GNU/Linux World Domination for the Wrong Reasons

Whenever I hear people discussing GNU/Linux's prospects for becoming more popular, I'm reminded of a comment by Tommy Douglas, the social democrat who became a hero for introducing universal health care into Canada. If he could press a button and gain a million voters who did not understand his policies, he said, then he would not press that button. He meant that he was not in politics simply to be elected, but to gain supporters for his ideals -- and that he was determined not to lose sight of his long term goals while pursing short term ones.

The comment resonates for me because, increasingly, in the rush for market share, many people seem to lose sight of the fact that the goal of GNU/Linux and free software is not popularity in itself, but the wide acceptance of a set of ideals.

At its most basic, free software is about helping users gain control of their computers so that they can participate unhindered in the digital conversations of the networks and the Internet. It's about installing software freely, rather than being dictated to by the manufacturer. It's about using your computer the way that you want, instead of ceding control to lock-down devices installed by software vendors without permission on your machine.