Friday, August 21, 2009

Of course its Political!

Some people are arguing that GNU/Linux users should stay away from politics and just concentrate on the technical stuff of the operating system. The problem with this is that politics is part of everything we do. Especially a huge software revolution such as GNU/Linux will be littered with political issues. It is impossible to not get involved in politics if you are part of something so revolutionary. Even though I don't like people who are extremists, it is important to keep a healthy balance that deals with politics and technical issues at the same time. Politics is about who gets what, where and when. The GNU/Linux community is often not a priority for major hardware manufacturers because the market share is small on desktop computers. Some companies are consciously trying to undermine the open source movement or limit its adoption. However, because GNU/Linux is slowly growing you can see more companies coming on board and realizing that even the Linux community should no longer be ignored. This is where politics comes in. Why does the GNU/Linux community always have to be second best? Why don't we have the support of software and hardware manufacturers? How can our government allow monopolies to exist without stepping in as they should? Having Microsoft Windows pre-installed on majority of new computers gives users little choice. In a democratic society a monopoly should be disassembled so that innovation, competition and progress can occur.

People such as Richard Stallman are very political but Linus Torvalds is much less so. This creates a good balance between the two individuals. Little bit of Stallman mixed in with Torvalds and GNU/Linux community users and you get something that is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Politics is crucial in everyday life and this is especially true for the GNU/Linux community. We need to be aware of a lot of issues that concern us. Open source software is a big challenge for the established companies such as Microsoft and Apple. They do not want to create products or services that can work with and benefit Linux. They are trying really hard to stifle Linux so that they can protect their markets. This is not fair and hopefully with more people adopting GNU/Linux these companies and many others will no longer be able to ignore us and use tactics that are inappropriate.

For the people who want to stay out of politics and just concentrate on technical issues, that is great. Just don't be too harsh on people who realize that politics is also important and they put their energy into that. A healthy middle ground would be the best. It would be nice to see companies supporting GNU/Linux and taking it seriously. It seems that slowly, hardware and software manufacteurrs are getting the hint but it has been a long and hard battle which will continue for quite a long time to come. It is not easy to ignore politics and especially for a software revolution such as GNU/Linux.


  1. Yes, a balance between the polar opposites of Stallman and Torvalds is needed.

    That said, Torvalds displayed great niavety about Microsft's code donatiom to the Kernel (

  2. There's nothing more hypocritical than pragmatists arguing that idealists shouldn't be allowed to express an opinion.

    I have virtually zero interest in the technical aspects of computing (these days, at least). I only care about the political aspect (Freedom, corporate politics).

    It is entirely my prerogative to decide what aspect of computing I am interested in. How dare Torvalds attempt to dictate otherwise. I might just as easily claim his indifference to Microsoft's crimes amounts to complicity. Is that any fairer than him claiming I have a "disease"?

    And he's not the only one chanting these pragmatic slurs against Free Software advocates either - Microsoft Evangelist and Gnome founder, Miguel de Icaza, regurgitates the same clichéd "Black & White" mantra.