Which Distros Would Obama and Romney Use?

With fewer than 30 days remaining until the U.S. presidential election, it’s become more or less impossible to hear ourselves think here in the Linux blogosphere, so loud is the din emanating from the land of stars and stripes.

Of course, misery loves company, as the old saying goes, which probably explains why there’s nary an unoccupied barstool to be found lately in any of the blogosphere’s many bars and saloons.

Linux Girl arrived early at the Punchy Penguin Pub, fortunately, so she’s had plenty of opportunity to drown her political sorrows while listening in on all the latest discussions.

Think partisan politics leave no room for Linux as the favorite topic du jour? Think again. When you’re among FOSS fans, everything has a way of coming back to our favorite operating system.

John Huntsman Who?

“Vandals break into congressman’s office, install Linux on PCs” was the headline that brought the topic to the forefront of recent discussion, but it was actually another, older piece that really struck bloggers’ collective imagination.

Namely, The VAR Guy’s “Aligning Linux Distributions with Presidential Hopefuls” from back in January was recently dredged up again over on LXer, and this time — now that we’re in the thick of things — it’s providing some much-needed comic relief.

Some of the musings are now moot, of course — what Republican contender John Huntsman would use, for example.

Focusing on the two that now matter, however, brave author Christopher Tozzi made some interesting suggestions.

‘He’d Doubtless Run Ubuntu’

Starting with Romney, for instance, “if he ran Linux, I’d pin him as a Debian user,” Tozzi ventured. “It’s a bland but predictable distribution, the Old Faithful of the open source world.”

As for Obama, “he’d doubtless run Ubuntu, the distribution that tends to set ambitious goals that get people excited, then breaks hearts when the harsh realities of real life — not to mention uncooperative partners elsewhere in the open source channel — inevitably cause it to fall short of realizing all of its lofty objectives,” Tozzi wrote.

“Its survival will depend on its continued ability to inspire the masses, as well as the absence of any competing distribution that promises to do a better job,” he added.

And what of the blogging Linux masses, their tongues already well-lubricated by more than a few Tequila Tux cocktails? As per their wont, they were fairly bursting with opinions of their own.

‘Romney Has the Pockets to Cover It’

“Hm, tough one,” Google+ blogger Linux Rants began.

“For Romney, I’d go with Red Hat Enterprise Linux,” Linux Rants suggested. “Red Hat was one of the first official distributions ever, and has been around longer than almost any of them (Debian being the notable exception). It’s pricey, but Romney has the pockets to cover it.”

For Obama, “I’d probably go with Ubuntu,” Linux Rants agreed. “Fairly flashy and willing to make decisions that aren’t terribly popular sometimes.

“Some of those decisions may not actually be beneficial to its users,” he added. “Still, probably the most conservative of the Debian-derived distributions.”

‘A God-Given Monopoly’

Blogger Robert Pogson had a different perspective.

“I don’t think Romney can think outside his box well enough to envision FLOSS,” Pogson opined. “He probably thinks M$ has a God-given monopoly.”

Obama, on the other hand, “is much more receptive,” Pogson suggested. “You can tell that from the White House website and utilization of FLOSS in government.”

Still, “a proper president should set the attack dogs at US DOJ after M$ and promote FLOSS actively, for the good of the country, rather than propping up Wintel,” he added. “The world is not going to wait for USA to reinvent the wheel. The USA should move on from monopoly, and government can set the example while saving taxpayers’ money.”

‘Romney Should Keep Using M$’

Indeed, the U.S. government spends some $5 billion on IT annually, Pogson noted, and “much of it is wasted on M$ and ‘partners.'” Instead, it should “spend money on small businesses supporting FLOSS. That would employ more people for the same or less money.”

As for Linux distros?

“I think Obama should use Debian GNU/Linux because it’s powerful, effective and efficient,” Pogson concluded. “Romney should keep using M$ and stay out of Washington. If 47 percent don’t matter to him, 10 percent or so certainly won’t.”

‘More Principled Than Romney’

Chris Travers, a blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, took yet another view.

“I think you have to remember that virtually everything about Presidential candidates has to do with marketing and who one is marketing to,” Travers told Linux Girl. “This sort of exercise, then, is interesting, although personally I think the author is too easy on the candidates.”

Microsoft’s old “Shared Source” program “best fits Obama, or perhaps a pricey UNIX + source license (empty promises of transparency and openness while aggressively moving in the opposite direction),” Travers offered.

Meanwhile, “the thing about Debian that reminds me of Romney is the idea that you can install Debian as a cutting-edge distro or a very conservative one, that it can literally appear to become whatever you want,” he explained. “But Debian has more of a principled backbone than does Romney.”

Personally, Travers “would not want to be strongly invested in a Linux distro too closely associated with either of these,” he concluded.

‘Talk About Pointless!’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet had no patience for the question.

“Are you fricking kidding me? The economy is in shambles, the borders leak so badly you could walk across with a nuke, the debt spins like a top and THIS, this is what you care about?” hairyfeet exclaimed.

“If somebody wants to write about politics, fine, write about the healthcare troubles and spiraling costs, write about the economy and the leaking border, write about something that actually matters, not which Linux OS he would use if they actually bothered to use linux which neither does,” hairyfeet concluded. “Talk about pointless!”

‘We Are the Revolutionaries’

Last but not least, Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien appeared to be taking it all in stride.

“Light-hearted fun, but you may find yourself straining to remember who all of those candidates were at this point,” he admitted.

“Of course, the real answer is that none of them would use Linux because they are the establishment, and we are the revolutionaries,” he reminded Linux Girl. “To the barricades! Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite!”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

1 Comment

  • That is ALL I’m asking, is that too much? If you want to write about politics and its a slow week on the tech front? then PLEASE by all means do so, just don’t make up lame pointless BS spin trying to give what you want to write about a tech angle it doesn’t have.

    You might as well have asked "If Romney and Obama were in space,would they use nuclear or solar panels to run their laptops?" Who cares, they aren’t in space, the question will never come up, its a dumb pointless spin to try to shoehorn politics into a tech website.

    the sad part is there are LEGITIMATE questions you COULD ask, such as what are both candidates positions on SOPA? What about the strikes system? would they support opening the lines to free market competition? How do they intend to fix last mile issues? All of these would be GREAT and interesting questions that many here would want to know, instead we get a "What distro would 2 guys that don’t use distros use?" pointless.

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