Today I finally said goodbye to Bill Gates. And I did it with a certain sense of fulfillment. Just after lunch I reformatted my entire hard disk, erased every trace of Windows OS in it, and installed Suse Linux 9.2 Professional. The installation process was a breeze – in fact faster and easier than installing XP.
I have been using Linux since early last year. My first distro was the Red Hat Fedora Core 1. Later on I experimented with Mandrake Linux 10.1. Thus Suse is the first professional version that I use. I am no techie, just an enthusiast who devoutly believes in the principles behind open source.
And I never studied computer programming. Everything I know about hardware and software applications is self-taught. I learned Linux by reading the embedded "help", by browsing online discussions on open source, and by searching for specific explanations with Google. What I am saying is (a) that you don’t have to be a computer expert to understand Linux, and (b) that even if you have not used any other OS except Windows all your life, don’t worry, your migration to Linux will be smooth and painless.
In my next blogs I will talk about specific Linux desktop applications but for now I limit myself to the top 2 reasons why I think Linux is best for us pinoys:
The first reason is also the most important: Linux is open source! Open source essentially means that users are given the freedom to run any Linux program for any purpose, including the right to study, customize and modify the program, as well as to redistribute copies of either the original or modified program. All that without having to pay royalties to previous developers. Programmers and distributors are obliged to include the source code of the programs they distribute, and must allow its free redistribution. So as not to discriminate individual persons or groups and fields of endeavors, the open-source license forbids the programmers and distributors from locking anybody out of the process.
In stark contrast, Microsoft, being a ruthless bully, takes every effort to lock others out of its source codes. And competitors who manage to develop windows-based softwares are always obliged to pay sky-high royalties. Not only are Microsoft royalties steep, its licenses are also very restrictive.
The second reason why I think Linux is best for us pinoys is that Linux is more affordable! I do not have to mention how expensive Microsoft products are. And this is the main reason why software piracy is rampant in the Philippines and in other developing countries.
Linux is cheap and often free. Yet, while it is affordable the quality of Linux products is never compromised. The Fedora and Mandrake operating systems I used last year were included for free with the Linux magazines I purchased from a small bookstore. You could also download Linux for free from many online distributors.
Of course not all Linux software is free, but for the most part it doesn’t require users to pay ongoing licensing fees or royalties (which makes Microsoft infamous), and typically costs less than software from the big commercial developers like the one based in Redmond.