Ubuntu on a ThinkPad

by F.

This story about alpha geek switchers from OS X to Ubuntu Linux seems to be still going. O’Reilly Radar has the latest here, but I agree with Kottke:

Mark and Cory’s switching is not going to send large numbers of Mac users scurrying for Ubuntu, no matter how well respected they are in a small community. Two is not a trend. But it may cause people to briefly consider that 1) the Apple experience isn’t all that it could be, and 2) if you want a potentially similar experience, there’s a non-Microsoft option available to you. And once that seed is planted, well, you know where that metaphor is going. (I’m also aware of a few other people who are pondering the same shift independently of Mark and Cory.)

There is a wonderful irony here, and that is that all this free software is running on entirely proprietary hardware. So, for instance, Cory Doctorow talks about putting Ubuntu on a ThinkPad, inspired by Mark Pilgrim, who seems motivated by the FSF ideology, at least in part. As he says,

I’ve long been an advocate of Free Software. I’ve been a card-carrying associate member of the Free Software Foundation since 2002. I’ve been writing GPL software since 1993. The Mac is a thread woven through the tapestry of my life. For many years, Apple’s combined offering has been impressive enough to keep me paying for both their hardware and their software. But lately their software has been getting weaker (and more restrictive), to the point where I’ve found myself researching alternatives, even on Mac OS X.

He also discussed sticking Ubuntu on a ThinkPad. Now, remember that the ThinkPad was created by IBM. How many patents do you think read on that hardware? A lot. As of January 10, 2006, IBM was, again, the top patent holder in the US.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released its annual list of the top patentees. With 2,941, IBM earned more U.S. patents than any other company for the thirteenth consecutive year.

IBM “about 26,000 patents in the United States and over 40,000 patents worldwide for inventions in areas of primary technology focus for all IBM customers.” As a package, is the Ubuntu/Thinkpad combo any less “proprietary” than OS X/Mactel?

Probably not. And have fun with that beautiful ThinkPad. Linux is only free, and Windows is only cheaper, if your time is worth $0, as they say.

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