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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL

it probably isn't worth sending this message. after writing it, i
suspect you probably won't understand...your errors are not so much
errors of fact (although you made plenty of those too), but errors of
interpretation. in essence, you've got yourself paniced over nothing. so
do yourself a favour and hit the Next message key now.

On Thu, Dec 09, 1999 at 12:44:47PM -0500, Caspian wrote:
> I think you're not paranoid enough.

i'm plenty paranoid enough. i'm just a lot more realistic about things
than you are, basing my thoughts on facts rather than wild speculation.

> > 1a. free software survived - flourished, even - long before your Joe
> > WinIdiot even noticed that it existed. there is no reason at all
> > that it will not continue to do so.
> Sure there is. That reason is called the "Open Source Initiative." See
> my further comments below.

so explain how "Open Source" can kill off Free Software.

the fact is that it can't. there will always be people working on and
using free software, no matter what "open source" does. as long as even
one programmer writes free code, free software is alive and well. as
long as even one user uses free software, it's alive and well.

you've got caught up in the media hype and been distracted from the
real definition of success. it's got nothing to do with market share or
dollars or billion dollar IPOs. they're sideline issues, essentially
unrelated to free software...and, except for the possibility of funds
being injected into free software development, ultimately irrelevant.

free software doesn't require market share in order to thrive. it
doesn't have to take over the world. it doesn't have to wipe out
all "competition". the simple fact of free software's existence is
sufficient for the success of free software. as long as it is available
for those who want or need it, it is a success....regardless of what the
rest of the world does. and that is true whether 99% of the world uses
free software or only 0.001% of the world.

> > 1b.  Joe WinIdiot is irrelevant to the success of free software because
> > Joe Winidiot will *never* contribute a single line of code to any free
> > software project. success for free software depends on developers, not
> > users.
> When Joe WinIdiot starts adopting the latest offerings from the "Open
> Source" community, and when those offerings start depending on proprietary
> libraries, apps, etc. from said community and the traditional proprietary
> software community-- which I feel that they -will- -- we will suddenly
> find that we cannot work for Joe WinIdiot, we cannot write software for
> Joe WinIdiot, we cannot help Joe WinIdiot with his problems... 

so?  since when has free software ever been written for JW?

> and since software (e.g. Winders) spreads upwards from the Joe
> WinIdiots to the PHBs, pretty soon that will go for the PHBs
> too. Eventually, we'll all be forced to use the 75% proprietary
> Corel Linux 3.0 at work, even if we're still stalwartly running free
> software at home.

how would your scenario above be any different to what we have today
where JW runs exclusively proprietary software? free software is alive
and well today, why should the fact that the JWs of this world move from
100% proprietary code to a mixture of 25% free & 75% proprietary code
hurt FS at all?

you're trying to claim that an increase of free software usage from 0%
to 25% will somehow HURT free software. bizarre.

but even that isn't important. who cares what JW runs? as long as free
software is available to YOU and to me and to anyone else when we
want it, why should we care? 

shouldn't JW be free to make his/her own choices? after all, what JW
runs on his own computer makes no difference to my computers.

> We will be made incompatible as soon as they replace libc, the kernel,
> X or some other major component with a proprietary "product" veiled in
> secrecy. Which they will, "for the sake of "product integrity"".

this is extremely unlikely to happen.

in fact, so unlikely that it would be fair to state categorically that

and even if it DID happen, we would still have the sources for libc
and the kernel and X and everything else and we could still tell the
proprietary software world to go f!@k themselves and keep on working on
our own thing.

i repeat, market share is not important. the existence of free software
at all, regardless of popularity or market share, is what is important.

> > 1d. critical mass. see points 1a and 1c. there's no way of stopping the
> > chain reaction now.
> The chain reaction is going on in the "Open Source" world, not the "free
> software" world. We are being left behind.

that's absurd.

what you refer to as the "Open Source world" is mostly parasitic upon
free software. if they head off into some proprietary direction, what
difference does it make? free software will still be here, programmers
will still work on free software, and users will still use it.

what you need to realise is that these parasites need linux and gnu and
the free software community a whole lot more than we need them. we were
doing just fine without them, we will continue to do just fine when our
stuff has lost it's immediate over-hyped trendiness.

in the meantime, the business heads (aka parasitic scumbags) are doing
their usual thing, hyping up and creating a marketing phenomenon for
them to cash in on. the bubble will burst one day, they'll take their
billions and fuck off to some newer, greener pasture. we'll still be
here doing what we enjoy doing - and some of us will have picked up some
of the scraps along the way and made a few tens of thousands or perhaps
even a million or so.

