Re: Into the Belly of the Beast

Roy T. Fielding (
Fri, 02 Jul 1999 21:11:02 -0700

>> As for his motivations, I've met eric a few times and I like him.
>> If you haven't or at least heard him speak in person, then I
>> recommend you give him some slack.
>Well, I agree, but I doubt your recommendation will carry much weight
>among those who most need to follow it -- the free-software folks who
>feel betrayed by him. You are, after all, the primary author of
>Halloween I. While that doesn't make you an Evil Villain, it might
>make your motives suspect among those who feel this way about ESR.

You know, I'm getting really tired of all this bullshit about the
Halloween memo being somehow an important indication of Microsoft
strategy. Josh didn't write it -- he just gave input to another of
the Microsoft PMs, Vinod. This is kind of like saying the University
of California's policies are set by the teaching assistant in PhysEd 101
just because the guy wrote an opinion on some mailing list. ESR blew
it all out of proportion because it served his own interests to do so,
but I'd expect the people here to have a little more insight into how
Microsoft works than the general public, and likewise why that memo
and any other policies of Microsoft will have no impact on a healthy
open source project.

The only open-source software projects that die because of commercial
competition are those that would have died anyways but were just walking
dead waiting for some event to put them under ground where they belong.
Most of the FSF projects are like that right now, not because of competition
from Microsoft, but because the policies of the FSF do not encourage
collaboration. In order to remain healthy, a software project cannot be
dependent on any one developer, since it is unreasonable to expect that
any rational human being would want to continue doing the same thing,
year after year, with only the occasional compliments of the users keeping
them going. Life doesn't work that way.

My problem with ESR is quite simple: he sometimes forgets that he doesn't
speak for anyone but himself. Advocacy is all fine and good, but that
shouldn't be confused with the opinions of regular open source contributors.
But that's okay, since I have just as many (if not more) problems with
Stallman's ego tantrums or Bruce Perens' notion that open source == free
software, and that it is required for redistributors to make money off my
software but not for me to make money off their redistributions. I don't
care that these types of parasites exist, just so long as they don't make
it harder for the people doing the real work of open source to coexist
within a collaborative project. They can believe in whatever principles
they want, just as long as they get the hell out of our way when we choose
to ignore them in favor of principles that work.