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Academic Criticism of ESR's The Cathedral & The Bazaar

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the juicing-the-conversation dept.

News 187

Gorgonzola sent us the linkage to First Monday's critique of [ESR]'s The Cathedral and The Bazaar. C&B is criticized academically, cited as being an oversimplified view of OSS, as well as a distortion of reality. Well-written critique, and one that should provoke discussion.

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Well-written critique??? (1)

Zaph (36677) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629741)

All I seem to get from this article is a long-winded diatrabe trying to say that ESR is a commie-pinko bastard.

This article is more of a rant than any kind of constructive criticism.

Some brilliant points (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629742)

I often think that the Cathedral and the Bizarre was not particularly well thought out. There's a few main reasons that I say that the main one being the fact that there almost always needs to be some 'cathedral' like organisation for open source projects to work, all the successfull projects (e.g. Linux) have a hierarchical approach with Linus as the leader then people under him (e.g. Alan Cox) then people submit patches to them. This is not strictly Cathedral and nowhere near bazarre. It is however more cathedral then bazarre as there is a high element of organisation towards the top of the tree.

Open source projects that don't go by this approach and go on the 'everyone is equal' bazaare approach often means the project gets absolutely nowhere and instead consists of endless discussions and absolutely no coding.

Some of ESR's early advocacy made Netscape believe that open source would be the panacea which would solve all their problems, if they were told to think about it before releasing a product we may have been much further along in their progress.

However Mozilla is now on track despite the early setbacks and their mistakes will hopefully guide other companies along the open source route. I'd like someone at Mozilla (or the departed JWZ) to write in depth paper about the mistakes made by Mozilla and how they're finally getting on track and set to release a decent product.

If you don't believe me download a few nightly builds (read the release notes before complaining as they're still pre-alpha).

Too much anti-Marxist charicature (1)

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629743)

I thought Bezroukov's article was fairly well written... and was probably mostly *correct* at that. But the one thing that rather bugged me was the number of times that he attempted to diminish Raymond's arguments by casting the aspersion that they were Marxist (and therefore wrong).

This is bothersome on many levels. For one, I am a real Marxist academic. Real Marxists are not the straw puppets warned about at the Heritage Institute or the _Skeptical Inquirer_. We are not touchy-feely-and-yet-totalitarian as the outline seems to run in Bezroukov's mind. So obviously I don't care fore 'Marxist' used as an aspersion (especially without understanding what it means).

On the other hand, Raymond's writing just aren't Marxist in tone or content. I suppose that, yes, they are a little left-wing in bent. And they do have a couple themes that are also talked about by Marxists (in different ways). But overall, it just ain't Marxism. That doesn't in itself make it either more or less interesting... but one should read them as what they are. I have no idea how Raymond thinks of himself politically or intellectually, but I *do* know what his writings say.

After you put aside the common red-scare cannard of Bezroukov, the bits about understanding a rather longstanding scientific cooperative process are well taken... and definitely help to round out some of the simplification in Raymond.

How to write articles like this ... (1)

joe_fish (6037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629754)

... grep the internet looking for remarks made by famous people against OSS, insert a few comments, and mould it into a stick with which to beat ESR, and OSS.

The author slags Linus for being a dictator, and claims Linux is not demorcratic. But the author also slags OSSs need for strong leadership.
Personally I think giving the masses a vote on whether driver X implements feature Y in a sensible way is just plain stupid - Democracy does not work everywhere.

More useful would be solutions to the problems which most /.ers know about.

  • How do you keep s/n ratio up on a dev. list?
  • How do you keep a core team together?
  • How do we avoid yet more pointless bitching?

Don't get me wrong I don't think OSS is a silver bullet either, but we need to be a little more constructive in our criticism of it.

<joke> I think we need ESR to vigourously defend himself, and maybe some choice words from Bruce wouldn't go amiss too ... </joke>

ESR, Paers, and, Papers. (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629755)

One thing that the author of this work should remember is that ESR is a PROGRAMMER. And that gives one a different perspective from a writer. I don't see that the article invalidates TC&TB, but simply explains it. Bezroukov tries to make a case for the OSS movement to be modeled using the existing system in the Scientific community. Personally I think that they both come from Celtic societies concept that your worth in the community is based upon what you contribute to the community. What is even more interesting about Celtic society is that the knowledge worker class (the Druids/Bards/Brehon/Senachies/etc) were the most highly regarded. In fact, a Druid's "eric" (no pun intended, this is the actual word they use) or "honour price" is greater than that of a Kings. A Druid could walk into the field between two armies and stop them cold in their tracks if he/she felt there was sufficient reason to. And, yes, there were both male and female Druids.


Again, being a practicing Druid, and Celtic Reconstructionist, I see the OSS movement in terms of what I know, just like Bezroukov does. Doesn't make either of us, or ESR wrong, just different.


ttyl

Farrell
Druid,
Silver Fox Grove, ADF [adf.org]

The thing that bugs me... (2)

Slamtilt (17405) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629756)

...is that a lot of people assume that the Cathedral model of development is essentially the same as that of the commercial world, and the Bazaar is that of free software. They forget, or don't notice, that the essay's primary example of Cathedral development is the Emacs core, which is most definitely an example of free software!

It seems that this 'academic' critique makes the same oversight, which makes me a bit less willing to accept its arguments.

Yajks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629757)

He refers to the fact that it's the biggest growing.
You should mention that he has also stated that the quality of Linux is poor. (Because it is true.)

Anyway, the difference other than hype and quality is zero, Linux just copies ideas from other unices.

This is not a troll, Linux fills it's fuction but people should wake up, it's not the end of other OS's, nor is it the best.

Good piece (1)

Urmane (2213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629758)

Very well-done piece. I think both the author and ESR missed something, though.

The Internet is a new media. It would be worth studying the emergence of other media types - radio, newspapers, even speech in general - and their characteristics. This I think would give a better picture, and provide a better foundation for an analysis. The author has the right idea, comparing to what used to be the academic scientific community (although I fear Capitalism, Panacaea For Making Something Good, has almost completely ruined the "hot" areas in the same way Linux advocates see Microsoft ruining software).

For instance, even though I'm not a social scientist, several things leap out at this higher abstraction level, from human-nature oriented things - what was the big deal with cable? Movies? No, be honest, it was really soft porn - such as sex and advertising being the first big two utilizers of a new medium; to what I see as the major cause of OSS - the new medium needs stuff done. There's a vacuum, and the medium itself allows anyone to fill it, so they do.

This strikes me as a temporary situation though, at least partially; what happens when, five or ten years from now, you can no longer just tweak and "make" your kernel? Or the gnome/kde infrastructure is so big that newbies cannot just jump on and start coding? (In that last case, you'll start seeing more informal similarities with the academic scientific model). Will OSS really matter that much anymore?

Here's a more interesting angle into that question: what happens when computers become "invisible"? Electricity and telephones are already invisible - they're so ubiquitous that you don't notice them. Computers will be a utility and a many-to-many medium. Hm, on second thought, maybe this is just assuming the general purpose PC will go away ....

Those are just possibilities though. What do you think?

no sir I did not like it (1)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629759)

This guy really seems to make a lot of erroneous assumptions about the Open Source community. I only read C&B once but I don't remember ESR saying that OSS projects are magically easy. I don't remember him saying that OSS projects never fail.

Did he say the Microsoft needs to be destroyed? It seems to me that most OSS people agree that Microsoft's software and business practices suck, but care little about M$ beyond that. Yeah they'd love to see Gates get a good spanking, but I certainly don't think they really care what happens to M$. These may be my erroneous assumptions, but one thing I'm sure of is that this guy is overestimating the relevance of Microsoft in the past, present, and future of OSS. It's a common goal, not a common enemy that drives this community.

Almost every paragraph that I read seemed to be off key with my view of OSS and the community surrounding it. Or maybe it's just my view that's skewed...

numb

Open AND Closed (not vs) (1)

LL (20038) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629760)

I think the point should be made that coexistance between Open and Closed is perfectly possible. In fact, it gives some rather interesting pricing information. If 2 compilers are priced at $5K each, then it might be harder to distinguish the features as compared to a free one where you know that if you wait some time N, features might become available. It then acts as a natural queuing system, separating people according to their time perference. It also has the benefit of being a quality bar in that any commercial product must be at the minimum be better than the "free" and thus force the company to keep on their toes and pour some of those profits back into development (ie discourage rent-seeking behaviour).

The point about Microsoft is rather interesting. If its role is to "act" as a convenient target due to its "innovative" business practices, if MS wasn't around would OpenSource be more conflict-driven and less cohesive or even not feasible? Much like the Blitz in WW2, if everyone is suffering in equal misery, then there are less complaints about ownership/sharing of kudos as the focus is on the external "threat". I would see this as a future problem as more projects become commercialised and money becomes a influencing factor rather than idealism or passion.

The only area which might be a little lacking is the comment about technical support. If ESR's Magic Cauldron thesis is correct in that maintenance becomes the primary cost function in software as a service rather than manufactured good, then it makes sense to pay for the value of support/hand-holding (or risk reduction) and OpenSource then becomes the advertising sheet (if 50% of peers use it then it must be worthwhile). In any complex problem especially software systems, if you don't understand it, you can't support it and any competitor would have a significant time penalty. I think some studies on the true cost of IT would be rather illuminating.

The other point about scientists having capped financial rewards (ie low salary compared with equivalent industry experience) is that it is a trade-off between what you enjoy (research). It seems to me that you get paid for doing things you don't like and pay out (or salary sacrifice) for fun things. Would it be fair to say that OpenSource is to some people a hobby for relaxation? If so, then it is understandable why people prefer the GPL as it is probably offensive to see others benefit disproporationately from an act of generosity.

So in a world of Open/Closed, it opens up a whole new set of rules that should be interesting to watch. Personally I see it like a snowstorm, you require the chaotic elements to initially form (small = more likely to be creative), but then you need the balanced framework to grow (formal documentation, etc). Together, they make rich and varied beautiful structures.

