Linux

L'Independence day with a bit of a twist

Jack Wallen revisits his yearly L'Independence blog, only this year adding a bit of a twist to the age-old topic of independence. Read on and enjoy the freedoms Linux brings.

Every year, near this day (July 4), I do a blog post on the independence Linux has brought me and the community at large. But this time around, I want to take a bit of a different approach. This approach was inspired by an outpouring, of late, by other media types, about how Ubuntu is slipping in the ranks at Distrowatch. Their assumptions are all centered around Unity and how Canonical has doomed the perennial user-friendly distribution in one fell swoop. Although not really related to this column today, I have also been watching the rank and file at Distrowatch, and Ubuntu still remains at the top. Possible premature speculation? Maybe -- but, on a side note, I will say that the over all opinion about Unity is still very strongly against this desktop remaining as the default Ubuntu desktop. We'll see if Ubuntu can't gain some independence from that awkward, buggy desktop.

What I want to bring up today is how the Linux operating system, and the community around it, is now enjoying an independence from its past. Thinking about the outpouring of speculation about Ubuntu's ranking on Distrowatch, I wondered about the true relevancy of sites like it. Does a site that ranks the popularity (in downloads only)  of a distribution really have any bearing on how much Linux is used today? To that I would answer, "Not in the slightest".

Why would I answer so strongly? Simple. Distrowatch was created well before the enterprise Linux distribution was created, during a time when CD burners were not nearly as common as they are now, and at a time when it really was important to be able to show how many people had downloaded a particular distribution; strength in numbers was tantamount to the success of Linux. World domination was the war cry and anyone using Linux was seen as nothing more than a heady fan-boy, doomed to live in their parents basement and never have a significant other.

Those days are all gone. The strengths of Linux now speak for themselves and do not depend upon a website to bean-count the amount of times each distribution has been downloaded, just as Linux has finally gained independence from that reputation of being a distribution for fan-boys and geeks alone. Linux is now widely accepted as both a home and business-ready distribution that can do anything other operating systems can do and (in some cases, much more).

What else does Linux enjoy an independence from? What about:

  • Having to defend my choice of using Linux as my only operating system.
  • Klunky configuration tools.
  • Lack of hardware support.
  • Enterprise support.
  • Second-rate office tools.
  • Inferior desktops.
  • Challenging installations.

This list could go on and on. But ultimately, what this shows is that Linux has escaped a past plagued by more grandstanding than anything else. Linux has proved itself worthy of everything the open source community professed it could and would do.

Independence day means so much to so many. And I understand that the true meaning of the holiday means far more than what an operating system could stand for.  But for some -- such as small businesses that couldn't continue on if it weren't for the cost savings of Linux -- Linux does offer a similar independence and freedom. To the regular user, Linux brings an independence from:

  • High cost of software and support.
  • Viruses and other malicious software.
  • Lack of productivity.
  • Corporate tyranny.

I would like to think that Linux has brought to every reader of my column some form of independence. I would love for each and every one of you to share your story of independence brought about by Linux. Share those stories in the comments here.

And to all of my readers, especially those that have been on this hayride for the many years I've been writing, I would like to extend a heart-felt thank you and a wish for a happy, healthy L'Independence day!

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.

11 comments
oldmicro
oldmicro

When WinXP crashed for the very last time and would not even begin to read the hard drive I looked at the options. I could lay out $1000 for a new machine - not on a retirement check. I could try to reload Windows - one OEM shot at $200 - $300, or a re-loadable at $450 - Also not on my income. Then I did a search on the various OS's out there. I compared the user blogs and requests for help for the various systems. To me debian looked like the one to try. I used my last working Windows system to download the basic CD and installed it. I messed around and finally broke that system, and installed it again. That was very satisfying, being able to break it and not have to pay to re-install it. I was hooked on Independence from Installation key codes that only work once. Later I added xfce and now I will not ever worry about Windows again. I am still learning, and finding that GNU/linux makes sense. I am loving the Independence, freedom, and ability to try anything without worrying about irreparable harm to the machine, or my finances.

markp24
markp24

Hi, Swapped my home systems to Ultimate edition 2.8 and ubuntu 10.10 when unity came out with ubuntu 11.04, it really turned me off, i am now running Linux Mint, pinguy linux and ultimate edition 2.9, I know you can turn unity off and go back to gnome but it just doesnt seem right. Yes I do have a Windows 7 system, which actualyl does work well, but not as relieable as my Linux systems, Seems to loose connectivity to a wirless printer, yet the linux boxes do not (maybe if I has an xp box it would not either?) otherwise i need that windows 7 desktop for the work stuff. I would vote to have unity as an optional desktop for those who like it in 11.10 not a required one when it comes out.

