Opensource like Android?

This was a story I told quite regularly at OSCON earlier this year and I thought I would share it with everyone here.

I have over the years mentioned that some things in the Linux world poise it to be “the year of the Linux desktop”. Many people say these things, in fact others in the Linux world tend to tell you not to mention it as it might jinx the movement. Well, this year, 2010 is almost coming to an end, so I doubt I would be jinxing anything.

Who cares if it is the year of the Linux desktop? If the mantra was to spread opensource, I think Google has done a bang up job of getting the word out that Android is opensource. I know some people reading that line will cringe and tell me that MeeGo is more opensource, Android is not opensource, etc.

I landed in SFO as usual and I told the immigration officer that I was headed to Portland for OSCON. He wanted to know what OSCON was, and I told him it was a conference where opensource people gathered. He asked me flat out: “You mean, opensource like Android?” I instantly smiled and we got on to talking about Android, mobile phones and he told me how he enjoyed his Android device and he thought that all of us in this “opensource movement” were doing a great thing for his phone. He did make use of the Android Marketplace and he did get quite a few apps from it (free though, he admitted).

I then boarded my connecting to PDX, arriving past midnight, I hit the sack. Breakfast was to be at Burgerville right before the Community Leadership Summit. The waitress asked me if I was in town for some kind of family reunion, and I told her that I was in town for OSCON. She inquired what OSCON was since she had not heard of it and this was the weekend before all the geeks descended upon her. I told her it was a gathering for opensource people, and felt a sense of deja vu when she retorted: “Opensource like Android?” By golly, she had purchased an Android phone, went into depths about the applications, told me more about how she used the Android Marketplace, how she purchased a few apps, but preferred free ones, and so on.

I was making conversation about opensource (and Android devices in particular) with an immigration officer and a waitress, all under twelve hours of me landing in the United States. Its 2010, and even if Linux isn’t king on the desktop, its king on people’s most personal device, their mobile phone. Its what they carry in their pockets, and it’s doing more and more for them as the technology iterates. And this revolution is powered by Linux.