October 26, 2002

Commentary from a new user: Linux is an experience, not an operating system

Author: JT Smith

-By George Abraham -
Linux to me signifies many a thing, including my experience with Linux itself, Open
Source, the Linux Community, etc. Ask almost anyone why Linux works for them, and
the sure answer you can expect is: Linux is free. Can the success of
Linux only be attributed to this?

I was introduced into the world of
Linux, because it was free, and also because of my frustrations with my
earlier operating system. As I worked in Linux, read articles, the word "free"
took on a far greater meaning. As the advocates of the Open Source and Free Software movements put it, free means freedom. Yes, as a humble user of Linux, I am
experiencing freedom and pride in using a world-class operating system.

Linux is not only an operating system. It embodies a myriad
of concepts about how the world of computers and software should be.
This is an operating system designed by the world, meant for the world.
Everyone who is interested in Linux, can develop, share and use it.
People can contribute their best in programming, documenting or in any
aspect of their choice. What a novel concept!

Free in Linux spells freedom -- freedom to use Linux, freedom to use the
code, freedom to tweak and improve it. Not being a programmer,
I still can be happy about many things. For me, freedom has meant that my
operating system is transparent, and there are no hidden codes at work
in my computer. Nothing about Linux is hidden from me. I can get
documentation on any aspect of Linux. I am assured by the Linux programmers
worldwide, who are involved in scrutinizing the system, questioning its
various aspects and ever improving the existing codes. This is no
certificate, but someone who goes through the various sites and other
Linux resources gets this assurance.

All the above stated are made a reality by the GNU General Public
License. It is a worthwhile effort to read through the GPL, how it ensures
that software developed by the community remains free now, and in time
to come. It is a must read for users of Linux, who should be knowing
about the roots of Linux and why you and I are able to use Linux with
freedom.

It is said that too many cooks spoil the broth. But with Linux, the
opposite has happened. All the people programming in Linux
have made an excellent operating system. The different people, their
different ways of thinking, and their diversity has positively influenced
Linux. It's evident in the variety of tools Linux gives to the user. It's as
if "someone somewhere has thought about it." People use the system
and give feedback to the developers when they find an anomaly.

The beauty of it is that this process is taking place worldwide. Is there a
better testing and feedback program to beat this?

I've been using Linux only for a
few months. I've been so motivated by using this operating system that
I chose to write this article. I wanted to share the happiness and
satisfaction I get in using Linux. With Linux, I've entered into a
relationship with my computer. I can "programme" my computer to do whatever I
want it to do for me. I've gained more control over my computer for the
first time in my life. It obeys me without fail.

People stay away from
Linux thinking that it's difficult to use it and controlled by cryptic
files. The problem is not with Linux, but in ourselves. We have been
so thoroughly programmed by the other operating system that we approach Linux in a
similar fashion. All we need is a change of thought and an open mind
when we approach Linux. At the same time, one can use a Linux machine
without opening a single configuration file and tweaking it. The latest
graphical environments available are just as functional if not more than
other systems. One can use a Linux machine and go about it by using
only a mouse.

I love Linux as well as the spirit of Linux. The mentality of people
behind Linux is really admirable. They've given the world a treasure, and
these people have made sure that this treasure remains forever as a
property for all. No one can say Linux is theirs. Linux is ours, and it's
here to stay.

"Commentary" articles are contributed by Linux.com and NewsForge.com readers. The opinions they contain are strictly those held by their authors, and may not be the same as those held by OSDN management. We welcome "Commentary" contributions from anyone who deals with Linux and Open Source at any level, whether as a corporate officer; as a programmer or sysadmin; or as a home/office desktop user. If you would like to write one, please email editors@newsforge.com with "Commentary" in the subject line.

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