Free will, not arrogance

Posted 31 Dec 2002 at 04:33 UTC by Nygard Share This

Bill Joy had some doubts to voice about Linux. Of course, like so many others he immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion. "The open-source business model hasn't worked very well," he says.

Open source doesn't need a business model.

Bill Joy had some doubts to voice about Linux. Of course, like so many others he immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion. "The open-source business model hasn't worked very well," he says.

Tough nuts. Here's the point that seems to get missed over and over again. There is no "open source business model". There never was, and I doubt there ever will be. It doesn't exist. It's a contradiction in terms.

Open source needs no business model.

Look, GNU existed before anyone ever talked about "open source". Linux was built before there were companies like RedHat and IBM interested (let alone Sun). The thing that the corps and the pundits cannot seem to grasp is their absolute irrelevance.

It's like Bruce Sterling's harangue. I hear another talking head getting up and trying to tell the "open-source community" what they have to do.

It's like those posters on Slashdot that wish either GNOME or KDE would shut down so everyone can focus on one "standard" desktop.

Or Scott McNealy, lamenting the fact that open source Java application servers inhibit the expenditure of dollars that could be used to market J2EE against .Net.

Or the UI designers who froth at the mouth about how terrible an open source applications user interface may be. They say moronic things like "when will coders learn that they shouldn't design user interfaces?" (Or the more extreme form, "Programmers should never design UIs.")

Or it's like anyone who looks at an application and says, "That's pretty good. You know what you really need to do?"

All of these people miss the true point. I'll say it here as baldly as I can.

The thing they all fail to grasp is that there is nobody in charge. Not IBM, not Linus Torvalds, not Richard Stallman. Nobody. All you will find is an anarchic collection of self-interested individuals. Sometimes they collaborate. Some of them work together, some work apart, some work against each other. To the extent that some clusters of individuals share a vision, they collaborate to tackle bigger, cooler projects.

There is no one in control. Nobody gets to decree what open source projects live or die, or what direction they go in. These projects are an expression of free will, created by those capable of expressing themselves in that medium. Decisions happen in code, because coders make them happen.

It's pure free will. If it's my project, then I'll do what I want with it. If I want to create the most god-awful user interface ever seen by Man, that's my perogative. If I want lots of users, I probably won't do that, but who says I have to want lots of users? As we've seen before, sometimes users are more trouble than they are worth.

As long as one GNOME hacker wants to keep working on GNOME, it will continue to evolve. As long as one Linux kernel hacker keeps coding, Linux will continue. None of these things require corporations, IPOs, or vulture capital to continue. The only true investments in open source are time and brainpower. Money is useful in that it can be used to purchase time; the single greatest gift you can give a coder. Corporations are useful in that they are effective at aggregating and channeling money. "Useful", not "required".

As long as coders have free will and the tools to express it, open source software will continue. Make a system that they cannot program and they will build a new system. Create a network that they cannot use to create, and they will build a new network out of thin air. Take away their editors, their compilers, and their linkers; they'll just build new ones! Open source software will live as long as free will itself exists. It cannot be stopped.

And back on planet earth..., posted 31 Dec 2002 at 07:13 UTC by davidw » (Master)

... people need to pay the bills. So, while your core argument is true, and a good one, please do keep in mind that it's problematic if no one is getting paid to do this, and if there is no business built around it. Of course, people are paid to work on it, and there are some (thought not many, at the moment) businesses working with free software, so there is hope.

Oh, and the network? Actually, that costs a lot of money to build and run. Of course, you don't seem to be talking about the physical layer, but... do keep in mind that it does always come back down to that, and there are institutions that can turn it off or raise the price.

Re: And back on planet earth..., posted 31 Dec 2002 at 09:36 UTC by tk » (Observer)

it's problematic if no one is getting paid to do this, and if there is no business built around it.

I think a weaker condition suffices: so long as open source developers are getting paid to do something (which may not be remotely related to their projects), open source should be able to thrive.

