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Evaluating the Harmful Effects of Closed Source Software

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the probably-causes-cancer dept.

Open Source 490

New submitter Drinking Bleach writes "Eric Raymond, coiner of the term 'open source' and co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, writes in detail about how to evaluate the effects of running any particular piece of closed source software and details the possible harms of doing so. Ranking limited firmware as the least kind of harm to full operating systems as potentially the greatest harms, he details his reasoning for all of them. Likewise, Richard Stallman, founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation, writes about a much more limited scope, Nonfree DRM'd games on GNU/Linux, in which he takes the firm stance that non-free software is unethical in all cases but concedes that running non-free games on a free operating system is much more desirable than running them on a non-free operating system itself (such as Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X)."

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First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272507)

First postie! Fuck closed source :p

MANDATORY WARNING! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272887)

The discussion below will be managed by a rapid response team from Burson Marsteller in order to ensure only conversations favorable to our proprietary partners are visible.

Any attempt at serious discussion of the actual topic will be STRONGLY discouraged.

Please abide by our conditions if you value your karma.

AND WHAT OF COMMUNISM ?? HMMM ?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272517)

If you want to live in Cuba, go to zero, losers !!

RMS is the loonies of the loons.

Go to Cuba !!

esr makes sense (2, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272987)

While the above post could have been better written, I'd say it does summarize rms pretty well. Wouldn't call him a troll.

Reading ESR's article, what he describes makes sense. The more complex the software, the more bug prone, and that's where the contrast b/w the open source and closed source methodology stands out. The emphasis has been more on having open source OSs, but w/ all those Linux and BSD distros out there, we have a plethora of choices. However, there are far fewer choices when it comes to applications software - how many open source counterparts are there to Adobe apps, tax software like TurboTax, Quickbooks, and so on? It's really the shortage at the user level software applications like this that has held off the acceptance of open source.

I like the examples he gave, and the 5 dimensional spectral axes that he set up based on the reliability harm, the unhackability harm, the agency harm, the lock-in harm and the amnesia harm. That at least establishes a scale on which to put things, rather than an 'open-source good, closed source bad' slogan. The comments section in his thread made interesting reading, w/ the examples of the elevators, the microwaves, the washing machines, the smartphones, and so on.

on the other side of the coin (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272523)

Having XFCE and ubuntu earlier today granted me with some artifacts tween the gimp and firefox which built up until the screen was complete garbage, and its been a number of years, possibally since windows 98 days since I have seen that on the MS side

Windows may suck for a long list of reasons, but for some odd reason, will millions of brilliant nerds working for a goal, more shit gets screwed up on OSS systems, more frequently. Personally I went from a windows only mindset in the mid to late 90's to a linux only mindset in the 2000's, just to end up dreading having to boot linux in the 2010's

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272547)

Why did you need to get rid of Linux?

Re:on the other side of the coin (2, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272557)

I still have it installed, fully up to date, but every time I start to do something serious (I only use it for development now) it fucks up. In the end I dont care if its open or closed, I just care that it works

Re:on the other side of the coin (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272573)

I bought a MacBook largely for the same reasons. I needed what it offered and Linux couldn't compete without having to spend more time learning this and that or hunting for crappy software that it wasn't worth it. I'm with you on just not caring about the license anymore. Even Linus Torvalds finds some open source licenses way too much. GPLv3 is way too off the hook and most developers are now choosing other licenses like MIT, Apache, and even BSD. The BSD license is my personal favorite.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272595)

Try running turnkey linux in a VM. That is what I do as I do not have time to rewipe my system by fucking it up. The appliances are basically setup stacks ready to go and you simply change the username and password.

Windows just works on the desktop but some php and other code is only available or works much better on Linux unfortunately.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272625)

Windows just works on the desktop but some php and other code is only available or works much better on Linux unfortunately.

Then MacOS should be objectively the best OS, as it has good desktop and usable command line. I dunno. I've never had a Mac, but I've been thinking about it.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272643)

Too bad they cost so damn much. I almost purchased a $1699 iMac about a year ago, but couldn't justify the cost with the wife. I got a PC instead as I would need to buy the Mac version of Office and then buy Windows to put on it, etc. I was looking at $2100! Or I could pirate Windows, not get updates as a result and be paying how much for the mac since I would be running Windows so I can edit my resume?

Unless you owe no student loans are are above average income in the top 25% it doesn't make sense.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272649)

When I bought my current laptop I gave Apple a look, the closest laptop to the one I got was an extra $300 for lower specs and that was even after I opted for a warranty from Lenovo. I would have had to pay Apple more, give up about 2GB of RAM and wind up with something that had less warranty to it.

Re:on the other side of the coin (2, Informative)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272651)

they cost no more than a comparable quality windows pc from dell/lenovo. seriously, compare macbook pro prices with a similar spec'd thinkpad. there's no difference in price. the only think apple does different is that it doesn't have any low-quality cheap option.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272705)

This was in November of 2010. So it came down to the cheapest iMac 20 inch, 4 gigs of ram, 1 tb hd, and an ATI 5770.

The asus with a 23 inch monitor with high contrast also supported HDMI 1080p, 8 gigs of ram, tb hd, and an ATI 5750. Total with that + powerline Ethernet was $1150 after taxes. I got 4 gigs more ram too. Compared to the $2000 iMac with all the software purchased. I do admit I already had a license for Office but if you are a PC person that is the expense you pay for switching platforms.

So I saved A TON! I do admit I have no Firewire or wifi and a slower version of that same video card. In addition I had to buy an additional gaming keyboard and high res gaming mouse as I wanted top of the line quality. If something breaks I can fix as I am an advanced user and not a neophyte with tons of money who just wants to open it and have it work.

Maybe my time is not worth it to save $1000 like some of you folks? But that is what I am worth as is the vast majority of people. If I were an executive or graphics artist that would be different as I would call Apple Store and pick it up and get back to work and actually use all of that.

There is a big difference in what you get and Apple does not offer value even if I did have the need for high resolution video editing that would justify the firewire support as an example.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272711)

Bullshit. I looked at the Apple line when I bought my Thinkpad and there were no comparable options for the one I bought. Mine was $600 and it was hardly low quality or cheaply made. It has nice keys, a nice screen, and double the RAM that the cheapest Macbook did, all for less.

