Monday, January 3, 2011

Why I am still supporting Free Software?

Today I was debating with a friend the relevance of Free Software, he pointed that at the current development rate is very unlikely that Linux (most common Free Software subject) will have a significant end users market share in 50 years. I remembered him that Linux powered devices already a significant mobile market share. He noted that most of the mobile users do not care or do not know that they use a Free Software powered mobile phone – I had to agreed on this.

Later today while providing some answers at I have kept this debate on my head and asked myself, why I am still supporting Free Software ?

When I started getting involved in free software development, about 15 years ago, I was a young programmer wanna-be, I was eager to learn all these bunch of languages, protocols, libraries, etc. As if it wasn't good enough I could even get help and help other people, which I always loved to do. I never managed to get a job with free software/open source (and probably will never do) but despite having a good job I always felt that working and programming with free software was closest to what I love doing, knowledge sharing.

Today I no longer do programming, except for a few improvements at getdeb and some scripting at my job when I look at code this days is mostly to identify a problem or feature. For me the (open source) code has lost the magic it had a few years ago. Thankfully to my loved wife, daughter and friends I no longer have the required free time or desire to learn/work on what is required to fix bugs or develop new features. I have lost most of the capacity to use one Free Software's fundamental freedoms “The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1)” , I can still do many things with the code, but no longer the ones I wish.

Why am I still here, an Ubuntu member, supporting Free Software yet economically dependent on and surrounded by commercial/closed source software?

I have assimilated the values of the Free Software -without the radicalism of some of it's activists-.
I believe that the ability to keep and expand such freedom is still more important than to use it.
I do not have the social skills usually required to influence or change minds, but I am sure I can reach others in ways that demonstrates the values of Free Software, which are hard to pass, specially for most people -which are not developers- .

Happy New Year 2011


  1. "I have assimilated the values of the Free Software -without the radicalism of some of it's activists-."

    I keep hearing about this "radicalism" but never have actually seen it. It's more a fable than the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and an "attractive" Irishman all in one.

  2. The Free Software ethos, the rights, the access, the levelling of markets and the political distributism. If it wasn't for the very heavily entrenched interests we'd count Free Software as something that was so obvious, so much common sense that we'd give strange looks to people who supplied anything else.

    What I've noticed is that the big businesses who are involved in FOSS, are interested only in their businesses taking advantage of the process. If they could suppress user's understanding and demand for free software I'm sure they would try.

    My conclusion: If not I and You, then who?

  3. One thing that strikes me when reading Linux punditry is the number of people who seem to think that as the talk of "the year of the linux desktop" has come and gone it now means that Linux will never attain significant market share. The problem with this thinking is that the whole idea of "the year of the Linux desktop" was always incredibly premature anyways. As someone who has used a Mac as a primary OS but dabbled with Linux as a hobby since Ubuntu 6.06 I can tell you that it is only in the past 12 months that Ubuntu has gotten in the same ballpark as Windows and Mac. IMO it was completely naive to think that Linux was anywhere near "the year of the Linux desktop" in the past, and because of that is completely daft to now dismiss Linux as having missed the boat, proving that it will never gain market share.

    Interestedly, Chris DiBona said many years ago that he felt Linux could end up winning out on the desktop, but do so in an era when the desktop no longer matters. I think that is far more likely the doomsday scenario for Linux on the desktop. That Linux will become the go-to operating system for people using the desktop, but that most home consumers will no longer be using desktops, but rather smart phones and tablets. At that point the only people using desktops will be people who need it for specialised work tasks.

  4. Good blog man.

    Using-spreading free software worldwide feelsgoodman!!