LL

Religious belief...open source??? (1)

ScrappyTheObscure (82234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629761)

It's funny... when I first read ESR's essays on open source, I was immediately and viscerally won over by what I then perceived as the inherent rightness of his descriptions of open source development. This is how it things should be.

However, reading Bezroukov's article, I'm struck just as strongly -- that this is how things really are. I don't mean that I necessarily believe that open source is doomed to "fail", (whatever failure means) but until and unless we recognize the limitations of a development model -- or a governmental model or anything else for that matter -- we will not be able to make good choices for ourselves or for our industry. What's the old saw "those who refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it?" By declaring that open source is NEW NEW NEW we try to take it out of context and fail to make use of our opportunities to learn how to strengthen it.


Scrappy

Re:Needlessly negative (2)

rangek (16645) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629762)

The example I read said something about a bad famine causing a population to not grow as tall during that generation - but that subsequent generations also didn't get as tall as before the famine, but were heading that way.

Could it also be that regular old natural selection is at work here? People who "wasted" scarce resources growing "needlessly" tall died out, while those who had a predisposition to shortness survived.

Cook the gene pool under said conditions and cool. The population is now shorter, obstensibly due to malnutrition.

But wait a bit longer, and see that new generations are getting taller now that the selective pressure is removed.

Phenomena explained, using only standard evolutionary/genetic theory, and by Occam's Razor is a better explaination.

Now I am not saying that this methylation thingy is wrong. But it is not necessary to explain the phenomena you cited.

BTW, I am not a biologist, by I am a chemist, and I have done a little work studying methylation of DNA, specifically as a way to treat cancer.

Not really aimed at CATB (2)

crumley (12964) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629763)

First, off I really enjoyed this article and I think that he makes some really good points about problems in Free/Open Source Software. In particular, I think that he has some good points about the problems projects have as they grow. I have seen a lot of symptoms he mentions in the growing pains that Debian has been going through.

I think, though, that he has picked the wrong target for this article. He makes a lot of good points, but I don't really think that he is refuting ESR in most of them.

I think that his "Catherdral and Bazaar Postulates" are exaggerated. I did not get the impression that ESR believes in these postulates, either from CATB or his later writings. There are probably some people who would agree with these postulates, but I get the impression that ESR is more pragmatic.

He says:

All open source projects are the same and employ the so-called "bazaar model". This model is inherently good compared to methods developed by commercial software developers. All alternative models (considered to be one and called the "Cathedral model") are infidel and doomed. Nothing can compete in quality with open source.

I don't think that ESR thinks the Bazaar is for everything and every project, and I don't think that it is implied in CATB. There are plenty of Free Software projects that are closer to the Cathedral than the Bazaar, and there is nothing wrong with that. Each project should use whatever form works for its participants and best meets the goals of the project. The point of CATB is that you should examine your development model and see if opening it up might help the project.

Microsoft need to be destroyed.

More like software needs to not suck. We need more competition in software so that the software gets better, and Open Source Software is one way to help get it. Microsoft isn't going to disappear, but maybe they'll be forced to make more reliable products.

The open source movement consist of ideal cooperative people. Conflicts are few and can be resolved within a community.

I don't think ESR is that idealistic, or that Open source Software depends on that kind of idealism. Flame wars happen. Big deal. Sometimes they may distract people from getting real work done, but often the real flamers are just wannabes, so their lost time does not really slow progress. Conflicts are fine, and the right kind of conflicts help make the software better.

Anyway, it was a good article, but I don't think that it was really refuting CATB.

Not a problem. (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629767)

This is as it should be for work dealing with Open Source. Put it out, get feedback, fix it, repeat.

--
It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?

Good (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629771)

I like to see some decent critism of Linux/OSS based stuff. It's certainly not FUD of any type, and hopefully no one will start flaming :)

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Very interesting.. (3)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629773)

ESR has often complained about being flamed rather than being given constructive criticism (e.g., the Bruce Perens/ESR dispute), so I simply have to wonder.. Exactly how will he react to criticism like this, which is much more academic in nature?

Of course, the reason why this comes to mind is because of a post in a previous discussion (I believe regarding ESR's answers to the questions posed by Slashdot) that suggested that flaming ESR was pointless because it would engender an attitude in him along the lines of "no, you don't understand. I'm right, you're wrong, so get out of my way".

Common enemy and the Open Source community (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629775)

I think that the author made a very good point about Microsoft. While I don't know how much ESR really called for the "destruction" of Microsoft (was he referring to total destruction, or "IBM" destruction-- lose a *lot* of market share to the better alternatives, but still keep a profitable business?).

The thing is, I see the Linux community calling constantly for the downfall of Microsoft. I hear them rallying behind the DoJ, claiming that we need to destroy the Microsoft monopoly. Yet, if the number of people on Slashdot is any indication, there are enough people using Linux, *BSD, and other operating systems to show that Microsoft *can't* have a monopoly. It's self-contradictory.

That doesn't mean I like Microsoft. I think the products are shoddy and the FUD is distasteful.

But I guess Microsoft is a sort of unifying force to a lot of people. Ironic, then, that the very people that Microsoft unites are attempting to destroy it.

Give MS time. It will eventually hang itself, and fade into the background. It will become a geek-accepted company ("They don't make the best products, but *at least* they don't have a monopoly, like [insert new evil empire here]"). It will be a good place to invest money. It will do some interesting research, come up with some interesting stuff from time to time, but really just be another software company-- kinda like IBM is with hardware now.

Followup (3)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629777)

Well here's my take after reading the whole thing...

This doesn't seem to be a critique of CatB at all - more squarely aimed at the open source concept in general.

However... It's just a nice collection of articles, writings and statements we've seen and argued about before. I've seen nothing new here. What I do see is a lot of stuff from a few individuals who've had a bad experience with OSS - or even who've pointed out weaknesses in the model (and yet often pointed out solutions - a fact this article doesn't cover). We've all seen the writings of Ritchie and Zawinski on this subject - often well thought out, sometimes flawed.

There's a bit in there about development models - how patches to Linux get rejected and waste developer time causing bad feeling. But someone should go and read Linus' statements on the ISDN stuff from the kernel dev list - they are very clear as to why sometimes good patches get rejected. That's just the nature of the beast. However it doesn't amount to wasted time. Those patches don't vanish in a poof of smoke - they could be integrated better (or written better - whatever is applicable) later. Even on commercial projects you don't always get your code included just because you spent a 3 months writing it (voice of experience here...).

Yes, it's a good article covering a lot of pitfalls of open source development. Yes, it's a horribly flawed article. No, open source isn't a panacea - that doesn't exist (unless you're in s/w marketing).

Move along - nothing to see here. :)

(really need to change this .sig)

perl -e 'print scalar reverse q(\)-: ,hacker Perl another Just)'

Reasonable criticism (2)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629778)

Well written (except for a missing close bold tag anyway *g*) and fairly good at summarizing the various criticisms of open source. Unfortunately I don't see too much new thought, just an organization of some good points that have been made before.

I also don't agree with a lot of these points. For example, he makes a point of the dictatorial nature of many a group's management. There is a bit of a difference between authoritarian management and the normal usage of the word "dictatorship", in that this is dictatorship by consent. Leaders are delegated dictatorial powers by their group in the interests of efficiency. No guns are being pointed at developers heads. Dissenters can always fork their own version of the software should the power be actually abused. The dictators aren't rewarded disproportionately and often work a lot harder than most contributors.

He repeatedly refers to ESR's papers as "marxist." While they may be biased, it would be rather surprising to find marxist bias in the writings of an avowed libertarian-capitalist. I think this is clear evidence he wasn't able to completely parse what ESR was really saying. Or maybe ESR is a closet communist after all?

I think he's also a bit overly concerned with distro fragmentation. It *does* lead to irritating problems, but nearly always problems with solutions, and usually fairly simple ones. There is no doubt it can be done better, and I expect Linux will evolve to do so if the problems created become serious enough. The real concern here is that the response will likely be for the market leader to become the de facto standard. It might be better if the most functional and efficient distro layout triumphed. But, good enough often wins over better, and open source is not a solution to *that* problem.

As to open source not being a magic bullet, I think nearly everyone agrees, it's almost a straw man. Worth pointing it out one more time since some don't get it, but not exactly surprising.

The academic parallel is a worthwhile subject of study. Stephen Adler's Open-Source/Open-Science conference recently is clearly an indication that others have also noticed the similarity. But don't be too quick to conclude which side will learn more from the other. It's likely both can benefit.

Re:Dismissal premature. (2)

YoJ (20860) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629779)

I do not think the article dismisses CatB as socialistic rhetoric. The main point I got out of it was that CatB describes Open Source as a new phenomenon, whereas it really is another form of scientific community.

I thought the article was well-written and accurate. One especially valid point is that the failures of open source do not get any attention. For every Apache there are probably dozens of aborted projects that never worked out. This is not necessarily a problem, because the people that worked on the failures learned something and had fun coding. But it does give us a skewed view of how effective the open source methodology is (because the successes are far more visible than the failures). In the commercial world, the "failures" usually end up being released at some point, so we see the whole gamut of results. -YoJ

Widgets cost while software is free. (3)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629780)

The fundamental problem with the whole "Open Source is communism" argument is this.

If you create a widget and give it away, you lose the widget.

If you create a program and give it away, you don't lose the software.

This is difference fundamentally effects the economics of software.

Now people like to talk about "lost sales" as a sort of loss similar to giving away a physical object, but in reality this is rarely the case. If you look at the success of "Linux" vs. the success of "Minix", it is pretty clear that the "lost sales" experienced by Linus in giving away his product for free were minimal. Had he attempted to sell it, it would have failed. Given the noteriety he has gained, I do not doubt that from a purely self-interested standpoint, he was better off in the long run giving it away. I suspect this is true for a lot of Open Source authors.

Well written, but not academic by any means (3)

sphealey (2855) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629781)

This is an interesting polemic, well-written and thought provoking for the OS community. However, I would have to respectfully disagree with the statement that it is an "academic" (that is, of or from the academy) criticism.

