Open source is apolitical

Open source is apolitical

Summary: No matter what your other beliefs you can be part of the open source movement, agree to an open source license, and contribute to an open source project.

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TOPICS: Open Source
35

Iranian drone from Chris AndersonÂ’s Longtail blogThis week a number of thinkers tried to pigeonhole open source inside political philosophy.

Thankfully they all failed. (The plane? Read on and it will be explained.)

Turning open source into a political issue is worse than turning science into one, although I know people do it. People do lots of stupid things.

Open source is an economic phenomenon, rearranging relations between buyers and sellers, users and makers. It's based on licenses, agreements designed to fit inside any political, legal or economic system.  

No matter what your other beliefs you can be part of the open source movement, agree to an open source license, and contribute to an open source project.

So why do so many people try to play "capture the flag" with it? So it will fit into their other preconceptions, not outside them.

Michael Tiemann (friend of the blog) tried this week to make open source libertarian. His post started with liberal Diane Rehm, and reminded me of posts last year by Markos Moulitsas, aka Kos, calling himself a Libertarian Democrat.

Both Tiemann and Kos were trying to apply their older political philosophies to their current work, to make themselves feel they were being consistent.

Tiemann's effort drew a sharp retort from Tim Swanson of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, flag carrier for official libertarianism. "Libertarianism is not a philosophy developed to justify a specific business model," he sniffed.

Then we had Chris Anderson, he of the Long Tail, asking whether open source could commit treason. An Iranian bedecked a drone in his nation's flag, its design based on open sourced ideas Anderson and others had worked on.

"I'm conflicted on this," he admitted. But then so was the Iranian seeing drones bedecked in U.S. or Israeli flags. Apparently he got over it, and didn't blame open source.

The fact is, again, that open source, like math, crosses all borders -- national borders, philosophical borders, economic borders, cultural borders.

Why? Because it's based on freely entered-into agreement. And anyone can make an agreement, no matter what their politics.

Topic: Open Source

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  • And anyone can accept a political view.

    Open source is built on a few assumptions, the most salient of which are:

    Software is too pure to provide income.
    Software is the property of all.

    So the subsequent effort ios to find the political philosophy into which these principles can best be inserted. The effort has some priority because the principles are obviously associated with political ideologies which many have rejected. And if open source is based on ideas one has rejected, shouldn't one reject open source?

    The human ability to rationalize to a desired outcome has long been known. This is just a particularly good example. Because the outcome leads to acceptance of a situation which in practical terms is entirely harmful to the rationalizer.
    Anton Philidor
    • That's precisely what he was writing about.

      You're attributing properties to the philosophies behind Open Source that aren't there.
      odubtaig
    • I don't buy those assumptions

      I really don't. I suspect more proper assumptions might be:

      Software provides no value unless it is used.
      Sharing code makes software better than hiding it.

      I don't see anything about "purity" in open source, and strongly suspect Eric Raymond (a conservative politically) would resent the implication, as well as the idea that it's the "property of all."

      There's some political projection involved in your comment I would like to learn more about.
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Does not buying them make them untrue?

        When a fact which is not especially damaging still provokes consistent denial, that may indicate a conflict.

        Give an example not part of this discussion so far.

        Mr. Stallman, whose insight I respect while disagreeing with him, has acknowledged that Linux probably violates some software patents. He referred to a study prepared by open source supporters - who were also starting an IP insurance organization - that counted hundreds of violations.

        Mr. Torvalds also acknowledged the likelihood that patents were being violated, but also observed - sensibly - that the development process should not be stopped for that reason. The goal is to produce the best possible software.

        The conclusion is, Linux violates software patents, but the situation can be dealt with responsibly.

        But any time I have used this point in discussion, it has produced a strongly negative response. Some people who post want to see specific examples and assert that if any were proven the software could be changed to eliminate the infringement.

        Given the generality of patents - that's part of the reason they're preferred to copyrights - this is unlikely. But the force of the arguments as made shows it's more than the patent issue itself. Some belief is being infringed upon, and more vitally than the software infringement.



        So, on puity and income, just as an example, Mr. Stallman has observed that the success of open source means a reduction in jobs and income. The discussion doesn't have to stop there, and, like patent infringements, it's still possible to advocate open source despite this negative.

