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So What's the Alternative?

Linux, anyone?

Seriously, Open Source and GNU software are becoming popular partially because people are getting fed up with software that's not good enough. Sure, the market-driven "good enough" approach has produced some nice, easy-to-use software, but at the same time has made it very risky for anyone to really depend on that software. No wonder people are looking for alternatives.

Linux became attractive for developers because of a very unfortunate fact of life: It's hard to create rock-solid, reliable software if the platform it's built on is anything less than completely robust. Think about it—if an application crashes, its users won't accept the excuse "The operating system did it." You have to find a workaround so that it doesn't happen again.

The pain that these workarounds cause hasn't been forgotten. Even though the various operating systems are much better than they were in previous years, the vendor's reputations have been damaged. For their sake, I hope that the BigCo's won't have to wait for an entire new generation of developers before they're trusted again, but that's practically what happened to the U.S. car manufacturers.

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