Subject: Re: help! absolute beginner From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 1998/12/15 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Joachim Achtzehnter <email@example.com> | This argument against proprietary software is not new, don't know why you | think "_something_ has changed"? well, it certainly appears that you aren't paying much attention to what's going on, only reiterating old rhetoric. all this is wasted on me, Joachim. I've been working from _inside_ the FSF for many years, supporting GNU Emacs development with many thousands of hours. now, what would make somebody (you) believe that somebody else (I) would do that without understanding and appreciation of the stated goals? my guess is that _you_ don't actually understand the implications of "free software". | Perhaps, one aspect has changed: It is now possible to build a practical | general-purpose system without using any proprietary software. This | wasn't feasable until recently. precisely, and hence a dangerous arrogance results that non-free software is no longer "necessary", and people no longer have any "excuse" to use it. I take exception to this arrogance, and so does many others, it seems, so it may well be the downfall of the entire movement. | Don't think the FSF claims that users of proprietary software are "evil". RMS has referred to programmers who write non-free software as "evil" at a conference. shortly thereafter, I removed my entry from the SERVICES file. writing free software is a luxury, as all freedom is luxury, which is not to say it should be denied, but it doesn't _come_ for free. writing non-free software for a lot of money could very well be a means to an end, just as most people have paying jobs for the sole reason of supporting their real interests. RMS has denied the entire world of programmers this option. | Agree with you about "open source". IMHO, the open source initiative | (OSI) is an attempt by certain quarters to advance personal ambitions. | It totally misses the point about free software and has caused a lot of | confusion. I don't care about your opinions when they take this shape. I also see no evidence that you have got _the_ point with free software right. my concern, hope, and goal with working to further what I have come to call "unrestricted source availability" was (1) to educate programmers by showing them good coding practice and effectively provide a "canon" of code, and (2) to weed out the bad code that inevitably creeps into large projects where lots and lots of people participate. well, have my hopes come to fruition? (1) is not a goal shared by people, anymore. all they want is for some fast computer to do stupid software tricks. that means fewer very good people to learn from, and fewer new good people grow up in this environment. I was into free software because I have a passion for competence and I saw it as a vehicle for collective betterment and a platform for the truly great potential to reach higher. and, let's be honest, (2) never happens. people don't fix other people's code except when it stops "working", whatever the hell _that_ means these days. e.g., GNU Emacs itself became infested with the worst crap I have ever seen when the MULE shit drowned out the good. instead of being very good at what it does and improving in interesting ways, Emacs is heading for popularity, such as WYSIWYGitude and that kind of crap, which I find to be manifestly uninspiring, and which cannot be done really well without seriously rethinking what we want to _get_ before we start _seeing_ it -- WYSIWYG reinforces an "I do not want what I cannot see" attitude, which is _incredibly_ stifling. the whole GUI business is forcing this on all of us: if you can't select it from a menu, you shouldn't _want_ it. in a nutshell, the free software movement has attracted people who want something for free and who don't give a damn about the purported freedom that comes with it. I don't see any need to work to give people freedom they don't actively want. the programmers in the free software movement have become _less_ skilled over time because the really good people get soaked up by commercial operations as soon as a smart manager realizes what a fantastic recruitment gold-mine they've discovered, and the movement itself is no longer capable of generating goals with sufficient "emotional gravity" to keep people hanging around. when _my_ goals are better served by working with "closed source", I'd say the Free Software Foundation has a serious problem. incidentally, I don't think we will discuss software in terms of openness or closedness in a decade or so. software is gradually becoming so big and complex that "open source" may well become a necessity to survival, whereas "free software" was a protest movement. like women's liberation is becoming a necessity to maintain our economies, it loses some of its force as a protest movement. the biggest problem with protest is that it sometimes succeeds, and then you get to discover if you had any _real_ goals with what you were doing. when the free software movement turns to arrogance towards their much reduced "enemy" of the past, I get a very bad feeling that the people behind it weren't _constructive_ in their desire for changes. furthermore, I believe that really competent people want to build things that last, they don't want to change things for no good reason -- that's what we have politicians for. the lithmus test, then, should be whether the best people hang around when the protest is waning or whether they loyalties start to change. as you can see, I once felt strongly for free software. I wouldn't just change my mind without something motivating it. I know it isn't getting kids and accumulating debts and all that crap that turns many a protester into a salary slave with a difficult past, so I think it's something in the free software foundation that is changing. no amount of regurgitated rhetoric is going to chance that impression. #:Erik -- man who cooks while hacking eats food that has died twice.