April 10, 2014, 9:15 AM — I'm always pleased to see positive articles about Linux that appeare outside of the usual technology press. The NY Times takes a look at desktop Linux and offers a surprisingly positive view of it, along with suggestions for which distros to use. The article even mentions VirtualBox as a way to run Linux on Windows or OS X systems.
It may not be widely known, but Linux did revolutionize computing. If you own an Android phone or a Kindle e-reader, you are a Linux user. Linux is at the core of those popular devices and is found in a variety of other places, from the world’s most powerful supercomputers down to the tiny Raspberry Pi device that is a favorite among electronics hobbyists.
But Linux has had less success in personal computers. Fewer than 2 percent of desktop or laptop computers run it, according to a survey by Net Applications. That could be because for the bulk of Windows and Mac users, switching entirely to Linux probably does not make sense. But exploring Linux could still be worth the time for those looking for a proven, low-cost alternative to the two mainstream operating systems.
Image credit: Jurko
I found the article to be surprisingly good, given that it wasn't in a Linux-oriented publication. It covers the usual suspects in terms of Linux distributions, but also offers links for Slackware, Arch, and Zorin. It's nice to see desktop Linux getting attention from a prominent publication like the NY Times.
Technology experts who don't understand Linux
On the flip side of Linux coverage, Datamation examines why some technology journalists don't really understand Linux.
My suggestion to those who read or watch media where "drive-by reviews" take place is to call them out on these practices. Unless the review or opinion is given by someone who "lives and breathes" the Linux desktop, realize that you're only getting part of the story. Until we stop giving credit to people who don’t even run Linux full time, nothing is going to change and FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) will continue to flourish.
On the flip side, I hope that those who pump out these drive-by reviews will look at my suggestions, reach out to companies who provide a Linux installed computer out of the box and actually take Linux on the desktop a whole lot more seriously. Until this happens, it’s going to be up to us to read Linux reviews with a heavily critical eye.
I'm not sure if Datamation would approve of the NY Times covering Linux, but I certainly do. I don't think you need to be a technology guru to understand or write about Linux. Quite often it's really a matter of using it and gaining enough experience to be able to appreciate all that Linux has to offer.
Did open source cause the Heartbleed bug?
PC World tries to answer the question of whether or not open source itself was responsible for the Heartbleed bug that has been in the media so much lately.
The truth is insecure code is not an open source vs. closed source debate. In spite of much tighter control of software development, and management of source code, crucial security flaws are still frequently discovered in commercial software that customers pay a lot of money for.
“Finger pointing at the open source development communities or persons or processes isn't going to fix the problem,” notes Andrew Storms, senior director of DevOps for CloudPassage. “Open source software along with commercial software will always have bugs.”
I have not seen coverage by any publication that actually blamed open source for the Heartbleed bug, but if I did I'd have a really tough time taking that site seriously again. I don't know why people feel the need to find a scapegoat for situations like this. The virtues of open source vastly outweigh any potential negatives, and that's never been truer than it is right now.
What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.
The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.