Posts » GNU/Linux is to Windows as democracy is to …

Richard Stallman speaking on an MIT mailing list (public archive here), responding to the implicit characterization of GNU/Linux as an alternative to Windows.

Calling GNU/Linux an "alternative" to Windows
is like calling democracy an "alternative" to dictatorship.
It's not wrong, but it's a drastic understatement. (*)

This paragraph is nicely phrased. It does not state that GNU/Linux equals democracy and that Windows equals dictatorship (although the rhetorical implications are there). It does suggest that there is probably more to this "alternative" than the choice between, say, different breakfast cereals, or hair products. Democracy is an alternative to dictatorship, but it posits a completely different set of "rules of the game." Alternative products on the marketplace are not usually different in that sense. Different types of shampoo will not radically change how you live or work. Democracy did, and so does GNU/Linux.

(*) small grammar fix made, see original text.