I may be confused...., posted 31 Dec 2002 at 09:37 UTC by Telsa » (Master)

I may be confused. But wasn't the term "open source" developed to be more attractive to businesses? Presumably, if you want to be attractive to businesses, you do need some form of business model.

Free software, on the other hand...


Re: And back on planet earth..., posted 31 Dec 2002 at 15:48 UTC by Nygard » (Journeyer)

tk has the right of it. Being paid to develop free software is an accelerant, not a precondition. Most of the flagship projects were built before there were any paid free software developers. (Unless you count grad students...)

As for the network, don't assume that the existing cost structure is the only possible structure. The cost of the current network physical layer is highly centralized. The backbone carriers bear the brunt of the cost, which they recover by charging for service. It is possible to create a network which distributes the actual cost to the endpoints. Imagine something like global Wi-Fi, with the cost to join the network paid by purchasing a compatible device.

Re: I may be confused...., posted 31 Dec 2002 at 15:52 UTC by Nygard » (Journeyer)

Telsa, the trouble with terminology is that it carries so much political freight. "Free Software" means something very specific to me. (To me, it means GPL, period.) Not everyone agrees with that definition, and I was hoping not to get into that particular stew here. So, I used the more generic term, because I meant to refer to the collective output of all developers that provide their work to the world.

I'd love if there were some name that could encompass both "Free" and "open source" software without touching off yet another incendiary debate. If there were, then I would use that term instead.

Both Right, posted 31 Dec 2002 at 17:16 UTC by ncm » (Master)

Nygard and David are both right. There's no contradiction.

Free Software is maintained by its users. Its users need not make a business of maintaining it. Consider the economics of Free Software (quoted from my own account page, ncm):

Why do people spend time and money improving software for others, free? The question has two remarkably simple answers.

Suppose you are using some Free Software in your business. You find a bug or discover you need a new feature, so you take care of it (or hire it done) yourself. Then you have what you need, and you don't really have to do anything else.

However, a new version of the program will soon be released. You must decide whether you want to use the new version, and if so you must integrate your changes into it. This happens each time a new version comes out. If you were to send in your changes and get them integrated into the mainline code, each new version would already have your changes.

As long as you keep your changes private, nobody else is using them. Once your changes get integrated into the mainline code, other people start using them, and improving them. As a result, each new release of the program not only has your changes integrated, it may have improvements on your changes.

Thus, publishing your changes (1) cuts your own workload and (2) attracts free assistance from others with similar needs.

The process doesn't depend on altruism or a sense of community, although many people are also motivated that way. It doesn't depend on people working to establish a reputation, although many are. It doesn't depend on proprietary alternatives being intolerably restricted, expensive, or buggy, although they often are.

When users take responsibility for the software they use, there is no need for a business or a business model. This is not to say that no business model is possible, just that it is not necessary in most cases.

Economically speaking, the utility of an improvement, to a single user, is often large enough to pay for the work. When there are small-N such users known to one another, they can often split up the work, and then the cost to each is a small multiple of 1/N. When N gets large enough, it gets more efficient to pool funds, and indeed that is where the successful Free Software businesses are.

For an individual, the trick is in finding gigs with demanding users. If you wanted to work on MSWord, there would be only one place to go. If you want to work on Film GIMP, you can approach any big studio, or make a name for yourself and have them come to you. My employer is heavily dependent on CMU Common Lisp, and indeed has hired a key cmucl developer. Firewall companies keep kernel hackers.

Projects like OpenOffice and Mozilla are aberrations. Huge project, huge N, low marginal utility of any improvement to any user. It's there that all the not-classically-economic motivations become important. Sun and AOL fund the work not for economic utility to themselves or their paying customers, but for strategic value.

"Open Source", as such, was a shuck, something to allay the fears of panicky business managers. Now that Free Software is entrenched and familiar (and not actually scary, except those who should be scared), the shuck is no longer needed, and is becoming actively harmful.

