Story: Comment of the Day - October 22, 2005Total Replies: 4
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Oct 23, 2005
5:33 PM EDT
Those among us who like to use the war metaphor seem to miss this very important point.

The very essence of FOSS does not allow us to wage war. We are left with being Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela.

The Microsofts of this world can pull nasty trick after nasty trick, hoping that the law and their clientele's patience do not finally draw their last straws.

FOSS can't do that, precisely because it is FOSS.

Microsoft wants to lock people in with weirdly proprietary formats? They can. We can't. Openness is at the heart of our appeal. Without it, freedom evaporates.

Microsoft can monkey around with protocols...at least so long as their customers don't scream. We can't.

There is no tit for tat to be had. There is only the power of freedom , the moral authority of doing the right thing for the right reasons, and the very considerable work product of all those engaged in the task.

That's a lot, by the way, and the appeal is not limited to individuals.

If you're a business, like, say, IBM, you can get an OS for all of your platforms for a fraction of the R&D investment it would take to create your own. Because Linux is free -- as in GPL -- you know that your own work may be shared with competitors, but their work can be shared with you. You can exploit your competitive advantages in hardware, consulting, and customer relationships with much lower overhead. The freedom of FOSS lets you do it, the implicit moral authority of the process and the community gives you the confidence to go ahead. The work product you share, dwarfs that you give. Grand stuff.

Let them fight their wars.

You can't fight what you can't hit.


Oct 23, 2005
11:06 PM EDT
The very essence of FOSS does not allow us to wage war. We are left with being Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela.

I'm not sure that "war" automatically implies "dirty behaviour" but I take your point.


Oct 24, 2005
1:46 AM EDT
sal -

I've been trying to find the right way to express it, and I don't know that I'm there yet. I think it's important to understand how hamstrung FOSS is when it comes to waging war.

War just drips with testosterone appeal -- one of its tragic drivers out there in the "real world" -- but I think we need to find a metaphor that more neatly fits the reality of FOSS. I just wish I knew what it was.

Oct 24, 2005
6:22 AM EDT
dino: I hear what you're saying -- what my main point was that there would be no treaty with the Microsoft folks -- it's not to say we're actively fighting back in the same way a war is fought. As you point out, that's a problem with the analogy. My main issue is with people that like to think of Microsoft as some sort of benevolent entity. I wish things were different. As my father-in-law used to say, you can wish in one hand and crap in the other -- see which one fills up faster.


Oct 24, 2005
6:49 AM EDT
Paul --

You may be on to something with the perception thing.

One of the powerful forces in winning the civil rights struggle was the images of dogs and firehoses trained on innocent children.

There's a power in not going away, keeping the faith, and letting the bad guys demostrate to everyone how bad they really are.

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