sábado, 17 de julio de 2010

What does it all mean?

This is a string of facts that led me to several questions for which I lack a proper answer. However, since I do not fear the curse of philosophers, here they go:

A. THE FIRST PUBLIC LINUX COMPUTER

Although I personally dislike Canonical, I must confess that, to say the least, it was heartwarming to see a public computer displaying Ubuntu's aubergine desktop for the first time. I ran into it by coincidence as I was having lunch in a very small cafeteria near my house. It is the first non-Windows computer I have run into in my city and, of course, I felt happy because I found ONE LINUX system in the open at last.

When I mentioned the fact to the manager, a man over sixty, his reply made me think about something that is boiling in developing countries, a side-effect of Microsoft's licenses policy that is doing a disservice to Ballmer's cause: lawsuits on piracy. The manager of this small business said to me that he had installed Linux on the cafeteria's public computer "because it was important to protect himself against piracy". Honestly, I would have expected a reply that went more on the line of "I need to protect my computer against viruses", but his answer revealed his business wisdom to me. As a costumer, I was concerned for computer security. Yet, as the manager, he was concerned about staying on business. This man had it clear that a virus that can destroy a $2000 computer would inflict a minor harm to his investment but, if had he installed Windows 7 illegally, the possibilities for his blooming business to go through the drain would have been extremely high. How can he survive one of the choking lawsuits that Microsoft wages? Therefore, he decided that, if his costumers need to browse the web or to quick-type a document, Linux provides him a win-win solution. And it makes sense because this man's reasoning grants him an indirect advantage: his computer will spend less time in service.

Can this become a new trend, something that Microsoft itself spawned and was not expecting?

Update: Because of certain glitches, the manager says that he feels inclined to switch to... Linux MINT!

B. DELL AND UBUNTU

Dell certainly knows about the security facts described above, as does any Linux user. However, the ambivalent policy that Dell keeps undermines its Linux partner, Canonical. I mean, Dell did advertise that Ubuntu was SAFER than Windows but, maybe because of hidden pressure from Redmond, the statement on the Dell site was modified to read "UBUNTU IS SAFE" (read about it here).

This is interesting because Dell mostly sells computers running Windows. They were saying "Ubuntu is safer than Windows...don't you want to buy a Windows computer from us? No? Well, there's always Ubuntu." Very motivating...

Dell's INVISIBLE LINUX discourse is not helping anyone. I thought they had figured it out by now.

Who are they trying to please...Canonical, Microsoft, or costumers?


C. POPULARITY AND MANDRIVA

Along with this thread of INVISIBLE LINUX, I noticed that, a little after the Spring release, Mandriva stayed at the top of visit count on Distrowatch for three days. I am currently using this distro and I cannot hide the fact that I love it. Nevertheless, knowing that the company that develops it was on the verge of extinction, one cannot help but ask two questions:

Is Mandriva SA actually devising a strategy to effectively advertise their great distribution?

What will happen to Mandriva (the distribution) in the future?


D. FREE INTERNET ACCESS FOR EVERYONE!

I heard on the news that a congress person proposed this project to grant free internet access to all Costa Ricans as a way to help in the development of the country. This is an ambitious measure that is backed up by studies that show that education and opportunities have a positive impact on societies. Well, that sounds great but the government is actually fighting the main universities because of budget issues. So, we have contradictory policies here: the government wants people to have access to tools, but it is reducing the opportunities for the institutions that can contribute to the education of people and, therefore, to the development of the country. But is this realistic? After all, if all Costa Ricans eventually get free access to Internet, the measure will be useless unless citizens can get an affordable computer with an OS and, obviously, a browser!

I blame the government for their ignorance. However, they are politicians, so what can you expect? But I also blame national universities for their ambivalence. Take the University of Costa Rica, for instance. They spend a lot of money on licenses for Microsoft to have the gigantic administrative apparatus working (letters, memos, emails, etc). The actual President of the Republic, Ms. Laura Chinchilla, once proposed the reduction of state costs by introducing a project favoring OPEN SOURCE in government institutions. The University of Costa Rica could do the same. This is a good time to promote Linux here in Costa Rica, right, Mandriva?

Why doesn't the University of Costa Rica promote Linux and Open Source if the institution is facing budget cuts?
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I think that, whether or not these questions remain unanswered, time will tell. What I know is that these are changing times and we need to break away from old paradigms to be able to face the future. You read about changes everywhere: the slow decline of traditional industries (music & software, for instance), the foreseen death of the PC and the advent of the tablet, the flux from the desktop to mobile devices and back, the cloud... In other words, the world is changing and people must change with it.

What does it all mean? Making stereotypes aside, these are times in which a sixty-something restaurant manager decides to install an alternative OS and knows that there are other Linux choices out there to experiment with. So, do you still believe that the younger generations will be like us, who grew up under the spell of Microsoft and knew Windows and nothing else?

I believe that, in the 21st Century, thanks to the post-global reality of developing countries, people will need to speak more than two languages to land a job...and they will have to know how to operate a computer using MORE than a single operating system as well. I remember the days in which including "Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet" in a CV would give the candidate an edge. Today, that impresses no one, but try "Experience with GNU/Linux operating systems" and let's see how that goes.

1 comentario:

  1. Whatever they say, Linux will continue growing. The Redmond company says it is not a threat, but they keep training their employees on Linux-bashing. Why wasting their resources on that if Linux is so weak? Ballmer is desperate because Microsoft is not what it used to be and more and more people are seeing it differently.

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