Strategy (was Re: Improving copyright)

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Sun May 16 16:19:12 UTC 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 16 May 2004 at 11:44, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:

> > > You still haven't answer my question. Why throw away POSIX, an
> > > open standard, for a non-standard, proprietary API?
> > 
> > Whether something is proprietary or not isn't anything like as
> > important as its ubiquity. In fact, most ISO standards start life as
> > a proprietary interface.
> Sure it is. If it's proprietary it means there is no good
> documentation about the interface, one company can change it at their
> will, etc. And that is *very* important.

And by doing so break binary compatibility with legacy applications, 
something anyone with a system with as much application software 
available for it as Windows would be loathe to do.

Just because it's proprietary doesn't prevent cold hard commercial 
reality. In fact Linux is *more* able to arbitrarily change 
interfaces due to its faster release cycle and higher technical 
competency of its usership (most Linux users know how to recompile an 

But back to the point - we're moving into "what applies to techies" 
again. For Joe Soap computer user they value the ability to insert 
the CD-ROM which came with their peripheral and everything just goes. 
They value the ability to buy a software package in the shops without 
worrying whether WINE will barf on it or not. While Linux has made 
great strides in consistency and ease of use, it cannot conquer the 
home market nor the SME market until it gains far wider support which 
will be hard as Linux doesn't cost money. And despite best 
intentions, the precisely wrong way to engender this is to press 
ahead with an incompatible system ie; Linux.

I posit once again that Windows users are those most in need of free 
software principals and Linux the least (preaching to the converted) -
 you have suggested nothing to counter this. I posit once again that 
if the FSF were truly serious about advancing free software thinking, 
methodology & ideology into a larger world they would push hard for a 
binary compatible clone of Windows.

After all, implementing a totally free operating system is one thing 
but the spread of the thinking behind it is far more important IMHO. 
Software, like people, live and die but ideology can live forever and 
make the lives of billions of people better.


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