        My view starts from a premise on which I agree with Mr. Stallman. Who should have good insight into the ramifications of what he's advocating. The difference is, I think that what he considers a relatively minor issue is very significant. And I think a reasonable discussion can continue from that disagreement.

        Similarly, about sharing software, I thinl of it as instructions which are the result of aptitude and skill. There is a benign out come which should be appreciated and rewarded.

        You made both your stated principles about this issue:

        Software provides no value unless it is used.
        Sharing code makes software better than hiding it.

        I disagree with the first because it's possible to advance understanding of software academically, without ever having a product. Something to be used will arise eventually, but the connection between machine and instruction is a worthwhile topic in itself.

        And on your second principle, software is produced by either a single individual or a team. Software products produced by single individuals can have value.

        Software produced by a team eventually comes down to a comparatively few contributors. Would you argue that software produced by a team which does not have the same employer is better than software from a single company, no matter how many experts are involved and contributing well?

        And if you favor a more broad participation, in the different employers or no employers sense, then why would that be more effective.

        What is there about software that makes it different from any other complex product?



        The politics comes from the principles applied in answering questions like these and in generating the attitudes discussed earlier. They can be identified, and the implications considered.

        Someone advocating change has to indicate the problems to be solvced and the reason his chosen solution is best. I think it worthwhile to identify the prinnciples you used in the way that you chose to descrobe and defend open source.
        Anton Philidor
        • Misimformation

          you wrote
          "Software is too pure to provide income.
          Software is the property of all."
          Is mathematics too pure to provide income. Where do you get such stuff from? Let me clarify before we have another argument about my statement. Software is based on mathematics especially boolean algebra. A computer program executes computations or algorithmns. This is mathematics.

          With this definition in mind, let us now look at you second statement. Is mathematics the property of all? Your statement highlights your flawed reasoning. Mathematics is not "property" such that someone can take ownership. It may be easier to own oxygen than mathematics.

          Now to Stallman's statements

          "Mr. Stallman, whose insight I respect while disagreeing with him, has acknowledged that Linux probably violates some software patents."

          before I continue with this, let us look at patents as currently in use. A patent is a set of exclusionary rights granted by a state to a patent holder for a limited period of time. Now, if software is based on mathematics is it patentable? if yes why not mathematics as well? But let us assume it is, just to show the fallacy of your argument. Stallman is acknowledging the obvious. Patent infringements are highly possible depending on what is patented. It is based on mathematics. If you successfully patent calculus, is there likelihood that a car engine will violate your patent? The answer without any pandering is yes. So, any software written will potentially violate patented software. Which as you can see is idiotic.

          "I disagree with the first because it's possible to advance understanding of software academically, without ever having a product."

          Now this is funny unless of course you define a product. I will say that your statement is false. illustration; while(1){} is a product. It is an infinite while loop. Maybe I should patent that. so how is it possible to advance teaching software without a product? Unless of course you decide that my infinite while loop is not a product to which of course I will defend as being a product. Your assumption if I may be bold to presume is based on a product being a package or something. Even a simple program is a product like the infamous Hello world program.

          "And on your second principle, software is produced by either a single individual or a team. Software products produced by single individuals can have value."

          Simple question to you; what value would it have if it was not used regardless of who wrote it? which brings us to the final part. Open sourced principle is simple. Whether the program was written by a team one person different employers is irrelevant. The key is that others can review it and possibly improve on it if they identify flaws. Others can also customize it to meet there goals without having to reinvent the wheel.
          goxk@...
          • Software or mathematics

            Is it possible to be a programmer without understanding or using mathematics, except for the procedures required in the software? I'll assert that it is, and further, that you know people who write software whose interest in and aptitude for math is approximately nil.

            Some of the people who provide that programmer with tools may know math, may think of what they're doing in mathematical terms. But in oprder to come into common use, such software must in general include a way to interact with the non-mathematicians.

            To invent numbers, were there 1 million programmers and 995,000 of them are leary of, even hostile to math, it's difficult to say that software is mathematics.

            Further, inventions that can be described mathematically will still be patented. Any sophisticated device is going to include the results of mathematical thinking. Part of science, and not a disqualification at the patent office. So the inclusion of math is not decisive.


            Agree or disagree, we know that we will not be solving the issue of patenting software. It will be handled in the Courts, using legal logic. Which is different from mathematical logic and everyday logic both.