Weaker Condition, posted 31 Dec 2002 at 19:36 UTC by ncm » (Master)

The argument posted by tk above,

so long as open source developers are getting paid to do something (which may not be remotely related to their projects), open source should be able to thrive.
is too weak. Free Software couldn't thrive if its participants had to neglect their families to remain involved. It amounts to Microsoft's argument, that Free Software is necessarily a marginal activity, dependent on underemployed students, hobbyists, showoffs, and fanatics. Just looking around should be enough demonstration that it is already far bigger than could be supported by a rabble, but visible evidence rarely seems to make a difference in a public debate.

The key insight is that Free Software can thrive without being an identifiable industry. Since its utility (usually) doesn't depend on money changing hands, most of the activity doesn't show up as line items on budgets and economic projections. Most of the people who maintain key components are paid to do it for its usefulness to their employer. Many employers encourage staff experts to complete improvements of only marginal local utility just to keep them busy and engaged between high-priority assignments, and to keep up their working relationships with other maintainers, and for their professional development.

Both Wrong, posted 31 Dec 2002 at 23:16 UTC by glyph » (Master)

I think that this article adheres to a certain pattern in commentary from the community that I've seen growing lately. The message seems to be: "Nobody's in charge. Stop trying to pretend that there is." This comes in various forms, and sometimes it's the far more direct "stop telling ME what to do, YOU'RE not in charge".

I could say a lot about decentralization and obsolescence of current societal structures and whatnot, but those of you that enjoy those buzzwords can just read this paragraph and be satisfied that I agree with you, since that's ground that doesn't need retreading.

Those of us trying to communicate this general message effectively should probably get together and compose a FAQ about absurd punditry like this Bill Joy article, so that not every new rambling FUD from some well-to-do corporate mouthpiece requires a multi-page rebuttal on slashdot and advogato and kuro5hin and a hundred little blogs.

Establishing conventions and well-known bits of common literature like that are important, although the discourse here is valuable too. And in that vein, ncm, in regards to this claim:

"Open Source", as such, was a shuck, something to allay the fears of panicky business managers. Now that Free Software is entrenched and familiar (and not actually scary, except those who should be scared), the shuck is no longer needed, and is becoming actively harmful.

This is not quite true.

The ideological motivations of the developers behind "Free" and "Open Source" developers differ, and we should respect that difference. Personally I have a great deal of overlap, and find myself on opposite sides of that fence quite frequently. However, the utility of the "Open Source" trademark is not a "shuck", it's an important way for consumers that do not have the time or inclination to investigate licensing schemes in depth to immediately identify a certain variety of freedom that comes with the project.

More projects ought to use this identifying mark (including my own... it doesn't yet), as it will help to distinguish projects which merely provide a program gratis under some unspecified and complicated EULA vs. those which actually provide the basic rights outlined in the DFSG/OSD. By way of example, the Squeak project claims to be "open source", but will be unable to use that trademark to identify themselves as OSI-certified. This rightly says to potential users, if we can establish this as an idiom, "watch out! this might come with some surprising terms of distribution that you did not count on!"

If this seems like too much drool-proofing to you, consider yourself as a consumer for another marketplace. If you buy a cut of meat in the supermarket, do you want to see the results of every chemical test performed on the meat, or do you just want to see the "FDA certified" mark, noting that it's free enough of bacteria to be considered fit for human consumption?

Huh?, posted 1 Jan 2003 at 04:00 UTC by timcw » (Apprentice)

I'm not so sure Bill Joy is saying that open source needs a business model. The article is (mostly) about applying open source strategies to commercial software. If this were an article about the nature of stereotypical open source software, then yes he would probably agree that the majority of open source projects are constructed by loosely-knit organizations of hobbyists, scientists, and others. I'm also sure he was being loose with his wording when he said "The open-source business model." I'm sure he understands that there are numerous ways open source software can fit into a business model, just as there are many ways closed source software can fit into a business model.

Debating ZDNet articles is a waste of time. There were four of five Bill Joy quotes thrown in with paraphrasing. The only quote I found about Linux was completely irrelevant to the subject of the article itself--open source in business.

I especially like the first ZDNet sentence:

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems began selling its first general-purpose Linux servers this week, but Bill Joy, Sun's chief scientist and a pioneer in designing Unix, has voiced doubts about Linux's open-source underpinnings.

