LWN article on Limux / WiMue and PMPC

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Thu Nov 30 15:22:19 UTC 2017

On Thursday 30. November 2017 13.00.52 Adonay Felipe Nogueira wrote:
> Reading the comments that replied to your message there make me feel
> like a blind person in a shootout...

Well, I guess there is some additional history that isn't readily apparent 
from reading my remarks and others. Personally, I don't think it is too much 
to ask that the different Free Software solution providers consider things 
like interoperability between their own solutions and others, and that they 
also try and grow the Free Software share of the market instead of trying to 
be the biggest fish in an ever-shrinking small pond, but I suppose I'm in the 
minority and my opinion doesn't matter, anyway.

Indeed, there are fundamental issues with sustaining Free Software that people 
refuse to acknowledge or address. As long as those people retain the mentality 
that they may "dethrone" the proprietary software incumbent and show everyone 
else how it is done, while trying to do what the incumbent does on a 
vanishingly small fraction of the resources that this incumbent has, while 
also leaning on "the community" as a source of free stuff when the resource 
problem starts to bite, then we should just expect more disappointment when 
Free Software is discarded or not chosen. Because those fundamental issues 
will still be there.

It is possible that I am completely wrong and that Free Software is incredibly 
successful in the area being discussed, but if so then such success is 
happening behind closed doors, nobody ever speaks of it, and what we read 
about in terms of the Free Software development process is largely just for 
show, perhaps to attract support for specific products. And then I must wonder 
why "the community" should pay the topic any attention at all. I am sure my 
life would be easier if I didn't spend time on these things.

> Anyways, back on the topic.
> I think one way out of this would be making free/libre software that
> follows entirely public and well document "open" standards (as some
> people call it, although I don't like the "open" word), and I mean to
> follow it extrictly, that is: if there is something missing in the
> standard, make a change in the standard, not a custom part in the data
> file. For a criticism on "customizing the data file" see [1], and
> also note that as far as I know, GNOME Evolution, Kontact and KMail tend
> to do this customization.
> For contact management, use vCard standard; for calendar and event/task
> organzing, use iCalendar standard.

These are indeed the standards we have to live with. I have less to say about 
whether vCard can be customised to successfully provide "social profiles" (why 
not use URLs just as one of the commenters asks?) than I might have about the 
way these files are encoded and structured (data should be represented in a 
consistent way with as few edge cases as possible) and the way these standards 
are developed (iCalendar seems to be developed within some "pay to play" 
organisation called CalConnect).

Personally, I don't think people take enough advantage of what these standards 
can already do, anyway. Participants in a scheduling activity merely need a 
means of exchanging calendar information, not some central server, but many 
people seem to have the misapprehension that a server is mandatory when it is 
at most helpful. It would be nice to enhance mail/calendar clients to exchange 
free/busy information between themselves, precisely as described by the 
standards, but I've never seen it done. Again, someone insists on a server to 
orchestrate the job. For example:


Such things matter more to the likes of you and me than to someone selling 
solutions to businesses, however. But then again, we should care more about 
these things than what "businesses demand" if we don't get to see any of their 


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