Trending February 2024 # Why Microsoft Windows Is Better Than Open Source Operating Systems # Suggested March 2024 # Top 5 Popular

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One of the biggest questions in the world of Operating Systems is, will Open Source Operating Systems ever be able to compete with Microsoft Windows operating systems or even come reasonably close to it in terms of popularity?

Why the Windows operating system is better than Linux

A lot of folks who’ve experienced a lot of problems with Windows are usually told they need to switch over to Linux. Many thought this was a great idea until they ran back to Windows after finding out that Linux isn’t all that great.

Now, we already have an article stating reasons why you should abandon the need to switch to a Linux distro. But we believe a second take is required for the younger folks.

Video games and more video games

Support in terms of drivers

Not enough quality software

Too many Linux distributions

Windows is not a complicated OS

Let us talk about this rivalry in more detail.

1] Video games and more video games

However, when it comes down to Windows, it is the king of gaming. If you’re a hardcore gamer, then there is no better place to play PC games, and that’s a fact. Every game available on Linux is available for Windows. But you know what? Most titles on Windows cannot be found on Linux, and that won’t change any time soon.

2] Support in terms of drivers

Do you know how many Linux users have problems with their computers due to a lack of driver support? It’s an age-old problem, and despite improvements over the years, the issue still shows its ugly head quite often.

Windows, on the other hand, have a larger pool of driver support for almost all hardware. The Windows Update feature, in many cases, will deal with all driver problems in most cases, so there is little need to worry.

3] Not enough quality software

Let’s be honest here, folks. Linux does not have a huge pool of quality software. In fact, a lot of the apps we’ve used on Ubuntu fail to work properly or not at all. Some of them are old and haven’t been updated in years.

In terms of Windows, there are a ton of apps available both in the Microsoft Store and on the web. Not only that, if some haven’t seen an update in a long while, we can guarantee you’ll come across an excellent alternative in a short while.

At the end of the day, you won’t be able to find certain apps on Linux, such as PhotoShop, Microsoft Office, Adobe Premiere, and many more. Whether you like it or not, these are the facts.

4] Too many Linux distributions

Here’s the thing, when you go out to grab a copy of Windows, your options aren’t that massive. Yes, there are multiple variations, but they are variations of the same thing. Linux, on the other hand, is quite different.

There are many distributions, and most of them do not share the same design and feature set. There are even a few that strive to look like the Windows operating system. What’s the point of abandoning Windows, only to use an OS that looks like it? Makes no sense.

5] Windows is not a complicated OS

Let’s not beat around the bush here. Windows is easier to use than any available Linux distro. Sure, if you’ve been using Linux for multiple years, then definitely it won’t be a headache. However, for new users who just want to get things done on time, Windows 10 is their best bet.

After many decades the Linux movement feels like it is still in beta. The experience moves forward, but at the same time, it feels stuck.

Linux vs Windows Comparision

2. Windows commands a market share of around 90% while Linux is still languishing at around 1%, even today. Due to its large user base, Microsoft Windows has a wide ecosystem and supports a large number of software which provides its users an opportunity to select software programs as per their need – many of it being free software too. Open Source operating systems also have a huge collection of supported software but in comparison to Microsoft Windows, they lag behind; seeing that most of the software programs are built while taking Microsoft Windows into consideration.

3. Open Source operating systems like the server editions based on Linux Kernel are often called the most secure operating systems. If not better in this regard, Microsoft Windows Server Editions are equally secure and they are constantly being made better day by day. The fact is because Windows is used by most people around the world, malware writers find it more profitable to attack Windows, hence it is hammered at more often. After all, why would anyone want to target 2-3% of the operating system market?

Nevertheless, Windows Servers are known to recover faster from Security attacks than Linux. If  Linux or Open Source was completely secure, would it have been possible to hack the Linux website itself? One has to understand and accept that, as the popularity of any OS increases, it too tends to come under the radar of malware writers, as we have seen in the case of Apple Mac also in recent times.

4. Microsoft Windows supports a wide range of hardware and most of the hardware manufacturers support their hardware in Microsoft Windows due to its larger user base. On the other side, Open Source operating systems have a comparatively smaller user base and hence only some manufacturers support their hardware in Open Source operating systems like Linux.

