As you may know, I have nothing against open source software. In fact, I am both a user of FreeBSD, and a developer of open source projects. But linux never sat well with me. It’s not so much the software itself, as it is the culture. The GPL is not my idea of free software. I think the BSD license offers considerably more freedom. GPL is more of a political manifest if anything. And I am interested in software development, not politics. Aside from that, the attitude of the linux community does not appeal to me.
Now, back in late September/early October, there was some buzz when word got out that Microsoft wanted to have UEFI secure boot enabled by default for Windows 8 systems. I did not bother to blog about it at that time… But as new ARM-based devices for Windows 8 are being introduced, the issue is being recycled by the linux community. You get over-the-top articles like this one. Where, as usual, linux is trying to play the victim, and blame everything on evil Microsoft.
Excuse me? But linux is doing it to themselves. A far more balanced article that was released earlier, can be found here. The short version is that the GPL (specifically version 3) doesn’t allow any kind of binary code to be distributed without source code. This restriction means that the secure key for booting cannot be kept a secret. So the GPL is locking linux out from participating in UEFI’s trusted boot sequence, which is meant to prevent rootkits from installing on your system unnoticed (is that such an evil thing?)
Now, the simple solution would be to create a license that is compatible with UEFI, so linux too can support secure booting. But no. Pragmatic as always, the linux community feels that their license is holy, and that the rest of the world is wrong, and has to adapt to their ways (which has worked just great so far, hasn’t it?).
And this is the sort of thing that drives me away from linux. I simply don’t want to be associated with these people and their crazy ideas and conduct in any way. I don’t need their software. Choice is important, right? Well good, because I can choose alternatives, such as FreeBSD. It’s free, it’s open source, and it does everything I need it to. But the community seems nicer. It’s just one coherent project, instead of tons of distributions-on-distributions, and the focus is on developing quality software. There are clear goals, a clear vision. If you are a linux user, I suggest you check out FreeBSD. For most types of linux installations, FreeBSD will make a fine alternative, as it is a true UNIX derivative, and most software that is available for linux, is also available for FreeBSD (Apache, mysql, postgresql, KDE, Gnome, VLC, Firefox, Chromium, Thunderbird etc). Under the right circumstances, FreeBSD will even perform better. And you will no longer be involved in all the political nonsense, FUD and distro-wars of the linux community (try asking a question… no matter what the topic, one of the first answers is always going to be: “But distro X sucks. You should try distro Y!” As if that matters…).
Update: Since I originally wrote this, both Fedora and Ubuntu have come forward with solutions to the UEFI secure boot problem (which, surprise suprise, consists of replacing Grub with an alternative bootloader under a license that is compatible with private key signing). Linus Torvalds has expressed moderate support for Fedora’s approach.