Reason: no footnoted arguments from, or references to, any academic literature from the last 200 years or so in the areas of economics, political economy, business (evil MBA stuff), or software engineering. No reference (that is, detailed references with footnotes) to current or past theory in these areas. No cited quotations from academic journals. And finally, no obtuse, buzzword-driven jargon ;-).

Now, opinions may differ on the value of academic research and publishing, particularly in areas such as economics and business. However, there is a fairly well-established framework for presenting an idea to one's peers for scrutiny in an academic sense, and this essay doesn't follow that framework.

Personally, I think it would be helpful if both ESR's CatB argument and some counter-arguments _were_ written up in this format and hashed out in , say, the Journal of Political Economy. YMMV may vary on that thought, of course. But this essay isn't that.

sPh

FUD FUD FUD (3)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629782)

This paper is FUD at its worst. Bezroukov first numbs the reader with several statements that rely on links for support rather than explaining the points made in those links: e.g. "(see Jamie Zawinski's letter)"

Bezroukov's point is often unclear, which may be why he just throws in quotes from others. He even contradicts himself about the payback for OSS developers:

"Who will be rewarded financially for the enormous open source effort? Burnout of OSS leaders like Linus Torvalds is all too common to ignore."

followed later by:

"In both science and programming,those involved aren't in it for the money. Most of the OSS developers are doing it to chase a dream, not to build up their bank balances."

More pap:

"A casual trip through cyberspace will turn up evidence of hostility, selfishness, and simple nonsense."

Welcome to the world of free speech - this is why we have moderators.

"Linux isn't secure and it isn't stable," my informant writes, ... "its [sic] a moving target that never really gets out of beta."

WHAT???? Linux is much more like a constantly improving work toward the goals recognized by the majority of its developers. No, wait - it's
exaclty like that. ;-)

"Although people are physically separated, they all are working toward a common and important goal. That fuels the Linux movement."

Yes, it does. If Bezroukov understands this, why spend so much time crying about the "problems" of the open source movement? Why try to shoot down Linus with the anticipation of burnout or authoritarian rule? Oh, yeah - it's FUD.

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629783)

You make a very interesting assumption. You assume that I believe in a non-benevolent monopoly in a true free-enterprise system.

It takes two to tango. Nobody *ever* had to agree to Microsoft's restrictive licensing terms. Compaq, Dell, etc. all *agreed* to the license. Why? Because they felt Microsoft was worth going with, even if it meant sacrificing the offer of another (perhaps superior) operating system.

Market share does *not* a monopoly make. The only time that a monopoly can truly exist is when the company is the only one *allowed by law* to offer the services. AT&T had a monopoly. So did NSI, until their special status was taken away.

If Microsoft had a market-share monopoly at any given time, it's because enough people agreed to their terms, indicating that people thoutght the product was good enough. If the products were *shit*, companies would have begun offering other options-- gee, Microsoft now sells shit, and Dell, Compaq, etc. are all offering Linux.

I agree that having a monopoly isn't a bad thing, since (in a truly open arena), the company has to be giving the majority of people what they want, lest they lost their market share. If the company doesn't give people what they want, another company will offer something that people would rather use. You can't get away with giving people shit and making them pay through the nose for it-- they'll find something cheaper, better, or both.

The idea that Microsoft used its power to destroy its competition is not so much invalid, but irrelevant. All companies are based on the idea of making money, and you have to beat your competition to make money. What was Microsoft supposed to do? Ignore common business sense and *not* try to beat the competition? Jesus Christ, that's against the entire fucking idea of capitalism!

That's not to say I think Linux is anti-capitalist, though-- it's simply a better product. The developers don't work "for free". Linux developers are given a cleaner, more reliable operating system in return for their efforts. This is the price they pay. The fact that the rest of the world gets the results at a minimal cost is just the way it pans out. I think, in fact, that Linux is the *ultimate* example of capitalism in more ways than one.

So go on and complain that Microsoft has a monopoly. I'll continue to believe that Microsoft will die because Linux is a better product, not because of the DoJ. And *that*, my friend, is a powerful indicator of just how good Linux is.

Did He even read CatB? (3)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629784)

I started reading firstmonday's article, and when I reached the section entitled "Cathedral and Bazaar" Postulates, I noticed numerous factual errors right off the bat. Among the so-called Postulates that Nikolai states he found in Eric's paper are:

Open source is a completely new progressive phenomenon (bright future of mankind) with no analogs in history.

I find nothing within CatB that suggests this. As a matter of fact, I found the following which would seem to refute it:

Not all of these are things I first learned in the Linux world, but we'll see how the Linux world gives them particular point.
Strike one

All open source projects are the same and employ the so-called "bazaar model"

CatB definitely does not say this. Here's a quote:

It's fairly clear that one cannot code from the ground up in bazaar style ``''. One can test, debug and improve in bazaar style, but it would be very hard to originate a project in bazaar mode.
That is, no open-source project ever starts out being developed in bazaar style. In fact, just about every project starts out as the work of a single individual. Eric recognized this, but this Nikolai person somehow misinterpreted the paper.

Strike two

Microsoft needs to be destroyed.

I searched CatB for the term Microsoft. Not once is it mentioned that Microsoft needs to be destroyed.

Strike three

I couldn't read any further. If his entire paper is based on the fact that he somehow attributes these "postulates" to Eric's paper, then his entire paper is based on flawed assumptions.

Either this character really dislikes ESR (why did he say Eric had a "vulgar Marxist" interpretation of the phenomenon?), or he's simply attacking a famous person to whip up some publicity of his own (very likely).

99 little bugs in the code, 99 bugs in the code,
fix one bug, compile it again...

Linux didn't start as an anti-MS movement, dammit! (2)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629785)

This Hurd-related Web page [linuxcare.com] recently posted, as an epigraph, the following 1991 Torvalds quote:
Do you pine for the nice days of minix-1.1, when men were men and wrote their own device drivers?

Are you without a nice project and just dying to cut your teeth on an OS you can try to modify for your needs?

Are you finding it frustrating when everything works on minix? No more all-nighters to get a nifty program working?

Then this post might be just for you :-)

Linux spent most of its history as a hobby/academic project. I suspect that two years ago, if you told a Linux hacker that the business press (i.e., the suits) would refer to Linux as seriously competing against Microsoft, the hacker would want to know what you'd been smoking.

The GNU project has always been part of RMS's campaign against proprietary software in general, not against any particular software vendor.

Disappointing (1)

ed_the_unready (5193) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629786)

Although nominally a critique of CatB, the author quickly strays into much speculative and anecdotal critisism of Open Source itself, with Linux as a favorite subject. Strange that the article managed to quote just about everybody but Joe down at the pub, while not quoting CatB at all.

"Um, someone I know who wants to remain anonymous says Linux is insecure and unstable." Excuse me, but what are Jesse Berst's and Fred Moody's qualifications to address software development models and economics?

I had heard that First Monday's articles were 'peer reviewed'. In its published state, this would not have survived any peer review I'm familiar with.

---------------------

Re:Needlessly negative (1)

justin_saunders (99661) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629796)

Nope.
Read the document carefully. It actually points out that comparisons of OSS to Communism are flawed.
Is open source ideology "utopian balderdash" like communism? Bob Metcalfe - who expressed this sentiment most clearly - is dead wrong. Bryan Pfaffenberger described the errors in Mercalfe's reasoning in this way: ...
I don't think the article was needlessly negative. I think it was needfully negative to balance a lot of hype out there. Then people can make up their own minds, unlike in communism.

Cheers, Justin.

Re:Well-written critique??? (1)

Schnedt (99690) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629797)

What a pity, if that's all you got from it.

Oh well.

Re:I would have expected better.. (1)

d^2b (34992) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629798)

From Kitsune Sushi:

"It seems odd that he would refer to GNU/Linux as a derivative of Unix"

There are lots of different ways to be derivative,
only some of them involving a common codebase.

IMNSHO, any system that reimpliments the same
(user and programming) interfaces counts
as derivative.

So, maybe not if we are talking to lawyers,
but I think the rest of us can be more honest.

Re:Did He even read CatB? (1)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629799)

I agree ... as I read through the paper, I kept thinking, "And the author's original point, the point that hasn't been made by ESR and other experienced open-source programmers, is ... what?"

what does THIS quote mean? (1)

elbobo (28495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629800)

The introduction of this critique opens with:

"[Open Source] programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life."
M. Sinz, CBM Inc.


Huh? I don't have time to read long winded articles on issues that I personally feel are already decisive, and this opening quote put me off reading further immediately. If you are programming Open Source software, chances are you're programming under GPL or perhaps BSD licenses, which specifically state no warranty. Maybe I should have read further to properly understand why this quote was valid and important enough to open a critique with, but frankly it didn't give me much faith in what might follow. Call me lazy, but I just feel no need to hear critique on something I feel is already a proven hard fact.

el bobo

Re:ESR, Paers, and, Papers. (1)

Schnedt (99690) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629801)

Indeed, ESR is a Programmer?

Why, then, oh why, do so many people act like he's a Visionary?

This rather substantial article cuts through a lot of the amateur pop-economist stuff ESR tries to pull off whenever he can.

Let's just admit that the Cathederal/Bazzaar paradigm plays well to the choir, but that there's a whole world out there.

Re:ESR, Paers, and, Papers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629802)

Ah, yes. The neo-pagan perspective.

Tell us more about how you read The Hobbit when you were nine and haven't yet recovered.

ESR is infected by that ideology as well. It shows in his examples, and the Heinleinesqe language he uses.

Thank goodness there's a real world out there we can escape to from all this silliness.

Maybe someone else will pull it off. (2)

MichaelH (3651) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629803)

It's a shame that this piece has to have the flaws it does: namely some rather bizarre appeals to authority (Jesse Berst) and red-baiting.