5. It is a hard task to find support for Open Source operating systems as they are not used by the majority of the population though some resources are available on the Internet in the form of Discussion Forums, eBooks and Community-driven websites. In comparison, Microsoft Windows includes its own help section and there is a vast amount of resources available on the Internet and many books are available in the market for reference.

6. The final release of Microsoft Windows usually has a negligible amount of bugs as it is tested by highly trained professionals at the Microsoft Corporation, its Beta testers, and MVPs, and it goes through various test stages before its release. Microsoft is also usually quick to release fixes if any are required. Open Source operating systems are also tested by professionals and they have both alpha and beta releases before their final release, yet they do have some bugs which are fixed by the updates and upgrades.

7. Then there is the question of costs. Now, this is one area where Windows loses out! Almost all of the Linux flavors are either free of cost or are available at a much lower price. Whereas for Windows, you have to pay! While for the desktop version, it may not matter much to many, in the Enterprise segment, this becomes important. The maintenance cost of Linux is said to be rather low as compared to Microsoft Windows. This is, therefore one of the fields where Microsoft Windows is facing tough competition from Linux Flavors, esp in the Server segment.

READ: How to create a Windows bootable USB on Linux

Please let us know your views also on this subject.

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How Bitgert Blockchain Is Better Than Polygon Matic

One major fact that stands out about the




The crypto community has been talking about the


One major fact that stands out about the Bitgert project is the powerful blockchain, the BRC20 chain, which the team launched in mid-February 2023. The new blockchain has formed the biggest discussion in the crypto industry because of its disruptiveness. The Bitgert BRC20 blockchain has already overtaken most blockchains and is now taking on the largest chains in the industry. Among the blockchains that Bitgert is outperforming today is Polygon. There is no doubt that Bitgert is now better than Polygon Matic. Read more below:The Bitgert team has launched the fastest and the cheapest blockchain in the history of the crypto industry. Bitgert chain successfully implemented the zero-cost gas fee mechanism, which enables users to pay $0.0000000000001 for gas in every transaction. This makes it the lowest gas fee ever and is one of the areas Bitgert blockchain is doing better than Polygon Matic. The Brise chain is now the fastest blockchain in the history of blockchain after reaching 100k TPS. This is faster than Polygon, which can process about 10k TPS, making Bitgert 10x faster. The fast chain and lowest gas fee are two ways that Bitgert is better than Polygon today. However, Bitgert is working on bringing more products into the chain, with the Brise exchange expected to launch any time from now. The Bitgert team is also bringing hundreds of blockchain-based projects on the chain. In fact, the Bitgert team is bringing 100+ projects every month and aims at 1000+ by the end of the chúng tôi crypto community has been talking about the Centcex project and says it could be the token to watch after Bitgert . Centcex is among the cryptocurrency doing very well in the industry and among the tokens project to post massive growth this year. The Centcex growth in the past few weeks has been of the largest, even better than Bitgert in terms of percentage increase. The Centcex major attraction has been the huge number of products the team is building. The team is working on building tens of blockchain applications, including crypto exchange, dApps, staking programs, and so on. With the largest number of products in the Centcex ecosystem , investors will enjoy a fast-growing Centcex price due to network adoption. The Centcex staking program offers 100% APY, and with tens of products, investors can expect huge staking rewards. These are just a few things that make this cryptocurrency stand chúng tôi comparison between the Bitgert and Polygon Matic blockchains shows that the latter is being outperformed as the users’ best chain. The Polygon Matic chain is slow and has more expensive gas than Bitgert , and this means Bitgert might be the most preferred chain by users and developers than Matic. The implication is that Matic will start losing traction to Bitgert as more users and developers will go for the Brise chain. Bitgert is also taking the Polygon Matic competition a notch higher by increasing projects on the chain. There are over 1000 projects coming on the Bitgert chain in 365 days, which will make Bitgert a larger ecosystem than Polygon Matic. The bottom line is that soon, Polygon might be completely outperformed by Bitgert.

6 Challenging Open Source Data Science Projects To Make You A Better Data Scientist


Here are 6 challenging open-source data science projects to level up your data scientist skillset

There are some intriguing data science projects, including how to put deep learning models into production and a different way to measure artificial intelligence, among others

Each data science project comes with end-to-end code so you can download that and get started right now!


When was the last time you took up a data science project outside your daily work? I’m certainly guilty of not doing this regularly. We tend to get caught up in our professional lives and slip up on the learning front.

