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Fragmented Development

The Times We Live In

From the moment I was introduced to the open source movement and free software (as in speech*), I've tried to embrace it. For a web developer, free and open software seems like a perfect pair for the free and open nature of the internet. I've grown accustom to looking under the hood of any web site I come upon, so why should the browser or operating system I use be any different?

If free and open software makes sense to you, or is even something you're interested in, this is a very exciting time to be alive.

Free and open software is just getting its start. There have been rumblings from the movement since the early nineties, but just in the past couple of years has this idea really taken off - largely due to the opening Microsoft left by letting IE6 stagnate for years and years. Enter Firefox, a wonderful open-source browser that you could download for free. Safer than IE, better than IE, with plug-ins that made it gangbusters. Now, if you're a web developer worth your salt, you have Firefox installed with the Firebug extension.

These days it's not uncommon for someone to deviate away from the Microsoft way of life. Macs are becoming hugely popular among old UNIX admins, newer designers and programmers, and even mom-and-pop types that just want to have a computer that works – and works well. You know what Mac OSX is based on? The open source XNU kernel, which has elements of an open-source UNIX variant built in.

But what really makes things exciting is Linux. The Linux operating system is completely free, can be installed on whatever hardware you have lying around, can be customized for absolutely any purpose, and kinda works. Sorta. Most of the time. But that's what makes it so exciting!

If you're using open source, you're on the frontier of computers. It's like the original days of computing, when the corporations weren't making the innovations, they were being made by ordinary guys and gals with brains and too much spare time. You could be the next Steve Wozniak, or work with Linus Torvalds. Free and open software allows you to make a difference in the world of computing. Seriously, how many other chances are you going to have to make your "I changed the course of modern computing" story to tell you grandkids?

Tags: linux

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