Top Ten reasons I like Open Source
Why I like Open Source.
I like freedom. I don’t like being told what to do. When my operating system tells me that I have to press ok or cancel, I feel like I am being dictated too. When my operating system tells me that I am not allowed to use a piece of software at all, my conviction grows. When my operating cripples music, insists on an internet connection to prove that it is payed for and so on, I know I am the victim of a fascist regime.
If an open sourse operating system tells me I have to ok or cancel and I don’t like it I can open the source code, find the module that asks the question and edit the code to give a third option, retry perhaps, or ‘back’ or whatever I like. I can then recompile the module and My operating system now acts like I want.
This is the fundemental difference between being controled by the words (code) of others, and having control over the words that run the machines (computers) that you own.
Open source software is controled by you, it does not control you. You are free to modify it, to hack it, to alter what it is and what it does, to pursue your own agenda, rather than be the victim of an agenda.
That is the first and foremost reason why I prefer open source. I should say I have never actually done that, I mean I have never recompiled a single piece of code, but that is not the point, which brings me to my second point.
I don’t know who wrote the code for Microsoft MovieMaker, but I do know who wrote thecode for the Blender Sequence Editor. If I want to I can write him an email or perhaps chat to him on irc and ask him aabout his plans for future upgrades and alterations to his code. I cannot do that with commercial software. But it goes further, if the auther I know has no plans to add the feature I desire I can talk to other developers who might be more amenible, I can advocate and organise for features and functionality to be written by others for my benifit and the benifit of others. This is why I don’t need to recompile code myself, others will do it for me, this is the second reason I like open source.
The third reason I like open source is because it is all (usually) free. The GIMP may not quite be photoshop, and Blender might not match every feature of 3D Studio Max (although it does have many features that 3Ds dosen’t have), and Lumiera might still be just a gleam in the eyes of the Cinerella CV developers, but by not buying Vista, Adobe cs3, Office 2007, 3dsMax, Reason and so on, I save myself thousands and thousands of dollars, I also avoid any legal issues of piracy and copyright violation, I don’t pay a cent, and I dont commit a crime. Nice.
The forth reason I love open source is that there are so many programs out there it makes you head spin, browsing through getdeb, ohloh, freashmeat, lxer, fsdaily, planet ubuntu, gnomefiles, and on and on, scrolling through the synaptic lists of availables, looking at linuxalt and osalt and so on, checking out university department pages, over and over I come across nifty and exciting pieces of software, often so obscure that if I wanted to buy a comercial versionI wouldn’t know how to start lookingand iwould probably end up paying thousands or finding that the open source version is the only thing that exists.
The fifth reason I like open source is that it is open. Microsoft talk about how this or that open source project violates thier copyrights, but how do we know? Half Microsoft’s codebase could be flagrently ripped off from open source for all we know, we can’t read the code, they are closed. Closed source means secrecy, obfuscation and lies, it means hiding what you have done and trying to trick others into thinking no one else can do it. Open source is open, it is about truth and sharing and communication, itis as awsome as that dude.
The sixth reason I like open source is because it fucks with economics. It is a massive movement, comprising millions upon millions of lines of code, milions upon millions man hours worked, all for free, all being used by productive and innovative persons for free, having a huge and pretty much unmeasurable impact on the software industry and by extension on other industries, all based on a paradigm that ignores money, ignores profit, and behaves in a way that to a classical economist seems completely irrational. The idea that people might be willing to work, for free, just to see something materialise that might benifit many fucks up the most fundemental axioms of positive economics, and I like that.
The seventh reason i like open source is because it fosters in me a feeling of belonging to a community where I have no walls, where my efforts might one day ged me a nod from Linus or a check from Donald, where someone in Bolivia might use my image as thier desktop wallpaper or someone in Romania might code up that idea I had for a feature in Blender or That I might get ‘dug’, and that it is all a seemless continuity, I am not a consumer, I am not an employee, I ama member of a community I both use and create and collaborate with others through a free and transparent exchange of information.
The eigth reason I like open source is the learning. I remember when I did not know whata gnome was, or the difference between a kernel and kettle, or how to configure a mixed home wireless network, and when the command line filled me with nothing but dread, I remember when I wouldnt have known where to start in researching fixes for my onboard soundcard, and so on and so on. Open source has transformed me from a child in a cage, being handed ‘safe’ toys by mother microsoft, to being a young man on the open plains, hunting for his own food.
Number nine is Linux and Debian and Ubuntu and the GIMP and Blender and Gnome and GNU and Open Office and Gedit and Ardour and Inkscape and Scribus and Emacs and Latex and Lyx and Fontforge and Dia and Firefox and Sunbird and Vim and Bash and Python and Glade and Lumiera and Synaptic and every other great fantastic project out there that I use so seemlesly and effortlessly on my crappy old thinkpads (oooohhh, lets not forget Atheros and the HAL).
Number ten is BoingBoing and Creative Commons and Distrowatch and Google and wordpress and Slashdot and Deviantart and Wikipedia and Mozilla and on and on to all the places in the world where I can communicate for free and freely.
So there you haveit, thats why I like open source, some of the reasons anyway,I amsure more will occur to me as I go about my day.
… like xkcd, dinosaur comix, moo cards, miro, mythtv, eeepc, neuros….