Words of Gratitude for the Bounty That Is FOSS

It’s a general matter of course in any given year that as Thanksgiving draws ever closer here in the land of stars and stripes, more than a few Linux bloggers begin to wax sentimental about their favorite operating system, often recounting all the many reasons they’re thankful it exists.

It is the start of the season of thankfulness, after all.

Well, perhaps it’s the recent presidential elections or — even more so — perhaps it’s the fact that a sizable part of the country is preoccupied by a desire to divorce Uncle Sam. In any case, this year, the usual pattern doesn’t seem to have happened.

A Fruitless Search

Snuggled up with a steaming Cinnamon Dolce Latte on a blissfully chilly day last week, Linux Girl scrolled through page after page of Google results, looking for that elusive “10 reasons I’m thankful for Linux” post that she felt sure was out there.

The baristas began to wonder if she was ever going to leave.

Eventually, however, much to her dismay, she had to abandon the effort empty-handed.

Is it that FOSS fans are no longer grateful for the bounty that is free and open source software? Linux Girl doesn’t think so. To prove it, she conducted a small poll down at the blogosphere’s Punchy Penguin Cafe.

‘Linux Makes the Internet Work’

“How can you not be thankful for Linux?” exclaimed Google+ blogger Linux Rants.

“Of all the projects in the FOSS world, Linux is the first thing that comes to my mind,” he told Linux Girl. “It powers my phone, it powers my television, it powers my web and database servers, it powers my media player, and it powers my personal computer. Linux makes the Internet work, and allows me to communicate with friends, new and old.”

Linux Rants is also thankful for Google+, he added.

“Over the course of this last year it’s allowed me to meet so many new and interesting people I never would have met without it,” he said.

‘Our Ability to Do Good’

Indeed, “giving thanks for IT is something not done often enough,” agreed blogger Robert Pogson.

“Almost everything we do depends on IT these days: multimedia communication, generation of text, images, music, creating, finding, storing and presenting information of all kinds, and almost all arithmetic depend heavily on IT, and what used to take days or weeks of computing is now done in real time or, better, as a forecast,” he explained. “IT lowers the cost of everything we do while increasing our ability to do it.”

In particular, Pogson loves “GNU/Linux and other FLOSS which exists solely to facilitate our use of IT,” he told Linux Girl.

“Compared to other software designed to tax our use of IT, my relationship with FLOSS is like that in a loving family instead of struggling against thieves,” he concluded. “When you strip IT of a platform for malware, crapware and lock-in, there’s a great extension of our ability to do good in the world.”

‘The FOSS Community’

Slashdot blogger yagu is thankful “for IT in general, because I was able to directly apply much of what I studied as a Math major,” he offered. “Direct application of my Math, and FUN at the same time (maybe the ‘F’ in FOSS stands for fun?).”

He’s also “eternally grateful to Linus Torvalds(tm) and Linux along with all of the great contributors to Gnu/Linux,” he said. “Linux let me create fully functional Unix worlds to learn and develop for free.

“Any other options would have been prohibitive, and I probably would know far less, be much less expert today were it not for Linux, Linus and FOSS,” he added.

Looking beyond the technology itself, meanwhile, “I’m thankful because I’ve met amazing people in the FOSS community,” yagu added. “They inspired, infuriated, and amazed me. I’m a better person today because of the people I’ve met in the FOSS world.”

Finally, “I’m especially thankful for ‘vim’ — because of that I got the opportunity to be an O’Reilly author,” he concluded.

‘Mr. Richard Matthew Stallman’

“I am thankful that Linux has provided me a decently long career and a platform to play with and constantly learn new things,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack offered.

“What am I thankful ??? Hummmm… I would not say what, but WHO,” said Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol. “I’m thankful to Mr. Richard Matthew Stallman, who made technology available to the masses.”

Stallman is “one of the few who are in this GNU/Linux stuff for ideology, not money,” Ebersol explained. “So, I thank him for his efforts on bringing technology to the people — students, self employed technicians, small computer fixers around the world. He’s my hero!”

‘We Need to Be Vigilant’

Last but certainly not least, Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien took a similar view.

“In the United States when we celebrate Thanksgiving we traditionally give thanks for our freedom,” O’Brien pointed out. “So, in the world of FOSS I will do the same thing.

“I am very thankful that FOSS allows me to own my computer, to install the software I want to install, and to let me use it any way I want,” he told Linux Girl. “As Cory Doctorow points out, this freedom is under attack right now, so we need to be vigilant to defend it.”

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

  • I Am "thankful" for the Internet; I consider the Internet to be the best University of All; for anyone willing to study.

    I hope that there are many "Geeks" reading this; as I think of a Geek with respect as they work on software, and as "Insiders" to the Linux development team.

    I am posting this from the Outside viewpoint to the "Insiders".

    Many inside people say that "Linux Has Arrived!"

    I disagree. I compare Any version of Linux to a "Kit Car"…meaning, that without a lot of expert work, it will not get anywhere very quick, even tho Linux Is "Free."

    Of the over 3,000 versions of Linux; I am not aware of even One [1] Version that is: Out-of- the-box to up-and-running including printer/scanner, that can compete with Windows or Mac, do you? [On being simple and easy to setup]

    Therefore; I consider All Versions of Linux as "Unfinished". I am posting this from Mint10; I like what I can use; though not my new printer/scanner, as yet.

    If Anyone Does know of a version of Linux that is AS "user friendly"as XP or Mac, Please let me know.. Thanks, GS

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