Not once did Bill Joy claim, or even imply, that Linux was at a deficit because of its "open-source underpinnings." At most you could claim that he raised doubts about open-source based business models--and that Linux has a strong development community. Somehow the editors at ZDNet tossed Linux into the mix and made it appear as if Mr. Joy was claiming that Linux is flawed. Or at least that is the impression I got from their opening sentence.

Wills can be influenced, posted 2 Jan 2003 at 17:36 UTC by abraham » (Master)

A free will is free to seek inspiration from others, such as all the "talking heads" you refer to. They are actually pretty smart people, most of us can learn something from them, even if we don't agree with everything they say.

There are many different motivations for writing (or using or supporting) free software, a cool thing about free software is that the motivation doesn't really matter, the software benefits everone (except unfree competitors) no matter who wrote it. So for a person like me who like free software, it is worth noting when some motivations for writing it doesn't work, as that will mean less free software. In aprticular, it is sad if people in general can't make money on writing free software, as money is a powerful motivator.

For people who are motivated by love of free software, it is worth lisening to those who suggest how to help promote free software the most. For example, I use Qt, but I might switch to Gnome if someone convinced me that would lead to more and better free software in the long run. So such arguments are not wasted. And it would not matter if someone refused to listen and continued to work on KDE and Qt, KDE would continue to exist like InterViews, but with an insignificant number of developers compared to the major camp(s).

In summary, free will does not mean refusing to listen to good arguments. Doing that is truely arrogance.

PS: I believe the "free software = GPL" invention is rather silly, since the term is older than the GPL, and the people who invented the GPL (the Free Software Foundation) would never use the term like that. I personally use the term by the FSF definition, it is just easier that way.

&quoOpen Source&quo Name as Liability, posted 2 Jan 2003 at 18:38 UTC by ncm » (Master)

In response to glyph's comments, I should explain why the "Open Source" designation has become a liability.

Ideological differences aside, and with the failure of FUD tactics, the remaining effect of calling our stuff "Open Source" is to open the field to confusion. Sun has their "Sun Community Source" license. Microsoft has their "Shared Source" program. Apple has a brand too. All are remarkably successful attempts to confuse decision-makers about the difference between Free Software and their proprietary tarbabies.

Microsoft's is particularly insidious. Besides confusing managers, it poisons individual programmers at institutions exposed to the code. At the same time, they and their institutions remain unable to use, let alone distribute, their own versions of code built from the sources. (Indeed, they may be unable to build from the sources at all -- MS builds with tools unavailable outside.)

The reason for the confusion should be clear: it's not enough to have the source code, you also need the right to use the source code, and access to all the tools it takes to build it. To be useful, you need the right to redistribute resulting binaries, and your changes. In other words, the source code is necessary but not sufficient. Practical and legal rights are essential. You also need freedom.

I said, above, "ideological differences aside". glyph says that we should respect differences in ideological motivations. Maybe so, but discussing them never seems to lead anywhere. I'm interested in objective consequences. As abraham said, what matters is what changes the amount of Free Software being produced. (He is also correct that the term Free Software, as used by most of us, including the FSF, is not restricted to GPLed software. Indeed, the Open Source definition is drawn from the Debian Free Software Guidelines.)

We can legitimately disagree on what makes a difference in the amount of Free Software produced. An appropriate license is one such difference. Certainly having more companies pumping money into its production is good; that means, practically, more Free Software authors writing and maintaining it in their day jobs. Ideological labeling for its own sake, though, just confuses people.

One thing is certain: confusion reduces the amount of Free Software produced.

A humble suggestion, posted 2 Jan 2003 at 20:03 UTC by mslicker » (Journeyer)

Dropping the caps in "Free Software" and "Open Source" could help to eliminate confusion. I really don't know what "Free Software" refers to, is this any different than "free software"? To my understanding the following equivelence exists:

"Free Software" = "free software" = "Open Source" = "open source"
Dropping the caps would leave us with two terms to refer to the same thing. Note, anyone can abuse the terms "open source" or "free software", capitalization is not going solve this problem and the resulting confusion.

