Walking around Linuxworld this year it was interesting to see the number of Apple notebooks in the halls and various sessions. It wasn’t necessarily that there were more Apple notebooks than Linux machines, but it was a good number and begs the question: why do open source people seem to cut Apple some slack when it comes to their very closed proprietary platform?
The question can be answered by thinking of operating systems like prison. For decades, operating systems have been trying to lock users into their platforms. Think of it like an operating system prison. But what if operating systems really were prisons? What kind of prisons might each of them be? Let’s look at each one:
Apple. This prison has the highest security of them all. It is a singular prison with extraordinarily high walls that govern almost every aspect of what you do. They decide what you listen to, what type of cell you get, and it is ruled over by a ruthless warden named Steve Jobs. And despite all that, it is great!
Each cell is a plush luxury suite overlooking the ocean. You can get movies ordered to your room all day and the music selection is great. Your cell mates are cool hipsters and they have great parties that last all night long. It is almost like staying at a five star hotel with the only catch being that you can’t ever leave.
Microsoft. These prison facilities are horrible. This is the largest, most difficult prison to escape from in the world but the security is horrible. Everyone is stealing each other’s data and you are sharing a cell with an angry 300 pound piece of malware. The prison warden, Steve Ballmer, walks around often claiming he wants a kinder gentler and more open prison, but everyone knows he is lying.
Solaris. This prison seems desolate and strangely empty.
Linux. This is the only platform that is not a prison. You are really free with Linux. People are congregating at will, building creative new structures. Yeah – maybe it isn’t as pretty as the luxury hotel prison that is Apple, but at least we are free. In the end it isn’t prison walls that win in technology. CompuServe and AOL were beaten by the internet. Centrally controlled mainframes were killed by the PC. Over time the best technology comes from innovation in unexpected places and while we are occasionally wooed by the pretty sounds of “You’ve Got Mail” or the stunning design of a new iPhone; we have all seen this movie before and know how it ends.