Re: More math and open source

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From: Kragen Sitaker (
Date: Mon Sep 18 2000 - 14:31:06 PDT

Jeff writes:
> Dave Winer wrote:
> > A place in time where the function "software developer" was undefined.
> >
> > Or went asymptotic.
> So Dave, who's writing all that open source software, then?

According to Dave's new definition of "open source", GPLed software
isn't "open source" --- in fact, almost nothing is, except for
public-domain software, because it all has constraints on how you can
use the source:

        A program is said to be open source if the full source code for
        the program is available publicly, with no constraints on how
        it can be used.

        That's it. We've looked at so many other possibilities, I've
        even discussed it publicly with Stallman, and he agrees that
        his philosophy is not open source, because there are
        constraints on what you can do with his code.

(, a veritable
haystack of strawmen)

So, having redefined open source software to exclude Linux, gcc, Emacs,
FreeBSD, Apache, Tcl, Tk, GhostScript, lynx, TeX, Mesa3D, Back Orifice
2000, VNC, KDE, GNOME, Qt, GTK, Gaim, Freenet, Mailman, and the X
Window System, Dave can now comfortably refer to it in the past tense.


Dave writes:
> It is a past tense thing, in the sense that the roadblocks it put up are
> gone, kaput, no longer in the way. We're able to work with other developers
> without the nasty bullshit getting in the way. Sure we share source code,
> and we're slaves too, and we love it. We have cathedrals and bazaars, and
> users, and they help us.
> About the only difference betw open source and commercial software is that
> open source people let you have their source.

Well, and they let you use their software, too. That's a significant

I'd be interested to hear about these roadblocks. Are you saying that
certain software being open-source put obstacles in your way that
wouldn't have been there if the software had been proprietary instead?

> Rather than being a revolution, it's lined some peoples' pockets nicely, and
> the software development world continues to be filled with hard working
> people doing it for love.

It may not be a revolution from the developer's perspective, but it's
certainly revolutionary from my perspective as a user. And that's what
it's all about, in the end. Users don't use software because
developers developed it for love; developers develop software because
users want to use it.

There is one significant bit of change between proprietary and
open-source worlds: proprietary software projects are really hard to
split across companies. Open-source software projects are hard, but
not as hard. Most open-source software projects are, in fact, split
across companies, and they work. Whether this is due to inherent
differences in the processes or to cultural differences remains to be

Of course open source is not new; even the site explains
that it is meant as "a marketing program for free software" (or it did
in 1998, anyway) --- and free software, as a movement, goes back to
1984, and the FSF will be happy to tell you that it was founded not as
an innovative new way to develop software, but because previously, it
had not been necessary to defend free software --- it just happened!

Dave writes, on

        Most programmers give away source code. Even Microsoft
        programmers participate. So to draw exclusive lines that
        disempower some programmers in favor of others could be an
        expedient way to make money (amazingly) but it doesn't further
        the cause of more good software for the people.

There's an implication here that someone is drawing exclusive lines
that disempower some programmers in favor of others. Who is doing
this, and how?

Oh, and by the way: I'm interested in freedom much more than I'm
interested in software quality. I love quality software, but I love
free software more.

I love your Gandhi story, Dave. I wonder if it's true?

I'm sorry I read your work shallowly before. I think I have a better
understanding of where you're coming from now.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves
                -- Gandalf the Grey [J.R.R. Tolkien, "Lord of the Rings"]

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