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While Microsoft may be the biggest software company in the world, not every computer user is a fan of their products, or their way of doing business. While Microsoft's Windows became the most widely used operating system for personal computers in the world, many experts took issue with Microsoft's strict policies regarding licensing, ownership, distribution, and alteration of their software. The objections of many high-profile technology experts, most notably Richard Stallman, led to what has become known as "the Open Source Movement," which is centered on the belief that computer software should be free both in the economic and intellectual senses of the word. Eventually, one of Stallman's admirers, Linus Torvalds, created a new operating system called Linux, a freely distributed software which many programmers consider to be markedly superior to Windows. Revolution OS is a documentary that examines the genesis of the Open Source Movement, and explores and explains the technical and ... Written by
Mark Deming, Rovi
[when awarded the Linus Torvalds Award]
Richard M. Stallman:
So, very ironic things have happened, but nothing to match this. Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is sort of like giving the Han Solo Award to the rebel fleet.
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*Note, there may be spoilers but it's documented history. It's like spoiling The Civil War by Ken Burns.
Fast forward thirteen years to 2014, it's easy to reflect back on this film and see it was a product of its time. This documentary is an interesting look into the world of the Open Source movement and the people behind it but nothing more.
Revolution OS spends most of its time speaking on the open source community and chiding proprietary software giant, Microsoft. A popular narrative in 2004. It's very much an idealist view on the computing world built on Richard Stallman's rhetoric. A brilliant man who was unable to adapt to changing times, a relic of the hippie generation.
Apple had yet to make a comeback with its Switch campaign, the iMac and iPod - during this time it was primarily Linux vs. Microsoft for people such as myself. I couldn't build software from scratch but I was able to fix problems. For me? There was no doubt Microsoft was the winner in this area and as much as I enjoy this movie, it fails in addressing the open source community problems.
Have they produced some great software? Apache is mentioned and it's great for running a server, even on Windows. But what they fail to speak of is the hardware manufacturer's lack of support for Linux in the early 2000's. I can't build software, I certainly can't build hardware. So you'd find 20 page hacks just to get your sound to work. Now if you're in the business of wanting to provide software support for people, which is a big part of this community, that's great. Someone will pay you to fix the problem and you're the geek to do it but why not just make it work to begin with? Paid support is an unfeasible business model for the average user - it's flipping expensive.
They make a big point of paid support in the open source community which it has but so does Windows. There's thousands of companies in direct contact with Microsoft to help alleviate any problems your company may encounter.
Tinkering with the various operating systems was and is fun but at some point you either continue that progress of "hacking" the software or you get tired and want it to work. With the exception of Windows ME, Microsoft had a fairly good track record of a stable operating system filled with support from hardware manufacturers. With proprietary software, you DO have choices. If Voodoo begins to fail at its job in providing a decent video card, you switch to Nvidia and then ATI... there's also a plethora of software choices from free, open source to paid. Support can be free, sometimes it's not. We are really in a different era by now.
The film also delves a bit into the Mozilla project and the problem it had with Internet Explorer. Today? After years of development and hundreds and thousands of changes the browser of choice for geeks, FireFox, began to lose out to Google Chrome. Why? It was faster. FireFox had become set in a quagmire of relying on plug-ins and they forgot to shore up the primary software itself. It had a huge ram issue when Chrome was released. A sleek and faster browser.
In today's world, you have APIs and SDKs that allow you certain licensing rights that allow you to tap into the system you're building software for. The Linux vs. Microsoft is almost a dead narrative by now. The majority of people have moved on from the desktop to the tablets and mobile phones. They really don't care about proprietary vs. open source - the average user does not care. Period. They want it to be easy and work. It's hard to imagine the desktop dying off for web developers like myself - what could possibly take its place in the heavy computing and production world?
It's not a tablet or cell phone but it's something and it'll probably spawn its own documentary when it arrives.
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