Linux and You

The Linux Foundation is the nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. With more and more companies joining in to support the technical and legal aspects of that growth, Linux is slowly gathering momentum each step of the way. If Linux has already conquered the server arena, the desktop and mobile are the next frontiers. But the advantage of being open has its own disadvantage. Whereas Apple control its platform very tightly and Microsoft never to give up its grip on the market, the fragmentation caused by Linux openness is a reason for concern. Each Linux distro is facing a problem of brand marketing. Since each distro has its own community and personality, each distro caters to its niche. Not that there’s wrong with market niche. The problem is, there is no uniform desktop experience across distros brought about by different window managers like GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LDE and the like.

As far as there are Apple and Microsoft controlling the brand and look and feel of its platforms, Linux would never cease competing with them. If people are aware of the free software philosophy (that software is a matter of freedom), then it entails that free software is

1. open source,

2. the community owns the software,

3. free software needs free documentation,

4. free software as a matter of profit (selling free software is ok)

5. free of patents (patents are evil, not to mention difficult to track)

6. ensure growth, re-use and protection of code (hence the GPL)

Stallman said:

The one exception is in the case where binaries are distributed without the corresponding complete source code…Free software is about freedom, and enforcing the GPL is defending freedom. When we defend users’ freedom, we are not distracted by side issues such as how much of a distribution fee is charged. Freedom is the issue, the whole issue, and the only issue.

There’s a fine line between free software being open source and free software with proprietary extensions. The fine line that separates between the two is business. Hence, the existence of permissive license like the Apache License. With the Apache License, vendors can add proprietary extensions without submitting those back to the open source community.

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