12 oddball odes to open-source

Hey, I just met you / and this is crazy / but here’s my pub key / so msg me maybe

Songs in the key of FOSS

Songs in the key of FOSS

The world of free and open-source software has spawned a surprising amount of original music. Whether it’s because the members of that community are unusually creative or because they just can’t keep themselves from telling you how great Linux and open-source are, we don’t know, but we have collected, for your listening pleasure, a dozen songs about free and/or open-source software.

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Stallman singing the free software song (posted 2006)

Stallman singing the free software song (posted 2006)

Two things to take away from this: First, the free software song is an actual thing that exists, and second, well, it’s Richard Stallman singing it for you. Given Dr. Stallman’s deep commitment to being as relatable as possible and not at all wrapped up in his own cleverness, you will be unsurprised to learn that the tune is based on a Bulgarian folk song in 7/8 time signature.

“Linux sets you free” (Novell, 2009)

“Linux sets you free” (Novell, 2009)

Is it just me, or is this main muppet-type character kind of a downer? “Hey, you don’t know what you’re talking about!” Jeez, sorry dude, I’m just trying to spread the word about Linux here! Gimme a break already! This is exactly why the mainstream consumer doesn’t know anything about Linux. I’m going to torch you on my mailing list, you jerk.

“What does the chameleon say” (SUSE, 2013)

“What does the chameleon say” (SUSE, 2013)

“What did the fox say,” in case you’ve successfully managed to forget about it, was a dance pop song created by some Norwegian trolls that was briefly a meme last year. It achieved its apparent aim of highlighting the Internet’s insatiable appetite for the next meme-worthy novelty, regardless of how brainless and forced that novelty may be. Looked at in these terms, SUSE may have actually made it less cringe-worthy with this cover.

“Will the real Linus Torvalds please stand up” (Linux Foundation, 2009)

When I think about the cloistered, abstract, deafeningly nerdy world of free and open-source software, rap is definitely the music that springs to my mind’s ear. This would’ve worked a lot better with Linus Himself in the video. Perhaps his kernel flows better than his words.

“I’m a Linux (the song)” (Joel Levinson, 2009)

“I’m a Linux (the song)” (Joel Levinson, 2009)

We could really have used that muppet from a couple of slides ago, because this guy really doesn’t sound like he knows much about Linux. Joel here describes himself on his YouTube channel as a professional contest entrant, so I guess he also had a video for Barq’s Root Beer or cars with manual transmissions to shoot that day or something.

“Song of the programmer” (Antowen, for Linux Foundation video page, 2010)

“Song of the programmer” (Antowen, for Linux Foundation video page, 2010)

I don’t have a terribly complete picture of what this guy is singing about, but I’m guessing the main topics are programming and software. Probably the best singing voice so far, though.

“Write in C” (Author/performer unclear)

“Write in C” (Author/performer unclear)

Not strictly a FOSS thing, to be sure, but it’s apparently well-known in programming circles. It was also used for a moving tribute video for the eminent computer scientist Dennis Ritchie, who died in 2011.

Some sort of techno riff (Florin Iluca, 2010)

Some sort of techno riff (Florin Iluca, 2010)

This is apparently a song that goes out to all Linux users, though what this undistinguished piece of dance music has to do with Linux is unclear. Still, it goes out to you, Linux user. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

“We’re not gonna take it,” (Linus Torvalds and various others, 2012)

“We’re not gonna take it,” (Linus Torvalds and various others, 2012)

Thank goodness SOMEBODY got Linus Himself directly involved. And it’s not surprising to see former Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon heavily involved either, as one of the most prominent open-source figures-slash-metal musicians. (You know, among all those other ones.)

Whatever the hell this is (2006)

Whatever the hell this is (2006)

Yeah, I dunno.

“Puppy Linux” (Martyn Cruise, 2006)

“Puppy Linux” (Martyn Cruise, 2006)

We close with this adorable little jingle for Puppy Linux, which is designed to run on even the oldest and least capable hardware. Because, really, who doesn’t get emotionally invested in their hardware.

The Drupal Song (Jeff Robbins, Dmitri Gaskin, Doug Vann, 2010)

The Drupal Song (Jeff Robbins, Dmitri Gaskin, Doug Vann, 2010)

It’s peppy! It’s upbeat! It’s about creating web apps! There is an accordion involved! The word “Drupal” gets used like 11,874 times! ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!