[Sussex] GNU, things to come?

The ol' tealeg geoff at tealeg.uklinux.net
Mon Nov 25 17:40:00 UTC 2002

Steve wrote:
> Like Geoff I lean towards the GNU/FSF standpoint.

Not suprising coming from a Debian guy.. :)

> As I see it the Law is not there to tell "the people" how to behave; our
> moreals do that.  The Law is there to define the rules and punishment
> thereof
> of those members of socity that do not want to follow decent human behavour.
> [my flamesuit is on Geoff(Sarah) :-)].  

Specifically you're right in terms of criminal law we define a line that cannot be crossed as dole out punishment to those who do.  If you like it is an inforcement of moral standards.

IN terms of licenses we are dealing with civil law.  In particular we are talking about contract law.  Contract law deals with two areas - one the acceptable behaviour of parties in any contractual agreement (this is what is laid down in legislation and precetent) and [two] the restrictions on behaviour given between two parties.  THe first case is explicity moral, the second case is a question of deal making and could be completely amoral (within the guidlines of legislation).  The GPL is an agreement that safeguards the moral beliefs of Richard M Stallman and those that share his beliefs.  It's great benefits are ensured openess, redistribution and built in protection against "bullying" - that is to say that no large company can leverage it's size in a relationship with a smaller company because it is impossible for anyone one company to be the sole vendor of a piece of GPL code once it has released it to one person (because the right to redistribution is secured).

>Likewise, I use the GPL because if
> forces users of the software to contribute back into the community - which 
> the correct and rightous thing to do.  But I do see the argument from the
> other camp that the GPL is like a virus.

The GPL could be described as viral - but this quote is usually used by people who have financial associations with William H Gates III and his company.  The negative conetations of "virus" and "cancer" are consistent with the campaign of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that Microsoft have waged against the GPL - they rely heavily on the markets lack of knowledge - people are easily scared off from things they don't know.

This is an unfortunate fact of the IT industry.  The people in power are nearly all people who are more focused on management than on IT.  This is necessary in a corporate structure - but unfortunately the majority of such people don't appreciate that if you want to know something about computers the best person in your company to ask is the "geek", not just the next suit down the chain.  I legal terms it would be fair to say that most technology decisions made in business today are no informed and therefore negligent.  I have long felt that there would be positive value in running an ad campaign in the FT that read something like this:

"If your IT director isn't sanctioning the use of Free Software and hasn't at least run a investigation into it's possibilities to justify this decision, then he/she is not doing there job properly"

.. I think we'd need something snappier really, but you see my point.  This goes back to something I said before about business (particularly in the UK) - people often make the most conservative decision possible, even if that decision has a negative effect on the company.  In fact most managers seem to build their srategy around making as fewer decisions as possible.  Fundementally senior management seem to think the best thing to do is keep their heads down and rake in the money for as long as possible.  It is interesting to note that since 11/09/2001 LINUX has become the "big thing" in the major investment banks (because it saved a lot of money in rebuilding) - this trend has spread even to the UK and I note that 5 heads of IT have been replaced in the city this year because their IT strategies carried significantly higher license costs than their competitors (source Thomson Finance Net).

> As time goes one I think we'll see more and more companies adopting OSS.
> In fact I think that this century will see a vast change in the way
> companies
> do (and are allowed to do) business.  The scandles on Wall St. receitly
> shows
> what happens when things get out of hand.  As the last century was to public
> health (at least in the West) so this century will be to business practices.

Here here!

THe CBI are this very day discussing the issue of "trust" in business - they note that the British public are deeply mistrustful of British business - and more so of American Business.  Everything in this world will be tolerated until it becomes too painful to accept, in the last year business crossed that line. 

It's worth noting that while businesses are moaning that taxation upon them has increased in the last five years (as a long term effect of the current governments spending plans) they don't point out that taxation on companies is still much lower than it was in 1979 and in any year prior to that.  One of the root causes of the collapse of public services in this country (and in the USA as well) was that the responsibility of companies operating in the UK and USA towards their employees and the economies of those countries has been completely thrown off in favour of lining the pockets of mass shareholders.  We have been told time and time again that this policy is in our benefit, that our pensions and personal savings will grow because of it - in short - that's the biggest line of crap any "democratic" government has ever fed it's people.  Take a look at the state of pensions schemes in this country and tell me how any of that helped.

I beleive that the shift to LINUX (whilst primarily driven by cost in the business world) comes with a change in attitude amongst people - LINUX users are people who will not sit by and be soundly rogered by monopolistic corporations.  Like anything else in nature, if you try and opress us, we'll find a way around you - and a jolly good job to!

Enough politics me thinks...
geoff at tealeg.uklinux.net
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://mailman.lug.org.uk/pipermail/sussex/attachments/20021125/b1769e25/attachment.pgp 

More information about the Sussex mailing list