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Re: Lost Trust

On Mon, May 31, 2004 at 08:26:10PM -0800, D. Starner scribbled:
> Marek Habersack <grendel@debian.org> writes:
> > On Mon, May 31, 2004 at 06:09:14PM -0800, D. Starner scribbled:
> > > > > 1) It encourages free alternatives to be written.
> > > > Everytime I see some smartass writing that, I wish they would actually
> > > > damned code that alternative. Then and ONLY then they have the right to
> > > > remove anything. 
> > > 
> > > If I upload AutoCAD, will you oppose removing it? Part of what makes the
> > If there is no alternative? No, I wouldn't oppose it then. 
> And you'd be willing to sacrifice the whole "free as beer" thing? I guess
> it's all in being flexible.
Sacrifice what? It's not a sacrifice, it's a compromise. Extremism is always
evil, no matter what. How is "including non-free software until a free
replacement is read" sacrificing anything? The more I hear extremist
arguments in favor of free software, the more I ask myself the question -
"where is the freedom they talk about so much"? Isn't "freedom" being free
to chose _whatever_ you want? If you choose wrong, then you can be punished,
but you are still FREE to make that choice. The FSF/GNU preachers more often
than not try to force THEIR notion of freedom on everybody else, denying the
right of the others to have their own views and opinions on that matter.
Now, that is far from _my_ notion of freedom and that's why I'm so opposed
to any extremist views and movements regarding software.

> > I would be glad
> > there was AutoCAD in Debian, since then I could put Debian on my sister's
> > machine (which needs AutoCAD, 3DMax and ArchiCAD, none of which exist under
> > Linux OSes)
> What's stopping you has nothing to do with Debian. It has to do with the
> fact that proprietary software makers have chosen not to let you port
> the software.
I don't think this is the case. There are several projects developing CAD
software for the free OSes, they could be considered "clones". But until
they are ready (and it's not us, developers, that are to judge their
readiness - it's their users, architects, engineers, designers who have to
do that), I would love to see AutoCAD running under bare WINE or CrossOffice
and see my sister using it. So, let me ask you - if CodeWeavers developed
support for AutoCAD, then oferred Debian the right to distribute a special
edition of crossover office with it and somebody created debs to install
AutoCAD - would you agree to include it in Debian? I would.

> In any case, there's several examples of this being bad for Free Software.
> Every computer science undergrad writes a raytracer at some point in time.
> So why does there not exists a good free raytracer if it's so simple? Because
> POV-Ray sucked away the people who would implement it. Likewise there's no
What about Blender? I'm not a graphician, but I have a friend who switched
to Blender and is quite happy with it (although he still hates GIMP, but
loves http://pixel32.box.sk/, which could never be distributed with Debian,

> really comprehensive fractal drawer, because FractInt is good enough.
> > Take a really critical look at all
> > the free software around - the crap/value ratio is scaringly high. There are
> > loads of unfinished, half-finished or simply bad projects, many of them
> > duplicating the efforts of the others. 
> Duh. If you look at software outside free software, you'll find that the crap/value
> ratio is scaringly high, and that there's loads of unfinished, half-finished or
It's quite a different matter, isn't it? It's the commercial world where
people compete for money - the free software movement should not have such a
problem, and yet...

> simply bad projects, many of them duplicating the efforts of the others. Of course,
> commericial software buries many of the unfinished projects. If sourceforge went 
> through and deleted all the unfinished projects, that might change your ratios, but 
> wouldn't make the quality of software in use any higher.
Definitely not, you're right. But as pointed out above, the fragmentation of
the commercial software is justified (and it's the company's problem if
their software doesn't bring profits), whereas it is not justified by any
economical reasons for the free software movement.

> > Look
> > for instance at KOffice, OpenOffice and AbiWord. They all duplicate their
> > efforts - just imagine what could happen if they all worked together.
> 800 megs and constantly swapping? Sure wouldn't run on my machine. That's
Well, so? Are you sure it cannot be improved?

> why I tend to use AbiWord. They target different audiences to some extent, 
> and even to the extent they target the same audience, it's a good thing. 
> Competition is a good thing. 
I don't disagree with that, of course, but there is nothing wrong in
cooperating. You said "to some extent" - and that's precisely what I mean.
The extent embraces common goals (say, an MS Word doc importer, or an excel
importer) and that's where there would be cooperation (for example, of
course). The different projects could happily coexist and cooperate while
still targetting their different audiences and competing in other fields
(like speed, better UI, smaller binaries, more non-core features etc.). Is
it so unreal)

> In any case, the commerical market has a number of word processors, ranging
> from Word, WordPerfect and StarOffice, to hordes of minor players written
> for one field or language.
Again, don't bring the commercial stuff on. It has no relevance in this case
- commercial software is about making money by companies or individuals,
they have to separate their efforts and compete with each other, that's
natural. It is not so (or shouldn't be so) for the free software. If your
opinions stated above are true, they why does freedesktop.org exist at all?
Why cooperate between KDE and GNOME? But that's just the spirit I'm talking
about - KDE/GNOME (and others) are competing in some areas and actively
working together in others. 

