On Friday I was honored to sit in front of a group from the TechRepublic community and talk about open source. The driving force of the debate was open source vs. proprietary software. The ever-present subtext of that debate is Linux vs. Windows. The audience was pleasantly surprised when the debate never turned sour. Why is that? So many asked. The answer, although one-sided, is simple.

Linux is about embracing, about community, about acceptance. In many ways, Linux is the polar opposite of Microsoft. Naturally the first reaction to that statement is, Of course, Linux is open source and Windows is not. But think about it on a much grander scale. Think about your network environment…all those Windows machines working happily side by side. The minute you put a Mac or a Linux machine into that mixture those Windows machines start wanting to know, What is GOING ON????

Quite the opposite is the Linux network. You put a Windows machine on that network and those Linux machines will say, Hello Brother, welcome to the community. Acceptance. Community.

Today, of course, is a national holiday for the United States. That holiday celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. And although it’s very easy to see the similarities that one would find when adopting the Linux operating system, there are times when I think the celebration is more the freedom to be dependent or independent…to do what you want, how you want. Linux is independent of restrictions, limits, and enjoys the freedom to work, regardless of what is going on around it.

I live in the United States, a country that has fallen a bit behind the rest of the world in the adoption of open source. Across the globe, countries are making full-scale adoption of open source software, becoming independent of software they see as limiting, costly, and prohibitive in many ways. Why is it that these countries have found this freedom and the United States has not? I dare to presume to have an answer to that one, but the heart of that matter most likely lies deep in the center of our very economic system.

But I predict that the U.S. will enjoy that same freedom so many other countries are enjoying, and I don’t think it’s all that far off. Google has already migrated from Windows to a combination of Mac and Linux. It’s only a matter of time before other companies see this and think, If it’s good enough for Google…

On this day, this Lin-dependence day, I would ask those of you who have yet to experience the freedom offered by the Linux operating system (or FreeBSD – a nod to a fellow TechRepublic member – thank you very much) to try it. Make it your goal to at least install one of the recent releases and see what it has to offer. Be free of license agreements, CALS, costs, limits, viruses, malware, crapware, bloatware (although some would argue Linux is suffering from bloatware), dumb-down-ware…you get the idea. Give Linux a try and see what kind of freedoms ring in your world. I believe, very strongly, that you will look back on this day and remember how much more freedom you have to celebrate.

Thank you all for being such a wonderful, supportive, challenging, intelligent audience. Happy Lin-dependence day to everyone!