> > 2. you are confusing "pretty and easy to learn" with "easy to use".
> > i've ranted about this before, so i'll spare you now. suffice it
> > to say that you shouldn't believe what marketing types want you to
> > believe.
> Joe WinIdiot-- on whom the future of the computer world hinges,
> unfortunately-- wants (and thinks he NEEDS) all three-- pretty, easy
> to learn -and- easy to use.

your assumptions are just plain wrong, so your conclusions are wrong.

the "future of the computer world" does NOT hinge on Joe Winidiot. that
is true even for the proprietary computer industry (consumers don't
have any real wants, they buy what they're told they want), and it is
especially true for the free software community.

you've been suckered by the media hype.

> > 3. we *are* doing this for ourselves. if others benefit too, that's
> > great, but not essential.  IMO the heart and soul goes out of free
> > software if your primary motivation is to scratch someone else's
> > itch rather than your own.
> Excuse me?
> My standards are based on a quest to be as altruistic as I can be; are
> you telling me that altruism is somehow un-free-software-ish?

no, what i'm saying is that altruism is basically bullshit - doesn't
exist. the closest you get to it is "enlightened self-interest". whether
your reward is money or pleasure or the satisfication of doing a good
job or even warm fuzzies from doing something you believe is Right, you
are still getting *something* for your actions.

when someone tells me they are an "altruist", i know they are a liar.
they are either lying to me, or they are lying to themselves. either
way, i don't believe them.

this is not to say that people don't do good things. people *DO* do good
things. all the time. but they get something, however intangible, in

> What the hell about generously writing a software package that you
> know you won't use, but thousands or millions of others will love,
> lacks "heart and soul"?

unless you get some kind of a buzz out of doing that, then yes it
does lack that hear and soul. if the itch that you're scratching is a
personal need to help others then you're still scratching your own itch.

> > 4. the ratio of free software developers to free software users may
> > be shrinking, but the total number is increasing. in more concrete
> > (but only example) figures: 5% of 100,000 is a whole lot less than
> > 2% of 1,000,000.
> Let's run with those hypothetical figures for a moment.
> 1990: 5% of 100,000, of whom 100% are free software developers
> 2000: 2% of 1,000,000, of whom 80% are "open source" developers and
> 20% are "free software" developers.
> Why am I stressing the whole "open source"/"free software" dichotomy?

i have no idea. you've inflated the significance of the split between FS
and OS until it makes no rational sense at all.

> > 5. who gives a damn if redhat, or corel, or whoever makes money
> > from free software? money's not the issue. as long as the software
> > remains free, it doesn't matter what they do. even better, some of
> > them even
> Money is not the issue. The software -isn't- remaining free and it
> -won't- remain free.

huh?  WTF are you talking about? everything that RH has produced so far
has been licensed under the GPL.  That means it is free software.

RH may or may not change their software licensing policy in the
future...but even if they do change, what they have already releases
will still be GPL-ed and will always be GPL-ed.  The GPL is irrevocable.

> > contribute a lot of free software back to the community (RH may
> > have their faults, but they *have* contributed a lot of software,
> > and they have paid for a lot of programming hours on free software
> > projects...overall, they have been a force for good in the free
> > software world - although this will undoubtedly change within 3-5
> > years as they turn into just another amoral corporation)
> That's a lot of my point right there.

no, that's not your point. your point is that linux and free software
are dying because all these "evil corporations" are jumping on the

i have no dispute with the idea that because RH is now a corporation
they will eventually and inevitably become just another amoral (in fact,
evil) blight on society. that's the way that today's capitalism and
corporation law and the profit-is-everything mindset works.

what i do dispute is that the inevitable "fall of RH" (or any other FS
or OS company) from moral rightness will kill free software, or even
harm free software. they can only harm us if they have something we
need, and they don't.

> > 6. there are sometimes extreme contradictions between what clueful
> > geeks want from a system and what your Joe Winidiot might want
> > from a system. these contradictions are often mutually exclusive.
> > simplicity (aka "easy to learn") is most often achieved by
> > sacrificing flexibility and power (aka "easy to use").
> Three words: Mac. OS. X.

three more words:  cat.  fish.  banana.

mine have more letters (and are actual words rather than acronyms), so i

in case you miss the point - obscure irrelevancy has been met with
flippant irrelevancy.