The reason it's a shame is this:

I got really sick of the bumper crop of "papers" that sprang up in the wake of CatB, all written by people long on verbiage and enthusiasm, but short on falsifiable premises. All of them were passively accepted as "good" on these pages and duly posted, making me long for a checkbox in the preferences to disable display of "enthusiastic but amateur pseudoscholars" items.

I waver from week to week on how I feel about ESR's body of work. I'm happy that CatB inspired the Netscape folk to give Mozilla a shot. I'm pleased that someone is trying to describe the open source development model sytematically. On the other hand, there's a certain middle-American craving for respectability that comes out in the style and execution.

That aside, the author of this piece seems, by the time he reaches his conclusion, to have read ESR the wrong way. Where CatB and friends tend to cleave to descriptives (with ESR's HOWTO on the subject of project management offering the prescriptives), this author seems to take the whole thing as a manual that needs to be confronted because it has suspicious ideological flavor.

His conclusion, in part, reads:

However, little seems to have been learned from the overall history of programming and software development. Ignoring the lessons of history may make open source an interesting footnote in the overall history of computing a century from now.

That's an interesting idea, I suppose, except that "open source" development existed prior to ESR calling it such. The development model springs from the personalities of the community that practices it. Steven Levy's Hackers provides a nice psychological history of just where this comes from. It is not something anyone dreamed up to storm the gates of Microsoft, because it predates Microsoft. Reading Hackers, once more, Bill Gates inspired the ire of early home computer hobbyists precisely because of his resistance to sharing the source to his BASIC. In some ways, Gates and company are the radical new development model on the scene if we want to talk history.

Following from that, once you strip open source development of some "meaning" outside "the way enthusiasts have been behaving toward the software they write for the last thirty years", it's hard to argue that it can "fail" and become a footnote to anything because it's not a directed ideological or theoretical movement, except in the heads of some of its advocates. The burden of proof lies on the newcomers: people who would proprietize the process. Open source programming developed "naturally," before Richard Stallman (who has applied a certain ideological bent to the process, and who doesn't show up in Levy's book until the very last chapter.) It certainly developed before ESR decided to identify it on his own terms, label it, and make it more palatable to business. It didn't develop as a reaction to big business, but was already in place culturally when big business came to computing. It developed, in some ways, before there was anything we would recognize as "computing."

Linux has already "succeeded", and it succeeded the moment Linus felt happy that he had some sort of working Unix on his home machine. It succeeded wildly when the rest of us agreed that it was indeed a reasonably working Unix and that we'd like it on our computers, too.

"Open source" on the whole has already succeeded, too. The author may wish it away because it makes him see commies under the bed, but it's a model that existed prior to attempts to prove or disprove it in papers. It's an expression of a community's personality and can fail about as much as any element of a popular culture can. Which is to say that while it may mutate in form from time to time (its latest variation being better organization and application of project management tools) it will probably always be around as long as there are hobbyist programmers. The fact that it has given us usable tools makes it a "success" by any standard that's true to the form itself.
------------
Michael Hall
mphall@cstone.nospam.net

This isn't criticism of CatB (2)

SimonK (7722) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629804)

The closest this article gets to criticising any of Eric Raymond's studies of Open Source is saying that the gift culture analogy is simplistic - a point which most people would probably accept.

The points at the top of the article do represent a "vulgar" (the author seems fond of that word) view of open source which is quite common on /., but I think its underestimating ESR to attribute this view to him. Noone says the Bazaar model is universal (indeed RMS is very cathedral person). Very few people seriously think we can destroy MS and I personally don't even very much want to. There is no way anyone thinks the gift economy can be universal, and you only need to look at the interactions of ESR, RMS and Bruce Perens to see a lack of "ideal cooperative people".

The author goes on to tout a model of the open source community as a scientific one, which is quite a good analogy I think, but in no way contradicts the CatB view. The author seems to have a chip on his shoulder about "vulgar Marxism", something I suspect ESR would disown. However, if "vulgar Marxism" is a belief that labour creates value, then frankly count me in (actually all socialists, including Benjamin Tucker, believe(d) this, it predates Marx by quite a long way).

Finally, the author goes on to endlessly list every kind of problem ever seen in an OSS project. Surely this is only criticism if you were some kind of loony optimist to begin with. None of the problems listed applies only to open source.

The whole thing seems to be an attempt to create a straw-man argument of the CatB thesis and throw mud at it.

Re:Not really aimed at CATB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629805)

More like software needs to not suck.

That's very constructive criticism, there. Thank you for getting to the heart of the matter.


Not.

Very Orwellian (1)

Our Man In Redmond (63094) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629816)

Ever read 1984? Or Animal Farm? In each of these books (basically cautionary tales against totalitarianism) the ruling class trots out the spectre of a common enemy to unite the masses. In 1984 it's (the probably nonexistent) Goldstein; in Animal Farm it's first Farmer Jones, then Snowball. Let's face it, people seem to have more of a reaction toward "we have to defeat this common enemy" than "we have to work toward this common good."

Around here, the common enemy is Microsoft, which is trotted out as the cause behind all software evil (just for kicks, do a Google search for the phrase more evil than Satan himself [google.com] and see what the first entry is). There's a problem with that, though, even if it's true (which I don't personally believe, though I will say that they have done a few uncharitable things, in much the same way a wolverine occasionally gets mildly ticked off). If Microsoft is gone as the enemy, what then? If they ever decide to embrace open source (I agree, this isn't likely to happen, and a recent company-wide memo from Bill Neukom tends to bear that out), and do it wholeheartedly for the right reasons, do you continue to hate them because Bill Gates still has more money than all but about 50 countries? Do you turn on someone else, someone from the community perhaps who isn't living up to perceived standards of OS correctness? Do you have to have hate as your motivating force? We have words for people like that, and they're not very nice words.

I really wish we could all agree on working toward the goal of World Domination Through Software That Doesn't Suck rather than Mow Down Microsoft (and I agree with the previous post, eventually MS will fall by the wayside just like every other empire). I think we, and the world, would be better in the long run.
--

The Sinz quotation (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629817)

"[Open Source] programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life."

M. Sinz, CBM Inc.

Was Sinz really referring specifically to Open Source? Or did the author of this paper just add the part in brackets to "support" his thesis?

Part of my job involves maintaining closed source code that has some parts going back almost 16 years, and believe me: I am supporting some very old mistakes (some of them were even made by me ;-) and I will never be able to get rid of them. I fail to see any relationship between this phenomenon and the open-vs-closed issue.


---

Exactly my first thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629818)

But I don't think that professional academic economists would take CatB seriously enough for what you propose. And I don't blame them. CatB is propaganda, not scholarship. And so is this essay.

What the big picture really is. (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629819)

"Calling for the downfall of Microsoft" is just showing the attitude - my observation concludes that the attitude seems to be "anti-corporate-greed" and "pro-consumer". In this perspective /. is an excellent customer-right news site.

We bash AOL when it is not opening up its messaging protocol. The whole recording industry for SDMI. CircuitCity for DIVX. Sun for not opening up Java. SCO for FUD.

We report new cool toys like Aibo, Visor, Rio...

Calling Microsoft a primary driving force of OpenSource is simply too narrow minded.
Empowering the consumer is the ultimate goal.

Re:Widgets cost while software is free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629820)

Don't do the lost sales comparison for Linux as the reason for Linux's success have to do with it being free.

You may want to look to the browser market. The end result is 180 degrees from your conclusion.

Can you spell "straw man"? (2)

XNormal (8617) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629821)

The writer spends most of the article debunking claims that ESR never made, and the tone is too personal - It doesn't sound anything like a proper critique.

One of the few valid points he raises, though, is the one about Microsoft's importance to open source culture...



The lesson of Mozilla (1)

ywwg (20925) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629822)

I think the biggest lesson we have learned from Mozilla is that it is very hard to write a large Applications from scratch with the OSS model. Most of the big OSS projects that exist now (Linux, The Gimp, GNOME) start with a few dedicated souls churning out 90% of the code, until there is a useable foundation for others to build on. For instance, the reason there is no free word processor yet is people have written little pieces of them, but not a real, useable, 50% featured application. Once that happens, the community will add its little patches.

OSS projects grow with little patches, but they can't start out that way.

Forking? (1)

deefer (82630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629823)

"forking is a kind of plagiarism"
I've never seen process creation described like that before! :)

Re:Needlessly negative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629824)

Comparisons to Maxism are valid when looking for analogs to ESRs CatB. I though the use of the term 'vulger marxism' pointed out rather clearly that the author was distinguishing marxist theory from the actual communist/socialist implementations.

Re:Not really aimed at CATB (1)

crumley (12964) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629825)

More like software needs to not suck.

That's very constructive criticism, there. Thank you for getting to the heart of the matter.

Not.

It was supposed to be a reference to ESR's quote that he wants to "live in a world where software doesn't suck."

Sorry if the reference was too oblique.

BSD (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629826)

Since when is OpenBSD a split from FreeBSD??? And ESR a "vulgar Marxist?" LOL This guy needs to get his facts straight..

Re:Well-written critique??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629827)

Where where you when they handed out brains?

And actually "communism" didn't fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629828)

... if you define it as cooperative communally oriented economic activity which is what so many pundits do.

Your family, credit union, labour union, food coop, even large corporations operate in ways that emphasize cooperation, non-market based transactions, and all that stuff. Of course some people fall in love, raise children, or care for the elderly for profit (I guess) but many don't - and you don't generally start a coop or credit union in order to get rich.

What makes people think that the failure of Communist Party central committee style planning in the Soviet Union (and the dissolution of parts of that political union) equates to "cooperation and communal, non-profit oriented activities don't work".

