After reading Part One, it would seem like there is very little reason to even think about using Linux. But, not so!
In the digital world, freedom abounds. There are few actual limits to what can appear. This Blogging system is an example: a place for people to publish whatever they want to say. Information can be duplicated with little trouble. Some have responded by crippling their product so that it is difficult to convert, *cough*Sony*cough* or deciding not to make a product that can be duplicated digitally (like furniture :-) ). Then there are the people who sift through every page in hopes of finding some violation of their rights and suing anyone who oversteps the bounds by a fraction, or pushing their way into people's personal files to try and catch some sort of illegal activity (ignoring their own
misdeed at the same time). Then there are people who say 'Hey! I've got this really cool program/song/book/whatever - Why don't you try it out, no charge, no gimmick, no spam or ads.'http://www.baen.com/library/
This is a library of free, high quality books. And an article about why giving away free books online makes sense financially.http://www.modarchive.com/
This has 33,016 music files, submitted by their composers - some of whom, are professionals and well know within their genre.
Those links are just two examples off the top of my head, I know there are numerous others like them out there. You can also go to the library, or turn on your radio and get the same products that are being so well guarded - for free.
Then, what I really wanted to talk about: Computer Programs. Programs are what make your computer worth using. You wouldn't be able to do anything but, well anything (unless you know machine language (ones and zeros) and at that point you are just making your own programs). For any given task there are hundreds of programs that claim to perform it. Some are free, some are $500. Price has nothing to do with how well a program runs or what it does. For example, I have a sound editing program that cost me $30. A couple of years ago a big name brand bought it, changed the name and raised the price to $350. Is there really a $320 quality difference? uh, no.
The leader in "free" programs for the computer is the Open Source community. If you can think of it, someone is at least trying to make an open source version of it. Briefly, open source means that all the code for a program is 'open' for anyone to see, make changes to and redistribute. If you open up the Internet Explorer .exe file in a text editor, you will get a lot of gibberish - but that is all you will ever get out of Microsoft. You'll get the same type of thing if you open up the .exe for Firefox, but you can go online to http://www.mozilla.org/
and get all or part of every bit of code that makes it. But wait! Some "evil hacker" can just go in and break the whole thing *cries*. Not really. Each project is well monitored, and additions have to be approved before they are included in a program that will be distributed to the public. But, the "evil hackers" are free to do anything they want to their own version. Like change the language so their Grandma who doesn't speak English, but some obscure dialect can use that program.
By allowing the User to reform the actual program, it gives them (or us) the power back. For example, in a musical synthesizing program, should one of the notations be down a fraction of an inch? If it is an open source program, tell the developers about it, or if you know how to program, fix it yourself. Your new feature will be available as soon as someone fixes it - maybe a week, or the next day or a month. Compared to a commercial project, where you would call or write to the company, where if someone got the note, they would put it on the agenda and after the next release (a year? three? ever?), you might have your notation in the right place.
The most important program you run on your computer is your operating system. The vast majority of people use Windows, some use Macintosh, some use Linux and the rest use ancient or obscure programs. The Operating system determines how data is read, stored and accessed. It has the ultimate power over what you can and cannot do. In the future Microsoft is releasing a new operating system (named Vista) which is reported to be going to new lengths to keep people from violating something, I'm not quite sure what they are trying to accomplish. More restrictions will never stop pirating, or hacking - because Microsoft works alone by brute force, while those who want/need to work around the obstacles Microsoft outs in the way work together.
At the root of the problem is the idea of what belongs to whom. (See the Sony ARccOS post earlier) Right now it seems that all these large corporations and organizations have the attitude that they own every imaginable right to their product - but what then are we paying for? It seems that we are paying for limited access to a limited product. And our access can be taken away at the slightest whim or chance or bad fortune.
Moral of this story?
Use products that honor your right as a consumer to use your own possessions as you see fit.http://www.ubuntu.com/
Linux for human beings.