Linux thoughts

Tony’s got a link to an interesting freshmeat article about there being too much free software. Tony’s remarks,

” This has been a bigger impediment to the growth of Linux than many people would realize. I see it in email every day – “Which text editor should I use? There are so many.” Or, worse yet, “I tried x and it didn’t work, so I tried y and it didn’t work either. Does any of this stuff really work?”

As much as I hate to say it, what’s been touted as one of the greatest strengths of the open source model could actually be one of its greatest weaknesses. There are way too many “vanity apps,” applications created for the sake of solving an individual problem, with no eye whatsoever to the big picture of the needs of the open source community. A little attention to finishing the ones that work would go a longs ways in drawing and keeping new users. “

ring true for me in the relatively short time I’ve been playing around with Red Hat. I’ve tried a number of programs that simply don’t work very well, or require some sort of major configuration change to work. Trying to find a program that works within the Red Hat setup I have, to do what I think it should do, is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are some out there, and they do work pretty well, but trying to find it isn’t easy and makes the whole learning curve that much steeper.

By the way, a note to open source zealots out there, lines like this one:

So how do we get more people using Free Software? Preaching about it doesn’t work with the majority, which has been so dumbed down by the importance of money as not to care for liberty anymore.

don’t get you many converts. The fact of the matter is people pay for software because they know it works, or if it doesn’t they know where they can go to get it to work properly. Wanting something that works is not “dumbed down”. Spending hours upon hours trying to get free software to work when I could have easily spent a little cash, gotten good quality, working software and had time to do other things with my life, is. Your conclusion is right, make software that works, and does what people want it to do, and you’ll have people using free software all over the place, like you have with Apache, MySQL, or Movable Type, but continue to tell the average computer user that they’re stupid, and the average computer user will still be buying MS products from now until forever.

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