Re: More math and open source

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From: Dave Winer (
Date: Mon Sep 18 2000 - 14:35:57 PDT

Maybe we can stop and think a bit and figure out how to be inclusive instead
of exclusive.

All the religious hype about open source really hurt commercial developers
and their users.

Do you understand that? So if some of the pain comes back at you if we try
to regain respectability, stop and think about how it feels to no longer
have the moral high ground. Yes, Linux puts restrictions on what you can do
with its source. That does not seem very "open" to me. And there are still a
lot of people using and depending on software that "open" source has

I would like to amend my definition of open source to include the previous
definition, and add another, something like this:

2. An attitude of moral superiority.

That's the part of open source that "was". That belongs in the past tense.

I also said in that piece that open source is an essential part of being a
programmer. You seem to have ignored that part.

What are your goals? To keep arguing or try to understand and work with
others? If you want to keep arguing, no thanks.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Kragen Sitaker" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, September 18, 2000 2:31 PM
Subject: Re: More math and open source

> Jeff writes:
> > Dave Winer wrote:
> > > A place in time where the function "software developer" was undefined.
> > >
> > > Or went asymptotic.
> >
> > So Dave, who's writing all that open source software, then?
> According to Dave's new definition of "open source", GPLed software
> isn't "open source" --- in fact, almost nothing is, except for
> public-domain software, because it all has constraints on how you can
> use the source:
> A program is said to be open source if the full source code for
> the program is available publicly, with no constraints on how
> it can be used.
> That's it. We've looked at so many other possibilities, I've
> even discussed it publicly with Stallman, and he agrees that
> his philosophy is not open source, because there are
> constraints on what you can do with his code.
> (, a veritable
> haystack of strawmen)
> So, having redefined open source software to exclude Linux, gcc, Emacs,
> FreeBSD, Apache, Tcl, Tk, GhostScript, lynx, TeX, Mesa3D, Back Orifice
> 2000, VNC, KDE, GNOME, Qt, GTK, Gaim, Freenet, Mailman, and the X
> Window System, Dave can now comfortably refer to it in the past tense.
> Except...
> Dave writes:
> >$21465
> >
> > It is a past tense thing, in the sense that the roadblocks it put up are
> > gone, kaput, no longer in the way. We're able to work with other
> > without the nasty bullshit getting in the way. Sure we share source
> > and we're slaves too, and we love it. We have cathedrals and bazaars,
> > users, and they help us.
> >
> > About the only difference betw open source and commercial software is
> > open source people let you have their source.
> Well, and they let you use their software, too. That's a significant
> difference.
> I'd be interested to hear about these roadblocks. Are you saying that
> certain software being open-source put obstacles in your way that
> wouldn't have been there if the software had been proprietary instead?
> > Rather than being a revolution, it's lined some peoples' pockets nicely,
> > the software development world continues to be filled with hard working
> > people doing it for love.
> It may not be a revolution from the developer's perspective, but it's
> certainly revolutionary from my perspective as a user. And that's what
> it's all about, in the end. Users don't use software because
> developers developed it for love; developers develop software because
> users want to use it.
> There is one significant bit of change between proprietary and
> open-source worlds: proprietary software projects are really hard to
> split across companies. Open-source software projects are hard, but
> not as hard. Most open-source software projects are, in fact, split
> across companies, and they work. Whether this is due to inherent
> differences in the processes or to cultural differences remains to be
> seen.
> Of course open source is not new; even the site explains
> that it is meant as "a marketing program for free software" (or it did
> in 1998, anyway) --- and free software, as a movement, goes back to
> 1984, and the FSF will be happy to tell you that it was founded not as
> an innovative new way to develop software, but because previously, it
> had not been necessary to defend free software --- it just happened!
> Dave writes, on
> Most programmers give away source code. Even Microsoft
> programmers participate. So to draw exclusive lines that
> disempower some programmers in favor of others could be an
> expedient way to make money (amazingly) but it doesn't further
> the cause of more good software for the people.
> There's an implication here that someone is drawing exclusive lines
> that disempower some programmers in favor of others. Who is doing
> this, and how?
> Oh, and by the way: I'm interested in freedom much more than I'm
> interested in software quality. I love quality software, but I love
> free software more.
> I love your Gandhi story, Dave. I wonder if it's true?
> I'm sorry I read your work shallowly before. I think I have a better
> understanding of where you're coming from now.
> --
> <> Kragen Sitaker
> Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves
> possess.
> -- Gandalf the Grey [J.R.R. Tolkien, "Lord of the Rings"]

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