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Samba co-founder touts “La Vida Linux”

Oct 15, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Samba developer Jeremy Allison issued an impassioned endorsement for Linux in an opinion piece written for ZDNet. In “Livin' La Vida Linux,” he describes the many Linux devices that have entered his life, and explains why Linux “is going to take over the appliance… world.”

(Click for larger view of the HTC G1, one of many Linux devices defining consumer electronics)

Allison is co-founder and lead developer of the Samba project, which maintains Samba, the popular open source software that turns a Unix or Linux system into a file and print server for Microsoft Windows network clients. In this role he has worked for several sponsoring companies including HP and Novell, which he quit in 2006 when Novell made its infamous open-source patent pact with Microsoft. He is now working on Samba full time as an employee of Google. Despite mentioning his fascination with the new Android- and Linux-based HTC G1 (pictured above), Allison says he did not write the essay on behalf of Google.

Sonos music system
(Click for details)

In fact, Allison mentions a number of Linux devices that have crept into his life in recent years, including the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet and later N800, the Sonos multi-room music system (pictured at right), his unnamed Samba-based file server, Sony TVs released since 2003, the Neuros OSD DVR device, and a Garmin GPS device. (As with most of us, he didn't realize the Garmin Nuvi 8xx, pictured below, was Linux until after he had bought it.)

While his choice of consumer devices offers evidence of the rise of embedded Linux, Allison's main argument centers around his recent completion of a project to digitize his CD collection. Instead of using the lossy and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)-restricted MP3, he instead chose the open-source FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format. FLAC is “a software patent-free, lossless way of encoding music” that is supported by “most devices,” writes Allison. He adds, “It is free, so there's no danger of a company turning off a remote server and finding myself in the unpleasant situation of all the music I bought being orphaned and unplayable.”

Allison notes that all media will be eventually stored on “different variants of digital format, stored on ever more exotic and smaller devices.” He adds, “All these digital formats will be played and viewed on an amazing variety of devices, and Linux and other Free Software is the ideal platform to power them.”

Garmin Nuvi 880
(Click for details)

Just as FLAC gave Allison “the freedom to do what I wanted with the music I had already bought,” he continues, “Free Software gives device manufacturers the freedom to create the devices they think will be the most popular, without any restrictions on what those devices should do or how they should look.”

Due to the advantages of Linux both to developers and consumers of media playback content and devices, Allison concludes that living “la Vida Linux” will be “the way of the 21st Century.” The full essay can be found here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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