I wouldn't discourage the use of "open source", it is just as descriptive as "free software". Both require an associated meaning. Using the terms interchangably will give them a common definition.

Another way to clear up confusion, is to show a contradiction in terms. If the above equivalence is assumed, Microsoft's "Shared Source" is clearly not "open source", it is clearly not "free software". It is in fact proprietary software, just as MS Windows, just as IE. "Proprietary" is a better description than "open source but not free software".

Re: A humble suggestion, posted 3 Jan 2003 at 00:35 UTC by ncm » (Master)

mslicker is almost right: Free Software is also Open Source software. The capitalization is there to remind us that (e.g.) Acroread is not Free Software, even though you get it for free. (Open Source also seems to describe some software that is not Free Software, but leave that for now; it's just schismatics.) Also, since the trademark on Open Source was denied, it's muddy what it really means, if anything. "Free", of course, is ambiguous in English. That ground has been well-covered already.

The main difference, though, seems to be not in the definitions, but in the ideology of the person using the term. A person saying "Open Source" wants play down the additional rights you need, beyond access to the source code, to make full use of the code, because source seems to get you most of the way there. A person saying "Free Software" wants to remind you of those rights without which access to the source may even be a trap. That's why it's so easy for MS to confuse people by saying "shared source" -- shared, open, what's the difference?

It's unfortunate to have two terms distinguished mainly by who uses them, and which are both easily confused with something evil. It's divisive, and it's confusing to everybody not involved, and to many of us as well. "Software Libre" would make a better trademark. What has changed since the FSF was founded is that Spanglish has become mainstream in much of the U.S. It may be time to revisit the name.

Should we start saying "Software Libre", now?, posted 3 Jan 2003 at 09:06 UTC by nixnut » (Journeyer)

Has a nice section on business models and Free Software/Open Source.

ideology, posted 3 Jan 2003 at 21:29 UTC by mslicker » (Journeyer)

ncm, Somehow "free software" is too ingrained into my brain as the right term to use yet another term. I suspect the same is true of people who use "open source". You're right about the capitalization, from my obvsersation the use appears to attach an ideology to the term, specifically:
"Free Software" = "free software" + FSF ideology
"Open Source" = "free software" + OSF ideology
Hence my sugestion to drop the caps, and thus drop the ideology. We shouldn't need a new term for every new ideology that arises.

ideology, posted 3 Jan 2003 at 21:41 UTC by mslicker » (Journeyer)

ncm, Somehow "free software" is too ingrained into my brain as the right term to use yet another term. I suspect the same is true of people who use "open source". You're right about the capitalization, from my obvsersation the use appears to attach an ideology to the term, specifically:
"Free Software" = "free software" + FSF ideology
"Open Source" = "free software" + OSF ideology
Hence my suggestion to drop the caps, and thus drop the ideology. We shouldn't need a new term for every new ideology that arises.

Where do you all get these ideas?, posted 3 Jan 2003 at 21:49 UTC by glyph » (Master)

ncm, I wonder where you got this idea.

A person saying "Open Source" wants play down the additional rights you need, beyond access to the source code, to make full use of the code, because source seems to get you most of the way there. A person saying "Free Software" wants to remind you of those rights without which access to the source may even be a trap. That's why it's so easy for MS to confuse people by saying "shared source" -- shared, open, what's the difference?

The what what?!? Have you even HEARD of the Open Source Definition? This is exactly the kind of confusion it was designed to counter. "Open Source" is most certainly about the rights of the consumer, unless the term is being intentionally used for misdirection, by someone who probably wouldn't usually use either "Open Source" or "Free Software".

The difference between the terms, if there needs to be one, is a subtle distinction in ideology. "Free Software" advocates believe that one cannot exchange one's right to divulge any information for goods or services, ever, because to do so is fundamentally immoral. A "pure" Free Software advocate believes that information sharing is a natural right, and therefore cannot be exchanged for anything. It is because of this hard-line stance that the FSF is often accused of being myopic or fanatical.

