Bacon and Linux
The first rule of bacon in my house is not to allow anything labeled bacon to enter the building. Real bacon, the best bacon, comes from the meat section and says something like “sliced pork belly” on the vacuum sealed packaging label. This bacon is thick cut. The perfect thickness for cooking over the grill and topping off a juicy cheeseburger. The aroma of grill smoke plus bacon filling the air only increases the appetite. Go ahead and add another two, four, or ten slices. Bacon is awesome.
At some point in my lifetime, computers changed from computational devices to communications devices. I still remember hooking up two desktop computers using a serial cable to play Warcraft II. Not world of Warcraft. Warcraft III. I also remember debating in high school about which network technology was best. Novell anyone?
As communications devices we expect computers to connect us to ideas and interfaces around the world. We had a book series growing up of pictures from our solar system blown up to full page awesomeness. What’s there not to love about Saturn? How cool is it that now you can pull down daily raw images from another planet from a phone in your pocket? And remember when your math teacher said you’d never carry a calculator around and you’d have to learn to do math? Take that Mrs. Brimblecombe!
Every one of the things we do online seems to touch an open source project. Whether it’s FreeBSD facilitating ⅓ of all the internet’s traffic (thank you Netflix), Android’s Open Source Project powering over a billion devices, Google, Facebook or the NASDAQ, a lot of what the world depends on runs Linux. Getting anything done these days involves either directly or indirectly touching some open source project. That’s like having at least one slice of bacon added to everyone’s workflow.
Now there are some bacon enthusiasts who are upset that there isn’t more bacon in the recipe of the average user’s technical solutions. I can sympathize with that perspective. I haven’t figured out how much bacon is too much bacon. Let’s pause for a minute here. At least there’s bacon in the recipe!
When someone realized that the Spanish Empire covered enough of the world so that the sun never set it created a great quote for generations of journalists. “The sun never sets on the Spanish (later British) Empire.” Today is a similarly great day in the tech industry. There’s literally nothing great or small that people can do today that doesn’t touch an open source project in some way. Apple? Isn’t that running on a BSD-maintained kernel? Microsoft needed BASH in order to stay relevant to some of their customers. My mom and dad love online banking and shopping–secured by OpenSSL (or a fork). One of my boys spent 90 minutes playing the NES Rampage on a RetroPi with his friends. Yes, the game still surpases the threshold of nine year-old awesomeness.
In the community, we often challenge ourselves to move to totally free (as in freedom) software, but I would argue that for 2016 it’s harder to go full proprietary than it is to go full FOSS. Why don’t more people see this as a sign of what right looks like? Those that don’t really have problems with winning.
Now the conversation isn’t about bacon or no bacon. It’s about how much bacon. Linux is still built on the idea of “do one thing and do it well.” The fact that there’s proprietary software out there is fine. No one says we had to do #AllTheThings perfectly right out the gate. You can’t cook or eat all the bacon at once.
Funny thing, though. When I have someone over for a BBQ and I offer them a slice of my perfectly-cooked grilled pork belly, I’ve never had them stop at eating just one slice. From what I can see, there are a lot more slices cooking on the grill that just need a bit more time. There are a few things out there that have me salivating and rumor has it if I tip the cook there’s a good chance the slice I’m waiting for will be ready faster.