The Microsoft / Novell / FSF / GPLv3 tale about the bridge between the meadows

Posted by hkwint on Aug 10, 2007 11:00 AM EDT
LXer Linux News; By H.Kwint (the Netherlands)
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LXer Feature: 10-Aug-2007
I've been trying to catch on and to understand what this thread's all about (It started with R. Hovespian from Novell explaining why they needed a deal with MS). I thought, maybe I could try to summarize it all to understand - and maybe explain to others - what's happening here, so I made up a tale of the whole situation:

This article on Digg

Once, not very long and not very far ago, there were two farmers, Mick and Lindsay (for emancipation, I chose the second to be a wife. Or didn't I?). They both had a very large meadow, going on even after the horizon, it seemed. Between the two meadows was a large, swirling dangerous river. On both sides, antelopes and cows, the 'smart animals', were grazing. It seems those cows and antelopes actually were quite smart, even so smart they could make choices; like the way that is possible in tales. Also, in the land of Lindsay, there were kangaroos, koala's and dingo's; which were stupid animals, they couldn't think; and couldn't choose (they only have a supporting part in the tale, though an important one! But the tale really is about the smart animals). In the land of Mick, however, were dogs, horses and rats, also stupid animals. All cows were rather enterprising, and therefore, the cows were given a bit of money by Mick and Lindsay in return for eating lots of grass

Everything seems normal till so far, except there was a remarkable phenomenon going on here: Mick and Lindsay didn't want the milk or flesh of the animals. Instead, they seemed to earn from every blade of grass that the cows and the antelopes were eating. That's because the meadows were part of a national park, and the boss of the park liked short grass, and paid Lindsay and Mick to keep the grass short. All the stupid animals were not eating grass, but they ate squeezed waste from factories, like dog food is full of these days. So, Mick and Lindsay wanted to have as many cows and antelopes on their meadow as possible. Therefore they started advertising. Mike made big mega-billboards, "My grass tastes far better!". The billboards were that big, the animals from Lindsays meadow almost couldn't see Micks meadows behind the billboards. Instead, Lindsay fertilized her meadow, and after the sun shone for seven consecutive ways, and thereafter it rained for seven consecutive days, her grass was very green, greener than any animal had ever seen, well, except for the Demon maybe. Because Micks large billboards, there was so much shadow on his meadow, the grass became a bit brown, and some of his animals became ill because off viruses the bad grass caused.

Now, those two meadows had a property not told about before, the meadow of Mick was one hundred yards above sea level, and the meadow of Lindsay was only ten yards above sea level. So, Lindsays meadow also was a bit in the shadow of Mick, but she didn't care. All animals on her meadow were rather happy, except they didn't agree for the reason they liked to be at Lindsays meadow. Some smart animals over there said "The grass tastes much better here". Obvious, this was a valid reason of staying at Lindsays meadow. But, there were more things going on. Mick was afraid, his smart animals would like to go to Lindsays meadow. In secret, this was one of the reasons to place the large billboards on the riverside: Not only to advertise to the smart animals at Lindsays, also his own smart animals couldn't look at Lindsays meadow. Though the smart animals at Mick's couldn't see Lindsays meadow, from ancient times they heard mysterious, but great stories, and talked about it. Some heard from shouting animals at Lindsays it was better over there. Some even wanted to go there.

That's were Mick became afraid. Therefore, he made strict rules: all animals on his meadow should listen to him, he was in control. They were to oblige. They only could go anywhere else on the meadow if Mick gave permission. Only the animals that loved Mick the most were allowed to go near the river. The animals that might even only think about Lindsay, were kept from the river as far as possible. Also, Mick put addicting chemicals in the water that was used to wet his meadows, and the grass-seeds Mick used could only grow on Micks meadow. The animals didn't protest, except for a few. Those few complained, they were the ones earning money for Mick! Mick didn't care: "You don't have an alternative" he said. Going to the other side of the river is dangerous, and I forbid it. Moreover, they don't have those nice chemicals in the water over there! You will regret it when you go there! Look, I have some examples of cows earning less at Lindsay's! Look, more animals got ill at Lindsay's! Off course, since the cows were to lazy to count the number of grass blades they ate, it was not sure how much the cows earned, and the few ticks the animals at Lindsay's had didn't compare to the viruses (like the infectious foot and mouth disease) at Micks, so those last two claims were based on spreading fear to leave amongst the animals at Mick's. Except for those few, they didn't know there was another possible lifestyle .

Nonetheless, that other lifestyle existed, in the same way truth happens. It was at Lindsays meadow. Every animal could go were it wanted; Lindsay didn't care that much. Apart from the smart animals liking the grass at Lindsay's, and therefore wanting to stay, there were also some smart animals who cared about their freedom (maybe the smartest of them all, but that issue still remains unsolved, even tese days). Freedom, for them, was all that mattered. Freedom was the only reason Lindsays meadow existed, and the best protection it would keep existing. The rest wasn't that important. The freedom was what made Lindsays meadow great (they called it Grass/Lindsays, because without the grass the meadows wouldn't exist). They also loved the koalas, dingo's and kangaroos in their meadow, and they didn't like dogs, rats and horses. Other animals were worried about their fellow animals at Mick's eating dirty grass. 'All animals should join us, because our grass tastes much better' they said. They thought of a plan how to get more animals to their meadow, and Lindsay was happy: More animals meant more blades of grass would been eaten in the feature.

