Over the years, Lance Spaulding has worked with a medical company, a non-profit foundation, a credit card company, a start-up, a small e-commerce business, and now a large defense contractor. But at least one thing hasn't changed in that time: he's a devoted Linux desktop user and tinkerer.
“Linux is a rock that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it,” said Spaulding, who joined the Linux Foundation as an individual member earlier this year.
Spaulding used Linux on and off in the 1990s but really got into it in 1998 when he installed it on a discarded PowerPC laptop. (Special thanks to the folks at former TerraSoft (Yellow Dog Linux) and Ximian, he says.)
“The biggest reason for my involvement is the passion of the community to make it work better for all users despite the obstacles thrown into their path. The passion was contagious!” Spaulding said. “While these companies are gone or assimilated, traces of their work are still around.”
At the time, when Linux was more unpolished in terms of the GUI, says Spaulding, his brother mocked him for believing that people would someday use Linux instead of other operating systems. Today Linux is the predominant platform in supercomputing, forms the foundation of the Internet, and powers everything from TVs and smartphones to cars and stock exchanges.
“The other day I looked at my brother and said "You are using Linux everyday now." I pointed out that he has an Android phone and utilizes web services that run on Linux,” Spaulding said.
Spaulding is astounded by how far Linux has come since the 90s, especially by the speed of kernel development and the never ending commitment to prove the GUI for the desktop. To that end, he's watching Google's ChromeOS for the next great innovation in the Linux desktop. The Linux Foundation, too, has evolved and improved, he says.
"I joined because Linux needs a strong focused organization which could advocate for the platform in realms beyond coding," he says. "Linux Foundation greatly increased their profile or credibility as an organization, in my humble opinion, by bringing in Linus Torvalds and running an excellent website."
He's looking forward to using his Linux Foundation member discounts with many different vendors and would like to go to a LinuxCon someday. In the meantime, Linux has become Spaulding's favorite platform for photo editing using GIMP or Darktable.
At first, reliability was the main advantage of Linux; when 64-bit chips came out it was just easier, faster, and cheaper to use Linux instead, he says. Now as software is headed toward a subscription model, it makes even more sense to use the Linux ecosystem.
“There are many options out there so you are never stuck into using what isn't working for you intuitively,” advises Spaulding. “Plus the knowledge acquired from using something else may lead back to the original application with the new insight.”
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