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“We’re Linux” Videos: Placing Freedom Before Practicality?

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The Linux Foundation recently announced the winner and runners up of the “We’re Linux” video contest that it sponsored as a response to the well-known promotional campaigns by Microsoft and Apple. The selections are professional and inspiring, but I worry that their focus on “freedom” limits their effectiveness. Here’s why.

The prevailing theme among the selections is the association of Linux with freedom. As the winning video proclaims, “free is to know you have a different option,” and Linux provides that option. A runner-up similarly describes Linux as the operating system for those “willing to be free.”

I became a Linux user for purely practical reasons: in particular, I no longer wanted to pay for software or worry about malware. It was only after I’d spent a while interacting with the Linux community, and learning more about computers, that I began to care about freedom.

I don’t think my experience was unique.

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