The main difference was that I was able to get an AMD CPU and that it didn't have all that pointless decoration, just something simple and well made for significantly less than what an Apple would have cost me.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1, Redundant)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272895)

the point that this often repeated argument ignore lies in the "similar spec'd" part of the sentence. With a thinkpad or any other non-Apple PC you can choose your PC's specs according to your need, and not based upon what Apple thinks you will need. You can even, and this might come as a shocker to Apple users, choose NOT to go for the most expensive alternative because your budget doesn't allow for it.
When you buy a Mac, you have a very limited set of alternatives to choose from. When you buy a PC, you have tons of alternatives to choose from (especially if your choices are not brand-centric). This means that you can choose a PC that won't have a Thunderbolt IO port, but a couple of additional USB3 ports instead, for example, and it means that you can choose to have a cheap plastic case instead of an aluminium (or whatever the current flavour of the month in metallic cases is) if you don't see the necessity, or your budget won't allow for it. You can also forgo some aspects to have a similarly priced PC with, if you are a gamer for example, a better graphic card and more RAM while forgoing some other aspects which you might not need.

So, yes .. similarly spec'd PCs might cost about the same as a Mac, but why would you buy a similarly spec'd PC in the first place?

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272925)

Even if that is true, try listing what you need then selecting a system. With the PC, you'll virtually always find what you need and pay a competitive price for it. With a Mac, you'll virtually never find what you need and be stuck buying a higher end machine.

But it isn't true because PCs with comparable specifications, better build quality, and more expansion options are cheaper than Macs. If you don't need features like virtualization or remote management (via the BIOS), are okay with a lower build quality (because it will only last two yars anyhow), and can live with slightly lower performance, well, PCs are significantly cheaper.

Re:on the other side of the coin (2)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272719)

I'm replacing my 2007 MacBook Pro this year, not because it's slow or doesn't do what I need, but because our lifecycle is 3-5 years for laptops and the cost of it breaking unexpectedly is higher than the cost of proactive replacement. In the meantime, every other member of my MIS team has been through 2 HP business-class laptops because of various components failing. The one developer with an HP desktop was ok other than upgrading the hard drive and video card.

I know one experience doesn't matter much, but keep in mind I only recently got rid of my 1999 iMac DV SE because there wasn't any software available for it anymore and it was very slow compared to modern systems. It had a failed hard drive somewhere along the way that I replaced but other than upgrading its memory it still worked fine. My eMac from the early 2000's also still works fine but it also has no updates so I will probably get rid of it too. We have recently purchased a MacBook Air for our VP of MIS because he's also had very good experiences with Apple products.

Is everything perfect? No, I had to have my first MBPS battery replaced under warranty and that was inconvenient. Since I removed the optical drive and replaced it with a second internal drive it no longer hibernates. But I use it every weekday for 10 hours or more each day, and it comes home with me nightly and is used every weekend as well. I can't complain much.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272731)

You go on saying how they just work and mention, well they work other than I had to do x, and y.

That is what I do with my aging POS laptop. That means they are no different in quality. HP and Dell typically last longer if you buy the business line. Notice I said typically :-)

Still for the cost of a Macbook air I can get an AMD ultrabook for $400 at Walmart. What if it breaks? Buy another one and I still save money. My time is worth it to go down I guess as I use backups in clouds for My Doc folders.

Re:on the other side of the coin (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272709)

Because in any discussion involving Linux/FOSS, Burson Marsteller astroturfers have to plant a horror story about Linux. It's part of their contract.

Check back in on any of the past stories and you'll find the same thing - a barely tangential anecdote about how Linux was unusable for their sockpuppet because of some exaggerated flaw.

Best response is to ignore them, and to carry on using the very fine tools FOSS provides without financing the creeps who're destroying online tech discussion.

Re:on the other side of the coin (3, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272603)

You may have a graphics hardware problem.

I use XFCE extensively, the only time I've ever seen things get screwy is when the card was on the way out. THis manifested in linux slightly before windows.

Re:on the other side of the coin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272659)

I've seen it get screwy using Flash video. At one point in time it seemed to set the frame to black and then use an overlay to replace all the black pixels with the playing video. If you happened to put another window over the flash player, all its black text would be replaced with the pixels the video under it.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272621)

This sounds like the typical death of a graphics card.

Re:on the other side of the coin (3, Insightful)

RR (64484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272645)

...some artifacts tween the gimp and firefox which built up until the screen was complete garbage...

Probably a graphics hardware problem.

The great thing about Linux is the freedom. I have a laptop where the graphics card went kaput. (Old NVIDIA thing with the thermal death.) If it were running Windows, it would start to load the graphics driver and then freeze. Sometimes it would run for a few hours before freezing.

But the great thing about Linux is that I can tell it to ignore the built-in graphics chip. Now I'm using it as a terminal with an external screen and a USB graphics chip. I couldn't do this with Windows, but it's possible with Linux.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

humanrev (2606607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272969)

The great thing about Linux is the freedom. I have a laptop where the graphics card went kaput. (Old NVIDIA thing with the thermal death.) If it were running Windows, it would start to load the graphics driver and then freeze. Sometimes it would run for a few hours before freezing.

But the great thing about Linux is that I can tell it to ignore the built-in graphics chip. Now I'm using it as a terminal with an external screen and a USB graphics chip. I couldn't do this with Windows, but it's possible with Linux.

The problem with your example is that it's a very unique edge case. For the general population, such a benefit would be lost on them and they'd never know how to fix it short of replacing the card (if feasible).

Linux might have more freedom, but for most people they won't have much of a use for it, and so it doesn't provide enough of a compelling argument to use instead of something established, well-known and with a wealth of support like Windows or OS X.

Re:on the other side of the coin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272679)

I love botnet 98, but I prefer botnet 7. Botnet 8 will be released soon.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272693)

Having XFCE and ubuntu earlier today granted me with some artifacts tween the gimp and firefox which built up until the screen was complete garbage, and its been a number of years, possibally since windows 98 days since I have seen that on the MS side

In a open source only world GPU companies would be forced to provide working open source drivers if they wanted remain in business.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272771)

In this world they're having to do so if they want to keep up with Intel and AMD, which is to say that nVidia is effectively having to open source it's GPU drivers. Ultimately it's a good thing for them as the hardware is supposed to be what they're selling, the drivers are just there because they're necessary to make the hardware work.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272943)

Assuming major fragmentation does not occur, there would be a high enough market share so the divers would receive similar support to Windows has today.
There would be roughly 50 times the market share to fight over, encouraging working with OS and game devs, proper testing and bug fixing.

Re:on the other side of the coin (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272915)

In mid-2000's, after battling with various linux variants I've came to the sad realization that what RMS and other F/OSS advocates talked about were anachronistic, misplaced, and impractical ideas.

I was a huge supporter of Linux at some point but now consider it to be plumbing for various technologies such as web servers, database servers, SoC, etc.

Linux works best when users don't know it's linux. Once you put it in front of consumers you're asking for trouble. Out of all linux distros there's not a single one that gets it right. They're all terrible, unusable, mired in petty license politics of the 90's.

It the end, I think it's largely irrelevant because desktop computing is becoming irrelevant. It's all mobile, cloud and vertical appliances going forward. Companies want to control the whole stack these days and linux is just a dumb component in that stack. To the point that it becomes meaningless if one aspect from the stack is open, proprietary, licensed, or patent-encumbered.

