Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Big Game

Open Source advocates often miss the big picture in trying to advance the cause of Free Software and Open Source Software. It's not about winning at all costs over Microsoft. That's their game. Our game is about "free"-dom: freedom of choice of OS, free beer, and freedom of choice in implementation.

I don't care if 1%, 10%, 51%, or 100% of people choose Linux for their desktop. Sure, I'd rather have a sizeable market share, since that makes life easier in terms of support and finding documentation. But "winning" is not the goal. Improving the product is the goal.

Improving the product requires putting out several forks (or competing versions based on a common ancestor) and seeing what works. I suspect that no single desktop will please everyone. No single package management system will please everyone. Case in point: I don't like rpms or debs. I like the Encap system. Why should I have to put up with something I don't like just because everyone else likes it?

If it takes becoming Windows to "beat" Microsoft, then I don't want to beat Microsoft. Improve the product. Don't copy an inferior one just because it happens to be more popular.

Don't be fooled into playing someone else's game just because they think of you as their opponent in it. Play your own game, and if they want to play that, then beat the crap out of them at it. But don't play theirs.