Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Success of Linux

Every year, at an indeterminate time, we start getting a slew of articles on the interwebs titled, ‘The Year 20XX is going to be the Year of the Linux Desktop’. Or something like that. Or, ‘the Year of the Linux Server’. Or proving what the market percentage of Linux is and how it’s much more than Windows or OS X. Or way less. Or how it’s rising. Or how netbooks would put Linux into the lay consumer’s hand.

I can understand where all these articles are coming from. It is every geek’s pipe dream to see Linux running on every single item of computing hardware sold. We want Linux to be everywhere. We want Linux to be the boss. We want Linux to be successful!

But it really depends on how you define success isn’t it? I doubt if Linux is going to break the hegemony of proprietary OSes anytime soon. But to me, the existence of Linux is success enough. The very fact that free and open source software can not only exist but also flourish is remarkable. Sometimes the existence of an alternative is enough to make the mainstream less sinister than it could actually be without the alternative. Linux acts as a deterrent to complete monopoly. It acts as a safety valve in ideology and practice.

So for me, Linux is already successful. Of course, I still dream about World Domination ™ in the future. But success is already here.


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