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Linux is great, but is it cool?

From: plenty900
Subject: Linux is great, but is it cool?
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 09:15:41 -0800 (PST)
User-agent: G2/1.0

One thing that drew me to computers from the start
was going to computer clubs and seeing the cool hacks
that people had managed to get working using their
computers. For instance, I once saw a VIC-20 with
a "real" 80x25 video card, for instance, and a guy
who created his own OS.

As time went by, clubs were less important and the
Internet took over as a place to swap ideas and
clever software hacks. For instance, there is the
typesetting system TeX, and a guy once put
an entire TeX DVI viewer with fonts into just one small
executable, enabling me to do real word processing
on a 386 DX.

Later, some guy named Linus did what others
had also done -- the Mach group for example --
he created a workstation-class kernel for the 486, however
Linus did something wonderful. He didn't try to price-gouge
consumers with it, nor refuse to give it away while whining
about how parts of the OS were owned by such-and-such
Regents. No, he gave it away for free. Soon after,
some clever people had ported X Windows to it, and
suddenly my 486 DX2 laptop was something like
a workstation -- it was really civilized.

In every case of something amazing like this
happening, I remarked that it was "cool", clever or novel.
Just as was the subsequent creation of LAME and the
posting of MP3 files to Usenet. And later the creation
of Divx and Xvid.

However I am not entirely sure that the hobbyist
movement has continued to be cool, clever, and
doing novel things. The hobbyist was always
the core of such successes, pushing the envelope
for fun, not because he was paid to. Today however
Linux is rather business-minded, and money
seems to be the primary concern of everyone.
It's become mainly a bandwagon for business.

I am not convinced that truly cool things
are happening any longer, because I am not
seeing barriers being broken through at least
in the area of software. Indeed, nor in hardware.
Everyone involved in Linux seems to be using
a hot-rod system that offers no barriers.
Where is the cool?

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