As I read Matt Asay’s blog post this morning on the use of proprietary tools in the advocacy of open source ones, I recognize that my foray into the Mac world changed me quite a bit. Almost from day one using a Mac I was shelling out money to get an app. They were, mostly, well-made and not very expensive overall. But that was after years of being a Red Hat then SuSE Linux user and being sworn to the cause of open source. I think, as Matt says of Mark Antony, that I have become a pragmatist.
I’ve mentioned before that Linux users should be willing to pay for software- even proprietary, closed-source software- for Linux. One problem at a time is a good way to think of it. A better way is this: if people are willing to buy software for Linux, what will be the result? There will be more and more Linux software vendors. And if there are more vendors, Linux becomes a more viable option for those still on the fence.
I use and love Linux. All day in Linux, I’m programming using the Komodo IDE– a proprietary script editor built on top of the Mozilla codebase. I love that too, and I don’t see the conflict. Yesterday, I bought the codecs pack from Fluendo. I love that it’s available. That said, I use the GIMP and Inkscape for all my graphics needs- even at my day job I insist on that. The fact is that there are free or open source alternatives for just about anything you can think of. If the value proposition is there, I will pay for a tool. But with how advanced Linux is, paying for an operating system is galling. Why do people buy Windows®? Because it’s so good? No. They buy it because the apps they use run on Windows®. Buying Windows® has become merely a tax on using apps they are used to. How sad.
Let’s be pragmatic. Pick your battles. Let’s make Linux the priority.