            Further, so far the Courts in the US have said that software can be patented. So for our purposes now, software can be patented, and the consequences have to be examined.

            There's nothing "idiotic" about knowing that any sophisticated software is almost certain to violate patents.


            On other issues you raise:

            Yes, "even a simple program is a product". But before the program is written, there have to be computer languages, ways of writing programs. It's possible to say that the best thinking about software couldn't be expressed in code.

            The insights can be applied in practical terms and eventually code. Alfred Hitchcock commented, paraphrasing, that the movie was already made, the best part over, before the actors and cameras were involved.

            The movie is the product, the preparation the higher level thinking.


            And finally, someone who improves a software product is part of the team making the software. I questioned whether team members who do not have the same employer are necessarily better than team members sharing an employer. The case can be made that the single employer situation is more promising.

            You also mentioned adapting the product to specific circumstances. That can be done better with tools. software products associated with other products. Those tools may also be prepared by single employer or multi-employer teams. Specific use is not a separate issue; it's another aspect of the same issue.


            Just asking: you had a number of statements in your post showing strong feelings. Why do you care so much?
            Anton Philidor
          • Totally disagree

            "Is it possible to be a programmer without understanding or using mathematics"

            More crap. Even a child in the third world will tell you 5 oranges plus another 5 oranges is 10 oranges. They will tell you this without having done any arithmetic. Does this therefore refute the fact that they are using maths since they do not understand that it is called arithmetic. There are poor programmers yes but they still apply boolean algebra. I am not talking about fourier analysis here or similar high level mathematics. So again I strongly maintain that software is based on mathematics. It is mathematics.

            "Further, inventions that can be described mathematically will still be patented."

            Correct but that is as far as we agree. If I Design my engine using advanced mathematics, I can patent my engine. That should not stop someone else using the same mathematical formulas to design their own engine. So, the engines may do similar tasks but they are different in design. But to patent that no other person should be allowed to ever design an engine because it performs a similar task as mine is wrong and idiotic(which is why I earlier referred to software patents as idiotic because that is exactly what they do)

            As for the courts deciding this, you are correct to say that they will decide. But that does not mean that they cannot make an erroneous judgment. So, I still maintain it is an unjust law that allows software patents.

            "But before the program is written, there have to be computer languages, ways of writing programs."

            Again you are grossly misinformed. there does not need to be a computer language. A computer is an electronic device that operates on boolean algebra. Either there is current/voltage or there is none. what we refer to as 1 or 0. AND, OR Gates etc and IC chips are build from transistors, resistors, diodes etc whose major purpose is switching. So, in its simplest form, a program is a set of ones and zeros that switch certain parts within the system on or off (machine code). granted it is harder for humans to write machine code hence the progression to assembly, high level languages etc. Which are just rules and syntax that will allow a compiler or translator to convert this human friendly code to machine code. Hence why it is possible to code in chinese :)

            "The case can be made that the single employer situation is more promising."

            This is indeed very debatable as has been shown by FOSS software.

            "You also mentioned adapting the product to specific circumstances. That can be done better with tools. software products associated with other products."

            Again another fallacy because once the program has been developed, it either has that functionality that I require or it doesn't. I will then have to request the program owner to include the functionality for me. They may agree or decline. Say I want mandatory access control built into MS. I have to ask them to do it since I have no access to the code. But with, for example, Linux, I can built it myself, outsource it to RedHat, Novell, NSA etc I am not confined since I have access to the code base.

            "Just asking: you had a number of statements in your post showing strong feelings. Why do you care so much?"

            I could say the same about you. I am just tired of people misrepresenting things. If I as a developer want to share out my work, why is that political? If I choose to buy dinner for all diners at a cafe what is that to anybody else? Other's want to make things political by telling me that I am not entitled to give away my code and if I resist, then I am being political. FOSS is about freedom. That is a universal tenet. And the GPL was written to assure that freedom. Hence my strong feelings.
            goxk@...
          • A little clarification:

            Modern CPUs are built entirely with NAND gates. This is for two reasons:

            1) Any other gate can be built using NAND gates.
            2) Each different type of gate would otherwise require a separate layer which, due to higher reliance on correct alignment (on the nanoscale level these days) would produce a substantially higher failure rate.

