Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Open source: power to the people

OSS is a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, it's power in my hands.

I run Linux everywhere -- on the eclipse servers, my office workstation and my home computer, but not because it's free (no cost). I enjoy having the power to do anything I want with my OS:
  • compiling my own lightweight kernel, optimized for my hardware
  • dropping to a command line to find | awk | grep | sort | tee | perl and do all kinds of unreadable one-liners
  • checking the source code to see why I'm getting a weird error message
At Eclipse we get the best of both worlds: OSS backed by a commercial entity. By using SuSE Linux Entreprise, we get support and regular updates from Novell [1] while still having the freedom to roll-our-own if the distro packages don't suit our needs.

Two recent issues to illustrate my point:
  • NFS has this ridiculous group limit. We'll be running our own patched kernel to bypass that
  • The SuSE packages for SubVersion are old, so we'll roll our own

I use Eclipse (and Apache, and OpenOffice, and Firefox, and...) for the exact same reasons. You have to admit -- OSS just rocks.

[1] I'm not affiliated with Novell and they don't stuff cash in my pockets, so the plug is my own. I just think SLES 10 is a great Entreprise Linux distro.


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