[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

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

On Mon, Dec 06, 1999 at 01:56:31AM -0500, Caspian wrote:

> I'd just like to add my two cents (they're rather big...perhaps
> they're two dollars?) to this little discussion.

> [342 line rant deleted]

i think you exaggerate just a little :)

some points that need to be made in response (in random order, as i
thought of them):

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.

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

1c. free software is getting better every day. more programs, better
programs. things that nobody would have even considered doing as a free
software project a few years ago are now being done. we've got the
operating system, and the tools...now the apps.

1d. critical mass. see points 1a and 1c. there's no way of stopping the
chain reaction now.

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.

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.

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

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
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)

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").

just slapping on a GUI will not and can not solve this inherent
conflict.  A GUI is NOT a magic wand.

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.

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.

8. we *have* good GUIs.

the fact that they may not be the same kind of GUI that your Joe
Winidiot might choose to use is irrelevant. our needs are different to
Mr JW.  Hell, our needs are different from each others which is why we
have dozens of window managers and several GUIs to choose from.

9. we don't need visual C++ or anything like it. we really don't want
the illiterate barbarian hordes of windows programmers filling the free
software archives with incomprehensible cargo-cult programming crap.
if someone can't program without such tools then they have no business
calling themselves a programmer and they should start studying for a
more appropriate career (practicing "would you like fries with that,
sir?" would be about right)

10. build a system so simple that even a moron can use it and only a
moron will want to use it. cf. Microsoft Windows.

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.

i don't write or contribute to free software because i want to make yet
another meaningless toy for the morons in consumerland to waste their
lives with. i do it because it solves some problem for myself and also
so that i can share my ideas and code with my peers - hopefully they can
learn from and be impressed or amused by what i do, just as i can learn
from and be impressed or amused by what they do.

i.e. it's about community, not product. participation, not consumption.

12. there's no way that you can simplify complex tools for Joe Winidiot
without losing the value of those tools. complex tools require
knowledge, and they require intelligence to operate. e.g. you need
to know certain things, like "what is a string?" or "what does case
sensitivity mean?" in order to get any use out of tools like grep.

this means that documentation is key, not simplication. help to educate
those who can be educated and to hell with the rest. they aren't worth
wasting time on, let them eat microsoft.

13. yes, i am an arrogant elitist bastard.  i don't care.

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.

15. most of those support staff are barely more computer-literate
than the people they are helping...but it's damn easy to sound like
an "expert" when your boss isn't capable of understanding what you're
talking about either.

16. if you see a need then start coding. don't waste everyone's time by
telling us what we *should* be doing.


craig sanders

Reply to: