2007-04-17

Firefox now on 24% of Europe's PCs

See here for details.

Ever since I installed Linux back in 2003 I've been a keen advocate of free, open source software. Lacking marketing power but strong on design, open source software was never going to suddenly destroy its proprietary competitors. Nevertheless, the steady growth of Firefox since its launch in November 2004 shows just how powerful such software can become in the minds of users.

Firefox is the "killer app" that introduces people to the concept of open source software. The more people that use Firefox, the more understanding there will be about the usefulness and importance of open source software. And the result of this will be a greater usage of such software.

The ultimate goal for people like myself is the growth of Linux as an operating system. When I first installed it back in 2003 it was clear even then that it was not mature enough. Yet my experience running Kubuntu in the last 12 months shows that changes have been made.

Firefox is essentially a gateway into open source software. After Firefox, people probably start thinking about Thunderbird as an email option. After that, OpenOffice competes with Microsoft Office, The Gimp competes with Photoshop and .ogg competes with .mp3.

Perhaps the best known example of the theory behind open source software is Wikipedia. The software itself (a Wiki) is open source, but the explosive growth, importance and influence of Wikipedia has shown just how much the world can be influenced by open source.

Wikipedia is already the 11th most visited site on the internet. Back in February 2004 (when I first started contributing) it was the 874th most visited site. Wikipedia's explosive growth is essentially due to its easy acceptance by people on the internet. Open source software will never match Wikipedia's growth rate, but it will, eventually, dominate the computing world. Not now, probably not in five years, but the further into the future you go the more dominant open source will become.

2 comments:

Dave Lankshear said...

Here here!

I even know Mac users that say Firefox works better than Mac Safari... and I've just joined them!
I now use Firefox as my standard browser for work as well as Peak oil (although I did have to reflow all my bookmarks into more condensed folders).

However, according to the 100 thousand members of MacRumours, Gimpshop is still more of a home-image editor, not a viable industry standard. It's got to have a bit more industrial backing before it can compete with Photoshop as the next graphics standard application. But I am discussing something very particular here — graphic design "Industry Standards" — whereas you probably meant for the home user.

Maybe in 5 or 10 years I won't be using a Mac, but it will ALL be Open source as industry standard? Now that would be something!

No more arguments with the printers about when to upgrade to the next Quark or Photoshop (printers have been notorious for lagging behind designers.)

And as you have repeatedly told me, maybe Open source will become far more popular after "You know what" hits the global economy. (Don't forget... SBS Tuesday 24th April, at 8:30, showing "Crude Impact").

It's a strange but exciting new world. I like it.

One Salient Oversight said...

You're absolutely right re: photoshop. It was my understanding that photoshop was not actually a graphic design software package that was "top end", but it is more "top end" than I thought.

The growth of the slang term "photoshopping" (akin to hoovering the carpet or xeroxing some documents) is what caught me here.

Given The Gimp's current status, I would probably say that it would not even approach the level required for photoshop... but another open source package will one day.