> > Let's go farther - the X Window issue. We have, at this
> > moment, 3 versions of X11 around - X.org's, the fdo's kdrive one, and
> > xfree86 - now isn't it a waste of valuable energy and human resources? 
> So should we point guns at those volunteers who just couldn't work with
> xfree86 anymore and force them to deal with it? If they couldn't work
> on kdrive, what makes you think they would go back to working on xfree86?
Nothing makes me think so. All I'm saying is that X11 is a huge chunk of
software with a relatively small group of developers who understand it and
contribute to it. If you slice the group to three smaller pieces, the
development of _each_ of the forks slows down, thus hurting the community.
It's not like forking the development of mutt or pine or somesuch other

> But let's go farther. Look at all of the Linux distributions. Isn't Debian
> just a waste of valuable energy and human resources?
Of course not. You've just given the example of creative cooperation and
competition. Linux distros are focused on software _distribution_ mainly,
but they _all_ share the same software (in 99%), they contribute patches,
fix bugs - all together. They compete where they can (and want to) make a
difference - ease of installation, ease of access to updates and new
versions of software, ease of use, security of the default installation etc.
etc. But the biggest chunk of the software they are dealing with is shared.
So, you've given an excellent example to support the point I wanted to make, 
thanks :)

> > This
> > fragmentation of efforts is what leads to a situation in which there are no
> > real alternatives to AutoCAD, ArchiCAD or 3DMax on the free side of the
> > software world 
> I actually would rather guess that it's because those are very large, complex
> programs that have evolved over a decade. I seriously doubt that if you marched
> stormtroopers in and reorganized the Linux world, that an AutoCAD workalike would 
> appear any quicker.
How does the complexity of GCC, the Linux and *BSD kernels, X11 relate to
that? They were all developed in time that is either equal or shorter to
their commercial counterparts. And they are not even the least complex than
AutoCAD. I think there are enough skilled coders in the free software that,
given some organized effort, would develop the free counterparts to the
software mentioned above. ArchiCAD, in its initial form, was developed by 5
people IIRC, in about 16 months (my memory might be failing, but I think it
was something like that). In fact, the complexity of that software isn't
really greater than that of KDE, GNOME, GCC - it's just a different field of
knowledge. And, one more thing, please don't forget that the free software
world is not only Linux. It's a bit bigger than that

> > And removing
> > any drivers/firmware from the OS kernel doesn't help that situation. 
> If we should use a free kernel, why shouldn't we make sure that kernel
> is all free? 
Because making it all free at all costs would mean hurting its usability and
because the world is not black and white?

> > we cannot offer replacements to all the software that is needed
> > at this moment. 
> That's what we have non-free for. 
Which the extremists are opposing.

> > That's why a sensible compromise is a must, and stiffly
> > sticking to the DFSG or ideals won't do much good if people turn their backs
> > on us (and rightly so).
> If we abandon our ideals everytime they become sticky, they aren't worth much.
I don't buy such argumentation. The world is changing, people have to adjust
to it - and being flexible doesn't mean betraying the ideals. I wanted to
avoid that, but let me give you an example from the "real world". The
Catholic Church. For ages the Church was treating women as impure, evil
creatures that are a "necessary evil" for the men. Those were the Church's
ideals, people truely believed in them and were convinced the ideals and the
laws were good. And yet, the world kept changing and the Church kept
adjusting its ideals up till today, when it even is willing to let women be
priests - something which would raise hair on the heads of old-time
believers. Is it wrong to change the ideals, then? No, it's a process called
"evolution". And sticking stiffly to today's (right) ideals is a straight
way to becoming a stiff extremist tomorrow (just like the religious
extremists from various religions who would love to see the world coming
back to its XIV-th century state).

> We have a sensible compromise; it's called non-free.
Again, which is actively being opposed to.

> > Flexibility is really a great virtue.
> It's also a great vice. People don't trust people who are flexible with thier
> ethics; they may say they mean something today, but when the going gets tough,
Ethics? What does GPL/DFSG have to do with ethics? Are you implying that I, by
releasing my software under MPL or BSD, am not ethical? 

> they change their mind. If we make a promise to uphold the DFSG, and break it
> here, how can people who make a business out of baby-mulchers running on Debian
> trust that there's no software in main that can't be used by buisnesses or 
> baby-mulchers?
So, if I'm understanding you well - you are saying that there should NEVER
be changes to DFSG and the Social Contract (for instance) no matter what
happens? That they should remain as they were coined the first time and
ammended shortly after? Are you claiming that they will always be right and
no changes will ever be necessary? Are you saying that there is no way of
making changes adjusting the documents to the changing world without
breaking their core ideals?



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