That’s a step we simply cannot afford to miss! Data science is one of the fastest-growing industries right now thanks to the unprecedented rise in data and computational power. There’s no excuse to not know what the latest techniques and frameworks are in your space, whether than’s Natural Language Processing (NLP), computer vision, or something else.

And the best way to learn, practice and apply these state-of-the-art techniques is through data science projects.

This article is the perfect place for you to begin. I have put together six challenging yet powerful open source data science projects to help you hone and fine-tune your skillset. I have provided the end-to-end code as well for each project so you can download it right now and start working on your own machine!

This article is part of our monthly data science project series. We pick out the latest open source projects from GitHub and bring them straight to you. This is the 23rd edition of the series and we are grateful to our community for the overwhelming response that keeps this series going. Here’s the complete list of projects we have published this year so far:

Here are the 6 Data Science Projects We’ve Picked from GitHub (November Edition)

Open Source Deep Learning Projects

I haven’t come across a lot of work on 3D deep learning. That’s why I found this GitHub repository quite fascinating. The possibilities of 3D deep learning are tantalizing and potentially unique. Think about it – 3D imaging, geospatial analysis, architecture, etc. – so many data points at play!

Kaolin is a PyTorch library that aims to accelerate the research in 3D deep learning. The PyTorch library provides efficient implementations of 3D modules for use in deep learning systems – something I’m sure all you industry veterans will appreciate.

We get a ton of functionality with Kaolin, including loading and preprocessing popular 3D datasets, evaluating and visualizing 3D results, among other things.

What I especially like about Kaolin is that the developers have curated multiple state-of-the-art deep learning architectures to help anyone get started with these projects.  You can read more about Kaolin and how it works in the official research paper here.

And if you’re new to deep learning and PyTorch, don’t worry! Here are a few tutorials (and a course) to get you on your way:

Putting your machine learning model into production is a challenging task most aspiring data scientists aren’t prepared for. The majority of courses don’t teach it. You won’t find a lot of articles and blogs about it. But knowing how to put your model into production is a key skill every organization wants a data scientist to possess.

Now take that up a notch for deep learning models. It is a tricky and challenging task. You’ve built a robust deep learning model, sure, but what’s next? How do you get that to the end user? How can you deploy a deep learning model?

That’s where this Production-Level Deep Learning project comes in. We need several different components to deploy a production-level deep learning system:

The GitHub repository I have linked above contains toolsets and frameworks along with a set of best practices deep learning experts follow. I really like the way each step in the full-stack deep learning pipeline is mapped and summarized succinctly. I’ll be referring back to it whenever I’m working on deploying deep learning models in the foreseeable future.

I recommend checking out the below articles to get a taste of data engineering and why even data scientists need to acquire this skill:

Deep learning has made us all artists. No longer do we need expensive equipment to edit images and videos, computer vision and techniques like GANs bring creativity right to our doorstep.

“The Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production from still imagery.”

Creating a Ken Burns effect manually is time-consuming and honestly quite complex. Existing methods require a lot of input images taken from multiple angles. Not ideal. So in this project, the developers have created “a framework that synthesizes the 3D Ken Burns effect from a single image, supporting both a fully automatic mode and an interactive mode with the user controlling the camera”.

And no surprise to see that the implementation is in PyTorch, is it? You need to get on board the PyTorch bandwagon now to harness its full potential and give your deep learning career a major boost.

Open Source Artificial Intelligence (AI), NLP and Other Data Science Projects

Graphs have become an important part of the machine learning lifecycle in recent times. They are an effective and efficient method of analyzing data, building recommendation systems, mining social networks, etc. In short – they are super useful.

In fact, we at Analytics Vidhya are big proponents of graphs and have a collection of useful articles you can read about here.

Plato is a framework for distributed graph computation and machine learning. It has been developed by the folks at Tencent and open-sourced recently. Plato is a state-of-the-art framework that comes with incredible computing power. While analyzing billions of nodes, Plato can reduce the computing time from days to minutes (that’s the power of graphs!).

So, instead of relying on several hundred servers, Plato can finish its tasks on as little as ten servers. Tencent is using Plato on the WeChat platform as well (for all you text savvy readers).

Here’s a comparison of Plato against Spark GraphX on the PageRank and LPA benchmarks:

You can read more Plato here. If you’re new to graphs and are wondering how they tie into data science, here’s an excellent article to help you out:

HuggingFace is the most active research group I’ve seen in the NLP space. They seem to come up with new releases and frameworks mere hours after the official developers announce them – it’s incredible. I would highly recommend following HuggingFace on Twitter to stay up-to-date with their work.

