© Andrew Gregory

© Andrew Gregory

Article from Issue 201/2017


Ben Everard

In the technology world, there's often a constant push for something new. Companies need to tempt us with shiny products, so we continue to buy them, and they continue to make a healthy profit. One of the things that fascinates me about the open source movement is that without the profit motive, there's no need to constantly acquire the "latest-and-greatest" and no need for marketers to tell us that we need to replace perfectly working products with something new. Because of this, we keep stuff that works, even when it's old, and develop new stuff when it's needed. Modern Linux is a fascinating blend of old and new sitting side by side in a way that seems both utterly mad and perfectly sensible.

In this month's Linux Voice section, Valentine Sinitsyn shows you how to modernize your shell scripts by adding a graphical interface. Simon Phipps takes a look at a technology that manages to be both old and new – MP3s. They're 20 years old, but the simple fact of their age means that there are no longer any patent restrictions on them, so their newfound freedom has given them new relevance. Mike Saunders dives into Markdown, which is a simple formatting system that has recently become popular and given a new lease on life to ASCII (or UTF) text.

Perhaps the article most emblematic of this old-new combination of free software is in Graham Morrison's FOSSPicks. Here, there's a terminal application for viewing online maps and a re-implementation of a 20-year-old video game that runs in a web browser – old and new technologies that seem almost complete opposites, yet they sit together in the open source world, and it all just seems to make sense.

– Ben Everard

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