The Atlantic Monthly: Living with Linux

Thanks to Howard Mann
for this link.

“A new cost-free and crash-free alternative to Windows and
Macintosh operating systems provides freedom at a price”

“A FEW years ago I worked on a small publishing project in
northern California. As often happens now, the project was entirely
edited and laid out on a computer network — four Apple Macintoshes
in this case. Because the project had many pictures, which
computers treat as very large files, we added a powerful new-model
Mac to the network and a fancy laser printer that could produce
photo-quality images. To our dismay, the improvements broke the
system horribly. We tried to fix it by every method we could think
of: fiddling with configuration screens, deleting and reinstalling
software, combing through the Internet for advice, calling
technical-support numbers, cursing at the machines while turning
them on and off repeatedly. A hired computer consultant swaggered
into our offices. Hours later he staggered out in defeat. Although
we were not far from Silicon Valley, we couldn’t find anyone who
could fix our boxes.”

“This is rapidly changing. Pushed by the growth of the Internet
and a new operating system known as Linux, many software companies
are considering whether to allow unrestricted access to the
underlying instructions — the “source code,” in the jargon — of
their programs. For the computer industry this is a turnabout.
Until as recently as last year software companies almost invariably
viewed source code as their single most valuable asset. Yet
throughout Silicon Valley executives are discussing whether they
will be forced, for the sake of corporate survival, to give away
something they have always thought worth millions of dollars.”