Their latest release is Transformers v2.2.0 that includes four new NLP models (among other new features):

ALBERT (PyTorch and TensorFlow): A Lite version of BERT

CamamBERT (PyTorch): A French Language Model

GPT2-XL (PyTorch and TensorFlow): A GPT-2 iteration by OpenAI

DistilRoberta (PyTorch and TensorFlow)

As always, we have the tutorials for the latest state-of-the-art NLP frameworks:

This is a slightly different project from what I typically include in these articles. But I feel it’s an important one given how far away we still are from even getting close to artificial general intelligence.

ARC, short for Abstraction and Reasoning Corpus, is an artificial general intelligence benchmark that aims to emulate a “human-like form of general fluid intelligence”. This idea and the research behind it has been done by François Chollet, the author of the popular Keras framework.

Mr. Chollet, in his research paper titled “On the Measure of Intelligence“, provides an updated definition of intelligence based on Algorithmic Information Theory. He also proposes a new set of guidelines to showcase what a general AI benchmark should be. And the ARC is that benchmark based on these guidelines.

I think its a really important topic that will spur a lot of debate in the community. That’s a healthy thing and will hopefully lead to even more research on the topic and perhaps a big step forward in the artificial general intelligence space.

This GitHub repository contains the ARC dataset along with a browser-based interface to try solving the tasks manually. I’ve mentioned a couple of resources below to help you understand what AI is and how it works:

End Notes

So, which open source project did you find the most relevant? I have tried to diversify the topics and domains as much as possible to help you expand your horizons. I have seen our community embrace the deep learning projects with the enthusiasm of a truly passionate learner – and I hope this month’s collection will help you out further.

Personally, I will be digging deeper into François Chollet’s paper on measuring intelligence as that has really caught my eye. It’s rare that we get to openly read about benchmarking artificial general intelligence systems, right?


Best Free Open Source Video Converter Software For Windows 11/10

Here is a list of the best free open source video converter software for Windows 11/10. These video converters are free software that come with an open source license. Hence, you can use them for free as well as you can download the source code of these applications. You can also study and modify the source code without any limitations. So, if you want a free and open-source video converter, this list will help you find a good one. Let us get straight to the list now.

Best free Open Source Video Converter software for Windows 11/10

Here are the best free open source video converter software for Windows 11/10:



Miro Video Converter



1] QWinFF

QWinFF is a free open source video converter for Windows 11/10. It is also available for other operating systems including Ubuntu, FreeBSD, and Fedora. It is based on FFmpeg which is a command-line multimedia manipulator suite.

Before conversion, you can set up a lot of output video parameters to customize your resulting videos. These output parameters include sample rate, bitrate, disabled audio, etc. It also provides some video editing options using which you can crop and resize output video, trim video, and change video speed. Now, let us check out how to perform video conversion using this converter.

How to convert videos using open source video converter: QWinFF?

Here are the main steps to batch convert videos using QWinFF:

Download and install QWinFF.

Launch QWinFF.

Add input video files.

Select output video format.

Set up output configurations.

Firstly, you need to download and install QWinFF on your PC, and then launch it. The good thing is that it also comes in a portable package. Hence, you can download its portable version and simply launch the application without installing it.

It is a simple yet quite effective open source video converter that anyone can use for free.

Read: Best free FLV to MP4 converter for Windows PC.

2] HandBrake

The next open source video converter on this list is HandBrake. It is a popular free and open source video converter that lets you convert multiple video files at the same time.

It supports a variety of video formats to open and convert. The supported input and output video formats include MPEG, AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, etc. You can also convert videos compatible with specific video profiles like web, Android, Apple, Roku, Xbox, Playstation, and more. It also supports various video encoders to transcode videos such as H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, Theora, H.265, VP8., VP9, etc.

How to convert videos using open source video converter: HandBrake?

It is very easy to use. You can simply add the source video files to it using the Open Source button. After that, you can go to the Summary tab and choose an output video format according to your requirement. Next, you can move to the Video and other tabs to customize various options including video encoder, audio codec, subtitles, create chapter markers, etc.

