Fedora’s Lead Speaks on the Popularity of Linux and the Importance of Open Source

Fedora project leader Matthew Miller spoke to TechRepublic's Jack Wallen this week, sharing some thoughts on the future of Linux — and on open source in general: Matthew Miller: I think it's a lost cause to try to "sell" our quirky technology interest to people who don't see it already. We need to take a different approach.... I think our message, at its root, has to be around open source.... [W]ith Linux, when you install an open-source distro, you're not just part of a fan community. You're part of a colossal, global effort that makes software more available to everyone, makes that software better and better, and makes the whole world better through sharing... Just by using it you're sharing in this amazing undertaking, part of a move away from scarcity to an economy based on abundance.... Jack Wallen: What's the biggest difference in Linux today vs. Linux of 10 years ago? Matthew Miller: I think first we have to start with just the amazing ubiquity of it. Ten years ago, it was cute to find a TV that ran Linux. Now, not only is it definitely powering your TV, you've probably got Linux running on your lightbulbs! It's everywhere. And while Linux had pushed proprietary Unix from the server room, ten years ago Windows-based servers were pushing back. The cloud changed that — now, the cloud is Linux, almost completely. (Anything that isn't is a legacy app that it was too much trouble to port!) From tiny devices to the most powerful mainframes and supercomputers: Linux, Linux, Linux.... Jack Wallen: If Linux has an Achilles' heel, what is it? Matthew Miller: Linux and the whole free and open-source software movement grew up with the rise of the internet as an open communication platform. We absolutely need that to continue in order to realize our vision, and I don't think we can take it for granted. That's more general than an Achilles' heel, though, so right now let me highlight one thing that I think is troubling: Chrome becoming the dominant browser to the point where it's often the only way to make sites work. Chromium (the associated upstream project) is open source, but isn't really run as a community project, and, pointedly, very very few people run Chromium itself. I'd love to see that change, but I'd also like to see Firefox regain a meaningful presence. Miller also said Fedora's next release is focused on simplicity. ("When the OS gets in the way, it drops from the conversation I want to have about big ideas to ... well, the boring technical details that people never want to deal with") And he also shared his thoughts on what Linux needs most. "What I'd really like to see more of are more non-technical contributors. I mean, yes, we can always benefit from more packagers and coders and engineers, but I think what we really need desperately are writers, designers, artists, videographers, communicators, organizers and planners. I don't think big companies are likely to provide those things, at least, not for the parts of the Linux world which aren't their products." "We need people who think the whole grand project I've been talking about is important, and who have the skills and interests to help make it real."

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