Given a choice between living in a walled garden in Switzerland versus a shack in Mogadishu, people will overwhelmingly choose the former.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1, Troll)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272993)

Linux works best when users don't know it's linux. Once you put it in front of consumers you're asking for trouble.

Linux works best when you don't expect your computer to be nothing more than a glorified TV/typewriter. The single most important feature of Linux is that it gives you power to solve complicated problems by combining very simple tools. You don't have to rely on somebody else to solve everything for you like on Windows or Mac.

Re:on the other side of the coin (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273043)

Linux works best when you don't expect your computer to be nothing more than a glorified TV/typewriter. The single most important feature of Linux is that it gives you power to solve complicated problems by combining very simple tools. You don't have to rely on somebody else to solve everything for you like on Windows or Mac.

Actually, can you show me one of these "very simple tools" that exists on Linux but not on MacOS?

Personally I do use Linux for all my server needs, but my desktops and main work laptop are Macs. One of the things I love with MacOS is having the full GNU toolchain at my disposal.

Free Software, Free Hardware, Free Bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272529)

http://archive.org/details/EbenMoglen-WhyFreedomOfThoughtRequiresFreeMediaAndWhyFreeMedia

Now more than ever.

Complete Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272541)

Until there is open source hardware and software both, users will never have full control of their computing devices. Full stop. It's nice to want all of this.

As long as large companies make and sell compelling hardware and software products, people will buy them without a care as to the license. People want transparent tech. They are not religious about the legal underpinnings.

But what about the lasers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272551)

Aren't they evil? What if you have an open-source laser, and you use it to write a speech for a demagogue that is used to start a war?

Seriously, most people don't care, they won't worry, and if there's anything that bothers them, it's the deluge of spam offering to sell them penis enhancements and that other thing that's been popular there.

That's evil. Open-source or closed, that's the worst part of the world of computers.

How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (4, Interesting)

moshberm (2487312) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272561)

Sure, open source is great (I've contributed), but I think too much of either side is wrong. It's unethical to take what's not yours, be it because you don't want other people to rip you off, or for some other reason. So charging for software makes it inconvenient for people who want it. But think about the people who spend hours and hours coding. How do they afford coffee to stay up writing software so open-source freeloaders can consume whatever they feel like? I've contributed to open source, only to have my work resold as someone else's. Look, I'm not against open source, but to make a blanket statement and call all closed source software unethical is absolutely stupid.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (5, Insightful)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272593)

Cory Doctorow considers closed source setups unethical because it gives the devs the ability to hide any function they want from the user. If the user can't see what's running, how can they defend themselves from spying, censorship and propaganda? If a user can't be allowed to view and control what runs on his hardware, he can't be sjre he has any other digital rights either regarding his hardware. And that contradicts the very definition of ownership of property

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (4, Insightful)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272663)

then the user is most welcome to write his own s/w. this whole argument is shit. do you think about who's gonna spy on you when you talk on the phone, when you watch tv, when you drive your on-star car?? accept it, you can't have total control over stuff that you didn't make yourself. and you can't make everything yourself.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272691)

Spot on comments. Forget people spying on you...

Here is something most people don't consider either: You bank know your name,address, SSN, where you work (direct deposit), where you eat and how often, your favorite vacation destination, your peccadilloes, your medical purchases, what hospital or clinic you pay your co-pay, your creditors. Be far more worried about your bank who has EVERYTHING on you...

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

humanrev (2606607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272985)

Here's the issue: People like ESR and Richard Stallman believe that closed-source/proprietary software is, well, evil. They've latched onto this idea for their own reasons, and while they have some merit, they are a bit too black & white for most people to agree with. The world isn't black & white.

But more importantly, these individuals live and breath computers and the philosophy of technology. In that sense, free software is one of the most important things to them, and hence they'll argue that it has a higher priority than most things (Stallman in particular). That's what THEY think is important - doesn't mean it actually is for most people. Who says they're right? Stallman is a borderline Asperger's sufferer, of course he'll be fixated on this. You can listen to what he has to say, but following him without thinking things through is bloody dangerous and foolhardy.

But they think it's the most important thing in the world because it's their primary interest in life. That's all it is.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (5, Insightful)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273039)

Stallman writes "If we don't want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate, not one who is successful at taking from others. I hope that the free software movement will contribute to this: at least in one area, we will replace the jungle with a more efficient system which encourages and runs on voluntary cooperation."

Doesn't seem too fixated to me, just keeping his actions as a change agent to a manageable subset of all the things in society that need improvement.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272995)

accept it, you can't have total control over stuff that you didn't make yourself. and you can't make everything yourself.

You know this. I know this. However, good luck explaining how NOTHING found on your computer can be trusted as evidence to a judge / jury.

Scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Solve that little issue right there and I'll CONSIDER the possibility of running non-free software. Do you wear a seat-belt when you drive? Why? You can still die in a wreck anyway! I use FLOSS for the same reason you wear a safety belt. Take your absolutist mentality elsewhere.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272683)

It is up to the users to decide whether they want to run the software or not, if users decided they didn't want to run closed source software, the market for closed source software would disappear, nobody would be able to sell it.

Since the users are not making that decision, the market for closed source software exists and thrives actually, which makes this argument irrelevant.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273089)

It is up to the user to decide whether they want to breathe clean air or not, if users decided they didn't want to smoke cigarettes, the market for cigarettes would disappear, nobody would be able to sell them.

Since the users are not making that decision, the market for cigarettes thrives actually, which makes this argument irrelevant.

You see.... that's the crux of the problem, you dodged the vendor lock-in addiction issue by ignoring that the vendors don't reveal the true risks. Many users want to quit smoking cigarettes, but are helplessly trapped by their need. The Proprietary Tobacco Industry doesn't care what sort of harm they're causing as long as users keep buying product.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272689)

AKA botnets, AKA government control, AKA free resources for hackers.
The US government has the MS source code.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272919)

Doctorow and Stallman are elitist assholes who can't see past their own use personal cases. Fuck them and their ivory tower bullshit right to hell.

Put guys like that in charge of the world n you'd have the most fascist dictatorship ever seen. Seriously, atomic level asshats.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272597)

I agree. And it's getting harder and harder to make money as a software developer in the US. Salaries have dropped vastly since the early 90s.

I remember the 90s being the good ol' days, especially for networking and software development. Now it's like a free for all and everything seems more convoluted.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272635)

Stallman is not against paying for software. He's for free (as in freedom) software, i.e. software the user is free to (pay someone to) modify. Heck, he sold early copies of emacs (or was it something else?) in tapes, and emacs was free software at the time (and of course still is). Although having access to the source code means no cracking is necessary, that buys you a few hours at best (or, days if it's an unknown game). Others copying your work and selling as theirs is a huge problem for some types of games, but depending on the game you could GPL the code but keep the maps/art proprietary; that way anyone can improve the game but copycats will have a harder time copying you unless they're Zynga (perphaps not perfect, but that was done in a game or two, unfortunately I don't recall the names).

