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Editor's Note: Wrapped In a Tarball

Dec 22, 2006, 23:30 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

"And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: 'How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
'It came without packages, boxes or bags!'
And he puzzled three hours, 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!'

           -T. Geisel

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

The holidays are upon us. Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Boxing Day, Family Day, Christmas, New Year's... whatever your nationality or faith, odds are you've got one coming up in the next week or so. If you don't, you can very likely make one up.

The messages conveyed by these various festivals, observations, and holy days seem to share a common theme: that we are not alone. We all share our lives with friends, family, or a higher power, and for once a year we can slow down for a second and enjoy those loved ones.

This is something that I've long maintained we all need to do. I greatly respect many different worldviews, but I am unapologetically firm in my conviction that we are all here for each other, not just ourselves. It is one of the reasons, I think, the idea of community in open source appeals to me.

So, call me a sappy romantic if you must, but what I want for Christmas this year is this: for all of you to look around and really look at what you have created. It is more than just 1's and 0's, more than just Linus Torvalds' fan club, more than just the anti-Microsoft.

Linux, Firefox, OpenOffice, Apache, GNOME, KDE... to list them all would be futile for this one writer. But all of them share one important trait: they are the ultimate expression of what Humanity can do when its members put aside their differences and create something better than the sum its parts. It is the true meaning of giving and sharing, all wrapped up in a tarball.

The cliché goes something like this: the more things change, the more they stay the same. We can look around and see changes happening without and within the community, as Novell, Oracle, the FSF, Microsoft, Red Hat, and other work to affect changes. Some of these changes may be for the better, other not. But if you remember the core of what what this community is about and hold true to those values, then I have little doubt that while the faces may change, the essence of what makes free and open source software really great will not change.

And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating.

Program Note: Next week, I will be taking time off to spend with my family in celebration of Christmas and New Year's Day. Starting on Dec. 26, Linux Today's content will be edited by none other than Carla Schroder, a regular freelance writer for JupiterWeb and LXer as well as author of the Linux Cookbook and the upcoming Linux Networking Cookbook. Please welcome her as a contributing editor to LT.

I will return from vacation on January 2, 2007 refreshed, relaxed, and assuredly five pounds heavier. Until then,

Brian Proffitt