Everyone knows that the obvious difference between proprietary software and free software is the licensing model. What few people know is that free software’s biggest strength is the people that are drawn together to make up a community that is incredibly powerful. I saw this power first-hand in Mountain View, CA, USA at the KDE 4.0 release event. If you use Gnome, XFCE, or even Microsoft Windows, put your bias aside. This is about the community of free software, and to a lesser extent, some of the individuals that make free software what it is – not just KDE.
From across the globe they came; these developers and artists and marketing folks (how else do you get the word out about your product), end-users, and enthusiasts alike. Educators and academics, business executives, students, consultants, scientists, system administrators and more were there as well- for they are one-in-the-same, and all come with an equal voice. Many, having worked together for years, met for the first time face to face, often introducing themselves by IRC nick to one another. Never have I been in a room with such intellectual power all woven together by real humility and a common cause- a truly incredible group. Continue reading