The idea that "nothing works unless profit is involved because people are naturally greedy" is in the same league as the silly assumptions made by central committee planners. The central committee assumed they could rationally plan, say, national shoe production with "on command" production organization, not realizing that factory bosses would actually hoard production instead of distribute it (they did this so they could fulfill later economic commands more easily). The free marketeer philosophers (they must be philosophers - no real economist would stretch assumptions about markets that far) seem to assume everyone operates according to some rational individual plan for getting rich. Sorry even with the "success stories" of the free market like Yang and Filo (Yahoo!) this doesn't hold. They didn't create their web site search engine based on the assumption they would become billionaires in 5 years. Their wealth was generated by investors' (often irrational) expectations of future profit. Sure later they were motivated by profit - I guess - but after you've got a billion dollars are you still motivated by profit? Many wealthy entrepreneurs who get that way by flukes of history seem to be more creative than profit driven - even after the fact. (Actually I would argue that "getting rich quick", and wild rides to wealth based on the stock market are *not* the most valued part of an open economy: in the production of private goods it is the mostly decentralized "planning" and adoption of policy that embraces the complexity and diversity of economic production that is to be most valued and which needs the most protection under law. The interests of banks, stock markets, and quasi-monopolists in the industrial sector should be made subservient to those principles).

Of course many people organize their entire lives around different principles than pursuit of wealth (and what or how much is wealth anyway?). People's decision to make something for free and cooperate in its development can have any number of motives - including self interest. Yes, tricky point, but it can be in one's own self interest to cooperate and define oneself primarily as part of a community instead of as just another individual seeking profit - which is supposedly our "natural state".

Well one could just as easily say our natural state is to cooperate: the scale and methods of organizing that are debatable but to deny its fundamental role in political economy is silly. Pundits beware predicting the collapse of opensource and the doomed fate of any form of cooperation based on the fall of communist Soviet Union sounds really dumb.

... and VHS didn't wipe out Beta either ;-) (Beta format is still used in high-end editing so there!

Thank you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629829)

could not have said it better myself.

Re:Critique of the critique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629830)

Good call. I stopped reading when I saw him citing that trash.

I haven't seen a good argument in this rag yet, and it isn't particularly well-written.

All of his points are generally well-known, many of them already answered with a careful reading of CatB. Most of the other ones are just plain wrong.

Of course most of the 'net is a bunch of losers. So is your average university. But guess what? Most losers don't volunteer to do useful work. That cuts them out right there.

Different problems require different approaches, but I think that "The Open Source Model", or even a little bit of peer review, could have made a good article instead of this. Take a lesson from Jane's. :)

Historical Impact of Open Source (1)

jrifkin (100192) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629831)

The author argues against the "newness" of the Open Source phenomenon,
Open source is a completely new progressive phenomenon (bright future of mankind) with no analogs in history. Partially true as open source is an Internet-based phenomenon. But it is mostly untrue, because the OSS community is more like a regular scientific community than some OSS apologists would like to acknowledge.
He says the only thing new about Open Source is that it is an Internet-based phenomenon, and not fundementally new because it is based on the scientific community. I think this is very wrong.
(1) The internet allows collaboration on an entirely new scale, an exponential increase over previous methods. This is a case where an extreme increase in quantity is truly a jump in quality.
(2) Collaboration in software devlopment is very different from collaboration in science. I would say that scienctific collaboration involves a lot of subtraction, meaning that much work in science turns out later to be wrong or merely besides the point. The ultimate contributions of the individual scientist are usually small. How many published articles sit in the college library unread? Efforts in software development produce a much higher yield, each contributed line of code is more likely to end up in the finished product (I think, maybe someone else has some info on that). Thus collaborative software grows much quicker than collaborative science. Furthermore, some scientific advances requires little collaboration. It is interesting to note that Albert Einstein once said that an ideal job for a theoretical physicist would be that of isloated Lighthouse Keeper, because it left plenty of time for private thought.

Re:ESR, Paers, and, Papers. (1)

fwr (69372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629832)

Indeed, ESR is a Programmer?

Yep.

Why, then, oh why, do so many people act like he's a Visionary?

Why can't he be both? If you're a journalist or a writer, you can be an visionary. If you're a politician you can be a visionary. Why can't a programmer? Granted, visionaries usually have "Vision" in their area of expertise. Since you seem to think people act like ESR is a visionary, and what he is being visionary in is his own field of expertise, I don't think there is a conflict.

This rather substantial article cuts through a lot of the amateur pop-economist stuff ESR tries to pull off whenever he can.

I have not read the article myself, but comments from others seem to indicate that it consists largely of opinions of others and not much on raw facts. If this is true, and appears to be based on a quick check of the number of quoted passages in the article, then I wouldn't call it "rather substatial." You're use of the term "pop-economist stuff" indicates a predisposition on your part against ESR and support of anything that critiques him, reguardless of it's merrit.

Let's just admit that the Cathederal/Bazzaar paradigm plays well to the choir, but that there's a whole world out there.

Well, isn't that what a visionary does? Playing well to the choir, giving them a "Vision" of how things can end up if they agree with the Vision? You're confusing me now. First you imply that ESR is not a Visionary for programmers, then you say he plays well to the choir. Which is it? If ESR's vision is so wrong, why does it play to the choir so nicely?

The part *I* didn't like :) (1)

pwhysall (9225) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629846)

Was the part that talked about "as many versions as there are people who use it".

This is the old fragmentation argument popping up again. It's rubbish; I wish people would stop wittering on about it, because it's flat out not true. There are weaknesses in Linux that need to be addressed and this isn't one of them. Fix the fscking file system calls (the ones that aren't 64-bit safe) and stop worrying about some mythical phenomenon called fragmentation.

The other passage I didn't like was the bit that went out of its way to characterise Linux users as aggressive, evangelical zealots. I was personally offended by this. Pick an OS, any OS, and you'll be able to find people like this.

The whole tone of this article felt wrong to me. It wasn't a careful deconstruction of The Cathedral And The Bazaar. It was a careful and painstaking attack on OSS via ESR, and I don't like that.

Bah.
--

Well, since you're so not humble and all.. (1)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629847)

It's nice to know that you have decided to refuse to face reality. There is already a term for what GNU/Linux is. It's a clone. Why? Because it did not evolve from the original Unix code. *BSD and their predecessors, however, did. That is why they are referred to as "derivatives". You'll find that the definitions for these words are rather widely accepted beyond the court room, and somehow I doubt that it was a lawyer who coined them in this particular context (i.e., with regards to software, code, whatever).

A note to others who believe they can refute facts with opinions: I'm not interested. Go sit in a corner obsessed with your denial of the truth somewhere else.

Linu[sx] doesn't scale (2)

XNormal (8617) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629848)

The quote kinda loses it's original meaning when misquoted as "Linux doesn't scale".

The "Linux doesn't scale" argument and many of the other examples he presents about personality problems aren't really problems in the open source model itself- they are inherent problems with people working together. In fact, it is a testimony for the robustness of the model that it works as well as it does IN SPITE of these problems.

When such personality problems hit a closed project you usually don't get to hear about it. You can often tell by the result, though...

Re:Scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629849)

This is pretty ridiculous. Nobody ever implied that CatB espouses a complete political theory, but if you had actually read Marx (not simply accepted the american high school textbook version), you would clearly see the parallels.

It's a short book and is probably available online. Take a few hours and read it and then re-read CatB.

I do not mean that this comparison invalidates or diminishes OSS. It can, however, give a better perspective on the practical limits of its utility.

Re:Widgets cost while software is free. (3)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629850)

The difference is that most browsers were produced by corporations while Linux was (produced by individuals.

Fifteen years ago, it used to be different, but today the chance of an individual without corporate backing writing a program that sells enough to make him rich (or even get him enough money to quit his day job) is virtually nil. The only chance to really make it is to sell your ability.

Being free does not guarantee success, however, I don't think that there is much chance of someone without large corporate backing to be successful without giving away their product.

Re:Followup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629851)

You missed the big point. This is not a point-by-point critique of the essay, it is a criticism of the ideas expressed in the essay.

Re-read the part where he says that ESR treatment is too simplistic.


All open source projects use bazaar model? (1)

byoung (2340) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629852)

First off, dude seemed like he had some sort of axe to grind. I don't have the time or inclination to refute everything, but it seems like many things were crouched in half-truth and blanket statements that aren't necessarily true.

For example:

>All open source projects are the same and employ the so-called "bazaar model".

I didn't read this in CatB. In fact, Raymond argues that the FSF development model (developed by a tight knit group, no beta before its time) is a cathedral type development style. He says that the release early, release often is the bazaar model.

This statement by the author if *FALSE*, and wrongheaded. He is obviously trying to paint ESR in a bad light.

> This model is inherently good compared to methods developed by commercial software developers.

There are methods that may work better than the bazaar method, but they are fiendishly expensive and time consuming. The above statement is true for the vast majority of all software development organizations (not counting patently internal development, like workflow processing, etc.), even if the author is trying to show ESR to be some sort of fundamentalist bigot.

> All alternative models (considered to be one and called the "Cathedral model") are infidel and doomed.

Yeah, Yeah, haven't we already been over the fundamentalist bigot stuff? Why doesn't the author provide some quotes to show just what an extremist ESR is? The way that the author writes, you'd expect ESR to start sending bombs from his cabin in Montana. Sounds like a real scientific analysis to me.

> Nothing can compete in quality with open source.

I'm going to pretty much agree with that one.

Re: Not Needlessly negative (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629855)

"Open source is like Communism. Communism failed. Therefore, open source is doomed to failure." In fact, he is quoting /Metcalfe/ as saying this. He does not believe it himself. /He/ believes that open source is NOT like communism, but INSTEAD is like an academic environment. This article is blatently ANTI-political. He imparts that the OSS community NOT be swayed by politics. He is renouncing politics.

Re:Dismissal premature. (1)

platypus (18156) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629857)

One especially valid point is that the failures of open source do not get any attention. For every Apache there are probably dozens of aborted projects that never worked out.
[...]
But it does give us a skewed view of how effective the open source methodology is (because the successes are far more visible than the failures).
.

Well I have to say especially this is a point which is not valid IMO.
We are comparing open vs. closed source. I think nobody argues that danger of dying a premature death of an opensource project is smaller than with closed source. The real statement in this area in favor of open source is:
"If an OSS Project dies - NO CODE/IDEAS IS/ARE LOST!!!"

