Another quarrel with my good friend…
I’ve had an argument, yesterday, with a very good friend, about Linux being a commercial product that is sold like every other commercial product, but it fails thought to meet some of the requirements, maybe the fundamental requirements of developing a commercial product, and I will talk about it right away. First of all, I have to state our positions regarding this statement: my friend is pro and I am against this statement.
From how I saw it, his arguments were coming from an exclusive marketing point of view, mainly sustaining that Linux creates a demand and that demand makes Linux a product which is already being sold. Is that true?? For example, let’s say you create something for a small group of people, soon you become aware that more and more people want to use it, then you decide to work with your trusty team (friends) and release it to the world, just because you still have use for it and other people that download it help you fix and improve it, thus mutual benefit. But you don’t give any warranty, guarantee, you don’t take any responsibility for what may happen to those who use it, and plan on keeping it that way forever, or at least until no-one, including you and all members of your team, don’t need it anymore; does that mean you are selling something??
My friend said that despite this “fact”, that Linux creates a demand, it has never listened to its users’ request, at least for the desktop platform side. They only listen to administrators or other Linux developers. He also said that the Linux community is not so friendly as they say and that it is almost impossible to talk to a developer on IRC, not to mention trying to convince him of your idea. But after all, Linux did not begin to exist because it wanted to meet everyone’s needs (like other operating systems do), except the need of its own developers – might sound greedy of them, but it’s not! They didn’t create this great thing just so that they could get you frustrated :).
Update: Yes, Linux was started by one person, but I’m talking about later states of development, where it gained just a little popularity.
People that have learned how to use Linux properly and came to love it, not necessarily software developers themselves, have, in some degree, pressured others, most likely close friends, to learn or at least try Linux. No matter how many times those people failed getting used to Linux (probably long time users of other operating systems), they are still pressured by words as “You did not try enough!” or “You failed just because you lack determination and perseverance!”. I believe it is those people, that fail at Linux, that bring such complaints as “Linux has no good games!”, “Linux developers won’t listen to me!” or “Linux lacks commercial grade software and application quality!”. I think they learned Linux the wrong way because lately Linux is seen as a rival to commercial applications just because it is getting better at a faster pace, and that is the way new Linux users see it, as a rival that has not yet reached the quality of the market (because it doesn’t meet their requirements).
All that Linux philosophy that everywhere in the old Slackware days has disappeared. As new distros are coming out, making Linux easier for the desktop and for new Linux users, they all seem to forget to state one thing to those who use it: that they shouldn’t complain if something fails. Well now, some realy try to market linux, it’s no suprise. They offer their own custom distro and paid support. Of course now they couldn’t say something like that, but things are different on that side where others base their commercial (or partly commercial: offering support) products on Linux.
Things are pretty complicated and I’m sure there are many other PoV’s but the end brings this question: “Should or will Linux become a commercial product?”, unless it has already become one.