Open source has been sold for years, including at nationwide chains like Best Buy and Walmart. While retail stores made news by offering Linux or even Lindows computers, open source remained esoteric. Recently, open source has become far more visible. Now many technology vendors are taking sides. Here are some examples:
Apple builds its proprietary operating system, OS X, on Darwin. Darwin is open source software based on BSD. Apple praises open source for some solutions. This may be a happy medium: Apple's legendary usability and quality control, fostering a community of open formats and open source programs. In their current products and marketing, Apple seems resistent to DRM (e.g. IPod, "Rip. Mix. Burn.").
Dell Computer has shown strong support for Linux, including partnering with Red Hat to offer backend solutions. Dell has shown displeasure with Microsoft (e.g. by offering WordPerfect as default productivity software). Some open source proponents believe Dell wants to sell desktop computers without Microsoft Windows or even with Red Hat installed, but can't afford to jeopardize their strained relationship with Microsoft. Proponents believe OEMs like Dell will eventually offer and support more open source solutions as they strive to offer lower priced computers.
Microsoft is vehemently opposed to open source software. They are sometimes the most vocal in the debate between the open source and proprietary models. Microsoft is widely perceived as a driving force behind organizations like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Initiative for Software Choice (see http://www.bsa.org/usa/ and http://softwarechoice.org/). The BSA is investigates license noncompliance and prosecutes software piracy, and thus represents the "strong arm tactics" the open source movement reviles. The Initiative lobbies in the USA and internationally to discourage governments from legislating in favor of open source software.
Red Hat is the leading Linux distro in the US and very active in promoting open source. Many current users recommend Red Hat. Red Hat has helped foster the K-12 open source community (e.g. by hosting email lists). The popular K12LTSP distro is built from Red Hat Linux.
Some educators will cite the lack of traditional educational packages for Linux that teach reading or math with funny rabbits that wink at you and say "Good job!" I just don't think we need to go there. Teachers don't need cute teaching applications. They just need computers that work and provide basic access to the software we all use everyday. - Jeremy Hogan, Red Hat (Hogan, 2002)
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