LCA: Addressing the failure of open source
Posted Jan 18, 2012 5:25 UTC (Wed) by rsidd
In reply to: LCA: Addressing the failure of open source
Parent article: LCA: Addressing the failure of open source
Yes, he is boring and he is full of himself. But that apart, I think the whole open-source crowd -- Bruce, ESR and the rest -- as well as the free software crowd has identified the wrong problem (perhaps it was not obvious at that time).
The problem is not open source, but open standards and open access. On the one hand, there is no use in my program being open source if its document format is so opaque and poorly documented that nobody else can read it (and "read the source" is not a solution). On the other hand, I should have the freedom to install what software I like on the computer that I paid for -- whether it is open source or not.
Stallman's original problem was a closed source printer driver, but he could have written his own driver if he had the specs. Adobe's software is closed source, but the PDF format is sufficiently documented that lots of other programs can read it.
Interoperability, and the ability to use the tool of one's choice, is what we should be aiming for. It is nice that Microsoft is today extending assistance to the Samba team. These things should be encouraged. Open source fundamentalism does not help. I don't have a problem with someone sending me a Microsoft Office document anymore, because libreoffice can read it perfectly well most of the time. It would be better if the document format were an open standard, but I don't really care whether Microsoft's suite is open source or not -- in fact I don't think it would help anyone in the least if MS decided to open-source all their software today.
On the open hardware side of things, again the issue is simply that we should be allowed to do what we want with them -- not necessarily that we have the right to copy the design under an "open source"-type licence. I am opposed to software patents, on the grounds that software algorithms are just mathematical ideas, but abolishing hardware patents is an unrealistically extreme idea. Saying no to locked-down hardware, under names like DRM, "trusted computing" and the like, is not unrealistic. The manufacturers always have the weapon of voiding our warranty -- those of us who are willing to take that risk should not be prevented from doing so.
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