In case you’ve been living under a rock, or working at some large, silly corporation that develops only for Internet Explorer, Opera has just released version 8 of their excellent web browser. You can check out what has changed yourself–I won’t bore you with the list.
Again, in case you’ve been living under a rock, or working at… somewhere less than clueful… Opera is a standards-compliant browser, is feature-rich, fully skinnable, has an excellent e-mail program, does lots of Really Cool Stuff (TM), and in general, is the browser that I normally try to make Firefox mimic when I occasionally switch back and forth between it and Opera. The things that Firefox does well are largely things that Opera has been doing and doing well for quite a while. And, I LOVE the community and general feel behind Opera!! The graphic above (the graphic currently found on Opera’s home page) exhibits this nonchalant, cool attitude that is so refreshing to see in a company.
This is definitely not intended to be a bash on Firefox. I love Firefox, and am the biggest advocate of Open Source that you’d ever want to be caught in a torrential downpour with. And honestly, that’s not entirely the point of this brain-dump.
I’ve been using Opera for Linux for years and years (don’t remember how long, but it’s been quite a while). And I’ve always used the free version, because, well, quite honestly, if I don’t have to spend money, I will not volunteer myself to. And Opera has been getting better and better and better and… you get the idea.
Wellsir, I believe that I have reached an epiphany today that brings me to a different point in the road. You see, today I invested $39 of my not-easily-given-up money into buying a license for Opera.
And it wasn’t being sick of seeing the advertisements that show up on the free version of Opera that made me do it. And it’s not that I couldn’t have found a cracked registration key so that I wouldn’t have to see the advertisements. And it’s not that I think it’s the only viable web browser for Linux (every browser for any platform has issues).
So why did I, a Very Outspoken Open Source Advocate (VOOSA, heretofore) actually pay money for software (Opera in this case) when I could have shunned this as Communist behavior and confined myself to using/supporting only a fully Open Source solution (Konqueror or Firefox, namely)?
I came to the realization today that:
- Opera (the web browser) is a very, very good product. It certainly fills the needs that I require in the product. It’s actually the best browser I have ever used for any platform, in fact.
- Opera (the company) is committed to Linux as a platform to develop for. I am a member of the opera-linux mailing list and am VERY impressed with the community around this product and the quick and capable responses from Opera developers to the Linux community.
- Opera (the company) has been committed to Linux as a platform for longer than I can think of any other company being. If I recall correctly, they were releasing their browser for Linux way back when Netscape 4 (3 even??) was the only other alternative for Linux.
- Opera (the company) is exactly the kind of company that we as Linux users should be supporting!!! This is what we keep asking for, right? Companies to take the Linux platform seriously–to develop products for Linux, to support products for Linux, to be involved in a community that takes Linux seriously, etc. That’s what they’re doing! And in my book, they’re doing it REALLY well and should be supported in their efforts.
So, I feel very good about having put my money where my mouth (and keyboard) are. And, I’d encourage you, my fellow VOOSA, to do the same. Show companies like Opera that we appreciate their products and support of our Open Source platforms. Don’t join the frothing crowd of lunacy that would tell you that you should never have to pay for any software. Maybe in another hundred years when we’ve all joined the Borg, perhaps, but not in the reality which we presently occupy. Currently, you have to make money to stay in business. And how will companies be motivated to continue to develop for our Open Source platforms if they can’t make any money from their efforts?? You think they’re doing this because they’re stupid or charitable? Maybe. I think not likely though–and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that–it’s a part of the society and reality we live in.
What is wrong though, I submit to you, is if we refuse to put our money where our mouths are and encourage companies to develop for the Linux (or FreeBSD/NetBSD/*NIX) platform by allowing them to be profitable by doing so.
We’ve all worked really hard to create this beautiful thing in Open Source desktops.
Wouldn’t it suck if we never succeed at seeing it reach critical mass because we refuse to show the companies who are developing for our desktops that it’s worth doing so?