October 15, 2009

Is Freedom Ever Free?

While talking with co-workers regarding the merits of using Linux and open source software I always get the same foaming at the mouth comments about not being compatible and blah blah blah that I always seem to dispel if they are willing to give a little effort.
But in retrospect I think I've over simplified the difference of being a computer user and a computer operator.

When I grew up I had two paths to take when I was introduced to computers. Like Neo I chose to take the red pill and find the truth of the computer world, how it works, investigating new technology and rejecting commonly thrown about metephors like viruses, bad code, glitches, etc. that was bandied about to explain users that had gotten themselves into a bind with bad input. I could have of course easily chosen the blue pill like so many user sheeple and stared numbly at my screen playing games and clicking buttons to work other peoples inventions, considering my PC's as glorified televisions.

In reality a user will be led by the hand by their GUI and play the games and use the program and cry to their local repairman for help when they get themselves stuck. Why? Because they can't be bothered by learning and troubleshooting their problems for themselves. When things are going good they will never expand their mind with learning.

As I grew up, the "secrets" of the computer world were discovered in thick user manuals, and gleaned from the sage wisdom of older technicians and programmers. Today however wisdom is still gleaned from our peers and wiser "geeks", but the way we listen to them has changed vastly. With the power of the internet connecting so many of us from vast far flung places and probably never coming face to face in our daily travels, we are able to read or watch each others solutions, opinions, and various bits of wonder. This is why I write, in hopes that someone may need a solution that I have created or gleaned from others work.

Every operating system from the original MS DOS versions and Unix command lines, to the new Windows, Macintosh, Linux GUI systems will all need a learning curve to operate proficiently. Don't be fooled into thinking that one is easier than the other by virtue of it's flashy appearance. They all have quirks and problems to overcome, they all break down from time to time with careless use, and they can all get similar jobs done with the correct applications. To be truely free you must free your mind by taking on the yoke of knowledge and learning so you can choose how you want to use your computer. Every OS is only a tools, so swallow your red pill today and find out... How's your tool working for you?

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