Comment on "Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open Source Software"

Max Moritz Sievers mms at
Thu Oct 23 13:15:32 UTC 2008

Matthias Kirschner wrote:

> I just read "Nine Attitude Problems in Free and Open Source Software"
> [...]
>     So why dwell on the differences? The obvious truth is that free
>     software and open source advocates will never find anyone with whom
>     they have more in common than each other.
> I doubt that. I often have the impression I have more in common with
> people engaged in political and social issues than people who "just want
> to write good code". And I also have the impression that it is easier to
> e.g. explain Free Software to political science students than to
> students of computer science.

People who struggle or even fight for freedom have ideologically nothing in 
common with people who don't care about freedom. "FOSS" is a term which tries 
to conceal this.

> And one main point: What do you think about section 7?
>     7) Taking commercial development as a model for growth
> I think it is not good to differ between a commercial and "open source"
> development model. Yes, there are different development models, but I
> think that is not inevitably connected with the fact that it is non-free
> or Free Software.

The software doesn't know if she is "free". The question is: Is the user free 
to use the program for any purpose, to share it and to modify it and 
distribute the modified version? The answer to this question influences the 
business model. And it is important to notice, one can have a business model 
either way. I mean, who would be so dumb to pay for proprietary software?

> How would you categorise?

The old business model: Selling free software
The new business model: Selling proprietary software

This is of course a simplification as we all know support contracts is what 
counts in the annual report.

Let me comment on a few other points Bruce Byfield made. "RTFM" does not show 
hostility to newcomers. There are well written manuals because the free 
software community is friendly to newcomers. 

I'm against sanctions against Microsoft because it has a monopoly. The users 
get what they deserve. If you don't like Microsoft then don't use their 
products, but don't ask the courts to take their money which you voluntarily 
gave to them. 

I can't see the "old joke" in the fact that the free software movement of 
course has the goal of world domination. What else should be the goal?

I use a completely free operating system. I use no WLAN, no flash and no 
proprietary video card driver. An operating system doesn't need a flash 
player to be complete. I don't want to use this crap. I would like to use 
WLAN and I give pressure to the industry in not buying new stuff until they 
deliver a GNU GPL licensed patch to the Linux developers. 

Bruce Byfield wrote:
| My real point is that FOSS has grown so large so quickly that it has not had
| the time to question whether old attitudes were still useful or new
| approaches consistent with core values.

He doesn't understand the history. The old attitude is to value freedom.

Max Moritz Sievers

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