There may indeed come a time when Microsoft goes down at last, and all the little FOSS penguins can hoist their swords in the air and “Hurrah!” for bringing down the Gulliver. But will that day really be victory? Don’t get your hopes up; if it seems that getting Linux accepted into the mainstream is even harder than what would be accounted for with beating history’s biggest monopoly, remember that Linux has enemies it hasn’t even heard from yet.
I’ve given some thought to who else might not like FOSS besides the obvious software monopoly. So much attention is paid to the Big Bad Wolf in Redmond, we may forget that there’s other who might not be jumping for joy about Linux adoption:
The MPAA and RIAA – DRM only works on a closed, policed system. So much for that!
Big Brother governments – Exactly like with DRM, you can’t spy on your citizens undetected on a transparent, open source system, either.
Hardware manufacturers – Sure, we have OEMs going to sell Linux pre-installed, and hooray for them. But give some thought to this: You can run Linux without having to buy a new computer for a decade at a stretch. In fact, even a system like Mandriva runs mostly fine on an Intel Pentium-II-era system. The fact is, Linux is incredibly good on the same hardware that chokes Microsoft. Linux is so good with old hardware, you practically grow another RAM stick just by installing it. When everybody switches to Linux, what reason will people have to throw out their computer and buy a new one every two years?
Adobe – It is unbelievable how much vitriol Adobe and their user base spews at anything FOSS. Even though Adobe products are the number one requested product when you ask Linux users what commercial apps they’d like to see ported, all Adobe sees is a big hungry Gimp gobbling up their market share. It doesn’t matter that nobody thinks Gimp is a challenge to Photoshop besides the Adobe managers and about ten FOSS optimists. They’re terrified of open source replacements. I guess you’re never too big to be insecure, huh?
Career proprietary programmers – Here we are, stuck with people who got pulled aside like a scene from “The Graduate”, with one word whispered in their ear: “Computers!” So, fresh out of high school with nowhere to go, they picked the easiest language on the most dominant platform in 1995, and there, forever, time shall remain frozen. Visual Basic on a Win32 system is all they will ever know, and that’s what they’ll push to keep everybody on. Never mind that they had no business getting into computers if they thought that IT was never, ever going to change throughout their entire lifetimes. Even if Visual Basic was found to cause cancer (I wouldn’t be surprised), better to keep sticking Visual Basic to the world than to inconvenience themselves spending a precious $20 on a manual for another language.
Career proprietary designers – Same thing as the programmers. They went to design school and learned one tool. They thought that this would be like stone-masonry, where you can keep doing the same thing the same way until you’re old and gray, and then you’ll be passing your still-relevant wisdom on to a flock of adoring apprentices. But you can’t say that you don’t hear from them, can you? Did a new release of Gimp or Blender or OpenOffice come out? Then let’s go watch the flames from people alleging truckloads of FUD based on nothing more than the fact that if the industry adopts free design tools, they won’t get hired to work in Adobe any more.
Marketers – You wouldn’t think that such an uninvolved group would bear ill will to Linux, but that’s what I see happening. This is where a lot of “Linux will never make it on the desktop” is coming from… from marketers who complete the thought mentally with “, because I only work for money.” Because Linux markets through word-of-mouth, with very little budget – or desire – for flashy advertising. So there goes that job.
Service techs – You know those guys who charge $200 to scrape the viruses, trojans, backdoors, malware, etc. out of their customer’s Windows boxes? What are they going to do for a living when Linux makes all of that history? They sure aren’t ready to change their business models to solving real problems, like configuring CUPS.
That’s what I see in the Linux community. Too much concern over Microsoft (which Microsoft encourages by coming after it with a bazooka all the time), too little thinking about the BIG problem behind Microsoft: Greed, and the people who put the benefit of their own wallet ahead of the benefit of the many.
- 7 Reasons Why Gimp vs Photoshop is the Stupidest Flamewar in History
- Reasons Why Linux Sucks
- On Founding The Cult of Microsoft
- Hey Microsoft! Just Make Your Own Linux Distro!
- Linux PCs: The State of the Market