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10 reasons open source will survive the apocalypse

When the apocalypse hits, Linux user and zombie fiction writer Jack Wallen posits that open source users will be one step ahead of the undead horde and their creators.

You may not be cut from the same cloth as conspiracy theorists, but it's becoming harder to deny the apocalypse will not only be televised, but that it will happen within the next century. Whether started by a twitchy government, a big business, or a street drug named for something our grandmothers once soaked in, I believe it's going to happen. When the apocalypse hits, only one side of the software fence will survive and that side is open source. And when the sky falls and the undead arise from the dirt, it'll be open source that helps bring the population back together.

But why? What makes open source so special that it can survive the apocalypse? Here are 10 good reasons.

1: By the people, for the people

Open source is software created "by the people, for the people." By its very nature, open source is the software champion for the human race. Once the apocalypse hits, open source software will be the only software that you can trust. But don't just take the software sight unseen -- have a programmer with you to scour through the source to make sure no umbrella corporation has put in place any secret back doors or nefarious routines or functions.

2: The source is with us

When the apocalypse hits, the mantra of everyone should be "Trust no one," and this should extend to the software you use. The only software you will be able to completely trust is the software you create or vet. With proprietary software, you can never be sure what is happening in the background. Is that software monitoring you? Is that software sending information to the company that caused the human race to spiral into the abyss? These may seem like the questions of a madman, but when your life and the security of your information are at stake, you do not want to place them in the hands of software you cannot completely trust.

3: Absence of big business

The vast majority of open source software doesn't answer to big business; this means the software you use will not be driven by a hidden agenda. You can trust that open source software was not developed by a committee of suit-clad venture capitalists plotting to take over the world, one bit at a time.

4: Easier to build apps for open source

With the source available and with developers across the globe, open source software allows anyone with the skills to build applications. But not just any applications -- you can build apps that seamlessly integrate with the platform you are working within. Open source means there is no obfuscation going on in the background. Developers have access to the APIs and all other bits and pieces necessary to roll their applications into the platform and into other applications.

5: Better, faster integration into other systems

You have the perfect idea for a zombie detection system, but you have to build it onto an embedded chip? No problem -- open source is there for you. You want to create a communication system to enable the human race to be completely aware of status updates (health, positions, etc.) and you need that system to integrate into communication hardware? Not a problem -- so long as you're using open source.

6: Less concern for the inevitable "super" viruses

Along with the virus that takes down the human race will come "super" viruses that will cripple Windows-based computer systems. Why would you entrust your survival to a platform as vulnerable to viruses as is the human race? If you give yourself and your systems over to Linux, you can be sure the rampant spread of viruses will stop at you.

7: No activation necessary from defunct companies

What happens when Microsoft and Apple are taken down by the apocalypse? If you want to use Windows or Microsoft Office, you'll have a joyful time activating that software. Instead of relying on software from a company that may or may not exist, use open source. You won't have to register, activate, or purchase -- just install and you're good to go!

8: Hero DIYers

When the ash clears and the rubble is cleaned away, it won't be capitalism, consumerism, or big business that saves the day -- the Do It Yourself (DIY) folks will be the champions of humankind. Open source is the best solution in all DIY projects, because it allows you to dig in deep and modify the application as needed. With that ability anyone with the skills can make that DIY project come to life, thanks to open source software.

9: No more PC support

What happens when PC support is no more? Those who depend upon it will suffer mightily, and those who do not will flourish. Open source software doesn't depend upon local IT support companies and companies that offer for-pay support to help keep software and systems running smoothly. Why? Well, for one thing, open source just runs well. It takes a lot to take down a Linux machine. A Windows machine? Not so much. After the apocalypse hits, when that proprietary system goes down, you're out of luck.

10: Keep data secure without relying on a third party

By the time the world has been crippled by the undead's desire to consume human brains, any data transmitted or stored will have to be safe. The second your cure for the disease gets into the wrong hands, you're sunk. Why depend upon lesser systems for your security? When everything has gone the way of corruption, you want to depend on open source for your security. Do not rely on anything that requires third-party software and systems to keep it safe.

