This is a given, granted, but we couldn't form a list of what open source does right without including the brainchild of Linus Torvalds. What started as a learning experience for the young programmer has now grown into a fully fledged rival for the likes of Microsoft and Apple.
It's easy to see the benefits of Linux. Many heads working together to make something perfect. Hundreds of thousands of beta testers out there, running different combinations of architecture, seeing what works and fixing what doesn't. It's communist computer heaven.
One only has to imagine how much better Windows or OSX could be if those skilled geeks that spend their time hacking the OS were allowed to consult, improve and stabilise it.
For this reason, Linux is the cornerstone of open source.
These days it seems impossible to mention Linux without hearing the word 'Ubuntu' follow shortly after. The Debian-based OS has shown clear improvement with every release and certainly lives up to its namesake.
With Ubuntu things just tend to *work*. You install your OS and off you go. Plug your printer in, it works. Plug your MP3 player in, it works. These are simple things but ones that make a huge difference to end users. Add to that the malleability of the OS, the ability to alter the very foundation that it runs on, the way it looks, acts and responds and you have a very attractive proposition for the technically minded among us. And a more and more attractive proposition for the novice with every release.
This openness and support are something which the market leaders are only now starting to embrace and while they haven't quite grasped the concept of 'Ubuntu' yet, the hope is that they continue trying to learn from the African way and stop pig-headedly ignoring it.
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