It seems the good folks over at Free Software Foundation have released a new campaign to rally the troops against the evil big corporations that plan to rule our daily lives with “inferior” software and closed-sourced operating systems. The name of this new campaign, BadVista. But why start such a campaign? Well that is what we are going to look at today.
Starting with some history, the Free Software Foundation is on a mission and that mission is (from their website) to, “..preserve, protect and promote the freedom to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer software, and to defend the rights of all free software users.” Now that does not sound so bad does it? Of course not and in fact I support them in most of their ventures. Without the Free Software Foundation we would not have some of the GUI standards we have in Linux today. It was in fact by their efforts that KDE and Gnome combined forces on some issues in an attempt to make the desktops more compatible with each other as well as easier for the user to operate overall. So, the Free Software Foundation is responsible for a lot of good in the open source community. They have helped to progress the open source movement and bring attention to it in many good ways.
However, can be all undone if this BadVista campaign gets any attention. The idea behind BadVista is not all that bad. The Free Software Foundation as whole believes that Windows Vista, Microsoft’s latest update to its Windows operating system, has some fundamental flaws in it. Yes, Vista has some DRM (Digital Rights Management) software in it. Yes, there is limited third party support at the moment (heck Vista doesn’t even come out until January). And there are even issues installing anti-virus software at the moment. I will not sit here and tell you that Vista is the greatest thing since sliced bread, that’s Microsoft’s job. But having played on a couple of Vista systems, I will tell you that it is pretty cool and if you have the money, is definitely worth the upgrade. The problem with the BadVista campaign is that most of the issues it raises as points for not upgrading to Vista is F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). In other words, most of the issues raised, are not really issues at all but rather half truths and outdated information.
While some of the complaints are valid, the complaint against “Trusted Computing” for example, most of them have any real basis in fact. The issues that are valid, will mean little to the average computer user. For example, my parents could care less about DRM or even Trusted Computing. The reason for this is because they do not do anything questionable on their computer. Most people buying computers from Dell or HP feel the same way. In fact, that is how most people are going to upgrade to Vista, by buying a new computer. So that usual “flaw” about needing to upgrade to the latest hardware is thrown out considering most people do not update their operating system without buying a whole new computer.
Here’s what it all boils down to is the average consumer does not care about Linux. They might know it exists, and they might even read up on it. Possibly even look at a couple of screenshots. But they will not install it. Businesses will not install Linux either, at least not a version that is not from Novell or Red Hat. The reason for this is because Novell and Red Hat also sell support contracts with their Linux software. Businesses require support, it is like a safety net that they just have to have, and most versions of Linux do not offer support contracts.
I think that Free Software Foundation should focus on other things then why Windows Vista might be “bad” for the consumer and just focus on promoting valuable open source software. The public at large is not looking at Linux to replace their Windows desktops.