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273085)

One improvement the FSF has made lately is that they've started using the adjective 'libre' instead of 'free', and they use the less confusing, but still misleading term 'Software Freedom' to describe what they are about. A better term to describe in English what they stand for is 'Liberated Software', since it captures everything that rms describes from both ends - FSF activists, as well as businesses. For the latter, the label fits the perception that it is a quasi-Marxist way of owning software, fully consistent w/ Stallman's call to end all ownership of software, while for the FSF crowd, 'Liberated' is the English for Libre, and means the same thing as Free Software, w/o conveying the impression that the price of the software is $0.00.

You are right - the FSF/Stallman are pretty explicit about encouraging people to sell copies of their Liberated software. That's not what moshberm had an issue w/. The twist comes w/ Freedom 2 of the GNU - 'Help your neighbor'.

Let's say it costs a vendor $100,000 to create a piece of software - costs that are incurred from setting up the office in which the software is written, buying the computers and other equipment, paying the salaries of the software writers every month while the project is being developed, and everything else. At the end of the day, the vendor decides to price the software @ $50.00, and decides to release it to the market. If less than 2000 people end up buying it, that project would be in the red.

Now let's say that this vendor released it under the GPL, despite pricing it that way. Guess what - one person buys the software, then copies the DVD and gives it to a friend, and repeats the same procedure, and let's say, this way, 10 people have the software that only 1 has paid for. That is what the GP was referring to when he talked about people ripping off something that wasn't theirs.

Normally, under proprietary licenses, this sort of redistribution would be disallowed, and anyone indulging in it would be guilty of piracy. Unfortunately, even open source licenses support the redistribution right, somewhat diluting their own message about being just about opening up the source code. If the income stream of software vendors was guaranteed, as well as their being able to restrict their customers from becoming their competitors, they would be a lot more embracing of open source software, though not liberated software. Note that we're not just talking about games here - more practical software, like financial software, would be a lot more useful as open source if they had the rights to restrict redistribution.

Allow users to see the writing on the wall (2)

islisis (589694) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272671)

Take a page from the book of Kickstarter. If people can see exactly how their payment/donation is contributing, they will be in a better position to make the decision for themselves. No one wants to overpay or be ripped off. Transparency in funding should be the next step in modern day open and other projects. The philosophy of developers being confident about their flow of operations speaks volumes about what their work represents.

I remember a website with a simple 'in the red' meter on the homepage. If incoming donations were sufficient to meet current costs, the arrow pointed to the middle. If insufficient. to the left, and if in surplus, to the right. I never saw this arrow at anywhere less to the extreme right. Such a meter could easily be placed in a dialog window or somewhere.

We should do everything we can to allow honesty to be rewarded.

Re:Allow users to see the writing on the wall (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272805)

What's more transparent than commit logs?

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (4, Informative)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272765)

no one is saying you can't be paid for your work. I write free software as well, and i make money selling support and warranties. my code comes with absolutely no warranty, and anyone can use it, but seeing as it's aimed at schools (i design school administration systems), you can bet they want some guarantee the system will function, support availability if something malfunctions, bug fixes when released, and for the "pro" package they get to suggest custom features that i'll happily implement.

some choose to be charged by hours of actual support, others buy annual support packages. and then, some might want to just use the system themselves, without my support, it's their choice, i really don't mind.

oh, and i make some profit selling hardware, almost all schools here don't have a proper server, and some have horrible networking that requires some changing, to which i charge money as well...

it just works :)

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272833)

"Developers gotta eat" is no more an argument for why closed-source is ethical than "robbers gotta eat" is for robbery.

I disagree with RMS that closed-source is unethical, but supposing his arguments to be correct, the answer isn't "it's ok anyway, because it's my career", but to find a different line of work that is ethical.

But copyright, or asserting any similar "right" to unilaterally control what others do with data you've voluntarily sent them, is unethical -- if you don't want people "taking" your code, either don't distribute it, or make them agree to a nice bilateral contract before they receive it.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272837)

Get paid to contribute.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272935)

Developers are going to get paid one way or the other. Either a huge company is going to do it like Google, IBM, or similar or you need to develop alternatives to generating income. From services to support. There are great projects that in coming years will equal that of the non-free world. The problem right now is there isn't enough ingenuity in the business models being used to profit off software. Free software is profitable. I work for a 4 year old company which is doing great. I've got the numbers and there isn't a CEO above me telling me lies about our failures/successes. We don't even write much code directly. We fund free software development because we depend on it's success. Can out competitors rip us off? NO! We aren't reliant on an exclusive relationship with the free software we fund. We are only reliant on the community and projects for eyeballs and marketing. It's a heck of a lot cheaper for us to fund development in exchange for eyeballs than it is for us spend ungodly amounts on marketing.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40273083)

Only 90% of all shareware or software by small companies would be gone. Also, software would become nearly unusable so people can get paid for support and maintenance contracts.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273023)

Sure, open source is great (I've contributed), but I think too much of either side is wrong. It's unethical to take what's not yours, be it because you don't want other people to rip you off, or for some other reason. So charging for software makes it inconvenient for people who want it. But think about the people who spend hours and hours coding. How do they afford coffee to stay up writing software so open-source freeloaders can consume whatever they feel like? I've contributed to open source, only to have my work resold as someone else's. Look, I'm not against open source, but to make a blanket statement and call all closed source software unethical is absolutely stupid.

I'm not a software guy, but I pretty much agree w/ this.

The one thing esr didn't address in that page (maybe he's done it elsewhere) is the redistribution rights associated w/ open-source. It's one thing to give your open source to your customers when they buy the software from you, so that they can make alterations that suit them better, under terms and conditions agreeable to both of you (things like do they have to contribute back to the tree, and so on)

However, the way I see it, you'd also be fully justified in telling your customer that it's for his use only, and no one elses. In other words, he can't give that DVD to his friend to install in his own computer, as opposed to sending his friend to buy it from you. That act does make him your competitor - something you didn't factor in in your business plan. So yeah, you can and should price your software, and then give the source code only to those who buy the binaries from you, not give it away to everybody else.

