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These days whenever I see an article bemoaning the fact that GNU/Linux has not made it to the desktop in sufficiently large numbers to make the writer in question stand up and applaud, I tend to laugh.

These articles go through the same arguments which have been advanced ad infinitum, though some tend to go the extra mile to be illogical. The Economist, a magazine put out by a right-wing cabal, is no different.

When you read something in this magazine, you won't see a byline. It could be because the writers are ashamed of what they have to write in order to get published.

Or it could be because they believe, like Holy Writ, that their arguments cannot be countered. As I've said before, if this is the reason why this practice is adopted, it smacks of arrogance.

The article which I am referring to is titled: "Difference engine: free is too expensive." The blog in which the entry is made is titled Babbage. That, of course, gives it respectability - Charles Babbage is a man whom every computer science student knows about. But the entry itself is mostly specious.

The author first tries to get the Linux crowd on-side - he/she/it has used Linux, and the software (oh, how condescending can you be?) has several good points. Why it can even run on an old Pentium!

But then we get to the meat of the confused reasoning - the large number of distributions and the fact that one distribution may have a different file layout to another is a big minus, and unless Linux conforms to the same pattern that Mac OSX and Windows do, it will not succeed in business. We all need to march to the same tune; monoculture will save the earth.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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