Once done setting up the output configurations, you can tap on the Add to Queue button and then the Start Encode button to start the video conversion process. It will then batch convert your videos in some time and save them at your predefined location.

Overall, it is a great free and open source video converter that comes in both portable and installer versions.

Read: Best free Audio Format Converter software for Windows

3] Miro Video Converter

Miro Video Converter is yet another free and open source video converter software for Windows 11/10. It is a nicely designed software that allows you to batch convert your videos from one format to another.

It supports various input video formats, but you can convert your videos to three formats only including MP4, WebM, and OGG Theora. Besides standard video formats, you can also optimize and convert videos for specific devices including Apple, Android, and Kindle devices. Before conversion, you can also edit the aspect ratio and resolution of output videos.

To use it, open the software and browse and add the input video files to it. Or, you can simply drag and drop your videos onto its interface. After that, go to the Format menu and select the desired format. If you want to convert videos for a specific device, go to the respective device and select the required format.

See: Best free WebM to MP4 converter software for Windows 11/10.

4] FFmpeg

If you like using command-based tools, try FFmpeg. It is a free, open source video converter that operates via Command Line Interface. You can simply enter an easy command to convert your video from one format to another format. Let us check out the command.

How to convert videos via Command using FFmpeg?

Firstly, you need to download FFmpeg from its official website. After that, extract the downloaded setup folder and go to the sub-folder where the chúng tôi file is present. Next, copy and paste your input video file to this location. And then, open the Command Prompt in this folder.

Now, enter a command like the below one:

ffmpeg.exe -i chúng tôi outputvideo.avi

In the above command, you can replace inputvideo.mp4 with the filename and format of your video. And, change chúng tôi to the filename and format you want to give to your output video. The resulting video will be saved at the same location as the source folder.

It is a great command-based software to convert your videos as well as perform various other tasks like transcode videos, resize videos, rotate videos, play RTSP stream, etc.

See: Use FFmpeg Batch A/V Converter to convert video and audio files.

5] WinFF

WinFF is yet another free open source video converter software for Windows 11/10. It is a batch video converter that allows you to convert multiple video files at once. You can convert videos with formats like AVI, DV, MP4, MPEG, MOV, and WEBM. It also lets you customize video bitrate, frame rate, resolution, and aspect ratio before conversion.

You can add your videos to it and select an output video format from the Convert to menu. Then, go to the Video tab and set up output options. After that, enter the output location and press the Convert button to start the batch video conversion process.

You can download it from here.

Hopefully, this post will be helpful if you are looking for a free open source video converter.

What Video Converter is the best and free?

There are a lot of free video converter software available for Windows. You can try HandBrake as it is free as well as open source. It supports a wide number of output video formats and encoders. So, you can transcode and convert your videos easily. Plus, it also lets you batch convert your videos which is time-saving and convenient for you. There are some other free good video converters like Any Video Converter, Format Factory, VLC Media Player, and more. If you want a free online video converter tool, try using web services like Online-Convert, Zamzar, Kapwing, etc.

Is HandBrake totally free?

Yes, HandBrake is free. Also, it is open source, and you can download and manipulate it source code as per your requirements. It is available for major operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can run perfectly on a Windows 11/10 PC. It supports Windows 10 and later operating systems, i.e., Windows 11 and above.

Now read:

Best Open Source Internet Radio Player For Linux

Internet radio has become a popular way of listening to music and news from all over world. There are many internet radio players available for Linux, but finding right one can be a challenge. Open source internet radio players for Linux are free and customizable, making them an excellent option for Linux users who want to personalize their listening experience.

In this article, we will discuss best open-source internet radio players for Linux and their features. We’ll also talk about how to install and use these players on your Linux machine.


Rhythmbox is a popular music player for Linux that comes with built-in internet radio functionality. It is open-source and has a user-friendly interface. Rhythmbox allows you to stream internet radio stations and podcasts from around world. It supports a variety of audio formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC.

Rhythmbox also allows you to create playlists, organize your music library, and sync your music with your portable music player. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want an all-in-one music player and internet radio player.


Clementine is another popular open-source music player that comes with internet radio functionality. It is a lightweight and easy-to-use player that supports a wide range of audio formats. Clementine allows you to search for and play internet radio stations from around world.

Clementine also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and rip CDs. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a simple and straightforward music player with internet radio functionality.


