With Windows XP about to finally meet its demise, many users are espousing its replacement with Linux. It makes perfect sense, because there will
be millions of machines out there that are no longer supported by Microsoft. Those
millions of machines can either add to our already insurmountable garbage
problem, or they can continue to be used, sans updates.
Microsoft Windows without updates. That’s little more than
a security vulnerability in the wings. It would only be a very short matter of
time before each and every one of those machines came crashing down. Instead of
letting that happen, it’s a very seductive proposition to grab a Linux
distribution and resurrect that old machine. Why not? It’s been part of the war
cry of Linux for the longest time.
Honestly, I’m all for keeping those
millions of machines out of the scrap heaps, but I don’t know how I feel about the
Linux community crying out for everyone to use their out-of-date hardware for
Linux. The success of Linux as a legitimate desktop operating
system cannot, in any way, hinge on dumpster diving in Microsoft’s garbage.
In fact, winning the desktop war — on any front — cannot (and will not) be had
by picking up any of the slack that smacks of the past. Success must begin in
the present and quickly move into the future.
Consider this: The speed at which technology advances is now faster than ever. Yes, there’s a large faction of people who hold onto the past (for various reasons, such as financial), but the vast majority of people who hold any influence over the world technology look to the future. This is also true of the mobile computing world — it’s all about the latest and
greatest. The “what have you done for me lately” mindset is thick.
With this in
mind, Linux needs to embrace the future in ways that no other platform can. But how? By leading the charge of evolution and breaking ground that has yet to be
broken. Linux has always been in a very unique position as a platform — the open source nature means it’s not beholden to a corporate entity, nor does it
have to follow the same “rules” that tend to shackle Windows and OS X. Linux is
free to do and be what it wants. With that wind behind its sails, Linux can
re-define how people think about and use their PCs.
Canonical is doing just that with Unity, Xmir, Touch, and
more. Although a good percentage of the Linux community is barking up a rather
angry tree about the change they’re bringing about, it’s time they all got
over themselves. Linux needs change — from top to bottom — and the Linux community
needs to let go of the old ideas and ways, because the “I’ve always done X and X should
be the way it is” mindset only hamstrings the platform. Linux needs to be agile, and if it can reclaim its ability to
dodge the punches and adapt with lightning-quick reflexes, then there’s nothing it
can’t do in this over-clocked evolutionary society.
Yes, people may grouse about change, but most quickly get
over it when they realize that change is for the better. When Linux developers
honestly listen and take the suggestions from the community to heart, all
those major changes to the desktop can evolve in such a way as to absolutely
benefit the end user — and that is advancement for the people that the
masses can stand behind.
However, if Linux continues to hold on to the same dusty war
cries it’s espoused for years, it won’t get anywhere. Sure, Linux can resurrect
that old hardware. You can slap Puppy Linux on it, but all you’ll get is a lightning-fast computer that can’t interact with modern
business in a satisfying way. Plus, you’ll have an old-school interface and a cumbersome
package management system. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not dogging on
Puppy. In fact, I like Puppy Linux… just not as much as I like the idea of
Linux pushing the boundaries of modern modality and showing the computing world
just what it’s capable of.
Linux has more untapped potential than any other platform.
It’s time we all embrace a “Linux for the future” idealism and slough off the
old “stuck in the past” platform. More than any other platform, Linux can boldly go where no OS has gone before and do so faster. Care to join me?