The part that I'm more ambivalent about is this, though - let's say you sold a copy of your software to Pete, who then goes on to install it on 10 computers in a business that he set up. Should he be charged according to the number of seats that he installed your software on, or should he just pay you a one time lumpsome amount and then be free to install your thing on all computers that are in his name, or the name of his business? I agree that there should be redistribution restrictions on software, and that the GNU's 'Help your neighbor' is a crock. What I'm not sure about is that if I buy a title from you, is it right for you to restrict on how many of my own computers I can use it? I've seen some software come w/ the statement that it can be used as a book i.e. if it is installed on 2 computers and is being used on one, it shouldn't at the same time bei used on the other.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273053)

Well, it is inconvenient to say so, because so many of us depend on close source to get paid, but it is actually unethical to give a client a software in binary form without the source code, I wholeheartedly agree.

Right now, I am developing two pieces of open source software, and am being paid (fulll time) for this. The first one is a custom implementation of a known algorithm, to be run on a webserver. The client considers it strategical for him so while he will have the source code, he plans not to publish it. If it was closed, I could lock-in the client, forcing him to ask me for any modification. That would bring me more money, though in an unethical way. In this case, once that is well understood, I was paid more to be open source than proprietary.

The second project is a prototype of a kinect based game for schools. A national lab pays for it and wants it to be open source and publicly available, because they found out that it is the best way to disseminate a piece of software amongst the people interested. In this case, it is me who is making a cut in the price, because I think it is good that schools take the habit of open source software.

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (1)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273055)

Sure, open source is great (I've contributed), but I think too much of either side is wrong. It's unethical to take what's not yours, be it because you don't want other people to rip you off, or for some other reason.

I can't get what's the link between the two sentences. What does Open Source/Free (as in GNU) software have to do with pirated software? Some closed source software benefits from pirated software, because it expands its audience among possible customers. Open source software never benefits from it.

So charging for software makes it inconvenient for people who want it. But think about the people who spend hours and hours coding. How do they afford coffee to stay up writing software so open-source freeloaders can consume whatever they feel like?

Open Source commercial software exists and thrives. This smells like the usual FUD: open source is bad for the economy, for your company, for your babies....

Re:How exactly do I support myself as a developer? (0)

aristedes (732532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273095)

This is why you can choose between a permissive license (such as the Apache license) and a restrictive one (like the copyleft GPL). I personally don't know why you should care that someone took your code and sold it to someone else. You contributed to the open source software in the world, making it better for everyone, including that company who was able to then make some money out of it. Why do you begrudge them that? They used that to pay their marketing people, developers, support, etc. And so the world goes around.

If on the other hand, you wanted to keep that right to yourself and prevent anyone except you from making money selling your code, you could contribute under the GPL. That is a very useful license for companies who want to exclude other companies using their code to make money from (a good example is mysql). There are other ways to commercialise this software, but not the obvious path of improving it and selling it.

I speak from experience. I have one GPL project which I hope to commercialise myself one day (and so I try to exclude others from the game by making it GPL). And I am a member of the Apache Foundation where my contributions might be used by companies to make money. Good luck to them...

Elitist nonsense for the most part (4, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272569)

Whilst I can see the points being made, and understand them, there is little difference between closed and open source from an ordinary end-user point of view. If they are unable to examine, update, modify, and build the software themselves there is no real difference between open source or closed source software. To the contrary closed source is likely to better serve their particular needs as the closed source vendor has to persuade them to spend money on it.

Re:Elitist nonsense for the most part (1, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272581)

thats a very good point. at our company we buy MS office, not because we like MS, but just for the simple fact it can open our retardedly large spreadsheet data logs where as the OSS version tosses up a bitch message and truncates the data. the OSS version fails in our application, we dont care about the politics, only what will work for our needs

Re:Elitist nonsense for the most part (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272607)

What the article doesn't talk about is proprietary inhouse apps and customized add ons and other software packages that meets needs of businesses.

You can't get anything like that unless you pay money. That is economics 101 and Linux is not 100% free. It cost money as 90% of the code is donated by SGI, IBM, Redhat, and others. That money came from paying customers and it is nice cheapskates get a freebie and student can learn it in the process.

To protect agaisn't piracy makes sense if it costs $10 million to write a game then you sure as hell do not give it away! If you want it you have to pay for it as the developers, shareholders, and their development tools were not free.

Re:Elitist nonsense for the most part (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272647)

Obviously you understood very little. Although most people cannot code themselves, with free software they're allowed to ask anybody who can to help them. With proprietary software they face a vendor-lock-in with monopoly on changes to the product and usually to support for the product. And free software is not always gratis. Red Hat runs a billion dollars a year business with free software.

What about the harmful effects (3, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272583)

What about the harmful effects of software not being developed that meets a businesses needs? If you do not pay for it it doesn't get developed.

People say yeah linux can do everything Windows can do or clueless. Redhat, IBM, and thousands of others donate and develop code for Linux so you can use it on a server at work.

The 100% no non free code linux kernel was 200k in the 1990s and unpractical. Just because it was given away doesn't mean it was free to make. More to the point Windows meets the needs much better than Linux to desktop users because they are willing to pay Microsoft to fine tune and make sure it works right on their pc. You do not have to worry an update will hose your system due to the lack of an ABI or some weird wifi will randomly disconnect (issue with my laptop with linux).

What is so evil about getting paid? If you need shit done you provide value to barter that we call call cash in exchange for their labor. That is capitalism 101 and is the most efficient system.

All this non free software is worth every penny for those who need JIT inventory in Access/SQL Server to the accountant who purchases statistical add on packages for Excel so his employer can pay him. If you do not like it go get a job or write your own solution.

Also someone should get paid handsomely for his or her contribution and there is nothing wrong with that.

Re:What about the harmful effects (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272587)

What about the harmful effects of software not being developed that meets a businesses needs? If you do not pay for it it doesn't get developed.

People say yeah linux can do everything Windows can do or clueless. Redhat, IBM, and thousands of others donate and develop code for Linux so you can use it on a server at work.

The 100% no non free code linux kernel was 200k in the 1990s and unpractical. Just because it was given away doesn't mean it was free to make. More to the point Windows meets the needs much better than Linux to desktop users because they are willing to pay Microsoft to fine tune and make sure it works right on their pc. You do not have to worry an update will hose your system due to the lack of an ABI or some weird wifi will randomly disconnect (issue with my laptop with linux).

What is so evil about getting paid? If you need shit done you provide value to barter that we call call cash in exchange for their labor. That is capitalism 101 and is the most efficient system.

All this non free software is worth every penny for those who need JIT inventory in Access/SQL Server to the accountant who purchases statistical add on packages for Excel so his employer can pay him. If you do not like it go get a job or write your own solution.

Also someone should get paid handsomely for his or her contribution and there is nothing wrong with that.

Learn to write English and I will respect your opinion. You sir are a moron! 200k no non free code?! WTF. It is 100% free and if you actually read the GNU licence you would know that.

Mod down as Billly Gates is a troll! Just look at his save IE 6 link if you do not believe me?

Re:What about the harmful effects (1)

sinnergy (4787) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272609)

From the bottom of the site you just ragged on him for:

"The SaveIE6 campaign was launched on April 1, 2009 and will last until April 1, 2010."

