02.03.20

Why I’m Optimistic About Free Software (Although I’m a Pessimist by Nature)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Software Movement (FSM) advocates have much to celebrate

Beer

Summary: The rise of Arvind Krishna (couldn’t possibly be overstated a piece of news in GNU/Linux circles) is a good sign for GNU/Linux while Microsoft gradually moves away from its entryism-type strategy (it failed miserably; it just didn't work)

THERE are several recent developments that tell me we’re ‘winning’ (not a phase that I like, mostly because who tends to use it). First of all, last week IBM put Red Hat's CEO in a position of great responsibility, a sort of “second in command”. IBM isn’t going away; its history with the government is well documented (many governments worldwide; it’s ugly at times) and if it puts its weight behind GNU/Linux, expect major things to come. Over the past decade or so, under misguided IBM management, Apple became a strategic partner of IBM and patents were brought back from the warehouse to the litigation department. Will that stop? Time will tell. Fedora could certainly used a boost, surely at the expense of all that patent shakedown. Ginni is out and Manny (their litigation zealot) hasn’t been seen anywhere for a long while (and I watch these things very closely). He used to badmouth 35 U.S.C. § 101 and push for software patenting at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well as American courts.

“It can tell us every hour of the day that it “loves Linux” but even 5 years down the line (after hearing it a thousand times) nobody will believe Microsoft.”So far this year Microsoft has mostly kept off the “Linux” news; their ‘googlebombing’ campaigns likely make them more enemies than friends (it is annoying actual users of GNU/Linux, who wish to get away from Microsoft). Are they coming to realise this? Every week I check carefully also “open source” feeds; Microsoft and GitHub are hardly visible in these anymore (maybe a third of the volume I measured last year). The way I interpret that is, Microsoft and GitHub are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Those were billions of dollars wasted; it’s just another CodePlex. There was a little hype at first, at the expense of operations (GitHub operates at a loss by giving the services gratis, hoping the business model will just ‘miraculously’ appear).

Those who meticulously enough follow the news and the trends in news coverage will certainly be able to affirm the above. I could put it in more numerical/quantitative terms, but that would take a lot of time. The short story is, Microsoft’s strategy has been costly and it seems to be failing. Even Microsoft knows that. It can tell us every hour of the day that it “loves Linux” but even 5 years down the line (after hearing it a thousand times) nobody will believe Microsoft.

As a side note, Marius Nestor left Softpedia some weeks ago (apparently leaving it to the anti-Linux Microsoft tyrants, notably Bogdan Popa) and went on to establish 9to5Linux, an excellent news site which we recommend. Who said journalism is dead? It’s just evolving. 9to5Linux is very credible (so far).

Optimism in my personal case now relies a great deal on what IBM will show in weeks/months to come. “Krishna joined IBM in 1990,” according to Wikipedia, “rising to become senior vice president for IBM’s cloud and cognitive software. He is credited as leading IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat for US$34 billion in 2018.” Now he has Jim on his side. Go IBM, go? But remember that GNU/Linux and Free software aren’t the same thing (many critics would point out that systemd threatens the freedom to study and modify code for numerous reasons). As someone has just put it in Forbes: “Red Hat came under fire a few years ago by many technology experts for predatory approaches to facilitate vendor lock-in to their services. With their recent acquisition by IBM, some of those concerns have risen again.”

IBM probably wants something like a monopoly (at least on some parts in Linux).

So why the optimism? Because GNU/Linux typically begets software freedom. GNU/Linux users generally dislike or are ‘allergic’ to proprietary software. That’s one of several reasons why Microsoft’s “Charm Offensives” failed to ‘charm’ — so to speak — its opposition. Historically, IBM supported GNU/Linux and it has much better ‘karma’; this is going to pay off.



YouTube link

“A pessimist is a man who looks both ways when he crosses the street.” ~Laurence Peter

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill

“An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight… the truly wise person is colorblind.” ~Albert Schweitzer

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