Michael Terry: Yay for Open Source!

So I’ve avoided talking about the latest kerfuffle in Ubuntuland because I might be biased, working as I do for Canonical. But here’s a bit of musing inspired by it.

Progress

I’d like to focus a bit on how awesome the world is. Open source software is becoming a common and accepted tool. A person anywhere in the world can download and install for free a distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora and have a first class experience. It will come packed with powerful software like Firefox and LibreOffice.

You can provision a virtual server from someone like Amazon, fill it with services like a web server, a code repository, you name it. You can go from idea to website in seconds flat.

Need to look something up? Just ask Wikipedia, the rapidly enlarging sum of human knowledge. Want to buy a phone? Pick up a Linux-based Android smartphone.

If you step back a bit, that is amazing. Open source is empowering the world, literally making it a better place. The best (and defining) part is that each advancement can build upon the previous ones.

Design

But the best technical design with the most features isn’t going to change the world — or even just be as helpful as it can be — unless it’s easy and fun to use. That’s why I love that design-driven development is gaining more cachet in open source. I’m glad to see the efforts by Ubuntu’s Ayatana team and GNOME’s design team to cross the chasm and reach new users.

Motivation

Anyway, this is all part of why I work in the open source sphere. Not just to scratch my own itches, but because I believe I can use my skills to leave a lasting mark and to empower others. I’m incredibly blessed to be able to work in such communities and with such companies.

I just find it hard to get worked up over whether buttons are on the left or the right, whether the user can minimize a window, or whether GNOME and Canonical are getting along 70% or 90%.

Not that such discussions aren’t worth having, but it’s easy to get caught up in navel-gazing. We’re all on the same team. We’re trying to change the world, and it’s worth remembering every now and then that we are succeeding!

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