2009-12-05

Linux in "Mainstream" Tech Articles

[Thanks to blogger Glyn Moody for quoting the WSJ article about open development.]
Yes, Linux gets a lot of good press in, well, the OSS media. That's only to be expected. However, things get a lot more mixed in the mainstream tech media. These outlets are for laypeople and thus basically only focus on Microsoft products and their implementations.
For example, this article (Jason Notte, TheStreet) talks about netbooks versus laptops. When it talks about how far netbooks have come, it refers to Linux in a disparaging way, calling the original Linux-equipped netbooks "toys".
Now, it is more likely that the netbooks themselves (in terms of the hardware) were toys. However, it is entirely possible that this site was calling Linux a "toy" OS.
This is patently absurd, but I won't list all the reasons (servers, Internet, phones, media) why. That's for another day. I will say that there still are a significant number of (new) netbooks sold with Linux, and their sellers do admit that the return rate for their netbooks does not vary with the OS selection.
Again, the bias against Linux is a bit more debatable based on the wording.
This article, from the WSJ, however, is a lot more obviously against open development. The article does not explicitly take a side, as it is a news piece rather than an opinion piece, but the article's word choice makes it clear what the opinion of the WSJ editors on this is.
To summarize, a company making a robotic brain called the Arduino is open-sourcing the hardware with no restrictions and putting up the processes and specs on the Internet.
Yes, the article may also use the word "peculiar" (when referring to the open-source business) because it really is peculiar to the average reader, but it's probably also because the model runs directly counter to the closed nature of the WSJ's (and News Corp's) own business model.
Furthermore, rather than simply call derivatives of the original work "copies" or some other neutral work, the article calls them "knock-offs". This connotes illegality of copying (despite surrounding words maintaining the legality of this, which is true) and inferiority of the copy no matter what. It suggests that imitators can never possibly innovate past the capability of the original innovator.
Of course, the original founder makes note of his first-mover advantage, saying that when imitators are spreading copies of his products, he is already at work for the next generation of hardware. This is great and it shows that he is willing to continually innovate rather than be lazy and take a monopoly to continue to profit; he also genuinely cares about letting others collaborate in the process, enough so that he open-sourced the hardware anyway.
Maybe I'm just overreacting to the natural curiosity and skepticism at the open-source business model by those unfamiliar with it, but these were just my initial thoughts on the subject matter anyway.

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