I believe it should be an obvious idea that clean air is good. Telling the world they want to breathe less pollutantsis a lot like telling everyone that free and open source software is in their best interest. Even though it seems like common sense to the believers, it is inconveniently inconsistent with the way of life in economic powerhouses like the United States.
Most computing environments contain an overwhelming quantity of Microsoft software. Even if the products we use every day are tainted, nobody wants to believe it. Instead users, even those who prefer open source, silently stick to status-quo. It’s easier to shell out $100 here and there to ignore the issue.
Open source software is an ideal which is competing against tangible products that come in shrink-wrapped boxes. All of the answers on how sharing code with your neighbor is commercially healthy are detailed in the 1985 GNU Manifesto. That was almost 25 years ago, why in the world does the political agenda of software freedom seem radical? The answer is that proprietary software companies have been pushing their counter-propaganda.
Even if you try to give people software that is free as in cost and code, you may be told NO due to Microsoft’s own propaganda:
Ultimately FUD is not marketing, it is propaganda. It is the equivalent of a political smear campaign were both sides are shouting loudly that the other side is BAD BAD BAD. People should expect that behavior out of free and open source software advocates like myself. But if Microsoft really is the brand that everyone trusts, tell me why does Microsoft would opt to fight instead of ignore?
In a way, watching Microsoft try to answer the question of “why not Linux” proves that the products that I prefer are relevant. Consider this: If Linux-based products were really only about 1% of the market share, why does Microsoft spend so many resources bringing themselves to level of political zealous for a political smear campaign? It is because when people are actually given the choice of Linux or Windows, 32% choose Linux. What would happen if Linux, Windows, and Apple were sold in the same place with comparable hardware? I bet that Microsoft would not be purchased 50% of the time come June 30, 2011.
There are two ways in which a revolutionary paths that could change what we will use:
1. Disruptive Technology: The dominant market player is knocked into irrelevance due to the utter inferiority. Killer applications emerge. Users drop everything for the more fun products.
2. House of Cards: The dominant market player does something so offensive to the general population that all trust is lost. Collapse is its own doing. The exposure of the offensive action can be triggered by outside political forces or internal mistakes. Either way, the structure is unsustainable.
This is Beth Lynn Eicher, the Editor-in-Chief of “What will we use,” a political forum in favor of software freedom. If you wish to respond to the contents of this message, you may do so in the comments.