tor
tor

Everything went well up to the most recent server package with comes without a desktop (big mistake) and willo never, seemingly, deal with dynamic IP addresses. After nearly 8 months of failures I have turned off my server and swear I'll never run it again. Simply, ubuntu server sucks. As for then Unity desktop, I am afraid that has driven me back to Windows 7 which is more user friendly and comfortable even though I hate it profoundly. Canonical had a nice product, then they went mad "improving" and "updating" it into an incomprehensible mishmash of semi-and fully-automated confusion. The lst decent version was 9.04, at least that was the last one that worked well in a desktop and a server environment.

saundersp
saundersp

I made the switch 3 years ago, due to the ability of Visualization of Cisco router systems, for the same speed as 3 routers running on a MS machine on Ubuntu I could run 11 - more than enough. Then slowly I used the system more and more, now it is my primary desktop and my closest friends have made the switch as I refuse to fix their MS machines. For me its going to be Linux all the way.

alzie
alzie

I made the switch from M$ to Linux 5yrs ago, and havent looked back. It was the WPA / WGA euphemistic BS that cured me. I much prefer democracies to dictatorships. Ditto re. Apple. I get mighty antsie being pidgeon holed into a way of doing some thing that some corp wants. I like the freedom to choose for my self.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Several years ago, my office moved every machine to Linux. Servers and desktops were migrated to the respective versions of Ubuntu, and our embedded Linux firewall appliance replaced a big Cisco router. We all held our breath. Today I tease our CEO, a 51 year old grandmother, that "I'm gonna switch her to Seven" if I want to rile her up. Other than the inevitable hardware failures and a couple of headscratchers early on, we have enjoyed no downtime under Linux instead of the two hours of downtime per week in the organization under Windows XP and Server 2003. Two hours a week may not sound like much, but this is two hours where the company isn't making any return on it's payroll dollars. Worse, it's spending these by pulling a tech from the project they were working on to repair the issue. Within our organization, two hours of workstation downtime equates to eight man-hours of lost revenue. If its a server that went down, I don't want to talk about it. For the last couple of years, we have enjoyed true independence as we are able to work without interruptions from buggy software. We can use our IT department to create new products and services instead of fixing what we have, even though we pay top dollar for something we never really own, just license. One thing you didn't mention is independence from software mandated hardware upgrades. Linux servers generally run headless, so no resources are tied up creating a GUI no one will see. Between this and a general lack of bloat (comparatively), a modern Linux server can run happily on hardware that Windows servers will turn their nose up at. We replaced an IBM x-Server dual Xeon rack mount with an Intel Atom 330 and actually increased access and decreased response time. We chose to not cut our tech budget just because we're more efficient now. We use this money to give back to the open source community as well as fund our own internal projects. Several of these have spun off to create revenue streams of their own. Our firewall appliance is one example, and there are soon to be others. Bottom line... You are right Jack. The independence we enjoy in the shop is due to our decision to move to Ubuntu 10.04 instead of Vista. It was the best choice we ever made.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Ubuntu server has never included a desktop by default. You can add one, but that would waste clock cycles on a GUI that no one will ever see since most servers run headless. Bear in mind that the differences between Linux server and desktop versions are the GUI and a couple of tweaks. You can run server type services on a Linux desktop distro. As far as your dynamic addressing goes, have a look at https://help.ubuntu.com/11.04/serverguide/C/network-configuration.html and scroll about halfway down the page looking for "Dynamic IP Address Assignment (DHCP Client)". It will solve all your DHCP woes. Given that plain Ubuntu server is set up as a generic starting point with nothing set up by default, perhaps you should take a look at Turnkey Linux (Google it). They have pre-built Ubuntu servers that just work and all the administration in done via a GUI (web page). Finally, you will get no argument out of me about Unity. We are all stuck on 10.10 waiting for Canonical to wake up and smell the coffee.

Alpha_Dog
Alpha_Dog

Have your business, friends, and family run Linux, but those you bill need to run Windows or you'll starve.

ricardoc
ricardoc

Hi Alpha_Dog, I would like to learn from your experience with this transition to an all Linux environment. If you prefer a direct communication please drop me a line at ricardoc at bridgeelectric dot com I'm interested in knowing how in this environment you deal with OS and application updates and software deployment when needed on the workstations. Also what were the bumps you encountered if any. Thanks,

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