions that will surprise no one: the 'free' part of open source software is less relevant than imagined, since most sites don't pay for the proprietary software, and that sites which succeed using free software owe their success to core groups of dedicated volunteer evangelists and supporters.

This is probably why, despite some of us grouchy dinosaurs scoffing, the development efforts on integrated graphical Linux environments are actually as important as the core OS stability and kernel progress. The look and feel drives adoption of the technology and ease of use. If folks are going to pirate That Other OS and its applications anyway, the free part means nothing to them-- what means everything to them is whether they can figure out how to get their work done, and if anyone is around to help them.


Blogger Doug said...

I think that the Linux desktop GUIs are fine. The biggest problem that I have with Linux is device drivers. Linux doesn't believe in Plug'N'Play, and does it ever show.

I have a nice new digital camera. To use it with Linux, I search the Web and get all sorts of conflicting advice. I'm told to login as root, modprobe this, modprobe that, and modprobe something else but I need to know what USB chipset is on my motherboard in order to determine which of 3 possible modules needs to be loaded.

Then I edit a few files and "cat /proc/bus/usb/devices" to see what's on the bus. Then I need to install a recent version of libgphoto2, which means tracking down its dependencies and installing those. One of which stubbornly refuses to compile. After enough Web searches things are finally in place and I can use the camera.

To use the camera with Windows XP, I plug the USB cable in and turn the camera on.

1:19 PM  

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