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[personal profile] jewelfox

That's the way Free Software idealists say software development should work. You get everything for free in Linux, including the code. If you don't like how something works, you change it and "submit your patch upstream," thus incorporating it into the whole. That way everyone benefits from everyone's creativity.

The problem is, this disenfranchises everyone who doesn't have both the technical ability to do that, and the social standing to be allowed to do that. Which means the Linux world is, and always has been, just a playground for technically proficient people who meet a particular demographic profile, and who keep making changes that affect everyone without consulting the people affected.

The only way to have your interests represented is to be part of the in-group, which means being a white cismale with unusual technical skills and enough money and free time to work on this stuff without pay. That, or a job that lets you get paid for it.

The reason I got excited about Ubuntu, back in the day, was because it inverted this trope. It united a bunch of people who cared about making something everybody could use. It just ... never quite got there. And it eventually became clear that the people in charge didn't care. They were okay with it being in perpetual beta, with always changing and breaking things. They were okay with discarding their volunteers, once Ubuntu reached critical mass. And while those volunteers paid lip service to ideals like accessibility, they could actually be really obnoxious about telling others what their needs were.

At least, I was.

Right now, the big players in personal electronics are Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft.

  • Apple has chosen to make luxury, gold-trimmed devices that few people can afford.

  • Google is an obsessive stalker, and hides the real cost of using its products behind a mask of oblivious friendliness.

  • Samsung is an amoral megacorp with no taste, and a penchant for shameless copycatting.

  • Microsoft is as dysfunctional as an organization can get, and has no strategy besides spending the money that its cash cows make.

Somehow, I feel like of the four right now Microsoft is the least threatening. They're finally competing on a level playing field, and it's clear -- from the rise of the iPad and Chromebook -- that the number of people who actually want to use their stuff is smaller than the number who are using it right now. Which is why they're trying so hard to reinvent Windows and Windows Phone, so that they can continue to exist in a world that has modern computers in it.

Besides that, I like Microsoft's newfound design sense better than anyone else's. I find everyone else's designs to be tolerable at best, and am willing to forgive Windows' technical quirks in the hope that they will be fixed. I like Windows 8 enough that I can give it a chance, and have been doing so for months now. It helps that it works better than Linux did, for me.

Here's what I can't figure out: Somehow, I've gone from yelling at Microsoft's monopolistic behaviour, and championing Free Software libertarianism, to learning Visual Studio and feeling contempt for the Linux world. How did this even happen?

My guess? Being privy to the sausage-making process had something to do with it.

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