[nSLUG] Richard Stallman in Halifax

Michael Crawford mdcrawford at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 21:47:44 AST 2009


Regarding the confusion over the two distinctly different meanings of
the single English word "free"...

Quite a long time ago, I really clued in to the fact that few people
understood what I meant when I said that software was libre and not
gratis, and those few who did understand, hated me for using the two
terms at all.  I'm not completely clear as to why, but I think these
folks regarded libre software fans as poseurs.

So for many years I have adopted the convention that I capitalize Free
when it's as in Freedom, but use lower case when it's free as in beer:

= Free as in Freedom
= free as in beer

I know it's so subtle that it's totally lost on most people - but in
the context of the essays and articles where I discuss both kinds of
software, my convention *is* pretty effective.

If you think it would be effective in YOUR writing as well, I invite
you to join my typographical movement.  Perhaps someday, we can
achieve World Domination.

You may be interested to read my following essay, which got me banned
from Webmasterworld within minutes of my posting it in their copyright
forum, for what they claimed - I feel incorrectly - was a violation of
their Terms of Service.

The WMW copyright forum is largely concerned with the correct
application of DMCA takedown notices when one discovers that one's
website content has been copied by someone else to their own website.
My reason for posting this piece there was to point out that There Is
A Better Way:

   Why I'm Proud To Be A Dirty GNU Hippy
   http://www.goingware.com/notes/dirty-gnu-hippy.html

I should say that it was long ago pointed out to me that there are
some errors in the piece that need to be corrected.  I just haven't
gotten to them yet.

(Anyone familiar with Search Engine Optimization methods will readily
see how I hijacked the top spot for "dirty gnu hippy" - ahead even of
Stallman Himself!)

One reader pointed out to me that at first Raymond's comparison of the
Cathedral to the Bazaar was aimed at the Free Software Foundation as
the closed shop, and not any of the proprietary software companies.
It was only much later that he changed his message to say that the
Cathedral referred to the likes of Microsoft.

But after quite a bit of reflection, I decided that, for certain kinds
of software at least, the Cathedral serves the needs of the *user* in
a way that the Bazaar does not.  That's because by *refusing* to
release software at all until it's good and ready for the user to
actually *use*, you avoid subjecting them to incomplete and
potentially - often, actually - buggy products.

And my main complaint with most - not all, but definitely most - Open
Source products is that despite being a technically savvy user myself,
I have many, many times had to deal with buggy crapware, where I would
have been far better off had it never been released, so that I
wouldn't have had to suffer even trying it out at all.

Open Source yes, often Free as in Freedom as well - but often
completely unusable, and sometimes actually harmful, for example with
bugs that cause the loss or corruption of end-user data.

Did anyone here use Mozilla 1.0?  How long did it take them until they
produced a browser that was ready for anyone to actually *use*"?
While they kept most of the library code, in the end they had to throw
out a lot of user interface and rearchitect the whole works to make
Firefox, which itself then took several releases before it really was
ready for use by typical web surfers.

I get a lot of heat about it - quite often, people hurl insults at me,
claiming that it's just vaporware, but that's why my own Free - and
not Open - Software Ogg Frog hasn't been released, and *won't* be at
all, until it's entire planned 1.0 feature set is *completely*
implemented, and is as rock-solid and as bug free as I can possibly
make it:

   http://www.oggfrog.com/free-music-software/   <--- Ain't No
Downloads To Be Found

Everyone urges me to take advantage of the Many Eyeballs to be had by
Releasing Early and Releasing Often.  But my position is that I just
don't see the point of asking anyone else to apply their Eyeballs
until the two I've got myself are unable to find any more bugs - and I
am masterful both as a debugger and as a QA engineer.

I can see how Release Early, Release Often would make sense for
developer tools - but not for the sort of non-technical teeny-boppers
that are Ogg Frog's target market.

Don't Even Get Me Started.  (Where's My Gun...)

I must say, this thread is one of the very best I've read anywhere
online or off in a long time.

For one thing, I've never felt that it was right to say GNU/Linux when
so many components of a Linux distro these days have nothing at all to
do with the FSF or GNU - but I wasn't really appreciating that so many
of the components of any distribution were developed by the FSF, even
Stallman Himself, but aren't readily apparent even to
technically-savvy end users like me.

Missing Nova Scotia Terribly -------------V

Mike
-- 
Michael David Crawford
mdcrawford at gmail dot com

   I'm looking for a job in Silicon Valley:
     http://www.goingware.com/resume/cover-letter.html



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