OTOH, you can't tell whether OSS projects die more often than commercial project, because most commercial projects don't die in front of the public (Uhm, except amiga and ms bob). You are probably deeply wrong here.
I bet some people here can tell some personal expiriences of putting alot of work in closed projects only to see the killed off by upper management after a year.
Further, count the numerous shareware, freeware (as in free beer) projects, small companies or indivuals which canceled their product cause they couldn't compete against ms, adobe and other wealthy companies - even if their product may have been better. We will never ever see one line of source code.

Getting folks to buy into open source (1)

Borealis (84417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629858)

There are a number of good points being brought up that I don't want to waste time by repeating. I think the article is interesting, but that one of the basic arguments is flawed.

It seems obvious to me, especially given certain statements by ESR, that CatB and the related essays are definitely optimistic and romantic versions of the open source movement by design. ESR and some others of the OSS are trying to sell the idea so that it becomes a reality. They are trying to create a meme [tuxedo.org] that will propagate and overwhelm some of the less useful capitalistic conventions of the modern software world.

That the article attacks on these points is valid, but it misses the entire purpose of ESR's writing.

Re:Very interesting.. (1)

zantispam (78764) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629866)

I would like to think that this will be taken better by ESR. If you'll look here [slashdot.org] , you will note that his feelings seem to have been hurt in a personal attack, as opposed to academic critique...


I think he will take it very well...


Scientific (5)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629867)

When I learned science at school, which feels like a long time ago (but in reality isn't), we learned that if the premise upon which you're trying to prove something is wrong then the proof itself must also be wrong.

The premise of this discussion seems to be the points at the top of the article - none of which I see exactly touted in CatB (although I'm sure ESR leans towards some of the points). The article makes out ESR to be an open source fundamentalist. I think he's anything but a fundamentalist - ESR by his many discussions in the past can be shown very clearly to be a pragmatist.

Nowhere in CatB does ESR state that the Bazaar model is a silver bullet (IIRC it very carefully states that it is _not_ a silver bullet). Nowhere does it state that open source is an ideal community without disagreement (IIRC it states that disagreements are out in the open and so you'd better be right on your point or smarter people will show you to be wrong).

I think criticism of CatB is important. I don't think open source is a silver bullet. But I think the premise of this article is wrong.

Now I'm going to go read the rest of it :)

Matt.

perl -e 'print scalar reverse q(\)-: ,hacker Perl another Just)'

My rant. (1)

Nerant (71826) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629868)

The essay , as others might have noticed, delivers constructive criticism of the open source software development model. I was impressed with the objectivity and clarity of the arguments, and the fact that it is criticism: it
isn't FUD. Neither are any of the quotes used out of it's intended context or meaning (correct me if i'm wrong: i'm only human. ) In particular, i'll like to draw attention to a line in the conclusion:

"The success of open source programming is less a function of the technical skill and imagination of the members of the open source community. It correlates more exactly to those all too human characteristics that not easily programmed away or ignored. "

Perhaps the greatest challenge to OSS success, is the challenge of all of us getting along.
Criticism, diversity and variety, choice, are all important. However, the pursuit of these objectives should not be pursued with a illogical fervour that only leads to division within the community.

Needlessly negative (4)

drox (18559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629869)

So much in this article was negative, and I sensed a political agenda in it. Particularly repeated comparisons (of Open Source) to Communism and Socialism, apparently to inspire faulty logic like the following:

Open source is like Communism.
Communism failed.
Therefore, open source is doomed to failure.

The conclusion does not neccesarily follow from the arguments... even if we accept that both arguments are true (not everyone will).

There was also a comparison to Lysenkoism. Now Lysenkoism is a politicized (Stalinist, to be precise) version of Lamarckism, which proposed that acquired characteristics could be inherited by subsequent generations. It was wrong. It doesn't work, as thousands of starving Siberians could attest. It doesn't work for living things. Genetics simply doesn't work that way. But DNA code is fundamentally different from binary code. Acquired characteristics can be "inherited" by later, improved versions of binary code. Using the loaded word "Lysenkoism" in describing open source is misleading at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.

As I stated above, I detect a political agenda.

What a truly great piece (1)

JohnZed (20191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629870)

This should NOT be listed as a critque of the Cathedral and the Bazaar. It's a much deeper analysis of the open source development model. I did, however, really enjoy some of his shots at C&B. I know that that paper is important for historical reasons (e.g. its importance in the Mozilla decision), but otherwise it's never struck me as a particularly interesting piece. Arguments by analogy are inherently weak; even if the argument is airtight, one can always attack the link between the real world situation and the metaphor. That's partly what this author did by demonstrating that the "bazaar" image is not always appropriate for OSS projects. --JRZ

Re:Very interesting.. (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629872)

Actually, it seemed to me that ESR took the constructive criticism personally. There's a bit of a difference. This debate will eventually become bigger than KDE vs Gnome. Just watch.

Re:Scientific (1)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629874)

Hmmm ... I also don't like the way he throws around the word "Marxist" without regard for its meaning. If the author (as he hints) grew up in a Communist society, then I'm very sorry for him. But Eric Raymond's economic remarks in CatB are clearly informed by a reading of Marx, and equally clearly not Marxist; he takes on board elements of Marx's critique of capitalist accumulation, but not historical materialism, and nothing about the proleteriat. I rather think that the loaded word "Marxist" is being used because of its propensity to raise fear, uncertainty and, well, doubt, in the mind of the average reader.

jsm

[don't ask me where I learned about Marxism, or I might have to tell you]

ABM/BTM (1)

Bad Mojo (12210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629877)

I have to say that my favorite aspect of this essay is the ABM/BTM (Anything But Microsoft/Better than Microsoft) attitude it points out. Microsoft is a company. They make products. People use them. Just because they are commercial and closed doesn't mean they do not offer viable solutions. Too often I see an entire group of intelligent, pro-Linux people become very obsessed with `fighting back' against MS. Why? Has Net/Open/Free-BSD had to turn MS into Satan in order to feel good about itself? When this is done, it makes Linux no better than OS/2 to quite a few people out there. Linux is good. OS is good. They work. They work very well. That alone is enough to ensure that Linux is taken seriously.

I guess if I could fix one thing that the article mentions, it's the anti-MS stumbling block that I see in front of us.


Bad Mojo

ESR and RMS are on the same team! (1)

RNG (35225) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629878)

Too bad that ESR and RMS seem to have their squabbels. I think that without RMS (a workable distribution of) Linux would not have been possible. As such the OSS community owes RMS a debt of honor: for providing the code to all the GNU tools and compilers, and for starting the FSF and devoting a few years of his life to build a free/open software infrastructure.

Yes, RMS is an extremist in his own way, but basically RMS, ESR and the entire OSS community have a common background and interest in this matter and should stop squabbling and focus on the things that unites them rather than bickering about minor differences. We're all approaching this from our own perspective, but we need to realize that we're all rooting for the same team; something that seems to be forgotten from time to time ...

Re: IRONY (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629881)

Ok, this is ironic, but Mozilla just munged the entire first part of my post. I basically said
that he /didn't/ believe that quote, that he was merely quoting Metcalfe as believing that.

but C&B is not an academic work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629882)

C&B is ESR's personal response to the open source movement he witnessed during the development of fetchmail. It conveys the unconventional spirit of OSS very well, so well, that it has itself become an icon of the open source movement. Treating C&B as an academic treatise, however, is counterproductive.

Screedy Acedemics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629883)

Just the facts Maam.

This guy, ESR and Katz and countless others
need to dispose of the flowery language and
write for information's sake.

Don't try to sway me emotionally, prove yourself
with logic and sound reasoning, lest my eyes
glaze over with boredom and I'll not read it
at all.

I could have embedded this message in 500 pages
where we would laugh and cry together but what's
the fucking point!?

Re:ESR, Paers, and, Papers. (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629884)

I was reading Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury at that age. Frankly, I became interested in Neo-Paganism when I started studying Quantum Physics in High School.

ttyl
Farrell

p.s. I never did like The Hobbit, or any Tolkien when I eventually read it in my early 20s.

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (2)

SoftwareJanitor (15983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629885)

You make a very interesting assumption. You assume that I believe in a non-benevolent monopoly in a true free-enterprise system.

I don't believe there is a true free-enterprise system. Unfortunately, there is, and always will be a certain level of government regulation. I don't like it, personally, but I begrudgingly accept that a certain amount of anti-trust regulation is necessary to insure a mostly-free-enterprise system.

While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, if you don't believe in the existance of non-benevolent monopolies in the real world then I would certainly accuse you of either looking at the world through rose colored glasses or being ignorant of history.

It takes two to tango. Nobody *ever* had to agree to Microsoft's restrictive licensing terms. Compaq, Dell, etc. all *agreed* to the license. Why? Because they felt Microsoft was worth going with, even if it meant sacrificing the offer of another (perhaps superior) operating system.

You assume that Microsoft didn't use any coercive tactics to ensure that nobody dared to not accept their licensing terms. In reality they did both. They offered a carrot, but threatened with a stick. They offered fairly reasonable and non-restrictive licensing in the early days, but gradually tightened things down as they achieved market lock-in. Once they had solidified their market share look at the history of their practices against such competitors as DR-DOS, Novell-DOS and OS/2.

Market share does *not* a monopoly make. The only time that a monopoly can truly exist is when the company is the only one *allowed by law* to offer the services.

That definition of a monopoly is far more restrictive than is realistic. In fact then there have been very few monopolies ever in existance in the U.S. The anti-trust laws were enacted to combat abuses from first the railroad robber-barrons and then the abuses of monopolists like the Rockefellers (Standard Oil). None of these businesses had a government sanctioned exclusive monopoly, and yet all exercised monopoly powers to the point where the government felt a need to act against them. In short I completely disagree. Market share can certainly make a monopoly.

AT&T had a monopoly. So did NSI, until their special status was taken away.

