Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 8, 2012 11:26 UTC (Sun) by khim
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
As someone who was involved in the handhelds.org community for a long time and the current maintainer of Opie (yes, it's still barely alive) I feel that Opie and GPE are being bandied about here as if they have significant relevance to the discussion at hand.
Well, yes, is is.
It was a few years ago now but after working for some time on handheld Linux I came to the unpleasant realisation that Opie, GPE and the Linux-based operating systems that they ran on where never, ever going to reach the masses. It was never going to happen.
Hmm, that's my point exactly.
Because they never came pre-installed mass-market devices (among many reasons why not, at the time, GPL was a problem for many companies) and getting them onto existing devices was an exceedingly difficult and risky procedure even for the moderately competent - much more difficult than installing Linux on a PC.
Sure. But here is the problem: as time goes on it becomes harder to install Linux on PC, not easier. Not just things intended to close the ability to install Linux totally (like Secure Boot) - there are other efforts, too. These changes are slow because when they interfere with lives of general public general public pushes back, but the process is quite steady.
Should we want till Linux desktop will reach the same stage as OPIE today? Or, perhaps, we need to do something to make sure it'll never happen.
Note that even the reason which kept Linux niche open for years (you need some Linux-compatible hardware to develop server solutions) is no longer valid: Virtual PC works fine for that.
Unlike PCs, the hardware was almost completely closed and differed for almost every new device, and we couldn't keep up.
Well, the history repeats itself with GPU, at least.
As Cyberax said: there's that sense of fin-de-siècle in the air - the current situation is unsustainable and Something Has To Happen. Either Linux desktop will finally reach general consumer or it'll die off. And the more I look on the situation the more likely it looks like we'll have both (like it happened on handhelds/mobiles): we'll get some kind of mainstream “Linux desktop”, but it'll be some kind of deep fork which will ignore most of the efforts which happened before it. Current distributions then follow the OPIE/GPE lead on the road to oblivion.
to post comments)