Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Should Anyone Use Linux

Quoting myself in a comment I wrote on this Google+ post.

To me, a computer is a computer. But there are "political" advantages to using Linux. When you use any software you are investing time in learning the skills to use that software, and perhaps more importantly, you are trusting your data with the people who made the software.

If you agree with that, then ask yourself, which group of people would you trust more?

  1. a company that is under contract to keep your data safe until you switch to their competitor, you stop paying them, or until the contract expires, and you are restricted by the contract to only use the software for the explicitly allowed purposes, or
  2. a community of people who all work together to make the software work, where all the people have in common the need for the software to work reliably because they all invest their time and trust into it, and everyone benefits from the software being used by more people because there is strength in numbers, so they encourage you to use it freely and in any way you would like.
If you need a computer only to do a job, and once the job is done, you can throw the computer away along with all of the data and just move on to the next job, then (1) is your best choice. But if your computer is more of a home to you than just a tool, and your data is more like your artwork, as opposed to just data, then (2) is your best choice.

Linux is choice (2).

I would like to add here that I am also a stubborn believer in free markets, and I since I so thoroughly disapprove of companies like Microsoft and Apple, I like to think that if enough people have this "we'll never shop there again" attitude, we might yet influence these companies to become better, even though I am perfectly aware of how naive this is. Still, for the sake of justice, I refuse to give even one cent to either of those corporations.

I've tried numerous times to explain to not-so-technically inclined people the advantage of Linux, but no one really gets it. I'm a professional, I know what tools are the best, and I know Linux is the best tool. But I can never really explain why it would be better good if not just experts but everyone used it.

But after trying for so long, you get better at explaining through practice. This comment I wrote on Google+ somehow strikes me as the best explanation I have yet written, and I was disappointed to it drowned out by so many other comments so quickly, so I posted it here. I hope more people see it.

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