I’m a big fan of open source. With Vista’s launch looming in 2007 I expect either a large monetary windfall for MS or a large exodus of its customers. Vista is stacking up to be the next ME. Those in the know have already heard of the Microsoft-Novell patent deal (or non-aggression pact as I’d like to look at it); perhaps it’s an attempt to help stave off the exodus. In any case, Linux et al. have certainly generated enough mind space that they’re a viable threat (though I expect Apple to steal more market share unless Linux gets its act together). Personally, I’m not looking to spend more money on an OS that is priced more than the hardware it runs on. And I’m always pressing my bosses to move away from closed-source software where it makes sense. I’m not against closed source software because I don’t mind paying for products. However, when open source software meets or exceeds the capabilities of it’s closed source counterpart, it doesn’t make economic sense to continue paying for the closed source version. You’re better off donating a portion of what you would have paid to the open source developers. (What I am against are proprietary standards and software patents, but that’s a whole other topic.)
The crux of the issue comes down to control—control of your information and ultimately your dollar. Open source puts the control back into your hands. My first encounter with this is the fact that my Compaq Presario has a blacklisted DSDT which prevents ACPI from loading. Xubuntu being an open source Linux distribution gives me the capability to fix the problem. (Whether I succeed or not, we’ll see.) Granted ACPI “worked” under Windows, but I’ve come to find out that Windows simply ignored any problems with DSDTs. (Kinda reminds me of IE quirks mode.) Then there’s the fact that a small nation could not convince MS to produce a localized version of Windows because it would not have been profitable. So the nation decided to create it’s own localized Linux distribution. Control of information isn’t limited to just software either. I mean it’s only just recently people were able to keep their cell phone numbers when transferring services. Yet, even now, mobile service providers lock your phones to their networks and have custom firmware installed on phones to remove/limit features to the point you have to go through them to get any data onto the phone. As much as I covet the price-performance of Sony products, I do not admire them for continuing to try to force proprietary standards on their consumers. Which brings me to the coolest thing about the open source movement—open source hardware.