He might not be the best writer in the world, but apparently you're not a particularly good reader, either.

Very strange (3, Informative)

folderol (1965326) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272629)

Why is it that I don't seem to have any of the problems others do with Linux? Across my home and business use I have 4 totally different desktops of different ages and capability along with two laptops, again quite different in age and power, yet I have no issues with any of them. They all run debian (or one of it's derivatives).

Why also, do people totally miss the point of FOSS and focus on price rather than freedom of choice? In fact, it is quite legally and acceptably possible to make money out of libre software. Redhat seemdo it very nicely. However, I personally am more interested in the ability of organise my desktop in such a way that maximises my ease of use, and productivity, without some idiot OS telling me that I can't use a mouse click that way. Most Windows users are quite astonished at the way I can stack up and organise active views on various projects.

Re:Very strange (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272715)

Don't feed the troll!

That guy is a capitalist pig and a tard who is incoherent in thought and action.

Re:Very strange (1)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272803)

very... same... experience... completely...

Re:Very strange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272953)

Why is it that I don't seem to have any of the problems others do with Linux? Across my home and business use I have 4 totally different desktops of different ages and capability along with two laptops, again quite different in age and power, yet I have no issues with any of them. They all run debian (or one of it's derivatives).

Because you are actually using it. Not just installing it badly, preferably on faulty hardware, and then trying to use Windows methods to fix it, so you can complain bitterly about how bad it is. I have the same expereince as you. We are obviously cheating somehow.

Why also, do people totally miss the point of FOSS and focus on price rather than freedom of choice? In fact, it is quite legally and acceptably possible to make money out of libre software. Redhat seemdo it very nicely. However, I personally am more interested in the ability of organise my desktop in such a way that maximises my ease of use, and productivity, without some idiot OS telling me that I can't use a mouse click that way. Most Windows users are quite astonished at the way I can stack up and organise active views on various projects.

Because it is the easiest one to criticise. Although quite a few do rage against choices.

Look a little closer. Nobody is actually discussing anything here. Haven't done for years. This is a trolling and whining site. The only rational response is to use the articles as possible pointers to interesting stories, and laugh at the idiots who are screeching at each other.

Re:What about the harmful effects (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272749)

OSS is not about getting paid or not for writting it. Is about not getting a black box that you don't really own, on which you must give blind trust, you can't modify/extend/adapt to your exact needs and that you are limited in the ways you can use it. Is about freedom, not about getting or not money, and there are in fact a lot of people and companies that do their living writting, adapting, or giving services around open source software.

Re:What about the harmful effects (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272757)

A lot of work in the Linux open source initiative is paid work to begin with. I don't recall instances where these people were called out and called evil?

Re:What about the harmful effects (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272865)

>What is so evil about getting paid?

Oh look, another idiot that thinks the GPL "outlaws" the exchange of software for money.

--
BMO

Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272633)

When I was younger, I would write free software or shareware, put it into public domain, and archivists would make a business out of making disks with free software on it. This is how I view Richard Stallman, just a parasite on free software who collected together one of these archives of other peoples free works without contributing to that body of work in any substantial way.

So I don't view him as any kind of spokesman for anything, simply because he actually doesn't do the work, he just takes the credit.

If I go to a library, does the librarian get credit for writing the books? Is he spoken to as though he's the worlds most famous author? Yet RMS is listened to as some sort of spokesman for the programmers whose work he simply archives!

What the submitter has done is put a very sensible article about the dangers of close source software, and juxtaposed with RMSs idiot comments and it lessens the original article by quoting that idiot.

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272657)

You have no real clue who RMS really is or what he's done, do you?

Richard started the whole Free/Libre software movement. He wote Emacs and a whole host of other software. Please, before you comment, know your history.

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272673)

yeah he also wants everyone to call linux as gnu/linux, even though all the hard work was done by linus, who named his os linux. rms is nothing but a leech.

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272733)

Linus didn't name Linux. The site operator where it was uploaded for sharing first did. Linus is too humble for that. He went along with it. Linus asked for help writing Linux. Yes, he fleshed out the plumbing, but many people helped and still do. Linus is simply the final arbitrator, but he has lieutenants who write most of the code.

Free/Libre/OSS is all about collaboration. You get more done together than alone.

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272747)

Are you joking? If not: Linux is the name of the kernel. The kernel by itself is useless, it has no use whatsoever. The "building blocks" the OS needs to have a chance to be of any use come from GNU. The GNU software, too, by itself is 100% useless (especially emacs). You're not forced to use the two together, there are alternatives for both, but if you do use them both then your system is running GNU and Linux, hence GNU/Linux.

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272681)

The guy who wrote Emacs, GCC, GDB, and a bunch of others didn't actually do the work? wut?

Re:Richard Stallman is not a spokesman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272999)

emacs - lol, shit design, one giant monolithic codebase with keyboard shortcuts designed to give you RSI .

gcc,gdb - again shit design, absolutely no modularity, no interfaces, no sane compiler frontend / backend API. The only good thing it did was it became the motivation to create something elegant like clang.

stallman is not a programmer, he never was. He is a zealot politician with his own anti-american anti-business communist propoganda.

Extremism in all cases is bad. (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272697)

in which he takes the firm stance that non-free software is unethical in all cases but concedes that running non-free games on a free operating system is much more desirable than running them on a non-free operating system itself

Why single out games as "potentially not as harmful"?

Moving from non-free to free is a process. It is a process that does not happen overnight. First get the vendors to compile for Linux. Then, if any feel like it, they can move to Free Software and make money through support like IBM, Oracle, and SAP make the vast majority of their profits on support (the actual sales of their closed source software is a minor component of their profits).

Without getting major companies to start moving their paid, closed source software to Linux first, you/re /never/ going to see Autocad or the like as Free Software on Linux.

Absolutism is counter-productive and turns off the people and companies we need to get on the side of Linux. I'm sorry, but ESR is full of himself and full of shit.

--
BMO - Long time Linux user, and user of Free Software and believer of Free Software as a laudable end goal, but the world is not as neat as ESR thinks it is, can be, or should be.

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272821)

Without getting major companies to start moving their paid, closed source software to Linux first, you/re /never/ going to see Autocad or the like as Free Software on Linux.

Which is why we have GIMP even though Adobe hasn't ported Photoshop to Linux?

The next step after major companies declaring to port stuff to Linux is demand for a non-removable DRM component for Linux. I think the intention of Open Source was to pollute closed-source habitats with (viral) Open Source software, not the other way round. Closed source / DRM isn't magically going to become open when it's a perfectly valid and undisputedly supported option for Linux, why should it?

