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Initially, Niyam came up with the name 'OpenYug' for the column. Yug is a sanskrit word in vogue even today, which means 'Era' or 'Age'. According to Indian mysticism, Time is divided into four ages: SatYug, Dwaparyug, Tretayug, and finally Kalyug. Sat means Truth. Kali is a terrible goddess in whose age destruction and chaos will rule. A perfect metaphor for the existing age of computing as well. A dinner discussion with Richard Stallman convinced him it should be renamed 'FreedomYug'. The column hopes to foster a gestalt change in Indian computing, and usher in a new age beyond its Kalyug, the age of freedom.
Click here for all FreedomYug

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Make Love, Not Linux.

February 2007

Only Love Is Ctrl + Alt + Real

Even Valentine is going to love this one. Nine hundred years from now, would GnuLinux exist? Would the opensource revolution be seen at all as one? Would software exist? Will the web be transformed into a world wide wilderness? Would you exist?

Nine centuries later, would anyone even find the songs you digitally streamed into your ears and soul? Will the pixels that captured the memories of your life glow no more? Will a new 'Tear' tool in Photoshop wash away the digital dust of time? Seems like everything digital is so very perishable. Strange then how everyone is so embattled in what they call the 'war'. Some have declared a war against Microsoft. Others have declared one against patents, or against whom they call software pirates. How the digital deludes us all. How could workers in the knowledge economy be so ignorant? The hourglass that tumbles on thy mouse cursor, it tumbles for thee.

When You Close Your Eyes

Allow me to ask the unsettling questions no one has dared ask yet. What is the core essence of the GnuLinux movement? Some will say it is to "build a free-of-cost operating system." But you are still paying for it. Through the energies and efforts of your life to build it. Is that really worth it? We don't know if an operating system will last nine hundred years, much less a free-of-cost alternative. "GnuLinux is about granting freedom," some may chant. What GnuLinux offers you is mere convenience and flexibility in choosing how to install, use, and modify the software. Ironically enough, with its own conditions and restrictions. Since when has such convenience become the true, philosophical sense of the word 'freedom'? Ding! This is the point when the gloves come off. "The GnuLinux movement is about fighting against Microsoft", a few may say more openly and fiercely. Sounds as significant as the Cola wars, alright. Deludes us all into a higher purpose of life, to let loose passions desperately seeking an objective or mission.

Fulfill Your Love

Finally, the wiser may say it is about "building communities that share" and ask you to point your browser to wikipedia, flickr, youtube, and the growing peer-driven content and knowledge-sharing portals. Here at last, the core essence of GnuLinux unveils itself, and it is not software. Several thousand communities have existed through several thousand years of civilization. Many of these have also authored and shared knowledge for the public good. Sometimes, the knowledge left behind by forgotten communities is handed down, generation to generation. And sometimes, even the knowledge is eventually forgotten. So the real objective is not about what we share, even though that may seem important. The real objective of the GnuLinux movement is that we learn to share. Sounds like love, alright. Sharing has become the new currency in this age. Soon, you will not be known by how much money you have, but how much you share. The great thing about sharing, is that it need neither be money, nor software code. So find anything that you feel is valuable, like a photo, an idea, your understanding of something, a patent, or even just a cooking recipe, and just share it. In fact, sharing is the new economy of wealth.

People, and companies, have earned millions, and even billions of dollars, in building ingenious business models that foster the culture of sharing. IBM, Sun, Novell, Red Hat, Oracle, Google, YouTube, and pretty much everyone you see working in this domain has a stupendous success story to share.

Yet far beyond the money, what fascinates me most about GnuLinux is, the sheer romance of the defiance and adventure of using it; the delight of sharing it with others; and the profound cultural impact it is having on humanity. The next nine hundred years have just begun. Happy Valentine!

Inspired by the vision of Osho. Niyam Bhushan is a leading technology writer, editor, columnist, with a background in graphic design. He consults and trains in digital imagery. He has been using computers across several platforms since 1982, and loves the freedom and power offered by GnuLinux. Email: freedomyug at linuxforu dot com

© 2007 Niyam Bhushan. First published in LinuxForYou magazine, Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved. In Hindi, 'muft' means 'free of cost', and 'mukt' means 'with freedom.'