No, I'm not talking about Xena or Seven of Nine.
I'm talking about the reason for "The Fight" that has geeks engaged every single day. I'm talking about cause behind "That Argument" that floods blogs, forums and to my amusement, YouTube comments. I'm talking about the goal behind the vast verbal assaults with their toll on innocent keyboards. I am of course talking about reason for the Operating System discussions.
Now armies all consist of various assets, regiments, ranks and strategies. And we can draw surprising similarities between conventional and OS armies. The forums posters, brave front line infantry that take the battle head on in semi-live discussion. The Bloggers, dropping their articles from up high for a greater area of effect while dodging the AA fire in the form of Comments. The employees and coders themselves, the Officers planning strategy, refining their Weapon, the Operating System in question. And like with all wars you will find the privateers, the looters, known to many as The Fanboys. Those that try and use the greater war as an excuse to misbehave and try and wreak their own little havoc, bringing us such memorable gems of stage three brainworm invasion as "MaC rUlZ" or "LiNux is teh suxxor" and the much loved "M$ is Evil".
But the war rages on and as the new version of each OS gets released by their Generals and the arms escalation seems to reach M.A.D. proportions. I think the most apparent similarity of all comes to light. Aggression breeds aggression. Now in turn Aggression breeds a whole lot of other things as well, being the ravenous little bunny it is but it is this circular term that sees the OS war in the state it is today. Take a step back from the skirmish, if only to slap me for dragging the metaphor 3 miles past its bus stop, and you can think clearly enough to see the Ultimate prize we are all fighting for.
And at this point, once you have laughed at the fanboys, shrugged off the astroturfers and ignored the marketers do you realise that the battle of the OS war is the same battle that we fight in the real world. Forget the governments, forget the corporations, forget the Despots and Tyrants and Supremacists. We don't want world domination. We all just want our place under the sun. We all just want to be respected. We all just want freedom of choice.
And that is what it boils down to once you get to the heart of the OS war as conducted on the Internet, not the Boardrooms. We want the Users to win. We want a User to be able to use whatever he likes. We want the Users to be informed about the advantages and disadvantages of each OS. And above it all we want it that no choice excludes the User from the world. I, like many other of my fellow geeks dream of a world where a User can walk into a store to buy a PC or Laptop and the salesperson asks "What Operating System would you prefer?". Where the choice made there will not hamper the User in any way but offer him a way to do things as he likes to do them.
So please, I implore you. As non-geeks, as normal users, take part in this discussion. Let the soldiers know what you want and if you are unhappy with your side, do not feel hesitant to approach another and see what they have to offer. You do not need to be a geek to count in the OS war. Reporting bugs, giving opinions and ideas about what you would like in your OS, sharing your experiences with others, all these things help much more than you think. This war, after all, is fought for you.