Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile."
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 16 Oct 2002 06:47:36 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Greg Neumann
| You made various claims about free software that I wish to clarify while
| I'm here.

  You cannot clarify what I have said.  Acquire precision in communication.

| You wrote a 1-liner to me that I didn't respond to, but you make big
| claims here that should be responded to.

  It appears less than likely that you have been willing to think about

| For people who don't want to read all of this, mainly Erik considers free
| software to be a failure.

  People can read what I wrote just fine on their own.  But it is quite
  interesting to see that you have missed the point so completely.  The
  point here is not some absolutist "success" vs "failure" mode.  The point
  here is to encourage people to think about the successfulness in light of
  its actual achievements.  You fail to address that point, but think that
  listing success stories is all it takes to rebut some non-argument about
  failure that nobody ever made.  You mention "straw man", so there is some
  reason to suspect that you know what you have just erected and shot down
  entirely on your own.  The question is whether it /helps/ anyone that
  software is "free".  This is not rebuttable with a few simple examples.
  I would have thought that such should be fairly obvious, but apparently

| So what goal does Erik think free software failed in?  Compensation of
| the programmer, most likely.  The old critique.

  The extent of your failure to exercise your brain is quite alarming.  If
  I hooked up electronics and sensors to it to test its activity, the
  result could most probably only be used to calibrate the equipment.

| People are still feeling around how to maneuver with free software.

  This much is true.

| And consider the burden is relative -- is it harder than forking a
| commercial project?  Do all companies listen to their users' requests and
| patches?  Do some companies have licenses shutting off your use of the
| software after a certain time?

  The point was to encourage people to think about such questions.  Instead
  you just ask and do not think.  Oddly amusing.  

| To many of its participants, free software is new.  Maybe the issues are
| not new to academia, but many don't have access to those lessons.  So a
| lot of mistakes and learning have to be made.

  One point is precisely that free software is not better than many of the
  extant alternatives.  Having to learn every lesson from scratch because
  people are ignorant does not seem to be a winning counter-argument.

| I don't think many people believe that Stallman is the world's best
| project menager.  I've heard mumblings about this from Icaza, maybe Jim
| Blandy, and a few others who feel a bit burned.  I read all the emails on
| jwz's site about the XEmacs schism.  I don't think Stallman was capable
| of communicating himself to the Lucid team, though I personally rooted
| for him.

  You do seem to have a curious knack for discussing people instead of

| Knowing that many companies simply die because of management problems, is
| free software so badly off in this sense?

  My question is whether it actually /helps/ and /solves any problems/.  If
  it is no better than the alternatives it is supposedly better than, that
  is a clear symptom of missing the boat or at least exaggerated claims.

| Yup, that's the hard part.

  I was not talking about money.  I talked about rewards.  It is curious
  indeed that you do not seem to know of any other rewards than money.
  Part of the charm with free software is its capacity for non-taxable means
  of reward which would essentially double the value of the reward.  This
  part is underexplored, to put it mildly.

| It's like saving money for a rainy day.  I think a grandparent who fought
| for these rights should smack you over the head (metaphorically) for not
| guarding your resources.  Don't be unnecessarily dependent.  Be
| sustainable and deal with others as economic equals.

  But does free software /help/ or /hinder/ in applying this sage advice?
  /That/ is the question I would like you to think about.  Again, I can
  only regret that it did not seem to work very well.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.