            As it is, modern CPUs require correct alignment on several layers of micro-circuitry and multiplying this by the number of types of gate per layer (at least six not counting 3+ input gates) would produce an unacceptable rate of failure as well as requiring separate lithography processes and bases for each type of gate.

            The requirement of a substantially higher number of gates per CPU with the inevitable higher width is worth the pay-off.

            With reference to patents (Anton) there are two reasons why the patent 'threat' is so vociferously opposed:

            1) Certain companies (Microsoft is only the most prominent) would use the patents issue as a stick with which to beat Linux and FOSS, create FUD and repeat the unprovable claim that anyone involved with Linux has no respect for the IP of others (along with the usual 'thieves', 'pirates' and 'freeloaders' accusations).
            2) There have only been two studies ever quoted in these claims, one coming from MS ("My name is Steve, you have infringed my patents, but because of security reasons I can't tell you what that those patents are. You're just going to have to put your faith in me, because I know what's best and you don't. You know I have these patents because I told you so. If you don't believe me, I will defame you.") and another from an insurance company which is unconcerned enough about these patents that it's willing to take people's money over a risk it never expects to have to pay out on. Even then this insurance company opnely questioned whether these patents would ever even hold up in court.

            As for Stallman, he's working on the assumption that the software patent system is so obscenely ridiculous that you couldn't write a "Hello World!" program these days without 'infringing' on some 'patent'. He has stated this many times.
            odubtaig
          • RE: A little clarification:

            You are correct about modern computers using NAND gates. Just More trivia, all other gates can be built from NOR gates as well. The circuitry just seems a bit more complex than building from NAND gates. In my arguments, I included all other gates and IC chips to show that they are still build from the basic electronic building blocks. I could have broken the Transistor further to 2 diodes but I thought I had made my point. Thanks for providing even more information on this. ;)
            goxk@...
          • Function

            If someone uses a television set, including turning it on, changing channels, recording programs, and other ordinary activities, does that imply he knows how a television works?

            Many people would not be able to make the television function if the science involved had to be understood. Instead, a series of elaborate means has been developed to gacilitate the interaction.

            Similarly, tools, means of interaction, have been devised which allow a programmer to be effective without even being comfortable with mathematics, let alone understanding.

            [By the way, in the course of your discussion, you write:

            "Even a child in the third world will tell you 5 oranges plus another 5 oranges is 10 oranges. They will tell you this without having done any arithmetic."

            "5 oranges plus another 5 oranges" is an arithmetic operation. I think you mean that a person who doesn't know arithmetic will count.

            That's true. Math is itself a tool.]


            Also, you misunderstand patents in this statement:

            "So, the engines may do similar tasks but they are different in design. But to patent that no other person should be allowed to ever design an engine because it performs a similar task as mine is wrong..."

            There have been many patents of mousetraps that work different ways, for instance. One can't patent all possible mechaanical devices intended to catch mice. Instead, patents cover a mechanism, leavving room for other mechanisms to be patented.


            Also, you wrote:

            "As for the courts deciding this, you are correct to say that they will decide. But that does not mean that they cannot make an erroneous judgment. So, I still maintain it is an unjust law that allows software patents."

            Software patents might be the result of erroneous logic. (I'd reserve "unjust" for laws that actively harm people.) In your view. But that does make them any less valid. Even an illogical law is law.
            There have been situations in which contradictory laws have been passed. To act in accordance with one is to violate the other. Creates problems for Courts, but doesn't make either law invalid.

            So you haven't made an argument against the fact that software can be patented and has some/strong likelihood of continuing to be patented. I'd say that, were the Supreme Court to invalidate software patents, Congress is likely to support a major industry by legalizing them again. Look at what's been provided to the RIAA.


            On the need for computer languages, the machine must be told what to do in order to make it operate effectively, to function.

            There's growing complexity in how those instructions are provided, as you say. One goal is to reduce the level of effort involved, and another is to eliminate the need for mathematical understanding or skills.

            You haven't disagreed with my point.


            On the advantage of the single employer approach, Mr. Carroll recently looked at a situation in which an amateur programmer quit working on an open source project because the emphasis of those guiding the project was on server software, where the money is. Because his work was receiving less attention than he thought appropriate, he quit.
            Both setting priorities and the impact of a sudden departure are administrative issues for open source, and those issues may (or may not) be more difficult to resolve for open source.

