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Salon: Life after Eazel

May 18, 2001, 00:49 (20 Talkback[s])

Andrew Leonard offers a gloomy post-mortem on Eazel. The two points of signifigance he seeks to make are that Free Software was tolerated as geek excess in a more permissive economic period wherein said geeks could do behave like rock stars, and that Eazel's departure from the scene has deprived him of a talking point when defending the potential usability of the Linux desktop.

...It's impossible to say for sure, but one of the factors that propelled free software development forward in recent years is likely to have been the reality that programmer talent was valued so highly by the marketplace that programmers could write their own tickets. They could demand from their employers the right to work on free software in their free time. In the permissive dot-com era, they could put their Linux box right on the company network and hack away whenever they felt like it.

For a year or so, Eazel was a great soundbite for pundits looking to declaim about the glories of free software's future. I know, because I was one of them. Whenever I was pressed about the usability of Linux-based operating systems for the average non-geek, I'd concede that desktop interfaces like GNOME and KDE weren't quite there yet. But I'd also always then quickly follow with some statement to the effect of "but I'm really excited by the entry of these Eazel developers into the fray. These are some of the people who made the Macintosh into a success -- they could really make a big difference."

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