Why Every GNU/Linux User Should Support Tesla Motors

by Rex Djere on June 21, 2013 · 9 comments


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A group of established business operators collude to lock a radical new upstart out of the marketplace (O’Toole, 2013). Does this sound familiar? It should: as proprietary software vendors tried to lock GNU/Linux out of the computer market, traditional car interests are trying to block Tesla Motors’ direct sales business model. In both cases, what is best for the consumer is a secondary concern to maintaining the old profit regimes.

Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S Electric Car (Image Courtesy Wikipedia)

GNU/Linux and Tesla: Kindred Spirits

Tesla Motors is running circles around the rest of the automotive industry. On June 21st, 2013, Tesla Motors introduced a robotic system for changing the electric Tesla Model S’s battery in 90 seconds (Isidore, 2013). In the 1990s, GNU/Linux began to introduce similar radical reforms to the computer operating space. For example, the concept of giving a business the operating system’s source code along with the operating system was virtually unknown prior to Linus Torvalds release of his shiny new OS in 1991. The similarity between Tesla Motors and GNU/Linux is this: both offered innovations that terrified the establishment. Anything that scares the status quo this much is probably going to be good for the consumer.

It All About Choice

At the end of the day, anything that increases the number of choices that the consumer has is good. A cabal made up of traditional automotive interests is colluding to block Tesla Motors from selling its cars directly to consumers. This game plan has been used over and over again. Instead of seeing the future, adapting, and coming up with products that bring that future to fruition, lazy traditionalists often rest on their laurels, and block the actions of real innovators. Unfortunately for them, innovation usually wins in the end. Those clinging to the old end up not being able to beat the new, so they end up joining them.

In the early 1990s, GNU/Linux was almost completely unknown to the operators of powerful supercomputers. Now, 93.8% of the world’s supercomputers run GNU/Linux (Linux adoption, 2013). In 10 to 15 years, I believe that the concepts being introduced by Tesla Motors will be as dominant as GNU/Linux now is in the supercomputing sector.

The White House Petition

A petition has been started on WhiteHouse.gov to bring the anti-competitive movement against Tesla Motors to the White House’s attention. The petition needs to get 100,000 signatures by July 5th, 2013. That petition is here:



Thank you for reading TLWIR 57. Here is a great YouTube video that I found: a test drive of the Tesla Model S.



  • Isidore, C. (2013, June 21). Tesla unveils 90-second battery-pack swap. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/HYwLp
  • Linux adoption. (2013, May 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:43, June 22, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Linux_adoption&oldid=554457479
  • O’Toole, James. (2013, June 21). Pending law would block tesla sales in new york. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/c70dy



IGnatius T Foobar June 23, 2013 at 1:35 am

Please stop using the made-up term “GNU/Linux.” It’s just “Linux” except in Richard Stallman’s imagination.

tim June 23, 2013 at 11:28 am

Reaching a bit with the analogies but a good try.
It needs to be workd on a bit more…its too short.

Still feels weird to compare an expensive car that few can afford to a free operating system that is gratis as well and can allow the poorest people on the planet the possibly to use it on old hardware.

@Foobar: shut up and crawl bar in your mothers hole will you? trolls like you are the herpes of the internet. miserable little people who think that they know better, sitting in their underpants, whacking away all night on the keyboard.

og June 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Why? I use Debian GNU/Linux, I’m not RMS.

Echo259 June 23, 2013 at 3:54 pm

IGnatius T Foobar is a gobshite. He is of course correct that GNU/Linux is a made up term; just like “Linux”, “Microsoft”, “Oracle”, “Operating System”, “Database”, and just about every other word in modern computing vocabulary. The mere fact that it’s used in this article proves that it exists outside of Richard Stallmans imagination.

I think the author too is mis-guided though. His points are somewhere between peripheral and irrelevant. Linux, at least in the early days, was never about market share. It was explicitly spelled out in Linus’s original email, that it wasn’t meant to be big and professional. It was meant to provide a Kernel, to people who wanted to run GNU software, but didn’t have an acceptable kernel available to them to do so.

I would not encourage the Linux community to endorse Tesla’s direct sales strategy over any other car sales model. Delivering Linux software through intermediataries is not only a valid software distribution mechanism, but is in fact the primary way in which Linux softare is distributed. How many people cut out the Redhat/Debian/Canonical/etc, and gets their kernel from kernel.org, their core utilities from gnu.org, and their X11, Desktop Environment (Gnome, KDE, etc ) from their original sources? Linux software distribution today is more like the established car firms, than it is like Tesla.

What I would be more interested in, is if Tesla releases their blueprints, and specs, and any software used for others to use in their own products under an open-source-equivalant licence.

Rex Djere June 23, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Thank you everyone for your comments. I don’t take offense to Ignatius’ comments. He and I will just have to agree to disagree. As far as GNU/Linux users supporting Tesla, from the comments I’ve seen on this article on Reddit, it seems like support is about 50/50, or perhaps slightly skewed towards supporting Tesla. I’m not surprised. I can see how a lot of hardcore Linux supporters could see Tesla as too closed a company to support. I personally love the Tesla Model S, and I hope that I can afford to purchase one one day.

wayne June 24, 2013 at 6:58 am

Hate to interrupt the anti-RMS hatefest but another good reason is that the model S uses Linux as the primary dash OS.

Rex Djere June 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm

@Wayne, that’s a very good point. I had read before that the Model S dash uses Linux. I want to take one for a test drive!

Piotr June 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Tesla is a fine looking car. If it only came with a supercharged V8 or a turbo-diesel, and at a lower price point it’d be near perfect. ;)

crap June 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Tesla’s american car industry mentality is total crap.

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