"Open Source" advocates, on the other hand, generally believe that it is a legitimate activity to accept limitations on those rights, because they are not natural rights. However, like their Free Software bretheren, Open Source advocates believe it is almost always a terrible idea to accept such exchange, as those rights are much more valuable as they are commonly perceived to be. The "Open Source" trademark was created both to encourage a wider understanding among consumers who are not ideologically motivated that these rights are worth something, and to provide a more competent "marketing department" for existing free software. Since they don't consider it a new and special moral cause, but rather a subset of much older and more established principles relating to things like fraud, they are accused of being amoral.

Obviously both parties are united by the fact that they like participating in the production of freely usable code.

In my experience, while "Open Source" people are more accomodating to those without an ideology of their own (which isn't saying much: we can still be pretty obnoxious!), they are no less ideological themselves. "Open Source" and "Free Software" folks are staunchly united in their opposition of copyright and trademark extensions such as the DMCA and CBDTPA, which remove rights that both groups do tend to perceive as natural rights, such as reverse engineering.

This is all a pretty broad generalization, of course, but I think it represents the largest possible gap between the two communities. The fact is that most programmers tend to belong to both camps (as evidenced by the emergent use of the term "Free/Open Source Software") except a few hard-liners who are squarely on one side of this issue or the other.

We have plenty of things in the larger community to be divisive about, as mglazer illustrates every day. However, let's try to be realistic about how deep these philosophical chasms run. It might be fun to inflate the importance of this difference to debate it, but in the end, the only people to benefit from such distortions will be those attempting to attack the viabilty of "Software Libre" development for personal gain.

We Can All Get Along, posted 4 Jan 2003 at 01:02 UTC by ncm » (Master)

glyph, some of my best friends still say "Open Source". Your characterization of the ideological flavors of its users matches my own experience. The people writing the most code are the ones least likely to argue about it.

I was around when the Open Source initiative was being plotted. I know firsthand the media-hacking motivations for the term. The effort has succeeded. It succeeded much sooner than anyone could reasonably have expected. With that success, most of those motivations are obsolete. The term has served its purpose.

The term always had a dark side, which we could live with while it was still serving its purpose. It is worth noting that Microsoft uses the term "OSS" exclusively in its memos to describe Free Software. To them, "Free Software", as such, is too terrifying to write in black and white. That MS prefers to say "Open Source" should be enough, by itself, to give us pause.

The last thing we need is a flame war. "Free Software", as a term, has its own well-discussed problems.

Viva Software Libre!

Business Models, or Jobs Writing Software, posted 6 Jan 2003 at 06:36 UTC by ncm » (Master)

(That was fun, but way off topic.)

When we talk about user-supported software and business models, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that most use of Free Software is by or on behalf of businesses. Some businesses use it heavily enough to justify employing maintainers of Free Software. If you are employed by such a business, does that mean you have/embody/use a business model?

This raises the question, what do we expect from a business model? The main criterion for a successful business model during the bubble days was that it allowed somebody to corner the market on some newly-essential commodity. People talked about "barriers to entry" as an essential feature of a good business model. Business models were about making and keeping monopolies.

For normal people in normal times, a successful business model is one that allows you to make a comfortable living. Is a start-up employing a dozen people better than having those same dozen people working on a project at as many different companies? (Sure, people get re-assigned sometimes, but start-ups collapse outright, too, taking the whole project down with them. Try to imagine how many millions of lines of Java code went into the bit-bucket in the collapse.) Probably it is better to work together in the same place; Free Software just manages to get along without.

Turn it around: is there any proper role for the corner-the-market big-money business model, in a world of Free Software? Free Software seems to be able to build and maintain a software product of any size. What it hasn't done, and may not be able to do, is to build something big and entirely original. This is not to say that the individuals involved aren't creative enough. (On the contrary, only individuals are.) What seems to take capital is market-building, convincing enough people that they want something new. After enough people are used to having the new thing, it seems easy enough to find people to re-implement a Free replacement. Without wide interest, the project has no pool of volunteers to draw upon.