IMHO, the way to go is the way of the Humble Indie Bundle V [reddit.com] - it's astonishing how little attention the Linux port got

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272889)

>The next step after major companies declaring to port stuff to Linux is demand for a non-removable DRM component for Linux.

>slippery slope argument

Linus has come out and said that DRM is not necessarily bad on Linux.

I disagree and say that DRM is bad on all platforms, but that's me. We've even seen pushback on DRM on closed OSes, so at least there is hope. DRM while related to closed source, is a separate issue.

>Which is why we have GIMP even though Adobe hasn't ported Photoshop to Linux?

There are a lot of people who will tell you that they will not move to Linux until Photoshop or Solidworks works on Linux. We ignore them at our peril.

--
BMO

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272923)

>slippery slope argument

You're right, slippery slopes do not exist and we should go down that road

at our peril

...

There are a lot of people who will tell you that they will not move to Linux until Photoshop or Solidworks works on Linux.

No problem for me, Linux doesn't get better or worse (well, more likely worse if the past 10 years have been any indication) if more people (esp. like those - who usually prefer pirating Photoshop over using free alternatives) use it. WINE should be improved to support more commercial software though.

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272933)

So how is Wine better than having companies make native ports?

>only kids who pirate software use Photoshop or Solidworks

I dunno, manufacturers who do CAD and CAE would go to Linux if you had Solidworks and other CAE/CAD/CAM software on Linux. Wouldn't they?

OpenCASCADE isn't enough.

--
BMO

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (1)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272835)

i understand your point of view on this, but RMS still has to do it. take a good look around the FOSS world, almost everyone disagrees with RMS, and allow/encourage/provide non-free software, that can range from drivers, to games, to highly useful programs that don't have a FOSS alternative. and the linux world keeps thriving, and getting better, and of course, has not lost its spirit of freedom. non-free software, in little amounts with the vast free stuff available, perfects the ecosystem, not harm it. but with all this intermixing, people sometimes tend to forget initial goals, forget why linux was created, and might get dragged into a sea of non-free software, that might invade it all, hence why we need someone like RMS to remind us of what our priorities should be, and by taking this extremist stance, he can be sure to make the best effect. you don't have to agree with him 100%, but he serves as a good reminder. think of it as pulling a spring 20 cm, when you want it to be 15 cm long, because you know it'll shrink back a little once released...

Re:Extremism in all cases is bad. (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272869)

But to point at software companies and say "you're unethical" doesn't earn friends.

--
BMO

Problem of non-free games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272699)

... is that games are expensive to develop. I like the oldschool id Software / Volition habits of releasing source-code to commercial games after they are released so that up and coming game developers can learn from them. I think as games have become more closed they are hurting the industry as a whole.

I don't mind for profit games as long as 1) I own the game 2) I get the source at some point after the sales window so that the game can be maintained by fans. Since game companies don't have the funds/will/manpower to support old games as technology moves on.

RMS is more prescient than ESR credits him for. (1)

RR (64484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272759)

This is another example of ESR ignoring the dangers of closed-source software in his devotion to "pragmatism." There is always a role for the monks of society, and RMS is the monk of free software. It's relatively easy to be a pragmatist. It takes something special to be a monk.

I don't live like RMS, but I find his insights to be important. The dystopian future from The Right to Read [gnu.org] , especially, is being carried out in terms of years instead of decades. The secret to RMS's "fanaticism" is his long-term planning. Pragmatism seems to work now, but sooner or later closed-source is going to hurt you.

The elevator example is not that good. ESR has forgotten about elevator breakdowns [pbs.org] . Elevators also usually include surveillance and phone-home equipment, which have implications for reliability, privacy, and vendor lock-in.

The microwave example is not that good, either. Many modern microwaves have an insanely complicated user interface, and I wouldn't mind replacing it with a more intuitive one. Not to mention what silly things you could do with a microwave if you could network it.

Re:RMS is more prescient than ESR credits him for. (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272819)

The microwave example is not that good, either. Many modern microwaves have an insanely complicated user interface, and I wouldn't mind replacing it with a more intuitive one. Not to mention what silly things you could do with a microwave if you could network it.

Because if there's one thing people think of when it comes to FOSS software, it's well designed, intuitive interfaces.

Re:RMS is more prescient than ESR credits him for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40273075)

Because if there's one thing people think of when it comes to FOSS software, it's well designed, intuitive interfaces.

Well, I'd take Cinnamon over Metro any time. Problem?

Harmful effects of closed mindset movements ... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272787)

Figureheads need to write placatory articles lest they should get caught playing L4D2 on Linux ...

^ Harmful effects of not reading the articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40273047)

Apparently you failed the click the Eric Raymond link, yet you succeeded to have a vocal opinion about him.

Open source doesn't work for games. (1)

TwoBit (515585) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272873)

I think open source is great for some things (compilers, browsers), but it doesn't work for games. Games require too much of a coordinated development effort and involve multiple disciplines beyond programming.

Re:Open source doesn't work for games. (2)

nzac (1822298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272961)

You can open-source the code for engine and sell the data, you can find heaps of examples of this.
Opensource game engines that are cooperatively made with everyone involved making their own game on top of it could save devs a significant amount of money if they can agree on how to spit the work.

Only freedom friendly hardware: ThinkPenguin.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272891)

The problem is USERS aren't getting it. It's not only the user base though. It's developers included. You have to demand free software support for the ecosystem to grow and improve. Most of what we have has essentially been the remnants of non-free software companies which have "donated" code they can no longer profit off. Sometimes it is a last ditch effort to survive- although this usually fails.

You can't go and buy computers from Dell, EmperorLinux, and others who are entrenched in the non-free software world and actively working against freedom. But it gets worse. Companies like System76 and ZaReason are little better. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying any of these companies have ill-intent. The problem is they are all alike in hindering the development of a free software ecosystem. These companies don't take freedom into consideration and users pay the price.

There is only one place to readily get freedom friendly hardware. It's sad, but true. ThinkPenguin is the only company restricting its catalog to freedom friendly chipsets. It's not a small catalog either. It's the largest catalog of GNU/Linux hardware for GNU/Linux users in the world (shipping from the UK and USA). All others "supporting freedom" (including those which ship truly free operating systems) are shipping laptops and desktops incompatible with free software. All are shipping systems dependent on any of a number of major problems. Just to name a few: "Trusted Computing", proprietary drivers/firmware, installing wholly non-free operating systems (Microsoft Windows), BIOS based digital restriction management software (yes, anybody selling systems from HP, Lenovo, IBM, Dell, and Toshiba with GNU/Linux). Digital restrictions in the BIOS can prevent you from even making your system work properly with GNU/Linux or at all! Even the distributions which include the non-free software won't work in many cases because you can't replace the wireless card with a GNU/Linux compatible one (free or non-free). And the situation is getting worse. You may actually see the free software market come into existence due to the worsening situation. That's how bad it's gotten.

