Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Win What?

Author:Karl Fast
Posted:6/28/1999; 12:14:40 PM
Topic:Win What?
Msg #:7868 (In response to 7866)
Prev/Next:7867 / 7869

The "we will crush you" rhetoric from the Open Source camp grows very tiresome, so much so that the mainstream media has found it interesting enough to devote column inches to it.

The idea of world domination by Linux has always been tongue in cheek. Well, it was started that way by people at the top of the Linux hill, but has been picked up on by under-sexed, over-pixeled, hyper-cynical teenagers who desperately need something to believe in. These are (usually) the people who mercilessly flame columnists who write anything remotely negative about Linux. Don't get me wrong -- these people are the cornerstone of the upcoming digital generation and their adoption of Linux will ensure it's success (as if the open source strategy didn't already). I think, however, that the best Linux advocates understand the dangers of a computer monoculture, whether that be Linux, NT, MacOS or your OS flavour of the month.

Of course there is a counter argument here: because Linux is open source and licensing costs nothing, making the entry barrier to the OS market unbelievably low, this has led to tremendous diversity in the operating system world. There are dozens of Linux distributions. We always hear about Red Hat, Debian, SUSE, and Caldera, but what about the Linux Router Project or Trinux, a distribution on 2 floppies with important security tools. And let's not forget the Empeg in-dash MP3 audio player or the Cobalt Qube. Let's see Windows (or MacOS or even BE) do that.

With such darwinian diversity emerging out of Linux and open source, would a mostly Linux world (say 90% share like Windows has today) still be a computer monoculture? Interesting question.

Trust me--Linux advocates don't want all the Windows customers.

Well, they don't want those customers when you're talking about Linux as a consumer desktop operating system. But if you're talking about Linux as the operating sysem behind a vast number of "information appliances" like the the empeg car player or the itsy or palm pilot-ish tools, then I think the answer is yes, they do want these people. They just don't know it yet (although I think Linus talked about this in a recent speech at BALUG -- Bay Area Linux User Group).


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