[clug] Choices and Linux

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Sun Apr 1 13:14:04 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Michael Cohen wrote:
>   Although I think that windows people should all migrate to linux in droves
>   (it is the better os as you pointed out). I have to present a slightly
>   different POV here. Maybe im cynical but in reality who cares? It makes no
>   difference to me that my mother in law is using windows or linux... Its
>   totally her choice. I cant support an windows system, but could easily
>   remotely support a linux system that is the only difference for me.  

The answer to the question 'why should we care' is the GNU philosophy.  It
comes down to the freedoms that Stallman talks about - the freedom to continue
to use your own data, to improve the software, to be able to know that the
software isn't going to lie to you and cheat on you behind your back.  This is
presented as the 'ideal', and your 'who cares' is the 'reality' that some
people see, and everyone lives somewhere on the scale between those two points.

To me it comes down to the issue of saying "because if I don't care, I have
what I'm allowed to do dictated by someone else."  And I don't want to give up
that freedom, that right.  And I don't want this right taken away from my Mum
and my Dad and other people in the world simply because they don't know about
Linux yet.  The rallying cry "maintain the rage" is still appropriate.

>   Its a little like buying a bottle of wine - again something i know nothing
>   about. I go into the shop and am faced with literally hundreds of bottles. I
>   do not have the necessary skills or experience to even tell the difference
>   between the difference wines let along pick the one thats right for me... (I
>   normally ask the attendant to pick the wine for me). However, a true
>   connaiseur - or even a person who tries a few more wines than me - would
>   undoubtadly enjoy and appreciate the choice. If I showed interest in wine i
>   could start trying out different wines and then develop the palatte to tell
>   the difference between them... That is the path a newbie takes.

The comparison is a good one.  But I think there's an added dimension.  What
if merely buy buying wine from overseas you had somehow prevented yourself
from being able to drink wine made locally - that the manufacturers put some
secret ingredient in that physically made you incapable of drinking other
wine?  This isn't practically possible in physical terms, but it exists in
software and Microsoft and Apple use it all the time.  This is why I feel that
physical analogies can serve to illustrate the 'who cares' side but ultimately
they illustrate the 'you should care' side.  Because what people like
Microsoft and Apple are trying to do with product lock-in is usually
physically impossible with physical objects in the real world.  And when
someone's trying to insist that the physical laws that govern the real world
should be suspended for them, that is not a good sign.

>   In that sense choice is good - maybe the newbies cant appreciate the
>   differences just yet, but as they try more and more distroes themselves they
>   might learn to appreciate the subtle differences more and make the choice
>   thats right for them.

That is a good point, which illustrates my idea of only offering the choice of
a couple of simple distros to your friends and family, based on their
experience levels, which you can support easily but are going to allow them to
learn about the possisbilities of Open Source and Free Software.

Have fun,

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