Here are some facts: Currently there are ZERO chipsets which can be used in new USB wireless cards. There are no free software compatible bluetooth chipsets for use internally in laptops. Some companies are reverting to releasing non-free drivers (Creative). Digital restrictions in the CPU (Intel) may eventually prevent GNU/Linux users from streaming video from sites like: Netflix (does not yet work with GNU/Linux- and zero support for free software), Hulu (also no support for free software), and Amazon Prime (again- no support for free software).

We need to put up a fight against non-free software, digital restrictions, and similar hindrances. We need to wean ourselves off it. If you can't afford to rid yourself of non-free hardware at least make the effort of not buying it going forward.

ThinkPenguin is working with chipset manufacturers, distributions, and others to fix many of these problems. However this is NOT something which can be done without significant community support and action. Some form of a financial contribution to free software is needed from every single GNU/Linux user to help fund development efforts and prevent the market from declining into even more of a hellish mess. There is fortunately a sufficient number of people who care to get the ball rolling already... but a completely free system (not just a free BIOS + free software compatible chipsets) won't be possible until the elimination of the x86 architecture. That will probably require hundreds of thousands of users if not more to really get the right combinations of chipsets and components needed manufactured, working together, and in a form that can replace a typical laptop currently.

What matters is you, me, and everyone else in the GNU/Linux community is making a commitment. It's less critical that you eliminate all non-free software overnight than your commitment and initiation of that process.

I'll start with the things we should all be ashamed of (I'm not perfect, but please, I'm trying, and you should be too):

If you are not a member of one or more of these organisations shame on you (at least if you are financially able):

The Free Software Foundation
Trisquel (or another completely free distribution, you don't have to use it, just become a member so that you might one day be able to)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation
Tor

If you are buying random hardware or getting it from those who don't even take the time to limit what hardware they sell to being freedom friendly shame on you.

If you are a subscriber of Netflux, Hulu, or Amazon prime shame on you. There are alternatives like eztakes.com which could use your financial support. And if they don't have it (they probably won't-small company because you aren't going there) do a search on Google and you'll find a site that will stream it to you (may not be freedom friendly, although at least you won't be contributing to the downfall of GNU/Linux or free software): film/tv show site:eu

If you are paying for or using DRM encumbered games or those dependent on non-free code shame on you. There are tons of free software friendly games. ID software has released numerous titles, there are new games derived from them (Darkplaces /w mod Kleshik, Xonotic, Ryzom, Red Eclipse, Open Arena, ActionCube, 0 A.D., Xonotic, Lightsmark v2008, Doom 3, Reaction Quake 3, VDrift, and hundreds of others). There are even new games from the likes of www.humblebundle.com. This company has released a number of games under the GPL. They are actively releasing games under free licenses with the help of customers (your purchases help to make it possible).

Games not harmful ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40272929)

"Games make another interesting intermediate case. Very low reliability harm â" OK, it might be annoying if your client program craps out during a World of Warcraft battle, but itâ(TM)s not like having your financial records scrambled or your novel manuscript trashed."

I think the author misses some very important issues here. Its a fact that you can expect people to be less weary when playing games (thus relaxing). So if something "weird" happens they're bound to more easily ignore it.

Another important aspect is that many games tend to enforce online connectivity these days. Thus making them very suited to be used as some kind of interface / gateway which allows access to more.

And while your financial records may not be included within the game, what about the platform running said game? An XBox or PS3 may easily give access to credit card information which is used to purchase stuff. A PC game may give access to a whole pot of gold: the PC environment itself, which may allow for whole new levels of intrusion.

"Conclusions: we need to be most opposed to closed-source desktop and smartphone operating systems, because those have the most severe harms and the highest positive-externality stickiness.".

The author also overlooks another very important aspect with regards to open vs. closed source. In almost every case you take open-source "as is" because the author will almost every time free himself from any kind of responsibility with regards to running his software. You take it "as is" and when something goes wrong then you should have foreseen it.

Closed source otoh. often has loopholes attached to it. Even embedded in law. If I buy software and that software suddenly decides to erase my hard drive and I can prove this behavior then there's nothing stopping me to file a complaint at the nearest police station and have the author of said malware picked up for (for starters) destruction of my property. I can even file a suit for damages.

Of course this isn't the case all the time, there are cases where you simply have to agree (without actually doing anything) with a user policy which is even longer than my reaction.

But even so I think its stupid to look at open vs. closed in such a narrow minded way. You can't compare the two "just like that" because there are bound to be much more issues attached to it. From law to user policies to a sense of not merely purchasing software, but also a sense of insurance.

Companies for example buy software with an expectation. They may even demand their expectations to be met, thus the responsibility of fulfilling all that rests on the shoulders of the party selling the software. This is also a scenario which is often also hardly possible with open source software. And before anyone starts to cry: "RHEL", that is exactly my point.

While OSS in general may provide zilch guarantees it doesn't mean that its totally impossible; there are plenty of well known exceptions. And IMO the same can be said about closed source.

Its not a black/white situation. Unfortunately it seems that's usually the way people approach this topic. And that is IMO also your main problem.

Food (0)

humanrev (2606607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40272947)

I just hope Raymond and Stallman also plant their own crops, cook their own food and never eat out. Otherwise their nutrition and effectively their health is in the hands of another party, which likely doesn't provide the exact recipe for the preparation of said food.

Or is software a topic special enough to them that this hypocrisy with consuming closed-source food is OK?

Funny thing is, I don't actually like Steam anymore. I've written a post which explained why I don't use it anymore and why I'm worried about the increasing reliance publishers are having with it. but I'm surprised Stallman is not pushing entirely against it completely. I would have thought he'd at least grant some leeway with playing proprietary games as opposed to linking full access to your software to a DRM platform.

As for harmful effects of closed source software in general, I think most people on the planet who rely on such software are doing just fine. It's really not that big a deal - if it were it wouldn't be so hard to convince non-nerds why free software is supposedly so important; for most people issue with closed-source software are at best hypothetical, and will likely only ever be that.

Re:Food (1)

neonsignal (890658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40273097)

Stallman is not quite so black and white about the world as you are, and has consistently placed emphasis on the value of cooperation. You do not have to be totally independent and self-sufficient in order to experience freedom.

You will also find that the FSF over the years have had to make a number of compromises, because sticking to principles at all costs is not the most effective way to bring about change. You will see compromises in the use of licences such as the LGPL, the wording of the patent sections in the GPLv3, and so on. Only those who live in your black and white world would see compromise as the same as hypocrisy.

When you buy food from someone else, you are free to do with it pretty much whatever you want. You can eat it, you can share it with your family, you can cook it anyway you like. Can't you come up with a better example than that?

And if you really think free software is no big deal, then why spend so much time with ad-hominem attacks? What is your motive?

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