The antelopes weren't the biggest problem, there needs were rather simple, and they were rather easy to convert to Lindsay's: They could jump rather well. However, the river was rather broad. So, they shouted at some antelopes at Mick's: "Check out our meadow! Our grass tastes much better!". After some hesitation, some antelopes from Micks tried to jump over the river. Some succeeded. Some jumped in the middle of the river, became wet, and decided to swim back, which came at the cost of risk and great effort in the curling river. Nonetheless, they decided to go back: It wasn't that bad at Mick's, and they were afraid of the river from now on.

The cows, however, were a whole different story, they had very different needs. They ate much more grass, were far bigger, had a lot of inertia, so changing direction came at the cost of a lot of energy, they thought much harder, had to prepare everything laborious because they moved slower and moving costed them more energy, and so on. In fact, you could think of them as a group of antelopes with the same goal. Also, like mentioned, they got a bit of money for eating grass, while the antelopes didn't. On the other hand, they eat so much grass, they brought Mick and Lindsay far more profit than the antelopes.

'Let's test if we can get a cow from Mick to our meadow', the smart animals caring about the nice grass said. Therefore, they hired all albatrosses they could find, and with some fish they bought the albatrosses to lift some cows from Mick's and bring them to Lindsay's. The albatrosses brought a few cows, but then were very tired. The cows, former Micks, were very glad to be at Lindsay's: The grass was beter and they were free to move wherever they liked to. The smart animals at Lindsay's asked them to tell their experience to their fellow cows still left at Mick's. But, the new cows at Lindsay's were afraid of Mick. They knew, Mick would send a cargo aircraft with the most expensive business seats a cow could dream of, and even cow whisperers to make the cows return. They were also afraid Mick would say the cows weren't allowed to go to Lindsay's in first place, and Mick might even call the smart animal-jury together to forbid them to stay their! Therefore, they chose to remain silent.

The animals at Lindsay's were a bit split up. They asked themselves what the intention of Lindsays meadow was: Was change welcome, or not? Was it the intention to let as many animals as possible taste from the good grass, or not? Were animals only wanting to go to Lindsay because of the good grass and not giving anything about the freedom at Lindsay, welcome or not? They couldn't agree. Some smart animals were still shouting to the animals at Mick, but since they didn't shout in a synchronized way, it was all a chaotic sound, and the animals at Mick could hear the sound, though they couldn't understand what was being shouted. The animals that were a big fan of Lindsay, the ones also with a business feeling (probably mainly cows), thought of a way to help Lindsay earn more money, and enable more animals to go to Lindsay's. The albatrosses were not a good idea; some animals had fear of heights, the albatrosses asked lot of fish, and they were tired rather soon. "Let's make a bridge!" they said. Mick heard this all. Afraid as he was, he decided to buy some pieces of meadow from Lindsay, and in secret, he chose the pieces were the bridge the animals were to build, would end at Lindsays side. If some animals were to make a bridge, and some of his animals would go grazing on the other side, he would still earn money from the grass blades eaten over there, no matter which animal, his or Lindsays ate it.

The business-minded animals started building the bridge. They didn't consult the freedom-loving animals; all they cared about was business. They were not afraid of animals going from Lindsay to Mick: Some of the animals at Lindsay's loved the grass, some loved the freedom, and the others were lazy. Remember, the meadow of Mick was ninety yards above Lindsays, so to go from Lindsays meadow to Micks, they would have to climb. Of course, the bridge went from Micks meadow to Lindsays meadow, but at Lindsays meadow it ended at the piece of meadow Mick bought. Mick was rather mysterious about that deal, since some freedom-loving animals at Lindsay's tried to undo the deal. It was said, in return for those pieces of meadow at Lindsay's, Mick would help building the bridge. Anyway, since ^z wasn't in the the toolbox of the animals who would like to stop the bridge, they didn't succeed. So, the bridge was completed.

That's when the poop hit the fan. As the freedom loving animals were afraid, dogs, horses and rats entered Lindsays meadow, and a lot of koala's, dingo's and kangaroos died because of the diseases the dogs, rats and horses brought. "Look, the horses, rats and dogs are like a Trojan horse!" said one of the freedom loving animals, who also loved the koalas. "We warned them this would happen, but they didn't want to listen!" the other freedom loving animals said. However, the business-minded animals didn't care that much. They were happy: More grass was eaten at Lindsays. They knew some of the grass eaten was bought by Mick, but they didn't care: The animals eating the grass at the pieces of meadow Mick bought at Lindsays, were easily able to go to the part of the meadow that was all Lindsays; without having to cross a river anymore. Off course, the freedom loving animals were angry. Some new former-Mick habitants didn't care about the freedom, and if the grass at Micks looked better, they didn't hesitate to go back. They also didn't want to share their grass. "Those business minded cows and antelopes never should have told our grass tastes better, without telling about the freedom!" they said to each other in an angry tone. However, the business minded animals didn't agree. They pointed, the cows could now graze in both meadows, which they called 'mixed-meadow environment'.

But that's the downside of freedom: Others, who don't respect freedom, can't be denied to use it, even if they use it for the wrong reason. Because the boss of the tribe of animals who built the bridge was a bit sad the freedom loving animals didn't like him anymore, he started to defend it was a good thing the bridge was built. For the first time in history, cows could graze on both ends without problems. Nonetheless, Lindsays meadow was damaged by the dogs, rats and horses, and the freedom loving animals were fighting to keep them out - that is, to send them back to Micks meadow.

So, it seems, the only thing that bound the animals on Lindsays meadow was disagreement. They agreed to disagree. And did the animals live happily ever after? Possible, but not probable.

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False "Tragedy of the Commons" Bob_Robertson 28 2,965 Aug 13, 2007 5:15 PM

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