It's terribly inefficient to start a company, write lots of proprietary code, and then have to start over and write it all again for the Free version. Furthermore, for many reasons, most of even reasonably successful proprietary products never get duplicated.

One way that big, original Free Software projects have happened is by government or corporate grant, often through universities. That's also how science is done. (Microsoft is lobbying hard to keep government-released Free Software from being released under the GPL, but nothing would stop people from forking and relicensing them under the GPL. Anyway, an MIT/X license is often OK.) In the U.S., the National Science Foundation issue grants for research. American scientists spend half their time preparing grant proposals.

It would be unfortunate for Free Software developers to end up writing grant proposals instead of coding, or for the bulk of grants to go to people who like doing that better than coding. It would be even worse to end up supporting and dependent upon a big bureaucratic apparatus to dole out grants, assigned ultimately by its institutional criteria. Much of what makes Free Software development efficent is its lack of parasitic management apparatus.

There ought to be a better way. But what? started out trying to match funded projects with developers, and ended up selling something called SourceCast. (I can't tell from the web site what it is, and it won't let me log in to find out.)

The problem is like the problem of capital in general. Until a great deal of time has been invested, a Free Software project isn't useful. Until it's useful, few have enough interest in its success to contribute. Capital solved it with fungibility: the people investing in development are only interested in the money to be made from the product, and the people interested in the product aren't involved in development, they just pay back the investors, and then the maintainers.

The difference with Free Software is that once the product is developed, it's more or less self-sustaining. It just needs a boost up front. One solution might be to offer grants to otherwise funded start-up companies on the condition that they Free their code after a short period (say, three years).

Better ideas?

Counterfactual assertions, posted 6 Jan 2003 at 07:04 UTC by nelsonrn » (Master)

First, Nygard, Bruce Sterling wasn't haranguing anybody. If you'd been there as I was, you would have easily been able to tell from his tone of voice that he was ranting, pure and simple. He in fact *wasn't* telling the open source community what we have to do and disclaimed any attempt to do so.

Secondly, ncm should realize that there never *was* a trademark on "Open Source". Anybody who said otherwise was confused (including me). Asserting a trademark doesn't create a trademark. You also have to be able to enforce the trademark. And yes, there was a registration applied for "Open Source", but it was not denied; instead we allowed it to expire.

Thirdly, ncm says ``A person saying "Open Source" wants play down the additional rights you need''. I assert that the following statement is equally true: "A person saying "Free Software" wants people to concentrate on the price of the software."

Fourthly, RMS insists upon saying "Free Software" because he has this idea, shared with other leftists, that words shape thought. And yet niggers became negroes became blacks became african-americans without changing racism in any way. That's why retards became developmentally challenged. The idea is easily mocked by using "melanin-challenged" for white. Thoughts determine the words that people use, not vice-versa. You're not going to get people to value freedom by shoving the four letters "free" in their face. You're not going to get them to value "GNU" by insisting that they rename their software to "GNU/Whatever". Instead, you're just going to create anger and dissension, which is all that RMS has accomplished by tilting at that windmill.

Note that, on this issue, faggots got it right. They took the attitude of saying "Okay, whatever you call me, I'll call myself." So now you have faggots happily calling each other faggot, and gay and queer. When you do that, you destroy the ability of haters to call you bad names.

Better ideas?, posted 6 Jan 2003 at 07:07 UTC by nelsonrn » (Master)

Sure. The Public Software Fund is soon going to start accepting projects and donations using the Street Performer Protocol. People will pledge to fund a project if enough other people will do so also. (or not, but only time will tell us that). -russ

Sapir-whorf hypothesis etc, posted 8 Jan 2003 at 01:37 UTC by Pseudonym » (Journeyer)

nelsonrn has an interesting point, with adopting the term of abuse. (It's not just the word "faggot", either. According to the standard text on the topic, the term "Christian" arose in the same way.)

I therefore propose that we drop the terms "free software" and "open source" and replace with the terms "IP impairing" and "viral licensing".

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Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!

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