open source vs. free software

Kragen Sitaker
Mon, 4 Mar 2002 05:51:46 -0500 (EST)

Lorin Rivers writes:
> The reality is that most people want to do the best job they can, 
> want to take pride in their work, and so on.
> Probably, sainted open source programmers are as arrogant and 
> narrow-minded as they claim "evil" ones are.

Michael Watson writes:
> Many of the programmers at Microsoft are just as passionate about
> their code as any open source programmer.

I think you're (both) confusing two different things.

Most of the free-software people I meet who really hate Microsoft hate
them for a different reason.  They hate them because they believe
people should have the right to control the software they use --- the
software that keeps their finances, finds them information, manages
their correspondence, and generally runs their life.  Microsoft's
software licenses take that freedom away from people.

To these folks, it doesn't matter how passionate the people at
Microsoft are, or how good Microsoft's code is, or how humble and
open-minded and good-hearted Microsoft's programmers are.  What
matters is that Microsoft's business model fundamentally depends on
depriving people of legal control over their own computers and their
own private data.  The code, however good or bad, is incidental; it
just happens that they can escape Microsoft's control, and help other
people to do so, by writing their own code.

These are the people who think software freedom is an ethical issue.

People who don't think software freedom is an ethical issue, who
really only want to do the best job they can, take pride in their
work, and be passionate about their code, generally don't hate or
despise Microsoft because its code is proprietary.  Some of them hate
Microsoft because Microsoft has destroyed their previous companies,
but that's another issue.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
According to my medieval text in the seventh century a finalizer raised a
dead object named Gorth who infected every computer in Cappidocia ending
Roman rule in the region.  -- Charles Fiterman on