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Monday, August 15th, 2011, 4:28 pm

The Sunny Days of GNU/Linux


We are fortunate enough to live at a time when many (if not most) phones run Linux and the overwhelming majority of Web servers do too. Those who say that GNU/Linux is “not ready for the desktop” hardly exist anymore. So for those who insist on running it on their desktop/s, there is rarely a major barrier. Videos work just fine (increasingly with HTML5 and free codecs, not Flash), a lot of applications are Web based, and some of the world’s best Web browsers are available for GNU/Linux, so how can one complain? Among developers and producers, there is no real pitfall associated with GNU/Linux (those that are brought up can easily be defended against, e.g. “fragmentation”).

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of installing the latest Debian GNU/Linux on my home server. I used an SD card mounted onto a USB converter to pass a small ISO image which in turn bootstrapped the system, brought up the network card, and fetch all the remaining packages over the Internet. This made a multi-functional server with KDE4 and GNOME on top of it for some administration. It all started with an SD card and the installation was simple enough for most people to walk through. When even Debian becomes an easy distribution to install it ought to become clear that GNU/Linux continues to mature not only in that little corner called “Ubuntu”. The same components are shared and reused to make the optimal system.

Despite technical competition and also illegal, anti-competitive practices, GNU/Linux now thrives, so all that Apple or Microsoft can do is build a cartel around software patents. They currently go after Android more than they go after GNU/Linux. But Google is wealthy enough to counter this, e.g. with the purchase of patents. It means that, in the long run, the patent angle is not enough to impede GNU/Linux or Java/Linux adoption.

To a lot of us who are staunch advocates of GNU/Linux and proponents of software freedom, the reality of this irreversibility is a true pleasure. It means that we can sit back and watch Linux take over more and more aspects of our lives, slowly demonstrating the merits of software which is free. Apache does something similar, but fewer people out there are aware of what it is. Little by little we’ll be seeing more Free software in more places. Just like Wikipedia, it spreads too fast to ignore.

2011 has been an important year for Linux. This kernel turns 20 this year (depending on which milestone is celebrated). Let us celebrate.

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