Those are examples of a specific type of monopoly, not necessarily of the only type of monopoly.

If Microsoft had a market-share monopoly at any given time, it's because enough people agreed to their terms, indicating that people thoutght the product was good enough. If the products were *shit*, companies would have begun offering other options-- gee, Microsoft now sells shit, and Dell, Compaq, etc. are all offering Linux.

The only reason that companies like Dell and Compaq feel they can offer Linux is because Microsoft is under intense governmental scrutiny. There is no way they would dare to defy Microsoft otherwise, no matter how good a competing product was.

I agree that having a monopoly isn't a bad thing,

since (in a truly open arena), the company has to be giving the majority of people what they want, lest they lost their market share. If the company doesn't give people what they want, another company will offer something that people would rather use. You can't get away with giving people shit and making them pay through the nose for it-- they'll find something cheaper, better, or both.

That view assumes that companies can't or won't use unfair and/or illegal practices to protect their market share.

The idea that Microsoft used its power to destroy its competition is not so much invalid, but irrelevant.

Its incredibly relevant given the way they used such power. It is one thing to build a better product, advertise better, offer better pricing or better distribution to win. It is totally another to use exclusive contracts, intimidation tactics and other questionable methods.

All companies are based on the idea of making money, and you have to beat your competition to make money.

This is so drastically oversimplified it is silly. You don't have to beat all of your competitors 100% of the time to make money. The company I work for is tremendously profitable (we are the 2nd or 3rd largest in most segments of our industry), yet we control only about 7% of our market. The largest company is only slightly larger than us. The top ten companies in our business control only about 1/2 of the market. The other 1/2 of the market is split amongst dozens of smaller players. While we are seeing consolidation in our business, nobody expects the number of players to be reduced below ten to fifteen anytime in the forseeable future.

Many other markets are alive, profitable and have at least three or four competitors with well less than 50% market share each. In most cases not only would it be virtually impossible for any of them to 'destroy' their competitors, it would probably upset the market if it did. Competition is a good thing, not only for consumers, but also for the company by keeping them from getting complacent.

What was Microsoft supposed to do? Ignore common business sense and *not* try to beat the competition? Jesus Christ, that's against the entire fucking idea of capitalism!

That isn't what I've been asking for. I don't think anyone other than the most far left people would say that is what they wanted.

What I do want is for Microsoft to play fairly. Frankly, they haven't needed to cheat for a long time, yet they still seem driven to be dishonest. Other companies manage to be successful and profitable while still staying within the bounds of the law and the rules of fair play. Why should we let Microsoft get by easily?

Microsoft isn't the only company that is using or has used the same unfair and/or illegal tactics. Most of what they do are things they learned either from IBM or the japanese electronics companies. Even in market tactics, Microsoft is a follower rather than a leader. But also IBM and the japanese electronic companies have run afoul of the DoJ, so the fact that Microsoft is being pursued is nothing unique to them.

That's not to say I think Linux is anti-capitalist, though-- it's simply a better product. The developers don't work "for free". Linux developers are given a cleaner, more reliable operating system in return for their efforts.
This is the price they pay. The fact that the rest of the world gets the results at a minimal cost is just the way it pans out. I think, in fact, that Linux is the *ultimate* example of capitalism in more ways than one.


On this point I agree with you. Although the fact that the only thing making major inroads against Microsoft is Linux, which is a free product is evidence that there is some anti-competitive pressure in the marketplace.

So go on and complain that Microsoft has a monopoly. I'll continue to believe that Microsoft will die because Linux is a better product, not because of the DoJ. And *that*, my friend, is a powerful indicator of just how good Linux is.

Well, on this point I honestly hope you are correct, because I doubt the DoJ will be able to get enough corrective action done against Microsoft to right the decades of wrongs they have committed.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that it may take both governmental action against Microsoft and the community building a better product to ensure long term freedom of choice for consumers and a healthy, competitive market.

I am not one that really believes that Microsoft should just be utterly destroyed (although occasionally it is a tempting thought), but I do want to see a market where no company controls more than about 40% or so of the market. I don't even necessarily want to see Linux control 90% of the market. I think Linux needs competition (such as from the *BSDs) to stay a dynamic, growing environment.

Re:Scientific (2)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629886)

Not wanting to get shirty about this, but I have read Marx, and it wasn't in a textbook version, or in high school, or in America. I studied the nineteenth century political economists at Oxford, ta very much. I was talking about the parallels and differences between CatB and Marx's economic theory -- to claim that the libertarian Eric Raymond might endorse Marx's political views on such matters as property rights would be obviously laughable.

If you look above, I note that CatB was clearly informed by a reading of Marx's critique of capitalism, so I agree that there are parallels. But there are more important differences; specifically, Raymond believes that OSS offers a solution to the problem of accumulation and concentration, which Marx considered to be an intrinsic, immutable feature of the capitalist mode of production. Therefore, Raymond does not accept historical materialism. Therefore, he is not a Marxist.

And that answers AC's question, too.

jsm

Re:What a truly great piece (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629887)

The Mozilla decision was not caused by someone reading the C&B essay. It was already made before then.

I think some 'revision to history' has been done by certain people to convince us otherwise. Their reasons for doing it were probably to popularize open source and the mozilla project, nice ideas, but lies are lies.

REad the slashdot archives if you don't believe me.

Fragmentation (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629890)


While I do think he is right in emphasizing the scientific/academic nature of open source, something which isn't really addressed in CatB,
he does clearly worry too much about fragmentation. People have a tendency to look for the "best" among equals and prefer it to the point of irrationality. This trait almost guarantees redhat's future success.

And he does fall in the FUD a little asserting that developers who work with Microsoft systems get to develop to a unified, known standard. Anyone who's worked with win APIs - and then found the bugs that erupt once an application is released into the wild - knows that this is a comforting delusion, but still a delusion. Microsoft has the blessing of being big enough to seem inevitable, which makes their flaws seem to most people like "Acts of God" rather than human SNAFUs.

Re:Scientific (1)

jsm2 (89962) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629892)

And in any case, who the heck told you that Capital was a short book? Volume 1 alone runs to five hundred pages in my Penguin edition! If you've just read the manifesto, then fair enough, but you miss a lot of subtlety (and not a little boredom).

Anyway, if any masochistic slashdotters want to check it out for themselves, the link's here [marxists.org]

Re:Too much anti-Marxist charicature (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629894)

Real Marxists are not the straw puppets warned about at the Heritage Institute or the _Skeptical Inquirer_.

The Skeptical Inquirer?? I thought they were debunking UFOs, psychics, etc. I didn't know they were trying to debunk political philosophies.. I do know some of their members have Randroid/Libertarian leanings so you could be right..

Bazaar a flawed metaphor (2)

Mr Neutron (93455) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629901)

I've always thought that ESR's bazaar metaphor was somewhat imperfect, especially as applied to the Linux kernel. Sure, anybody can submit work and try to participate, but there's a man with a plan running the project. Frankly, that's the way it should be. Good software requires design, and it's difficult to achieve good design by committee. Open source works for large projects, but only if the "coordinator" has a strong vision and adheres to it. Contributors can't challenge the core model of the project, if the project is to flourish.

The article's description of ESR's thesis as "[a] socialist interpretation of software development" really interested me. I've never associated ESR with anything socialist - he's never bothered to disguise his anarcho-capitalist views in his writings. "Having a better/different way" != Marxism. Certainly ESR's view of open source is rosy, but I don't think he ever described a Workers Paradise.

Neutron

Re:Needlessly negative (2)

Saige (53303) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629902)

There was also a comparison to Lysenkoism. Now Lysenkoism is a politicized (Stalinist, to be precise) version of Lamarckism, which proposed that acquired characteristics could be inherited by subsequent generations. It was wrong. It doesn't work, as thousands of starving Siberians could attest. It doesn't work for living things. Genetics simply doesn't work that way. But DNA code is fundamentally different from binary code. Acquired characteristics can be "inherited" by later, improved versions of binary code. Using the loaded word "Lysenkoism" in describing open source is misleading at best, and deliberately misleading at worst.

Offtopic, I know, but I'd like to say that they're not so sure that Lamarckism was completely wrong. There is some evidence that a organism might pass on a few things related to the environment that organism lived in. I think it involved something with methylation of genes and the like - that a gene can become methylated during life, and the methylation state is passed on to offspring, where it can influence how much the gene expresses itself (in other words, suggesting that genes aren't digital - on or off - but analog)

The example I read said something about a bad famine causing a population to not grow as tall during that generation - but that subsequent generations also didn't get as tall as before the famine, but were heading that way.
---

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (2)

SoftwareJanitor (15983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629903)

Yet, if the number of people on Slashdot

Which is what, 80,000 or so? Hardly conclusive proof of anything more than that there is a vocal minority of Linux and *BSD users in the world.

is any indication, there are enough people using Linux, *BSD, and other operating systems to show that Microsoft *can't* have a monopoly. It's self-contradictory.

There are maybe 7-12 million Linux and/or *BSD users according to estimates. There are also the Mac users, the few OS/2 holdouts other *nix variants and the other odd assorted people out there. This is not proof that Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly.

You do not have to have 100% of a market to be a monopoly, this is a misunderstanding caused by the AT&T breakup. Even AT&T didn't have a 100% share of local phone service, only long distance service. In non-government sanctioned and regulated monopolies you can have less than 100% of a market and still be a monopoly.

Microsoft controls approximately 90% of the desktop computer operating system market, and about 93% of the office productivity software markets according to what I've read. It seems obvious that this is sufficient market share to allow them to have monopoly powers in those markets.

Their market share in the NOS and server software markets are significantly smaller, and they probably don't (yet) have a monopoly there. This is the main area where Linux and the *BSDs are challenging Microsoft so far, and Microsoft also faces stiffer competition from other *nixes, Novell, etc in that market.

The problem is that they are attempting to leverage their desktop monopoly power to build a monopoly in the server and NOS markets just as they used their monopoly power in the desktop OS market to build a monopoly in office productivity software.