Amarok is a powerful and customizable music player for Linux that comes with internet radio functionality. It is open-source and has a modern and user-friendly interface. Amarok allows you to search for and play internet radio stations from around world.

Amarok also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and sync your music with your portable music player. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a powerful and customizable music player with internet radio functionality.

Radio Tray

Radio Tray is a simple and lightweight open-source internet radio player for Linux. It is designed to sit in your system tray and provide quick access to your favorite internet radio stations. Radio Tray supports a wide range of audio formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC+.

Radio Tray is an excellent option for Linux users who want a simple and lightweight internet radio player that doesn’t take up a lot of system resources.

Quod Libet

Quod Libet is an open-source music player for Linux that comes with internet radio functionality. It is highly customizable and supports a wide range of audio formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC. Quod Libet allows you to search for and play internet radio stations from around world.

Quod Libet also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and sync your music with your portable music player. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a customizable music player with internet radio functionality.

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player is a popular open-source multimedia player that can play almost any audio and video format. It also comes with internet radio functionality, allowing you to stream internet radio stations from around world.

VLC Media Player also allows you to create and manage playlists, convert audio and video formats, and stream media over internet. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a versatile multimedia player with internet radio functionality.

Gnome Music Player Client

Gnome Music Player Client (GMPC) is a lightweight open-source music player for Linux that comes with internet radio functionality. It is designed to work with MPD music player daemon, allowing you to play internet radio stations and manage your music library.

GMPC also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and stream media over internet. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a lightweight music player with internet radio functionality.


Audacious is an open-source music player for Linux that comes with internet radio functionality. It is a lightweight and fast player that supports a variety of audio formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC. Audacious allows you to search for and play internet radio stations from around world.

Audacious also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and customize player’s interface using skins. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a fast and customizable music player with internet radio functionality.


MOC (Music on Console) is an open-source music player for Linux that can also play internet radio stations. It is a command-line player that has a simple and minimalistic interface. MOC supports a wide range of audio formats, including MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC.

To use MOC to listen to internet radio, type “mocp -R” in terminal. This will display a list of internet radio stations that you can listen to. You can also search for specific stations by entering keywords in search box.

MOC also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and customize player’s interface using skins. It is an excellent option for Linux users who prefer command-line interfaces and want a simple and lightweight player with internet radio functionality.

Strawberry Music Player

Strawberry Music Player is an open-source music player for Linux that comes with internet radio functionality. It is a fork of Clementine player and has a modern and user-friendly interface. Strawberry Music Player allows you to search for and play internet radio stations from around world.

Strawberry Music Player also allows you to create and manage playlists, edit tags, and sync your music with your portable music player. It is an excellent option for Linux users who want a modern and customizable music player with internet radio functionality.


In conclusion, there are many open-source internet radio players available for Linux. Rhythmbox, Clementine, Amarok, Radio Tray, Quod Libet, VLC Media Player, and Gnome Music Player Client are all excellent options for Linux users who want to listen to internet radio. These players are free and customizable, allowing you to personalize your listening experience. We hope that this article has helped you find best open-source internet radio player for your Linux machine.

9 Things That Are Never Admitted About Open Source

You might think that a group of intelligent people like the members of the free and open source software (FOSS) community would be free of hidden taboos. You might expect that such a group of intellectuals would find no thought forbidden or uncomfortable—but if you did, you would be wrong.

Like any sub-culture, FOSS is held together by shared beliefs. Such beliefs help to create a shared identity, which means that questioning them also means questioning that identity.

Some of these taboo subjects might undermine truisms held for twenty years or more. Others are new and challenge accepted truths. If examined, any of them can be as threatening as a declaration of shared values can be reassuring.

Yet while examining taboos can be uncomfortable, doing so can often be necessary. Beliefs can linger long after they no longer apply or have degenerated into half-truths. Every now and then, it is useful to think the unthinkable, if only so beliefs can be re-synced with reality.

With this rationale, here are nine of my observations about open source today that are overdue for examination.

When Ubuntu first emerged nine years ago, many regarded it as the distribution that would lead the community to world domination. Coming out of nowhere, it immediately began focusing on the desktop in a way that no other distribution ever had. Tools and utilities were added. Many Debian developers found jobs at Canonical, Ubuntu’s commercial arm. Developers had their expenses paid to conferences that they couldn’t have attended otherwise.

