Originally Published: Wednesday, 10 November 1999 Author: James Rogers
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Why Linux

This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

Linux isn't just about who has the better OS, it isn't about hardware support, it isn't about scalability or applications or games availability. It's about freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom from oppression. I would gladly go back to the days of Linux being able to support not much more than a floppy disk drive and one network card. I would still use it because of the principles and ideals that set it apart from any other OS....

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This article originated in osOpinion and is provided under the OpenContent License.

Linux isn't just about who has the better OS, it isn't about hardware support, it isn't about scalability or applications or games availability. It's about freedom, freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom from oppression. I would gladly go back to the days of Linux being able to support not much more than a floppy disk drive and one network card. I would still use it because of the principles and ideals that set it apart from any other OS.

The people who complain about it not supporting 100% of games or whatever don't seem to get what the alternative is. It's easy to say Linux is better than a certain monopoly-based OS but to put your money (OK it's free but never mind) where your mouth is, is something else.

Now I will fight any oppression, injustice or unfairness because my ideals lead me to believe that the world should be fair, and if it is not then it's my duty to make it so. But what difference does one voice make against millions? It makes no difference, but if everyone thought that their voice was the unimportant one, then democracy crumbles.

Now I am old enough to remember when computers where computers, when you could fiddle with any part of them to your heart's content, you could program them to do what you wanted, you could understand how to write device drivers. You understood how the whole system worked, mainly because it was so simple, and that was the best part of computing in the '80s.

Nowadays if you use Windows it is very unlikely that you will get to poke about with it. How many compilers do you get free with Windows so you can program? How much of the internals are glossed over and replaced with a cheap bitmap? You feel like the computer is an interface to something you can never understand. It makes you feel that the computer knows more than you ever will. You have no power, no choice, or freedom.

With Linux however, I can pull the whole system apart, poke about with ports, program in any language I am capable of programming in, fiddle with the system. It feels like computing used to do, like it should do.

Maybe it is more complicated than most OS's, but hell, computers are supposed to be complex. You think that 3 billion transistors running at 400Mhz is a simple computer. By running an OS that does not let you see the beauty of a computer you are almost insulting the people who made it.

I'm sure they could run the entire space shuttle launch with one red button but for some reason I guess they like paying hundreds of experts to sit around looking at monitors. You know why? Because no matter how advanced your computer is, it does not have any intelligence, it cannot work outside it's programmed variables. The more you let the computer do the more room for error. Not fair enough, you say, "I don't want to manually do everything, I trust the computer to be able to boot, connect to the Internet etc etc." But when the computer assumes something it is usually wrong. And the moment my computer gets something wrong it is useless.

Now you can keep your shiny glossy OS for all I care, I'll keep my OS that supports most hardware, is complex, doesn't crash, doesn't scale well to 32 processors, doesn't have a journaled file system, requires thinking, lets me understand it, doesn't support 100% of games, doesn't run AOL, has a command line. It doesn't bother me if Windows 2000 is the best OS ever written (I have tried it and the comment "haha" sums it up) because I will use Linux not for its technical merits but the fact that it stands for something that we all seemed to have stopped caring about.

Freedom.

J. Rogers has been using Linux in one form or another since 1997 and is still learning. Has a strong interest in computers and the freedom of information.





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