[Nottingham] [Fwd: http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0, 3858, 4830989-110837, 00.html]

Matthew Sackman matthew at sackman.co.uk
Sun Jan 11 10:52:42 GMT 2004

On Fri, Jan 09, 2004 at 10:16:31PM +0000, Jon Masters wrote:
> This article has a number of potentially incorrect and libelous
> statements and I would like to know how to go about fixing it.

Well yes and no. There's nothing wrong in the first 5 paragraphs as far
as I can see.

Grouniad artikle:
> Again, I think that battle has been lost. "Free software" only became
> popular after a breakaway group led by Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens
> decided to ditch the ideology and rename it "open source". The new
> reality is that: "Free software is a political philosophy; open source
> is a development methodology." (This isn't what the Open Source
> Definition says, but no one reads that anyway.)

It's probably incorrect that no one reads the Open Source Definition
(http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php). Unfortunately, I think
he's basically right there. Linus and Alan and such people refuse to
pick up the Free-as-in-Freedom flag and run with it. I saw commentary
recently that suggested that if there's been other free licences around
at the time then Linus may well have not released under the GPL.
However, I thought BSD license was around at the time, maybe it was the
fact it was in court that stopped Linus on that front.

> So far, open source has mainly continued Stallman's approach of
> cloning Unix and, more recently, Windows originals.

Well, like it or lump it, KDE and Gnome basically do clone the windows
look'n'feel, and the basic layout of Linux is very similar to Unix.
However, Stallman didn't clone Unix (though he single handedly managed
to keep the feature sets of two Unix clones the same whilst he was
working for two Unix companies at the same time as being a student at
MIT) and I'm not sure that many people who use GNU/HURD will claim that
it's a Unix clone. It's less of a Unix clone than Darwin is. So whilst
Jack is probably wrong about Stallman cloning Unix and Windows, he's
probably not far off the mark for 'open source'.

> The open source movement currently has no way of developing
> independent software architectures, or even of performing simple
> usability testing. And it shows.

Well I just don't know what he means by independent software
architectures. Architectures are normally hardware, not software, so I'm
not quite sure what he's saying. And he is probably wrong about the
usability testing. Gnome was recently awared awards for accessibility
and you only have to look at Debian's QA for rigorous testing. Though I
suspect that he's actually addressing the brick wall learning curve of
Linux. He may have a point.

> And without a Stallman-style ideological commitment, it is hard to see
> why any bright young programmer with a brilliant idea should decide
> not to become a billionaire and give it all away. Logically, open
> source will result in a software industry that is not just without
> significant profits but without the profit motive. It will be
> interesting to see if it works.

So he's not a socialist and he doesn't believe in the righteousness of
the GPL. Just because he's on the other side of the fence doesn't mean
he's wrong.

People are greedy and evil as a basic rule. So if people can abush
GNU/Linux for profit and gain and as a way of putting the heat under
MicroSoft then they'll do that. The ideological arguement has always
been a very fragile one. Really it's a shame that the two meanings of
free are of the same word.


Matthew Sackman

BOFH excuse #223:
The lines are all busy (busied out, that is -- why let them in to begin

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