I am currently reading Jodi Dean’s The Communist Horizon, about which more later, no doubt. But there is one nugget I couldn’t resist sharing. She claims on p. 137 that
Google wouldn’t have started without free software–it relied originally on the Linux kernel. Building [Google] from scratch would have taken 270 developers roughly eleven years and cost $431 million.
She attributes this fact to personal communication with Marcell Mars. I have read something similar about Apple’s OS code–that it was forked originally from
openSUSE BSD (which I confirmed via personal communication the web).
Whatever the accuracy of such claims, it is worth continuing to document the extent to which the proprietary (privatized) codes we think are so wonderful, polished, and functional, so essential to our everyday lives (like OSX, Windows, Office, etc.), are dependent (economically, aesthetically, intellectually) on a foundation of code that was developed in common by the vast network of open-source developers.
And perhaps also just an update. I have been working in a predominantly open-source environment for about 5 months now, and it is not only doable, it is fabulous. Ubuntu 12.10, Gnome 3.6, LibreOffice 4, Firefox 20, Thunderbird 17, Nemo 1.8.0…it all easily meets or exceeds the quality and functionality of its proprietary counterparts. I can’t see any reason to ever go back.