I started using Linux because I initially was attracted by the practical advantages of the free operating system. However back then, I used the word free as in "muft" and the fact that there was no licensing cost involved in making the switch, helped make me take the step forward. It was perhaps the day when I finally nuked my Windows partition did I realise the power of Linux and the GNU system. It was when I started performing my everyday tasks on my Linux box was I finally able to make myself comfortable with free software. I had a lean system, IDEs and editors to get my work done quickly, and a set of tools that worked just right for me. Practically speaking, for a person who didnt want to shell out money to use his hardware, Linux was the answer. It still is my only answer, but for different reasons altogether.
Today I use Linux, not as a hacker, but as an end user. Today, I can afford to buy a legitimate copy of a proprietary OS and the related tools. In fact some of them came with my notebook. Arguably if I were to take my practical needs and place them in the proprietary space, I wouldnt do too badly. But I still choose to stick to Linux. For me Linux is the stark moral choice. Today Linux is more the ethical choice for me rather than the practical one. I agree that even if I were to weigh Linux against its proprietary rival, on sheer practical terms, I would possibly choose the former. But that holds very little value for me today. I use Linux, because I care for my freedom and that of others. I use it because I can choose to be more useful today, by advocating Linux. I have the freedom to order a set of discs for $15.00 and ask 8 people to share the costs with me. I have the freedom to be a good neighbour and share those discs with them. I am doing my bit to make the world a better place, where people dont have to be called "pirates" for sharing and being good individuals.
"Make the world a better place!!". Some people may say this sounds grandiose, but I believe that in the modern world this is happening someplace, somewhere. Somewhere a bright but poor kid can get computer education, because now, his school can afford to use the computers the government sent them. Somewhere, another child is growing up to be a great computer scientist, because his teacher just showed him where to find the source code to build the kernel he is using right now. Somewhere else, a hospital just opened its new wing. The wing uses software borrowed from another established hospital. Somewhere a government is customizing its desktops to work in the local language without having to seek any legal approvals from megacorps. Somewhere another government is setting up localized information kiosks for its citizens at a fraction of the estimated cost. Somewhere, in some corner of the world, someone is rediscovering his freedom. There is a revolution happening. It is quiet, and it is slow, no doubt. But the time has come today. How soon others choose freedom, is what matters.
"I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry