Recently, I was directed toward an excellent analysis of commons-based peer production as a phenomenon which separates "entrepreneurs" (who want to get things done and create value in the world) from "capitalists" (who want to get a return on an investment of property without contributing any labor). An observer -- clearly outside of the community of free software developers -- expressed dismay at the example of Mozilla Foundation, which makes money from the open source Mozilla project, but does not pay for most voluntarily contributed code improvements to the Mozilla software. Is he right? Is this exploitation of those contributors?
I never really "trusted" Facebook or Google+. That is to say, I never expected them to respect my privacy or keep my secrets. I'm not too secretive online anyway, and what I do have to hide, I just don't post. But it is very clear that there is a great deal of corruption inherent in a business model which is based on concentrating the personal data from millions of users and selling that data to advertisers. At the very least, there must be a free alternative. But for that alternative to be viable, we need to use it. Identica has been around for some time now (and I use it -- I'm "digitante"), and Diaspora is (after a long hard start) finally getting some wind under its wings. I've used it, and it's Good Enough. In fact, you'll find it's pretty similar to what Facebook or Google+ offers, although there are still some rough spots.
Latest from the Bizarre Cathedral.
What exactly does it mean when Richard Stallman says that the Creative Commons' Attribution-ShareAlike license has a "Weak Copyleft"? Why exactly is it that "Freeware" and "Non-Free Software" mean the same thing, while "Free Software" is something else entirely? And what is this business with "Free Beer", and where can I get some? If you've asked yourself these questions, this column is for you.
Having defined the terms that represent the core values of free culture and free software in a previous column, today I want to talk about the terms that define its boundaries: how we describe them and defend them. And what's on the other side of them.
I just read Terry Hancock's artilce on Is free software major league or minor?. Great article, and I'm very glad to see articulate discussion about these core subjects. Not enough is said about these matters.
However, I disagree strongly on several points that your article raises. I'll take it point by point in an effort to not misrepresent your views and keep focussed on the statements that you have made.
Is free software really capable of serving end users or not? This issue has political consequences, which is part of what makes it important: either free software is "minor league" or it's "major league". Which we believe has a big impact on what our expectations can be and what our political and ethical stance towards proprietary and free software should be.
This post is in response to Dario Borghino's story, "Why Open Source is not Free Software". Go read that first...
I have a couple problems with this post. First of all, there is much less difference between free and open source software than this post suggest. Secondly, patents do not have much effect on the software industry, in practice. Those may sound controversial, but let me explain.
Choosing to release a piece of software under the terms of a free software license is an important step through which many programmers and writers first approach the free software community. However, the myriad of licenses available can sometimes confuse and disorient the user, sometimes making this first step much harder than it should be. Let's try and make things clearer.
Recently, I attended a small symposium here in Texas, with just over 70 people attending: the inaugural "Texas Open Source Symposium" (TexasOSS). Although small, it was a pleasant conference. Topics ranged from 3D applications to business models, to introductions into the inner workings of the free software community process.
As we follow the zig-zaggy quest of me trying to learn to program, I discover the next significant step, "Interest". I started with a goal: to learn to program. Next I came up with a plan: Learn Python by writing a program called PT (period tracker) but I lacked the last bit, interest.
You see, there was very little that period tracker did that a calendar didn't. Spending hours to make a program to do work that I could do in five minutes with a calendar and a pencil seemed like a waste of effort.
When we enter the world of “free and open source software”, most of us will choose one or the other philosophy. This choice is usually made easy by the people that guide us when we enter this world. We are at a point where the philosophies behind free software, which have been heralded by Richard M. Stallman and others, are threatened; as more people make the jump away from proprietary operating systems, less of them know about these philosophies. Fewer people will weigh the decision for themselves.
What is the difference?
This is a slightly different post this week. I haven’t found anything of technical note to talk about and only discovered some of the power of Ruby on Rails this week, but have not had the chance to explore it much, but on the surface it looks awesome.
What I did discover while checking things out in cyberspace is three interesting open source models for different areas. War, politics and religion. Just the stuff we like to discuss at the dinner table. No doubt there are many blogs on open source sex, but that’s a dinner table conversation I’m not going to cover today.
If, for whatever reason, you have done some digging on me you will have discovered a dark secret. Well, not quite a secret as I do not hide it, nor is it that dark, more of a information non publiée.
I heard that the open source software movement grew up when it was noticed that people reacted badly to the idealism that the phrase “free software” suggests. In an attempt to attract more people to free software they decided to move away from the ideas implicit in the term “free software” and use their own term “open source” which promotes the practical benefits of this style of development.
The Free Computer is not a dream but it is a reality waiting to happen. All the elements are there we just need to gather them together. There has never been a better time to talk about the idea of the Free Computer than now. Last week I wrote a blog entry about the idea of the Free Computer and where we stand today. I think it's time to clarify my position and set out exactly what I mean, and where we go from here.
This week I finally learned how to use Bit Torrent, and I downloaded two free-licensed open-source movies: Elephants Dream by the Orange Project and The Boy Who Never Slept by Solomon Rothmon (who is credited as Producer, Writer, Director, and who plays the title role). Both are interesting as first ventures into free-licensed open-source filmmaking, but the contrasts are more striking than the similarities, both technically and aesthetically.