> > software is NOT "one size fits all". that's one of the reasons why
> > free software is essential. if it doesn't suit you, hack it until it
> > does.
> Joe WinIdiot cannot hack.

then he is utterly irrelevant to free software, unless he can write
documentation or do tech-support type work or perform some other useful
service for the community.

> > 7. error messages are primarily for the programmer, not the user.
> > their main purpose is to provide enough diagnostic information so
> > the programmer can figure out what/where the bug is.
> Error messages frighten computer illiterates.

non-error messages frighten computer illiterates. computer-illiterates
are frightened if the machine doesn't turn on. they're frightened if it
does turn on. they're frightened if it beeps, or if it doesn't beep.
they're frightened when they get a message, and when they don't get a
message. they're frightened if the computer does what they expect, just
as they are frightened if it does something unexpected.

don't worry too much about what frightens the computer-illiterate.
they're beyond helping. focus your energy where it can achieve

> > 8. we *have* good GUIs.
> Like what? GNOME? Don't make me laugh. KDE? Almost as laughable.

i don't use either KDE or GNOME, yet i find that the GUI i use is more
than adequate for my needs.

my needs, as mentioned before, are quite different to JW's needs.

isn't it great to live in a world where it is possible for different
needs to be met by different pieces of software?

> If we don't make the people who code for Joe WinIdiot feel at home,
> they'll keep running Winders... 

big deal.  let JW use windows if that's what he wants.

as long as linux and gnu etc is available for people who want it (e.g.
me), i don't give a damn what JW uses and i don't see any reason why i
*should* give a damn.

> > 11. i'm frankly sick of the whole damn world focusing on the lowest
> > fucking common denominator! why not expend some energy on smart
> > people for a change? that's why i'm in debian, that's why i'm
> > involved in free software - because it's mostly smart people doing
> > clever things for our own benefit.
> This doesn't jive very well with my beliefs. I think free software is
> all about altruism,

well, you're wrong. free software is not about altruism (which, as
explained above, doesn't even exist), it is about free software.

different people have different reasons for writing free software. there
are probably as many different motivations as there are people working
on free software.

> and I want to use free software to advance my altruistic goals.

whatever floats your boat.

> > i.e. it's about community, not product. participation, not
> > consumption.
> I think of it as giving, not taking..

it's not about giving or taking.  it's SHARING.

if i didn't get anything back at all for my work, if all i did was give
and give and give to a bunch of free-loading leeching parasites then i
wouldn't bother.

i don't mind at all that MOST people are software leeches and never
contribute anything. i would mind if EVERYONE was a leech - if there
were no possibility of sharing and getting something good back in return
then i wouldn't bother.

> > 13. yes, i am an arrogant elitist bastard. i don't care.
> I've noticed. This is a very common trait in the Unix world. I was
> once like that...now I've realized that I'd rather help the JWs of the
> world.

i used to believe that anyone was capable of learning computers,
that all it took was education and patience. in fact, i used to be
naive enough to believe that most or all of the world's problems
could be solved by decent education and the miraculous power of
people-of-good-will getting together.

i've got a bit older and wiser...learnt better than that. some people
just aren't capable, for whatever reason. some people are too scared of
change or technology, some are too stupid, some are unwilling to learn,
some are happy with the status quo.

> > 14. the Joe Winidiots of this world may not be capable of installing
> > or running Linux by themselves, but they aren't capable of
> > installing or running Windows or MS Word either. this is why most
> > companies spend a fortune on technical support staff, help-desks,
> > and support contracts.
> You're missing my point. I will repeat-- again. JW's computer came
> preloaded with Winders. He won't change to anything else unless he can
> install that "anything else" HIMSELF-- _and_ not be scared shitless of
> it.

you're missing THE point.  Joe Winidiot is irrelevant to the future of
free software.  Even more to the point, Joe Winidiot is irrelevant to
the *survival* of free software (which is what your paniced doom & gloom
message was all about).

> > 16. if you see a need then start coding. don't waste everyone's time
> > by telling us what we *should* be doing.
> I fear that that is what I'm going to have to do.

if you fear it, then it's probably doomed to failure. free software
projects never, AFAIK, get completed (or even worked on) because someone
feels that they *should* do it. they get worked on because people WANT
to work on them.

if you're excited and enthusiastic about your project then energy poured
into a project attracts energy from others. if you're doing it out of a
sense of duty or obligation rather than joy then it just isn't going to


craig sanders

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