I’m in a curious mood today, and it has manifested itself in a rather peculiar way — today I am suddenly no longer interested in evangelizing for free software. Moods come and go and no doubt this one will too, but for the moment, I feel rather ambivalent toward which software you use, or what computer, or even if you consign your entire well-being to the whims of a multibillion-dollar corporation.
Part of my indifference stems from the interview between the BBC’s Gary Parkinson and Ubuntu director of business Chris Kenyon. The interview itself is nothing particularly noteworthy — it runs barely three minutes, a little more focus on the desktop itself would have been nice, etc., etc. — unless you count the fact that, aside from casual jabs about Linux’s viability as an OS, it’s nice to have mainstream media at least acknowledge Tux exists.
No, what has me in a funk is really just the fact that most of the interview seemed to be spent asking what chance there is running Windows programs on Ubuntu, or Apple software on Ubuntu. The last question that I remember offhand was whether or not iTunes is available in Ubuntu.
What happened to Ubuntu software on Ubuntu?
I am not criticizing Parkinson in this post, because really, from a complete newcomer’s point of view, those are the right questions to ask. Do I have to start over from scratch? Do I have to abandon the software I know and understand? Do I have to reinvent the wheel?
But my mood today says, “If you have to ask those questions, don’t bother trying it out.” Today my mood says, “If you’re not interested in trying something new, don’t try it.”
Today, if you’re new to Linux or Ubuntu and you want to use the same software you have already, then I say just keep using Windows. If you can’t bear the idea of living without iTunes, then stick with your Mac. The erstwhile rambunctious voice in my head that usually fuels my passion for free software is, today, rather grumpy. Unless you’re interested in change, it says, don’t trouble yourself.
Linux is not for everyone, and that is an inescapable truth. I know people who have started it, played with it for ten seconds, and said, “No thanks.” There’s nothing wrong with that, and nothing I can do to change it. Principles, purposes, practicality be damned, there are just some folks who are better off sticking with Microsoft or Apple. On another day, I might try to talk them out of it.
But today, I say don’t bother. Sorry.