Over the years, though, much of this initial excitement has eroded. Nobody seemed to mind Ubuntu’s founder Mark Shuttleworth calling for major projects to coordinate their release cycles; they simply ignored it. But eyebrows began to rise when Ubuntu started developing its own interface instead of contributing to GNOME. Canonical started vetoing what was happening in Ubuntu, apparently not for the common good but mainly in the search for profit. Many, too, disliked Ubuntu’s Unity interface when it was released.

But listen to Canonical employees or Ubuntu volunteers talk, and you could almost imagine that the last nine years had never happened. In particular, read Shuttleworth’s blog or public statements, in which he assumes that he remains a community leader and that “the big mouths of ideologues” will eventually be silenced by his success.

Seven years ago, Tim O’Reilly stated that open source licenses were obsolete. That was his dramatic way of warning that online services undermined the intent of FOSS. Like FOSS, cloud computing offered users the free use of applications and storage, but without any controls or guarantee of privacy.

The Free Software Foundation responded to the growing popularity of cloud computing by dusting off the GNU Affero General Public License, which extends FOSS ideals to cloud computing.

The founder of the Free Software Foundation and the driving force behind the GNU General Public Licenses, Richard M. Stallman is one of the legendary figures in free and open source software. For years, he has been the most vocal defender of software freedom, and the community probably wouldn’t exist without him.

What his supporters are reluctant to admit is that Stallman’s tactics are limited. Many say he is not comfortable with people, and his arguments center on semantics—on the words chosen, and how they bias an argument.

This approach can be insightful. For example, when Stallman asks why file-sharing is equated with pirates pillaging and looting, he reveals the bias that the music and movie industry tries to impose on the issue.

But, unfortunately, this is almost Stallman’s sole tactic. He rarely moves beyond using it to castigate people, and he repeats himself even more than most people who spend their time making speeches. Increasingly, he is seen in many parts of the community as both irrelevant and embarrassing—as someone who has outlived his effectiveness.

People seem to find it hard to live with the idea that Stallman could both have a history of accomplishment and be less effective than he once was. Either they defend him fiercely because of his history, or they attack him as a wannabe who never was. I believe both his accomplishments and his current lack of effectiveness are true at the same time.

One of the main stories that FOSS developers like to tell themselves is that the community is a meritocracy. Status in the community is supposed to be based on what you have recently contributed, either in terms of code or time.

As a motivation and a source of group identity, the idea of meritocracy has powerful appeal. It encourages people to work long hours and gives community members a sense of identification and superiority.

In its purest form—say within a small project whose contributors have been working together for several years—meritocracy sometimes exists.

More often, though, it is heavily qualified. In many projects, documentation writers or artists are less influential than programmers. Often, who you know can influence whether your contributions are accepted as much as the actually quality of your work.

Similarly, the famous are more likely to influence decision-making than the rank and file, regardless of what they have done recently. People like Mark Shuttleworth or corporations like Google can buy their way to influence. Community projects can find their governing bodies dominated by their corporate sponsors, as has usually been the case with Fedora. Although meritocracy is the ideal, it is almost never the sole practice.

Another trend that undermines meritocratic ideals is the sexism—and, sometimes, outright misogyny—found in some corners of the community. In the last few years, FOSS leaders have denounced this sexism and adapted official policies to discourage some of its worst aspects, such as harassment at conferences. But the problem appears firmly embedded at other levels.

The number of women varies between projects, but 15-20 percent would be considered a relatively high number of women involved in an open source project. In many projects, the number is below 5 percent, even when non-programmers are counted.

Even compared to these low numbers, women are under-represented at conferences, except in those cases where women are actively encouraged to submit proposals—efforts that are inevitably met with accusations of special treatment and quotas, even when no evidence of such things exists.

Similar reactions, many of them far worse, can be found on many FOSS sites or IRC channels whenever a woman appears, especially a stranger. They give the lie to the claims that the community is only interested in contributions, or that the under-participation of women is simply a matter of individual choices.

Just over a decade ago, you could count on Microsoft to call FOSS communistic or un-American, or for leaked revelations of plans to destroy the community.

Much of the community still clings to the memories of those days—after all, nothing brings people together like a powerful and relentless enemy.

But what people fail to appreciate is that Microsoft’s response has become more nuanced, and it varies between corporate departments.

No doubt Microsoft’s top executives still see FOSS as competition, although the colorful denunciations have ceased.

