I just finished installing Ubuntu, the Linux-based operating system, on my computer. I am in heaven (as of now). Everything (more or less) is open source, everything is free, and overall everything looks and works just great. It was a bit of a hassle getting Ubuntu installed because the new Windows 8 machines have a new security system installed that makes it hard to install an open-source operating system. But Microsoft’s attempt at enclosure only gave me more energy to find a way around it. And it didn’t take very long. I was able to track down this version of Ubuntu, and it installed just great after I disabled Microsoft’s fences. To do it, I had to learn about bios, hard drive partitioning, write a little code, and just generally take a more active role in managing my computing habitat. It took a bit of effort, but there was a payoff: a feeling of being in control, of not just letting Apple or Microsoft do it for me, of taking the time to understand better how things work and how to shape them so they meet my needs. And there is also the feeling of being connected to many, many others who are on the same adventure I am, an adventure in which the desire to create is not fuelled by the desire for money, but by curiosity and the delight that comes with having created something that works and then sharing that creation with others. As I learn more about how my hardware and software works, and as I turn to others to help me solve my problems, I am coming to know very well how limited my own knowledge is, and how dependent I am on the knowledge flowing through the network. And that knowledge is flowing because many smart people are doing lots of free activity (as Marx called it) and then sharing the results of their activity, giving it away for free. I am utterly dependent on others, but not on profiteering corporations, I am dependent on a network of knowledge-and-labor-in-common. Anyone can avail themselves of what others have achieved and shared, and no one has to pay for the privilege. To be sure, I am just beginning the journey. But I couldn’t be happier I started walking.
Ubuntu 12.10 (Secure Remix)
All of it’s free, and all of it kicks ass. Or at least it kicks equal ass when compared to its locked-down and privatized counterpart.