Why GNU/Linux distros ignore market?

This post is a response to a techrepublic post.  You can read the full post here.

Unlike my usual fare, I’m going to cut to the chase and answer this question up front. The Chromebook (and it’s Linux-based Chromium OS) succeeds because it’s easy to use and it works. Simple. End of story.

Oh, but wait — it’s not really all that simple. There’s one additional point of interest, one that I’ve been harping on Linux distributions about for years. The Chromebook does one thing all other distributions do not…

Market.

Granted. Market is the only thing MOST of the GNU/Linux distros omit ( Just note that I said “most” not “all”). Except “Red hat”, “Ubuntu” and few others, rest of the GNU/Linux distros are not at all market oriented. But no doubt, they are great products. But why did they ignore the market? The answer is too simple – good products will neither target nor conquer the market. Market is the place where hypes and exaggerations rule. The GNU/Linux universe has a well built ecosystem and the users has a close awareness about it. So the target users will automatically get into the right distros, there is no need for a market study nor any kind of hypes. Take the example of Debian – they IGNORE the market as a whole.  Their concern is not the market, it is stability, usability, security and so on. And so does MOST of the GNU/Linux distros. They have clear target users, and are not designed to conquer the market.  Users do not mind the market.

The true GNU/Linux users and activists are observing the entry of Chromebook with a little fear and excitement. The reason for fear is that Chromebook is a Linux based product focused on market strategies and hypes. So values of  FREEDOM may not be present in such a market oriented product. The reason for excitement is that lots of new users may come forward to use Chromebook and thus Linux and Open Source products will get into the limelight. Thus people will understand the power of FLOSS (Free / Libre and Open Source Software) products.

Communism and Free Software

I observe there are several things in common in Communism and Free Software Philosophy. Truly there are. Though Free Software Foundation has no political views regarding this, I think the underlying philosophy of the Free Software is similar to Communism. There are lots of variant communist ideologies. Among these variants, anarcho-communism is the most similar to Free Software community.

What is anarcho-communism?

According to wikipedia, communism is,

a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.
Anarcho-communism / free communism / libertarian communism is a theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism and private property (while retaining respect for personal property), and in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers’ councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

There is no private property in Anarcho-Communism. In other words, the whole property is yours. The whole property is ours. The whole property is everyone’s. If there is no private property, the entire community can enjoy the whole property. There will be no class, there is no scope for supremacy. Ideal. Great.

What is Free Software?

According to fsf.org, Free Software is,

software that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. We call this free software because the user is free. To use free software is to make a political and ethical choice asserting the right to learn, and share what we learn with others.  Free software has become the foundation of a learning society where we share our knowledge in a way that others can build upon and enjoy.

According to wikipedia, Free / libre Software is,

software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients have the same rights under which it was obtained and that manufacturers of consumer products incorporating free software provide the software as source code.

The clever hack made by Free Software License

There is no Anarcho-Communist societies ever lived in the world. Why? Because a society cannot be survived if there is no restrictions. What restrictions? Some restrictions to restrict the freedom-restriction actions from others. Those who violate others freedom must be gone out from the community. But this is practically hard to execute. But Free Software Licenses made a clever hack on this. Such Free Licenses like GPL hold full copyright and give permission to study / share / modify / redistribute the software under one condition – if you redistribute it you have to give all these permissions and unless or otherwise it will be treated as copyright violation. This part is the glorious part of Free Licenses like GPL and Creative Commons.

Proprietary software Vs. Free Software

While proprietary software hides the code, Free Software community reveals it, and give permission to use the code for their personal / commercial uses. Programmers write / modify the code, the community benefits from it. Proprietary software is designed as a capitalistic world and Free Software is designed as a communist world.

Tyranny should be abolished; freedom to be glorified.