The Future of FOSS

With large companies beginning to embrace free software, the future of FOSS looks as bright as ever. Although large software companies like Microsoft, who control most of the market, don’t tend to like their open source brethren.

FOSS encompasses many programs and people. The people that work within the FOSS community are dedicated to what they do. Linux is a prime example of what can happen when people come together for a greater cause. What about the rest of the community though? Is FOSS as a whole really thriving? Or is it just a couple of big names and that’s it?

When someone says something about Open-Source, I instantly think of Firefox and Ubuntu. Most people don’t think of WordPress or Tcl or PHP. I underestimate the power of stupid people though. Advertising is the key here. If you don’t have big company with revenue supporting your project, you are probably not going to gain a large audience in terms of non-technical people.

Advertising basically convinces you to do something. Being convinced by an advertisement means you are stupid because you don’t have the smarts to look it up and check if you actually need it and compare competing products if you do. Ubuntu has been successful because it markets itself as user-friendly and easy to use. People want to buy products that just ‘work’ out of the box and don’t require that much of a learning curve.

If a radical change in mindset doesn’t change within the youth or anybody that uses computers and software, FOSS is going to go down the tubes. Although it’s idea in theory is flawless, the reality of it is the more security people feel from getting software from the professional development teams. The leaders in the free/open source software community need to stand up for the smaller people and themselves to say that FOSS can do on par or better than the big corporate giants.

I’m a liberal, so I am biased toward believing that big business is fundamentally wrong, but we can’t stop it now. It’s up to normal citizens to decide what’s right for them. I always try to point people in the direction of FOSS, but I’m pretty sure people would rather spend $300USD on Microsoft Office Professional than to download OpenOffice.org 2. Something I like to call the Microsoft Effect. More people prefer the term vendor lock-in to the latter though. 😉

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