[First in a series of blog entries on the titled topic …]
As a software engineer it should have been particularly unnerving not only to see, but also participate in the use of unlicensed software… honestly it wasn’t that difficult. In the life a struggling student, the ethics related to software piracy was all but lost on me.
It was not until much later in my career that I began to think about the real “cost” of software and until I started producing software products myself that the real “ethics” of software theft dawned on me.
Fast forward to today, in my existing (soon to be former) role as a Solution Architect at a state owned company with hundreds of employees, being exposed to the cost of large software licensing contracts, the potential impact of Open Source software and the entire FLOSS movement has and is continuing to become much clearer.
It may have something to do with my purchase and use of my Asus Transformer Android Tablet … in that, the tablet made me realize that other “new” operating systems, and technology environments allowed me to continue to be very productive … but I also realized that it still did so at a cost. Android is all the rage these days and simply cannot be ignored by the average consumer or the business man. It has resulted in a huge attraction to the platform (IMO) because of a couple of things
- Critical Mass / Group Think
- The support of the platform by OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)
- The Open Source Halo
While you may be able to deduce the meaning of the first two, let me attempt to explain what I mean by The Open Source “Halo”. Even though the Android platform is largely an Open Source platform, many of the applications that make the platform useful, usable and really productive aren’t free (or open for that matter). Don’t get me wrong, I think Android rocks hard and love my tablet, however, when I first got the device, I found that the “Free” software that was available allowing me to be productive or entertained were either not “Free” or not very good. We can dig deeper into that discussion another time, but note that since then free versions of the software that I needed have been released and are of very high quality. Could this be because the platform is getting massive amounts of attention and is actually being forced / encouraged to evolve? Hum… food for thought.
All this got me to thinking about Linux. I was about to refer to it as “the little OS that could” but that would be a gross understatement of this Operating System’s capability, and importance in today’s world. On the desktop however, it really has not caught on with the consumer market. I’ve tried it before and while it was pretty good, at one point or another, I had wished that I’d been using Windows again. Not anymore …
For two years, I had loaned out a laptop that was my primary software development and productivity machine. I completely loved my LatitudeD820, it was one of the most productive machines that I’ve owned (not very good battery life though). As this machine was returned I thought to myself … self … you’ve made a small step to Android and stepped out of your Windows comfort zone, why not take the latest version of Linux for a spin. In this brave new world of cloud, and with the advancements made on the Linux Desktop front, it should be fairly painless.
I’ve been using Linux Mint 12 for a three weeks now (I’m writing this in LibreOffice Writer and Blogilo), and I can confidently say that this operating system has come a very very long way. I’m extremely productive in this environment.
The transition has been smooth and I’ve even been encouraged to be try new cloud services that I have been staying away from for a bit.
Not a single pirated application!
I dare say that the break from windows is a bit refreshing. I’ve been bitten by the Open Source bug 🙂
In the next post, I’ll cover the installation process and software and services that I consume.
Until then, cheers.