However, Microsoft has realized that, given the popularity of open source, the company’s short-term interests are best served by ensuring that FOSS—especially popular programming languages—works well with its products. That is the basic mission of Microsoft Open Technologies. Recently, Microsoft even released a quote praising the latest release of Samba, which allows management of Microsoft servers from Linux and other Unix-based operating system.

Microsoft is not about to become an open source company any time soon or to make a disinterested donation of cash or code to the community. Still, if you ignore old antagonisms, these days Microsoft’s self-centered approach to FOSS is not greatly different from that taken by Google, HP, or any other corporation.

2012 saw a retreat from GNOME 3 and Unity, the latest major graphical interfaces. The retreat was largely a response to the perception that GNOME and Ubuntu were ignoring users’ concerns and imposing their own visions of the desktop without consultation.

The short-term effect of this retreat was the reinvention of GNOME 2 in various forms.

As the predecessor of both GNOME 3 and Unity, GNOME 2 was an obvious choice. It is a popular desktop and places few constrictions on users.

All the same, its long-term effect threatens to be a stifling of innovation. Not only is time programming the resurrection of GNOME 2 time away from exploring new possibilities, but it seems a reaction against the whole idea of innovation.

Few, for instance, are willing to admit that GNOME 3 or Unity have any useful features. Instead, both are condemned as wholes. Nor have future developments, such as GNOME’s intention to make security and privacy easier, received the attention they deserve.

The result may be that, for the next few years, innovation is likely to be seen a series of incremental changes, with few efforts to enhance general design. Developers, too, may be hesitant to try anything too different in order to avoid rejection of their designs.

I have to applaud the fact that the demands of users have triumphed in the various resurrections of GNOME 2. But the conservatism that seems to accompany it makes me worry that the victory comes at the cost of equally important concerns.

The reality is somewhat different. Examine a user poll, and you find a consistent pattern in which one application or technology has 50-65 percent of the votes, and the next one, 15-30 percent.

For example, among distributions, Debian, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu, all of which use the .DEB package format, won 58 percent of the votes in the 2012 Linux Journal’s Reader Choice Awards, compared to 16 percent for Fedora, openSUSE, and CentOS, which use chúng tôi format.

Similarly, Virtualbox scored 56 percent under Best Virtualization Solution, and VMWare 18 percent. Under Best Revision Control, Git received 56 percent and Subversion 18 percent. The most lopsided category was Best Office Suite, in which LibreOffice received 73 percent and Google Docs 12 percent.

There were only two exceptions to this general pattern. The first was Best Desktop Environment category, where the diversification of the last year was reflected in KDE receiving 26 percent, GNOME 3 22 percent, GNOME 2 15 percent, and Xfce 12 percent. The second was Best Web Browser, in which Mozilla Firefox received 50 percent and Chromium 40 percent.

Overall, the numbers fall short of a monopoly, but in most categories, the tendency is there. The best that can be said is that, without the profit motive, being less popular does not mean that an app will disappear. But if competition is healthy, as everyone likes to say, there is some cause for concern. When you look closely, FOSS is not nearly as diverse as it is assumed to be.

By 2004, FOSS had reached the point where people could do all of their consumer tasks, such as email and web browsing, and most of their productivity computing using FOSS. If you ignore the hopes for a free Bios, only wireless and 3-D drivers were needed to realize the dream of a completely free and open source computer system.

Nine years later, many of the free wireless drivers and some of the free graphic drivers are available—but far from all. Yet the Free Software Foundation only periodically mentions what needs to be done, and the Linux Foundation almost never does, even though it sponsors the OpenPrinting database, which lists which printers have Linux drivers. Given the combined resources of Linux’s corporate users, the final steps could probably be taken in a matter of months, yet no one makes this a priority.

Granted, some companies may be concerned about so-called intellectual property in the hardware they manufacture. Perhaps, too, no one wants to reverse engineer for fear of upsetting their business partners. Yet the impression remains that the current state of affairs exists because it is good enough, and too few care to reach the goals that thousands have made their lives’ work.

A few people might be aware of some of these taboo subjects already. Probably, however, there is something in this list to peeve everyone.

However, my intent is not to start nine separate flame wars. I’d have no time for them even if I wanted them.

Instead, these represent my best effort to identify the places where what is widely believed in the community needs to be questioned. I could be wrong—after all, I am discussing what I have grown used to thinking, too—but at worst, the list is a start.

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