It’s that time of year again — when all of the pundits, bloggers, and Max Headroom-like “voices of the future” spout off their thanks for all things tech and nerdy. Not one to jump on every bandwagon that comes along — I wanted to point out the things that the open source and Linux community have to be thankful for.
#1 Red Hat
Red Hat has not only proved that Linux software can turn a serious profit, it was also part and parcel to the early success of the Linux operating system. During the freshmen years of Linux, the open source platform wouldn’t have enjoyed nearly the success it did without Red Hat. Back then, the fedora-sporting distribution was one of the single most popular distributions on the planet and helped to keep Linux on pace with other platforms. Had Red Hat not been around, Linux might not be perched on the precipice of serious success that it is now.
#2 Mark Shuttleworth
Though hated by many, Mark Shuttleworth helped to bring to the public one of the single most user friendly distributions on the planet. Yes, Shuttleworth made some serious ripples in the Linux community when he dropped GNOME as the default desktop of Ubuntu, but the move will eventually prove to be a brilliant one. Shuttleworth has become one of the brightest figureheads in the Linux community and will eventually have Canonical and Ubuntu sitting in a similar seat as Red Hat enjoys now.
Over eight million users cannot be ignored. Facebook is served up thanks to the LAMP platform and without Linux and open source, this social network phenom wouldn’t exist. Yes, the majority of users enjoy Facebook on the Windows platform, but were it not for Linux and open source, they wouldn’t be enjoying it at all.
Another big coup for Linux that most people don’t see is blogging platforms. One of the biggest blogging platforms on the planet is WordPress. Not only is WordPress run on the Linux platform, it’s also open source. Currently there are over fifty-seven million word press sites across the planet. Those statistics cannot be denied. Period.
Imagine the IT landscape without Apache! That’s a fairly bleak world, having to rely on the likes of IIS. And even beyond the cost of IIS is the lack of reliability. If the world’s websites depended upon anything other than Apache, the web would be a lot less enjoyable. 404 would be a very popular number.
This has only recently come about, but Valve’s porting of Steam to Linux holds some serious future gains. Games. It’s one of the spaces in which Linux has always suffered. The beta for Steam on Linux has opened (most likely all 1,000 spots filled) and soon the full release will be available. It’s my prediction that once the games start flooding in — the tables, well, they might just turn.
This one is a tough one — only because you can’t discount OpenOffice (and even StarOffice — if you can remember back that far). But at the moment, LibreOffice is the truest, brightest star in the open source office suite landscape. No, LibreOffice hasn’t ripped MS Office out of the cold, dead fingers of the world of business, but it’s working hard to prove that MS Office is not the only game in town. I hope, someday soon, LibreOffice will enjoy a much more eye-to-eye view with small to medium businesses.
Not only does the Google data center run off of a special Linux platform, the majority of its employees use a special Linux desktop platform (you’ve probably heard of it — Goobuntu) that is based on the latest version of Ubuntu. This is really only a special “skin” that sits on top of Ubuntu — but it proves that one of the biggest companies on the planet can (and does) use Linux on the desktop. If Google can, so too can you.
#9 GNOME and KDE
I realize the Linux desktop wars simply aren’t what they once were. And many users refuse to adopt the new Unity desktop (which is a shame — as it it quite an efficient desktop). But the truth of the matter is, Linux wouldn’t be where it is without GNOME and KDE. Oh sure, GNOME might well have jumped the shark a bit on 3, but it’s still alive and still growing. KDE will always be pushing the bar along side GNOME. But without these two desktops, the Linux desktop might well still be suffering the likes of CDE and AfterStep. Yes, at their time they were seriously impressive — but neither has bothered to improve. Even the latest releases of CDE still look and feel like you’re using a desktop circa 1996.
Thought it sounds a bit cheesy (sharp Tillamook Cheddar cheesy even!), you are the one thing Linux and open source has most to be thankful for. You are a community that not only challenges the open source platform, but helps it to improve and remain grounded with the reality of user-friendliness. You have stuck by Linux, through thick and thin. You are the fans, the opposition, the users, the developers, the promoters, the skeptics… without you, Linux and open source would not exist.
What should Linux/open source be most thankful for?
In the end, there are so many things to be thankful for. Ultimately Linux and open source is a big, dysfunctional family that works tirelessly to help bring to the masses software it can not only use, but afford. Thank you, everyone, for helping all of this to be a reality.