06.24.20

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Free Software Likely to Thrive Under COVID

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 9:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Proprietary software is too much of a headache and people have spare time to learn new things

Man's headache

Summary: Signs of opportunities for Free software everywhere including the desktop/laptop

WITH COVID-19 still on everybody’s mind (at some level; it’s hard to ignore sports without spectators and masks everywhere one goes) it makes sense to talk about it every now and then. People keep bringing it up because there’s no “going back to normal” and follow-up “waves” come (then go temporarily).

“Will homelessness follow or disobedience (like refusing eviction orders)? Mass revolt?”The economy isn’t well; not in China, not in Russia, not in the West… it’s a global thing. Shopping cycles with demand and supply aren’t quite there anymore (or barely) and many people are not able to pay rent. No fiscal amnesty anymore. There are also utility bills. Will homelessness follow or disobedience (like refusing eviction orders)? Mass revolt? People in poverty and activists (needing privacy) tend to gravitate towards Free/libre software, the latter factor not being price but control.

We won’t talk about COVID itself because it’s outside our area of understanding; we won’t speculate about its origins, either. Media consensus can always be wrong (or right). But this isn’t what we’re equipped to scrutinise (any better than domain experts).

“Dell has just made the announcement which their PR people attempted to get us to play along with.”What interests us is the COVID impact on software freedom. Adoption of Free software is increasing or simply continues to increase. Dell has just made the announcement which their PR people attempted to get us to play along with. GNU/Linux will be more readily available to more people. To Dell it's all about money, but to a lot of buyers it’s about freedom/control/power. Dell is not a particularly nice company. If or whenever it makes available its hardware without Windows, it’s always a step in the right direction. The more such hardware, the better. It’s eroding or weakening the monopoly. It’s emboldening GNU/Linux developers to work hard and improve the software. It can also provide some financial security for them. Truth be told, the passions comes not from money but from social contribution and a sense of technical accomplishment (even if the Linux Foundation ruins that).

A long time ago Linus Torvalds wrote: “you might as well skip the Xmas celebration completely, and instead sit in front of your linux computer playing with the all-new-and-improved linux kernel version.”

Richard Stallman spoke of “playful cleverness” and once said: “Playfully doing something difficult, whether useful or not, that is hacking.” Richard Stallman used the word hacking back when the word “cracking” still existed and meant something (whereas “hacking” was benign). He has not changed since. What’s definitely changing is the world around us. China is moving to GNU/Linux, as do a number of other countries (albeit smaller) and companies can no longer sell $10,000 licences for some proprietary software.

Speaking of $10,000 per unit, hours ago “Death of the Mac” was published in podcast form with the following outline/summary: “Why we think Apple just handed market share to Desktop Linux, and why you can kiss running Linux on the Mac goodbye forever.”

Apple is closing stores again and Microsoft is laying off employees. They’re really hurting.

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