Summary

You may think it's crazy, but even if you remove the idea of the apocalypse, my reasoning still stands. Even in a world not plagued by zombies and corporate corruption, open source makes sense on every level. But when the apocalypse does hit, those using open source will already be one step ahead of the undead horde and their creators.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

12 comments
RealInIT
RealInIT

Great article, the embedded computer that currently runs the property defense system here is backed up by battery power and solar recharge technology. You see, it doesn't have to be a "pc" to be a computer!!! There are embedded systems out there running a lot of neat things for society that they are not even aware of!!! So, 3 cheers for open source!!! :) p.s. keep all your drivers backed up!!!! :)

SKDTech
SKDTech

There is only one real use for any computing device that I could justify the luxury of generating electricity for. That is knowledge preservation, and there are far more reliable, low tech, time tested methods for doing that. The only real benefit of the computer form factor, and I would be using a tablet or at most a laptop, would be the sheer volume of reference material you can store one any modern computing device. Pair a tablet with a sizable number of SD cards and/or USB sticks and a portable solar charging unit and you can set yourself up quite comfortably once you find a safe place to settle down and farm sufficient food to survive long term. Otherwise there will be no internet as people will be far more concerned with survival than keeping power and telecom systems up and running so most of the paranoia induced arguments for open source to oppose evil corporate influences become invalid.

spdragoo
spdragoo

Or, at the least, has failed to watch the multitude of movies released since 1968 (Night of the Living Dead's launch on the general public) or read the host of zombie-inspired novels & short stories written over the last few decades. And in these, we see the following constantly repeated: -- no new food shipments, so you increasingly struggle to scrounge enough food to keep going -- freshwater, in particular uncontaminated water, becomes hard to come by as infrastructure breaks down -- spare parts become increasingly difficult to find for all machines; due to their inherently higher level of complexity, the ability to maintain computer hardware will be even worse than maintaining "simpler" machines like vehicles -- most importantly, though, aside from areas served by nuclear power plants and/or hydroelectric dams (or possibly those relatively few solar- or wind-powered facilities), most electricity-generating plants are [b]not[/b] fully-automated facilities that can continue running for years without human intervention -- and even those aren't "fully automated", because someone still has to maintain the turbines that actually generate the electricity. The workers are going to be more concerned with getting themselves & their families to safety than keeping the lights on...not without either fortifying the plants so that they can keep their families there, or depending on armed guards to protect them to & from the facility. And that's the big problem right there: without power, & without the onsite techs needed to maintain the equipment, the Internet will go down. Maybe not overnight, maybe not even for weeks or months...but no power = no way to turn on your PC or recharge your "non-traditional" PC, let alone have power for the local cell towers/network routers to maintain the Internet connection. And that's not considering the effects weather will have. Two years ago, the East Coast saw major issues with Internet outages due to the severe winter storms... a situation they're facing again right now with Hurricane Sandy. Yet that's with them being able to call on additional repair personnel from unaffected areas to repair the damage they faced. But in a zombie apocalypse, the linemen are going to be worried more about getting themselves & their families to safety than making sure the local hub that was taken out by a falling tree limb (or worse, hit by someone who tried to avoid multiple zombies) gets back online so that you can post to your blog about your "zombie experiences". If there's no Internet or power for your PC, it won't matter whether it's "open-source powered" or "Evil Corporation powered".

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

Hehe...I'd rather have a good supply of shells and reloading supplies, maybe a couple of shotguns, along with a high caliber semi-auto myself...lots quicker for head shots than calling them up on the computer over an internet that may not be accessible. Just sayin'... Oh, and a good electric generator with a ham radio! In case there are other pockets of zombie hunters!

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

Well now... I know what I need to be mindful of in the world of software in the event of a zombie apocalypse. :P

dcolbert
dcolbert

Jack had me at #7. Indisputable. WGA will *not* survive the apocalypse. After all of our debates, he finally found an inarguable way to establish that Linux is in fact superior to Windows... at least, after the zombie hordes attack. I can admit when I'm beat. Check and mate, Mr. Wallen. Well played.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

was that in a post-apocalyptic world, electricity will probably be limited and reserved for needs that are more survival-critical than computers. Cooling food, running medical equipment, and maintaining communications would top my list. General purpose and business computing will be out the door.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

as it blows the heck out of everything that comes near without approval.

SKDTech
SKDTech

#7 is of course the best argument for Linux and open source after the apocalypse. Of course you are really screwed if your distro doesn't have all the drivers for your PC

dcolbert
dcolbert

The apocalypse is supposed to be difficult, full of unnecessary hardship and joyless. What better operating system to keep the mood than Linux? Like bread and butter... *zing*.