Merely having a monopoly isn't really the worst thing, it is using that power to run roughshod over competitors in other markets that is really bad.

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629904)

The thing is, I see the Linux community calling constantly for the downfall of Microsoft.

While I see the same thing too, those people are just more vocal. Personally, I don't care about Microsoft. Sure, they are and have done a great deal of dammage. Because of that, I avoid thier products, but I will use thier products if the job requires it -- or switch the tools I use if that's an option.

In general, they are irrelevent. A computer is a computer is a computer, and anyone experienced enough will be able to just use the best one with the proper tools.

Nobody needs to use a Microsoft product. Knowing that, most of us only gripe about them when a job requires that we do. Otherwise, there's no need to even mention them.

I'd have no problem with Microsoft ... as long as they stay out of my way.

I would have expected better.. (2)

Kitsune Sushi (87987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629905)

From Dennis Ritchie..

Linux seems to be the among the healthiest of the direct Unix derivatives...

It seems odd that he would refer to GNU/Linux as a derivative of Unix (I would assume from the context that he is referring to the entire system), since it is clearly not. If it was, it wouldn't be any different from the 80 or so flavors of Unix already out there.. What makes it so different is that most of it was built from practically the ground up (for example, the compiler, gcc). Which rock has Dennis been hiding under lately? Or is he just full of ego these days..?

Not meant to incite (for all you DR fans out there.. ;), but to me this comment seems a little odd.. Otherwise a nice gesture, however.

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (1)

Vox (32161) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629906)

You are missing one very important point...the DoJ thing and the monopoly thing is not about what MS is doing today or the position in the market that they have today...it's about what they DID and the position in the market that they HAD and the way they used it.

Microsoft may not be a monopoly now (I think it still IS a monopoly) but it was one, and it used that position to kill everything that it didn't like (look at Stacker compression, for example).

As for people wanting MS dead...I don't think so...what most of us DO want is MS reduced to what it should be according to the quality of their software (a minority player).

Vox

Re:Common enemy and the Open Source community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629907)

While I don't know how much ESR really called for the "destruction" of Microsoft (was he referring to total destruction, or "IBM" destruction-- lose a *lot* of market share to the better alternatives, but still keep a profitable business?).

He was pretty explicit in his recent Q&A [slashdot.org] on Slashdot:

Question:...is there anything which would convince you to step down, that your posts were no longer necessary?
ESR answers: Three things could cause me to step down:...(3) a collapse in Microsoft's stock price.


If that doesn't qualify as "destruction", I don't know what does.

Re:Scientific: refutation (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629908)

This was basically inspired by an annoyance with the statement:
"When I learned science at school, which feels like a long time ago (but in reality isn't), we learned that if the premise upon which you're trying to prove something is wrong then the proof itself must also be wrong. "

Actually, the premises being wrong do not disprove the conclusion, if..then.. not being the same as equivalent. It would, however, call the conclusion into question.
And even more definitely, the truth or falsity of the premesis have nothing to do with the accuracy of the argument. Valid agruments based on improper premises can yeild either valid or invalid conclusions. This is first year logic.

If you are referring to rhetoric rather than to logic, of course, the rules are different. Cicero reccommended using and/or saying anything necessary to convince the audience, and don't worry about truth. From his point a view, a valid argument was one that resonnated strongly with the audience to which it was addressed. I think that "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" has been proven extremely valid from this viewpoint.

Critique of the critique (1)

general_re (8883) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629909)

Very interesting article, with some valid points. I find it fascinating that he uses Fred Moody's article [go.com] as source on the shortcomings of OSS, particularly when that same article was roundly destroyed here on /. [slashdot.org]

In fact, THAT discussion spawned a discussion [slashdot.org] on how best to engage in Linux/OSS advocacy.
So, you tell me--is this REALLY evidence that the OSS community is broken?
It seems that if you are going to use this as a source, you ought to at least see if any responses exist.

The general sez: do your research, Mr. Bezroukov...

Re:Needlessly negative (2)

scheme (19778) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629910)

So much in this article was negative, and I sensed a political agenda in it. Particularly repeated comparisons (of Open Source) to Communism and Socialism, apparently to inspire faulty logic like the following: Open source is like Communism. Communism failed. Therefore, open source is doomed to failure.

I think the author made a clear point about OSS resembling scientific communities rather than Communist/Marxist communities. His main point seemed to be that OSS resembled scientific communities and suffers from the same problems.

Flawed but welcome (4)

evilpenguin (18720) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629921)

I don't think this essay is an example of particularly cogent criticism. It consists largely of a series of quotes that appear to lend credence to a series of opinions about the nature of "Open Source," but it is well thought out and lucid. I know it is declasse to bring it up, but I found the the spelling and punctuation errors a serious distraction.

All of that said, however, I think we (meaning the human race) need to do a great deal more thinking then discussing how we organize our labor for personal and community gain. As an example of that phenomenon I enjoyed the essay a great deal.

I, too, think that much of the current thought on free software and open source is somewhat utopian and idealisitc, but I think that is a good thing. Reality will always modify theory, but to change reality requires ideas that lie beyond attainability. I don't think one can dismiss ESR's ideas merely because they will never become reality -- they have and will continue to change the limits of reality, even if they are never fully attainable.

My own personal belief (and, I will admit, slightly utopian hope) is that the economic need for commerical software has ceased to exist. Instead I think programmers will work as professionals (like lawyers and doctors), paid for their knoweldge and skill. Because production and distribution of software can now be done at nearly zero cost, there is no longer any need for companies to produce shrink-wrapped software.

Given that, I think the work started by RMS, and considerably furthered by Linus, Alan, et. al., will continue -- programmers writing code they want to write and then giving it away. That fits the "scientific research" view of the author of the essay discussed here.

I do, however, also think that companies will begin to use and need such software. As they do so, they will have specific needs that are not addressed by that "research software." These companies will pay programmers (as professionals, not employees) to produce those programs. We professionals will insist that such programs be open source/free software -- contributed back to the professional community.

I use surgery as an example. When a doctor (perhaps employed in a univeristy hospital) develops a new surgical technique, he or she does not keep it a secret and then package and sell it to other doctors (Triple Bypass 98?), instead it is published in a medical journal and taught to other doctors. The discovering doctor becomes more valuable, gains prestige, brings contributions to his or her hospital, etc. No economic disaster is portends. Quite the reverse.

Please note that I believe this applies to software only, (or to technique only). The analogy does not extend to drugs or medical devices because these DO have considerable manufacturing costs -- they are not zero cost distributable.

I'm very glad to see discussion such as this essay, and I hope to see more of it.

Dismissal premature. (2)

SoftwareJanitor (15983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629922)

The dismissal of CatB as being 'oversimplified' without taking into account that ESR is still writing new essays (such as the NooSphere article) which expand on the ideas presented in CatB. Its pretty obvious that CatB was intended just as a beginning, not as an end unto itself. CatB is also not frozen in stone, as ESR has occasionally revised and expanded it.

Perhaps most troubling is dismissal of CatB as being socialist rhetoric. Since ESR is, if anything obviously much more predisposed towards capitolism than much of the rest of the free/open software world, this seems tome come from way out in right field.

Re:Very interesting.. (2)

Forrest J. Cavalier (16105) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629923)

Eric's site links to items that may be seen as critical of his writings and OSS in general.

In fact, his site links to an essay [mibsoftware.com] describing OSS project size vs "effective size" especially with respect to debugging.

There is a difference between critique and flame. Instead of just taking potshots at OSS, a good essay identifies pitfalls and then goes on to offer some ways that such problems can be mitigated.

Others have covered much of what the First Monday author says already, but it is good to read it all in one place.

Forrest
The Reuse Rocket [mibsoftware.com] : More than 5000 links to open source software apps, libraries, books, FAQs to boost your development.

Re:Scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629924)

Where did you learn about Marxism?

Some very good points... (5)

teraflop user (58792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629925)

Lots of good points:
  • With respect to the gift economy, I absolutely agree. The gift economy is largely an anarcho-romantic notion popularised by Kim Stanley Robinson. The scientific model (peer-review, building on the work of others) is and always has been a more accurate model.

    One perceived difference is that many OSS developers do it for the love of coding. This misses the point that many scientists work for exactly the same reason. I could double my salary if I left science, and have spent more than one year working with no income at all, living off savings, just to stay in the field.

  • With respect to Microsoft, again the author is spot on. I am reminded of the end first Batman movie, in which the Joker tells Batman 'You made me', to which Batman replies 'You made me first'. Microsoft finds itself responding to a Linux threat, but it may well be Microsoft's contempt for its customers which has put Linux where it is.
  • The criticism of Linux' security may well be fair, but at the same time can be compared against the record of NT, Office and Internet explorer, which are hardly better. Having said that, I don't think there is any doubt that some of the commercial unices are far more secure than either Linux or NT. Security hasn't been a 'sexy issue' until recently.
  • On project management and development dictatorships: It does seem to make a difference when the dictator is an individual (Linus), rather than an organisation (TrollTech, Sun), so the 'cult of personality' call is fair. Having said that, I still think Cathedral is an important and interesting piece of work. Most importantly, it came first. Later works have the benefit of referring to it and of consulting a much wider range of OSS projects. Even though some of ESR's ideas may be wide of the mark, his conribution in starting the discussion and laying a framework of ideas must not be undervalued.

Fair enough (2)

Matts (1628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1629926)

I think we both have a point. The point I was trying to raise was that the author is trying to make CatB invalid based on a number of bulleted points (and then sets out to elaborate on those points). But the points themselves were in fact not existant in the Cathedral and the Bazaar - so how could the whole article be correct.

Anyway - I'm nearly through it now so I'll post a follow up.

perl -e 'print scalar reverse q(\)-: ,hacker Perl another Just)'

RMS, the emperor without trousers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1629927)

RMS gets FAAAARRRRRRR to much credit for OS,
sure he started FSF, but hell, real open source did excist long before he taged it on his forhead.
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