Today I read a nice article from Sandy Armstrong. I addressed the question (and answer) since I have similar question while using Linux and open source software for the first time.
So, for you Linux and Open Source activist, Why do you spend so much time working on Linux or another open source application, when a no-cost proprietary solution may already be available ?
Related with the question is about the perception of proprietary software. Some proprietary software opposite (just like FSF activist) think that proprietary is evil. I don’t agree with this. I talked the audience at the studium-general event in Al Azhar University last week that I agree with Linux Torvalds, quoted what Linus Torvalds said in the interview at InformationWeek :
Me, I just don’t care about proprietary software. It’s not "evil" or "immoral," it just doesn’t matter. I think that Open Source can do better, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is by working on Open Source, but it’s not a crusade — it’s just a superior way of working together and generating code.
It’s superior because it’s a lot more fun and because it makes cooperation much easier (no silly NDA’s or artificial barriers to innovation like in a proprietary setting), and I think Open Source is the right thing to do the same way I believe science is better than alchemy. Like science, Open Source allows people to build on a solid base of previous knowledge, without some silly hiding.
So, Why do we bothered with Linux ? I don’t think the answer is perfect but it’s near exactly what I feel :
"I will not use software unless it is free (as in freedom). Whether or not a proprietary solution exists is irrelevant; I have problems I need to solve, and if there is no free software that solves it I will create a new project. It is simply unacceptable to sacrifice my freedom for the sake of convenience. As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.’"
The pragmatic user or programmer says: "It is in my best interest to use free software. If I find a bug or wish there was a certain feature, I can talk directly with developers about it, pay somebody to fix it, or fix it myself. I don’t have to wait until it’s in the best interest of some corporation. I don’t have to be afraid of being stuck with unsupported abandonware."
The young developer says: "Reinventing the wheel is half the fun of writing software! Even if there *is* an existing free software project that mostly does what I want, I’ll probably start one from scratch because then I can do it *my* way. If it’s useful to others, then that’s great, too. Duplication is par for the course in the software world; after all, weren’t there plenty of media players before iTunes, and aren’t there still? If there are multiple operating systems, applications, or web sites that appear to serve the same need, then you just need to look closer to understand what niche each is for."
The user who does not understand enough to know the difference says: "My friend/child/administrator set up my computer with Linux. If popular software isn’t available on Linux, I’m usually lucky enough to find a suitable free alternative. I get free updates and no weird restrictions on how I can use my computer."
No matter there is proprietary solution, I don’t think that create the open source project for similar solution as a silly work. We talked about freedom and choice, and more choices for to do same job, more better for end user.
It’s came from my experience : open source solution give us more possibility to empowering the user. If you have an IT staff, you can compare their capability while using proprietary software and open source software and decided which one give a better advantage for their improvement and mindset. I don’t think that proprietary software don’t do what the proprietary software does but my experience showed up the trend of relevant case between open source implementation and increasing the capability of IT staff.
The summary is : How about you ?