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27 March 2012

Operating systems and philosophical users

Small details lost in the rhythm of the days. The many things that a small number cast to the very end of the daily news roll can tell. The following Ubuntu release is coming out in about one month; expectation is growing, especially because this will be a Long Time Support version, in principle somewhat more solid than regular releases, where developers always like to experiment a bit. These days I try to follow the Ubuntusphere a bit closer, in anticipation of what may be in the menu for the 26th of April.

It happens that another piece of software is making some fuss too. It is called Humble Bundle, a set of computer games wrapped in a somewhat childish package. Childish is also a synonym for simple, which permits these humble games to run on toy like gadgetry such as smart-phones. This bundle is not open source, not even free, but you can pay for it whatever you feel is right, and even choose to direct part of your payment to charity.

Today a new game was added to the bundle, and over at OMG Ubuntu they had this little piece of information:
The latest Humble Bundle has raised over $500,000 in a week. Linux (including Android) users are, once again, the most generous of purchasers, spending on average of $9.82 a bundle – some $4 more than Windows users, and almost $3 extra than Mac users are willing to pay.
Remarkable that with the user choosing what to pay, the Humble Bundle has harnessed a half million dollars in one, about the money needed to sustain a 10 programmer company for a year. But even more remarkable is the clear distinction between what Linux users are willing to pay for the bundle and what Winblows users are offering.

I would never expect such clear distinction. Linux users seem to be people much more akin to give, to share what they have. Apparently, Winblows is the choice of greedy people. Is this because Linux users are those folks more willing to free themselves from the shackles of big economic interests? Or is just greed associated with the dumber user than is not capable of considering an alternative to the operating system (s)he was forced to acquire?

These questions are not politically correct, but these figures certainly have a profound philosophical significance that can't be ignored.