LXer Feature: Another View of the Hijack of Free/Open Source Software by the Unscrupulous

Posted by tadelste on Jan 20, 2006 4:40 AM EDT
LXer.com; By Herschel Cohen
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For many reasons I think, for the moment, it is better to heap praise upon our real friends than to attempt to root out the abusers. There is just too much noise to signal for even to be possible to convey the proper message.

So when the next Sap (as was so emblematicly expressed by SAP) complains about the short comings of F/OSS (because they failed to get the free labor they so ardently desired) to revive their decaying product line, just grin. I think by the most subtle means possible, in a subliminal sense, the message is being sent to the uncaring public that something is more amiss with these large corporations than their targets of the moment.

Hence, reward those worthy with praise and give scorn to those such as the above only in forums where the audience level of knowledge and interest is sufficient to understand the underlying arguments. For the rest patience, thought and contributions to the new forthcoming GPL 3. The latter, if done right, will then make it more difficult for the abusers to gain mileage with inferior products via false, misleading marketing.


While I agree with just about every word in Get Rid of the Open Source Freeloaders , until GPL 3 is released with tougher wording the attempt to stigmatize those riding Open Source connotations is too arduous a task that will neither be successful nor conducent to personal feelings of well being. Hence, for now lets try to pick out those that seem to do the right thing regarding the ideals of free software.

Scope of the Problem

Before we move on to our possible plan of attack, consider this challenge to see why getting the public to discriminate against the abusers is such a daunting task. Just consider the assignment to explain clearly to those lacking the time, inclination and the focus to understand the differences between Free (as in freedom) and free (as in no cost) software. Moreover, once this hurdle has been surmounted then try to get the concept over that though Free software may well have no charge, however, it is better to pay some sort of fee to encourage further development and support for the good of the many. Good luck with that knightly challenge.

Worthy Vendor:

Reading the hard copy of Linux Journal's coverage of the Nokia 770 tablet many of the characteristics of the sort of company we would like to see become part of the Free/Open Source Software development community seems to be present. As a subscriber I have direct access to Nokia 770 Internet Tablet review where this very pertinent exchange took place:

 Doc: How closely did Nokia work with Linux developers on the product?

 Nokia: As close as you can. We've been an integral part of the GNOME
 community, we've got many Debian developers on our payroll, we submit our code back
 a lot and so forth. So this is truly an open-source effort. Examples of the collaboration
 include, GNOME component work (gconf, D-BUS, gnome-vfs, GTK+, Gazpacho and so
 on) with Mikael Hallendal, Anders Carlson, Richard Hult, Michael Natterer Matchbox and
 X.org; GTK+ with Matthew Allum, Ross Burton and Richard Purdie; GStreamer with
 Christian Schaller, Wim Taymans and others; and GPE palmtop with Nils Faerber and
 Florian Boor and others, and so on.

Which leads to:

 Doc: Is there an easy way to get to terminal mode? How? This is very
 important for my readership, which is mostly Linux experts who will want to work in the
 command line.

 Nokia: We decided not to put a terminal into the device because it is really
 a consumer device ... anybody can ... easily install an xterm into the 770. .. [it] offers tools
 for developer to work on the 770. We provide tools, documentation, example apps, a wiki,
 discussion mailing lists, support, source code and even a developer root filesystem so that
 you can really hack your way through the 770 if you want.

 Nokia: ... an external keyboard is ... [not] support[ed] ... but as with the xterm,
 if you need one, you can have one through the maemo.org developer site. The kb plugin ...
 is not a Nokia feature as such. However, if people really like it, we may integrate it with the
 device software in the future--and that goes for other apps and plugins too.


If most of the above is an accurate reflection of Nokia's actions they are to be commended, which requires merely to state the actions of sharing their advances as they create them and the employment of the developers are exactly the actions we wish to see when a vendor claims the mantle of Free and Open Source Software products. [For those not being subscribers there is an earlier version that does not contain the exchanges excerpted above.]

Dangerous Path:

I have a number of reasons to avoid attacking the guilty when to often I have observed those attacks stem from complete ignorance of either the target or the entity of the same type individual heaps praise upon. Years ago on slashdot I saw vitriolic words thrown at Red Hat, because they were the most dangerous entity likely to take Microsoft's place (I believe that was the very late nineties). Moreover, these attacks also included claims about how little if anything Red Hat contributed to free (GPL kind, this was prior to “Open Source Software”) and what a wonderful, great company SuSE was. Now for those of you unfamiliar with the facts it took Novell ownership to release the Yast loader to the Free software domain. Furthermore, it was Red Hat that consistently employed some very important people (as well as others less well known) that were known for the tight links to Free software development. More recently I have seen praise for the CentOS , whose main efforts seem limited to removing the Red Hat name at the latter's explicit request from the Enterprise Server code base.

Therefore, for the time being I would rather allow a few charlatans their temporary free ride to avoid inciting the ignorant and others that act against our real friends at others behest. Thus, it is my suggestion that our efforts be focused upon getting the best wording possible in the forthcoming GPL 3 to avoid the ambiguity of the term “Open Source Software”. If there are those that are to be chided for the present situation it should be heaped upon those that insist GPL is not needed when so much evidence shouts the exact opposite. Even then be temperate, because at least some must be assumed to be simply misguided.         

» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features; Groups: Community, GNOME, GNU, LXer, Novell, Red Hat, SUSE

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