Aligning Democratic Candidates with Open Source Software OSes
A few days ago, I aligned Republican presidential hopefuls with open source Linux-based operating systems. Now, it's the Democrats' turn: If Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders et al. ran Linux, which distribution would they use? Read on for some perspective.
A few days ago, I aligned Republican presidential hopefuls with open source Linux-based operating systems. Now, it’s the Democrats’ turn: If Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders et al. ran Linux, which distribution would they use? Read on for some perspective.
First, though, a quick note of caution: None of this is intended to be taken too seriously. If you find your sensibilities—about either your favorite politician or your favorite operating system—offended by what you read below, please take a moment to recall that there are much more serious things to worry about in life than what people like me write on the Internet. This is all supposed to be just for fun.
The Candidates and their Distros
With that out of the way, here’s the meat of today’s promised blog post.
We’ll start with Hillary Clinton. It’s hard, I think, to imagine her running anything other than Microsoft Windows. Like Clinton, Windows is worth millions of dollars, shamelessly does whatever it takes to appeal to the largest customer base and is the product of years of careful testing with focus groups.
Plus, Windows was apparently the OS that Clinton used, along with Microsoft Exchange, on the server that hosted the private emails that have caused her so much consternation as of late. I guess we should be glad that she stored government secrets using an American product that we can all be proud of, rather than some risky, suspicious foreign alternative like Linux.
That said, if someone were to force Clinton to use an innovative, open source operating system instead of the bland, vapid one from Microsoft, I’d expect her to choose Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It’s the most corporate of the Linux distros, but also the most reliable and predictable. Plus, people trust the Red Hat name because it has been around for so long—all the way since the mid-1990s, in fact. RHEL rarely pushes the envelope, but it thrives on a familiar name and a loyal following.
Next on the list, there’s Bernie Sanders. Defying the rest of the candidate pack with his leftist leanings, Sanders might choose to run one of the BSDs instead of Linux. FreeBSD, NetBSD or OpenBSD would sit well with Sanders’s libertarian base, who no doubt think the GPL license, which governs Linux, is too controlling. Of course, the BSDs have also struggled and failed for the last 20 years to move from the margins to the mainstream of the open source ecosystem, and Sanders might face the same fate.
As for Martin O’Malley, former governor of the state where I live at the moment (whose residents’ fascination with crabs I still don’t understand at all) and official candidate in the race since May, he’d use Tizen. It’s an embedded Linux distribution, which means it’s designed to power devices whose users often don’t even know they’re running Linux—just like most of the electorate today appears unaware that O’Malley is running for president.
If Lawrence Lessig—who is not actually competing for the Democratic nomination as of now, but who has expressed interest in it—were to choose a Linux distribution, he’d almost certainly go with gNewSense. Lessig, who is probably the only potential candidate who might actually be using GNU/Linux already, is a leading free-software advocate, former board member of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and founder of Creative Commons. As such, he’d likely prefer gNewSense, a distribution that aims to be radically free by including only FSF-approved code—which means avoiding the “binary blobs” and other bits of unfreely licensed software that form part of the more mainstream Linux distributions.
And what about vice president Joe Biden, who has also been publicly floating the idea of announcing his candidacy? His likeliest distribution of choice is Linux Mint. Both Mint and “sex symbol” Biden are easier on the eyes—so Politico says regarding Biden, at least—than most of their counterparts. They’ve also both spent the last decade or so hanging humbly in the shadows of the entities to whom they owe their status. In the case of Mint, that means Ubuntu, the bigger-name distro on which Linux is mostly based. For Biden, of course, it means Barack Obama, the man who made Biden nationally famous by choosing him as running mate in the 2008 election.
Admittedly, this list of committed and potential aspirants for the Democratic nomination is not complete. But I think we’ve covered all the important names (sorry, Sen. Webb). So I’ll wrap up here.