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

Jim Driscoll j at rjimlad.org
Sun Jan 11 13:38:13 GMT 2004

Hello all,

On 11 Jan 2004, at 10:52, Matthew Sackman wrote:

> 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.

GNU (which, lest we forget, is an operating system name itself) has not 
become Linux or even GNU/Linux: Linux is just one implementation of 
GNU. I don't know whether the HURD is practically usable as the OS 
kernel yet, but I'm sure there are non-Linux-kernel GNU OSs.

Linus Torvalds never "got involved" with the GNU project AFAIA - he 
simply decided to use the GPL as the license for his self-developed GNU 

The license and the building tools *aren't* why 'purists' call it 
GNU/Linux - the fact that the bulk of the core OS is actually GNU is 
the reason.

> 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.

The people who wrote the OSD had, by definition, to have read it.

You'd have to ask the people themselves, but AFAIK ESR (and, I assume, 
Bruce Perens) came up with "open source" just as a term to refer to 
both GPL software and more liberally-licensed (eg, BSD-like) software, 
*not* to change the existing "free software".

> 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'.

I'd say that GNU (and other open source unices) aren't in the habit of 
cloning old-world UNIX but rather re-implementing it. 'bash' (Bourne 
Again) is not 'sh' (Bourne), even if it does sometimes pretend to be.

>> 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.

Architectures can also be APIs or ABIs - anything that provides a 
"structure". I can't think of any meaning of "software architectures" 
for the article's assertion above could be true, and frankly most of 
the "open source movement" are just users and sysadmins (rather than 
coders) so the bulk of their contribution is, in fact, usability 
testing by the mere fact that they use - and feed back problems with - 
software. I wouldn't say it's *good* usability testing, but it does 
qualify as "simple" at least, IMO.

>> 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.

"Logically, open source will result in a software industry that is not 
just without significant profits but without the profit motive" is not 
a (provably) logical conclusion, nor even one supported by the rest of 
the article. That may, in fact, be libelous. His preceding comment is, 
of course, his own point of view only.

> 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.

Businesses are greedy; I'm not sure the same necessarily applies to 
people.  But certainly while there is profit to be had, I think "open 
source" businesses will pursue it as eagerly as closed-source.

> Cheers,
> Matthew


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