Another switcher

Mark Pilgrim switches to Linux, and fills in a bit more about his decision. I’ve got a lot of respect for Mark. He wrote the RSS and Atom feed validator (along with Sam Ruby, another Ubuntu user) and Universal Feed Parser, as well as Dive Into Greasemonkey and Dive Into Python, two freely-available online books, and I wrote four years ago about him being a clever chap, but the most relevant thing he’s written to this decision is Freedom 0. That essay was about his move from Movable Type to WordPress, which came about because MT isn’t free and WP is. Those of us who use Free Software (and Mark’s always been one, even given his previous choice of the proprietary Mac OS X) have said, rather a lot, that proprietary lock-in creates problems and stops you doing what you want with your data; Mark’s now said that he’s experienced exactly that problem with OS X, just as he did with Movable Type, and it’s prompted a move to Ubuntu. Mark’s a high-profile weblogger in certain sections of the community, and hopefully this will cause a few other people to question their choices. Interestingly, one of the things that makes me cringe about the free software community is the fanboy tendency; when someone in some way questions the appropriateness of Linux for a task, fanboys pile on with flame upon flame, and I hate that. It makes us all look bad, and it actively discourages people who are on the fence from coming over to our side. Well, it looks like the Mac community has similar fanboys for OS X, looking at the comments on Mark’s posts. I suspect that the Mac users I know would cringe just as much, but it’s nice to know (in a Schadenfreude sort of way) that the epithet “zealot” can’t only be levelled at the free software people. Update: interesting response from John Gruber and followup from Mark. John’s points are mostly well taken: in particular,

Stories like that (ed: Tom Yager getting a kicking from Apple for writing that Apple have closed the x86 Darwin kernel, because Apple say that no-one cares about that) give rise to the sinking feeling that Apple’s executives aren’t merely indifferent to openness, but rather that their stance on openness is in fact highly calculated, and that the calculation is that Apple should be open only so far as necessary to be perceived as being open. I.e. that openness only pertains to marketing, and not to engineering. There’s no question that Apple is chock-a-block with engineers and engineering managers who care about openness, but that does little good without a mandate from the executive level.

That’s an argument we’ve made on LugRadio before now; it’s interesting that Gruber also thinks that it has some truth in it.

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