Why I Have A Windows Laptop at linux.conf.au

This is just a quick blog post to get something off my chest. It’s about the open-source conference I’m currently attending, linux.conf.au. The thing is this: I run a Windows 10-based laptop, I’ve brought it with me to LCA, and I’m proud of that.

  • I use Windows for work. I’m a .NET developer. It’s how I earn my cash to attend this conference. That, apart from anything else, is why I don’t run Linux on the desktop.
  • A lot of people run Apple Mac OS X, another closed-source operating system. I don’t understand why people don’t discriminate equally against that.
  • Speaking of Apple, nobody directs ill thoughts their way at LCA. Microsoft does attract this discrimination, despite them actually releasing a large quantity of open-source software (including most of .NET) over the last couple of years.
  • I write open-source software. I write this in C# on .NET, because it will make it easier for the end users of this software to install and use, since they will be Windows users for the most part. I consider myself to be doing a lot of good by writing this software, giving users options apart from closed-source and cloud-hosted software.

In my mind, when somebody makes fun of Windows at an open-source conference, they’re buying into an anti-Microsoft herd mentality, forgetting that Microsoft does a lot of FOSS stuff, that Microsoft users do a lot of FOSS stuff, and the Apple laptops and Android phones that the majority of delegates have all contain a lot of closed-source software too.

End rant.

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4 thoughts on “Why I Have A Windows Laptop at linux.conf.au”

  1. Great post. You should feel fine about using Windows if it solves your problems. Great choice.

    I use OSX because it has enough of both worlds. I can do my Microsofty things for work at the same time has having a really solid shell prompt and the ability to easily compile and use the vast majority of Linux tools and applications in the same environment without needing to fork out to a VM.

    Anything that goes beyond making a pragmatic choice for your needs is, to my mind, just politics. I agree the free software movement is important, and that Linux is important, but that’s a bigger picture discussion to be had respectfully and objectively.

    I am mostly interested in Linux because it’s ‘better’ for my needs, there is a strong user community, and because I can install and use so many great libraries from github. I think the extended open source community is as or more interesting than Linux, but you wouldn’t really get one without the other.

  2. Hi Tennessee, thanks for your comment. 🙂

    I think your point about pragmatism is really important. I really do share the ideals of FOSS and Linux, but pragmatism has to rule for me. I care very passionately about open standards and the ability to retain control of your own data, which is why I’m writing non-cloud software to run on Windows.

  3. Hi Jack,
    There’s nothing wrong with using Windows and I’m all for pragmatism myself, but its also worth being clear about the technical (objective) facts.

    If we just look at operating systems (not applications installed and running on them), Android is composed almost entirely of free/open source (minus things like the binary blobs which even Ubuntu and other distros ships for specific hardware driver support).

    I’m no big fan of Apple myself, but we have to be honest and acknowledge the significant amount of free/oss component they ship as part of OSX and their development tools (http://www.apple.com/opensource/) as well as of course the core and kernel of the operating system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_(operating_system)).

    Now to be honest its been a long time since I’ve used windows, but I’m pretty sure they do not ship much in the way of free/oss components in Windows 10 (though I guess the opening of .net core counts towards this).

    I believe that’s the main distinction being made by attendees at LCA, Android *is* an OSS operating system and to a sadly much lesser OSX is in part, Windows is not.

    Also from what I have seen, a number of people with macbooks are actually running linux distros on them, so I wouldn’t make the assumption that every macbook you see at LCA is a person running OSX.

    Of course no one is saying you have to run an free/open OS on your laptop to attend LCA, but we all make choices, its that freedom to be able to choose that I think is at the heart of what LCA is all about.

  4. As with everything in the real world, it depends.

    Microsoft is not releasing software as FOSS because they want to be good, but because it serves a strategic function for them making more money in the end. Its the same with Google and Redhat and Samsung and most other commercial entities. Its just the new reality of making business.

    It helps some, it hurts others.

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