Thursday, July 14, 2016

Open Source and Linux Sources

Years after having tried and liked almost all the applications that make up the Free Open Source Software movement I find myself still asking the same questions that I did when I first starting exploring this realm: Why isn't everybody using FOSS and the myriad of Open Source Operating Systems (OSs) that make up the wonderful world of Linux?

The most obvious reasons stand out: a) folks are not comfortable with OSs that are not sold by Microsoft or Apple b) folks don't care to distinguish between applications that are proprietary (non-free) and those that are truly free. Furthermore, some users understand that a proprietary piece of software (or OS) has been written by coders and developers in one of the many human-readable source code languages and then compiled into binary code (the ones and zeros that the hardware understands). This binary code is what runs the hardware we use (laptops, tablets, etc). The big difference between Open and Proprietary (Closed) software is that the original human-readable code (pre-compiled code) is always available in the Open model, and seldom (if ever) available in the Closed model. Thus, programmers and coders can learn, tweak and improve FOSS, while Closed software offers no tools for growth, just use - the tightly-controlled binary code format excludes all possible tweaks by coders, no matter their caliber.

Recently my own daughter, a teacher and a librarian in the Houston TX area texted me "I don't know anybody who uses Linux". What she received in response was a vitriolic knee-jerk reaction "90% of the Internet runs on Linux... Amazon, Google, DOD, FAA, UPS, Novell, IBM, Panasonic, Cisco, NYSE, Burlington, Toyota, Travelocity and even CERN use Linux... Most of the rest of the world uses it for daily use, especially in educational settings". My reaction to her candid comment bordered on rude.

These events have prompted me to try to present a site where any user can find linked information on FOSS, and on Linux.

* would be a good start.

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