It just does my heart good to see the groups that really put their heart and effort into things making the world a better place. The link in the title goes to the final tally of LinuxWorld's install-fest, sponsored by Untangle and Ubuntu, taking an amazing 750 computers that would have been thrown away and turning them into Ubuntu machines ready to send out to kids in low-income areas.
A big part of why I use Linux and Free and Open Source software in general is that it's easier on computer requirements. The partnership of PC manufacturers and proprietary software has led to a situation we call an "upgrade treadmill", where you have to keep buying new hardware to run your software and then buy new software to support your hardware.
The thing is, most people out there have no idea that computers aren't disposable. Aside from things like video cards keeping up with games, the average desktop PC has a lifespan in the decades. For the everyday user's needs - browsing the web, emailing, and playing the occasional game of solitaire - there's no reason why a computer bought in 1998 shouldn't be adequate in 2008. For many more cases, a PC which has stopped running usually only needs a part replaced, such as the power box.
This is an area that desktop forecasters can't see. The pundits of the big websites look around their cubicle on the 14th floor of McBlogCorp and they don't see Linux making any headway at all. But the middle and lower classes have something that they lack: perspective. When you have no options but to struggle your way up from the trenches, settling for a second-hand PC doesn't sound so bad after all. A little free time spent learning how to use Free Software pays off big. Some time spent reading a manual becomes an education for free.
When the revolution comes, it will start in the streets. It will rise like a tide, composed of people who are sick of being shut out by the system, who are building a new system in its place. It will make no sound. Do you hear the silence? That's the sound of some budding genius somewhere staying up all night, quietly reading everything they can get their hands on. A genius living on minimum wage in a squalid flat, because they were born poor and never saw an opportunity, until they joined the free culture. Now they hack their way out of poverty.
The culture of liberty computing will never die, because it can live on almost nothing.
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