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Electronic Telegraph (UK): How to get Windows out of your system

Oct 28, 1999, 06:09 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Wendy Grossman)

"The extraordinary thing about it is that it is free software. Instead of being created by a huge company with scores of programmers working on it, Linux - more formally, GNU/Linux - has been developed by a vast community of volunteers doing it for nothing. In these get-rich-quick days of Internet billions being made overnight, it is encouraging to find people who think it's fun to write a printer driver or fret over networking protocols. Linux may have a penguin mascot to make it appear friendly, but the penguin can't stop the quasi-religious arguments that blaze through the developers' community over minor details of implementation and design. Linux users can't even agree on how to pronounce it: Linn-ux, or Line-ux."

"It's the most interesting and exciting happening in personal computing today," says Liam Proven, a computer consultant and former biologist (who says it Linn-ux). "It's cheap. It's easy; underneath there's UNIX, which is about as user-friendly as a cornered rat, but now it installs easily, autodetects most hardware, has a choice of friendly graphical interfaces, and installing software is almost as easy as on Windows. It's constantly and rapidly improving. It's reliable. And finally, it's different..."

"Richard Stallman, for example, founder of the Free Software Foundation, has devoted his life to the concept not so much of software being available for nothing, as of its use being unrestricted and the source code freely available, or "open" in the jargon. He says he feels imprisoned by any software that he isn't allowed to take apart and examine or modify, and would rather use free software even if it isn't as good as the commercial alternatives."

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