Me, Linux, and Open Source – A personal reflection

 This article is a bit of my personal
toward recent development that is happening in
Indonesia. How Microsoft is so agresive and ‘spectacular’ in
penetrating major aspects of Indonesian people’s life, such as in
businesses, government, and education. This article hopefully can
also be a reference for those who are still hesitate in using
Linux and Open Source Software.

We are seeing interesting development
in the first part of 2005 in Indonesia, regarding the battle between
Microsoft and Open Source Movement, especially Linux. Those are such

  1. The government of Indonesia has
    put the law of Intellectual Property No. 19/2002 effective in July
    2003. However, the major impact of it has just been seen in the
    beginning of 2005, when police and BSA conducted some major raids on
    Internet cafes and companies. BSA even place a big ads in several
    well known Indonesian newspaper offering rewards up to 50.000.000
    rupiahs (more than 5,000 US dollars) for those who can report
    illegal use of it’s partners software, especially Microsoft’s.

  2. The government of Indonesia
    visited Microsoft headquarters in June and asked Bill Gates to be an
    official chancellor of IT for the government.

  3. Using the force
    of the law of Intellectual Property, Microsoft and it’s partners
    actively move in educational sector, with a very generous price
    discount on many of it’s products in the form of School Agreement.

Now, what is so interesting about the
above mentioned matters?

  1. Eventhough many of us were
    surprised by the raids on internet cafes and companies, but recently
    the scale of the raid has been greatly diminished. Why? Because
    Microsoft know, if they are too tough in doing the raids, there will
    be a panic among users who using pirated Microsoft software. And for
    those who don’t have enough budget to buy legal software, they might
    be forced to switch to Open Source alternatives. With this
    ‘pull-push’ strategy of Microsoft, they can prevent a major switch
    to FOSS from happening.

  2. The government of Indonesia surely
    wants to show goodwill by trying to lower the rate of piracy
    software to attract more foreign investors. There was rumor that
    Microsoft agreed to ‘legalized’ the use of pirated Microsoft in all
    government PCs for jut 1 dollar. But later, they denied it. Of
    course, if they agreed to give it away, they would have been forced
    to give it away too for other countries.

  3. School Agreement. Literarly means
    that school agrees to buy licensed Microsoft products with a very
    low price and other benefits such as teacher training in using
    Microsoft Office for a certain amount of time. This is really sweet
    and generous of Microsoft, but not without a catch. Microsoft are
    giving away many of it’s products almost ‘free’ to schools because
    they know that the educational sector is where their biggest users
    based lay. There are millions of students each year trained to use
    Microsoft Office, for example. And as we know, the younger something
    is implanted in a child mind, the harder it will to try to replace
    it in the future. This is really a brilliant strategy from

Linux as a server is OK, now how
about as a desktop?

Linux as a server is proven to have
good records. Linux servers are know to be reliable, stable, highly
perform, and of course, more economical. But how about the use of
Linux in desktop?

Previously, the use of Linux in desktop
was still very limited and burdened with limited good hardware
drivers, the appearance of not so good of it’s Xwindow, the office
application that is not so intuitive, etc.

But, since the launch of Linux Desktop
Initiative on January 20, 2004 by Open Souce Development Lab, now the
development of Linux desktop is very encouraging. What is OSDL? They
are a global consortium whose aim to accelerate the adoption of Linux

I experience this myself. Starting when
I first try Redhat 7.3 in 2001. Many hardwares were not detected by
it such as graphics card, internal modem, printer, scanner. Really,
learning Linux in that time was mostly using text mode only.

However, slowly but sure, many Linux
distos have began to show better support for many hardware
configuration. And the next following years, I tried Mandrake 8.0.,
8.2, 9.0, 9.2, 10.1, and 10.2. Also Suse 8.0 personal, 9.2 FTP
Edition, and now Ubuntu 5.04.

In the beginning, I used Linux on my
desktop PC only, but when in the end of 2003 I managed to buy a
notebook, I said to myself, If I don’t use Linux everyday, how I
can know it better and love it more? Finally, I made a dual boot
on the notebook, with partition of 50% MS Windows and 50% Linux. But
after a couple of weeks, the partition became: 17.5% MS Windows, and
82.5% Linux 🙂 Now, MS Windows is rarely booted in my notebook.

Linux Xwindow is not good? On the
contrary, it’s fabulous.

A few years ago, this could be true,
but in the last couple of months Linux Xwindow has becoming better
and better. Especially since the release of KDE 3.4 and Gnome 2.10.
What, there are many Xwindow system? KDE and Gnome? Yes! This is the
unique of Linux comparing to MS Windows, we are FREE to choose our
own desktop environment. There are KDE, Gnome, Windowmaker, XFCE,
enlightment, etc. Of which with their own characteristic.

Below is a screen shot of KDE 3.4
Kubuntu in my IBM T42 notebook. Not bad, isn’t it?

Back to our concern, is Linux and Open
Source experiencing defeats and decreasing? I don’t think so.

The following is the statistic of’s visitors based on Operating System and Browsers used.

It’s not a general representative of
what is actually happening in the Internet, but at least from’s perspective it’s enough.

As you can see in Picture 2a. From
October to December 2004, 74,7% of visitors use MS Windows,
while 18,2% use Linux. But, from January to July 2005,
visitors using Linux rise to 28,6%. An increase of 10,4%. Not

What is even more surprising is the
type of Internet Browers used. From Oct to Dec 2004, 70,7% of
visitors use Internet Explorer. Firefox comprise of 19,2%. But from
January to July 2005, Firefox users jump to 35,3%, while IE
users drop to 57,3%. This is very nice.

It seems that the Open Source
movement’s urge "If you can’t or don’t want to leave MS Windows
now, at least try to use other FOSS alternatives on the applications"
is quite working.

Long road ahead.

However, there is still a long road to
go for Linux and Open Source. Microsoft is a very big company and has
unbelievable big financial resources. As we know, Bill Gates is the
richest person on this planet for the last 7 consecutive years.

This is also an interesting remark by
Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) in 2001, "Linux is a cancer
that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything
it touches,"

And, like a cancer, slowly but sure,
Linux keeps growing in the grass-root level, among the lowest level,
among idealists, who have never tired of spreading the spirit of Open
Source and Linux in particular.

Viva Open Source!

Knowledge belongs to Everyone.


v.1.0 by ari_stress a.k.a tiger74 a.k.a
Fajar Priyanto. Jakarta, 10 July 2005. fajarpri at
arinet dot org. He is a Microsoft Certified
Professional, who fell in love with Linux. Works at an educational
institution in Jakarta.

This article can be downloaded at

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