Over on my mailing list, the WFTL-LUG, a "whatever happened to" discussion has emerged in part because question traffic has gone down dramatically. Fewer people are coming out to LUG meetings. It's as if Linux is fading away.
"Has Linux dropped off the face of the Earth?" The answer is obviously no. Linux is still around, stronger than ever, but the desktop OS does seem to be disappearing. Of course this is true of Windows and Mac OS, at least from the average user's perspective. Desktop Linux is strong with those who use it; those who have been using it, but the buzz seems to be gone.
None of this surprises me though. Sure, we may never see the Year of the Linux Desktop, but the nature of the desktop is changing. People are increasingly living their lives online. Yes folks, it's that cloud you keep hearing about and it's really out there. Google+ and Facebook and Twitter and online document management and email and just plain old Web surfing. For most, the network really is the computer and as time goes on, people care less and less what is running on their computers and more about what they can access once they get online.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to the first episode of a BBC two-part series called, "The Codebreakers", whose focus is FOSS, or Free and Open Source Software. Some fascinating stuff here and well worth watching. You can view the second part below.
Want to get sued by Microsoft? Then read on. At the end of this post, you'll have your opportunity. By now, you've no doubt heard the story that Microsoft claims that Linux and FOSS violates at least 235 of their patents. Once again, Microsoft innnovates through intimidation and litigation. Does anyone really think they'll come clean as to which patents Linux supposedly violates? To quote Ballmer, "What's fair is fair." Well, fair comes with a price, even for the mega-rich like Mr. Ballmer. If he honestly means what he says, that is. In that corner wherein our wildest imagination wanders about, can we even begin to conceive that Microsoft might allow their closed source to be examined for the patents it might violate?
Among my favorite lines in the article is "The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents." In other words, only commercial software could be of high quality so if free software is good, it must have stolen from non-free software. If it's got to be commercial to be good, then you have to wonder what their excuse is for putting out so much crap.
Well, Christian Einfeldt, over at the Digital Tipping Point, has thrown down the virtual gauntlet and started an online petition where signees request that Microsoft sue them first. Or to put it another way, "Hey, Microsoft! Put up or shut up!" To add your name to Christian's list, head over to his Sue me first Microsoft list.
In May 2006, the BBC aired a documentary it called "The Codebreakers". This two-part series looked into the adoption of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and its impact on the so-called digital divide. Some nice history and interesting interviews make this worth watching. Enjoy!