            There have also been discussions about the difficulty of finding people to do unglamorous work, such as documentation, on open source projects.

            So the discussion definitely has two sides, and the single employer side has obvious advantages.


            On using tools to modify the functionality of general-purpose software, you wrote:

            "Say I want mandatory access control built into MS. I have to ask them to do it since I have no access to the code. But with, for example, Linux, I can built it myself, outsource it to RedHat, Novell, NSA etc I am not confined since I have access to the code base."

            What's the difference between outsourcing to Microsoft and outsourcing to RedHat et al?

            Most people, most organizations will not work with the code elaborately. RedHat is profitable because the company's customers are buying a product considered acceptable for the purpose.

            A company like Microsoft has at least as much motive to make adjusting software to the buyer's purposes easy as does an open source company. To the extent that open source companies sell services, they are advantaged when customers cannot easily make modifications on their own.

            So you haven't described a substantial open source advantage.


            Finally (You're welcome.) about the political nature of open source, the GPL is a restriction on what can be done with code. It's a license.

            You can agree that certain actions should be prevented and others encouraged. Those rules are an expression of principles. Those principles can have, do in this case, have political significance.

            So advocating open source means you're endorsing a philosophy with political-type implications. When I identify those implications, you can disagree with my analysis or defend what I've identified.

            Exchanges of views on political philosophy can be frought. That's why an old social rule is avoiding discussions of politics and religion to avert discord.

            More speciically, if it's politics to want to prevent you from giving away your code, it's necessrily political to want to give it away.

            This is all politics.

            Consider the politics of whether giving something away is good for people who might otherwise be paid. Whole social systems have been built on that difference, with reference to views of human nature.

            But I'll stop here.
            Anton Philidor
          • RE : Function

            "If someone uses a television set"
            Your analogy is wrong from the start. We are not talking about computer users but programmers. Are the following not using mathematics - while (test condition){perform task}, If (test condition){ perform task; else Perform other task}. Heck lets take even the simplest int variable = 10; is this not mathematics Anton? Or has programming becomes something else that I am not yet aware? Enough said on that.

            ""5 oranges plus another 5 oranges" is an arithmetic operation. I think you mean that a person who doesn't know arithmetic will count."

            This is why it is hard to debate you. They do know mathematics that is why they CAN count. What they do not know is that is is called arithmetic. Like those programmers who hate maths but apply boolean algebra all day long as the test True or False conditions on their code.

            "There have been many patents of mousetraps that work different ways, for instance. "
            Correct. Thanks for proving my point. Can't you see that they perform the same function of catching mice. Software patents on the other hand forbid similar functions. I patent sudo then no else is allowed to write anything similar to this such as runas. Even though the code is different; maybe even different programming languages, hence no way I could have stolen your code.

            "But that does make them any less valid. Even an illogical law is law."

            They are valid only as long as people agree to follow them. They can be invalidated just ask Mandela or Gandhi about unjust laws.

            "On the need for computer languages, the machine must be told what to do in order to make it operate effectively, to function."

            True. But it does not need a programming language as we know that term. It needs instructions in 1's and 0's. Switching things on or off.

            "another is to eliminate the need for mathematical understanding or skills"

            True to a point. Mathematics is still required. Check statement in the beginning of this response.

            "You haven't disagreed with my point." I think I totally have. You imply no mathematics is required and I keep saying it is.

            "Both setting priorities and the impact of a sudden departure are administrative issues for open source"

            Nobody said that FOSS is perfect. I could argue that the developer was very lucky that he could work as a hobby on a project. He would never have been involved otherwise. This is not his profession. Further, a single employer project has milestones and goals. No deviation is allowed. With FOSS, if he felt strongly enough about the functionality he wanted added he is not constrained from pursuing it. He can fork it. And guess what once he completes it it could still be added to the original project. Where else do you get such flexibility?

            "What's the difference between outsourcing to Microsoft and outsourcing to RedHat et al?"

            Huge difference. With MS I am restricted to only them. With Redhat et al, I could choose whomsoever meets my needs and if they don't, guess what I can change to whomever else I want. If MS says no I am .... you know.

            "A company like Microsoft has at least as much motive to make adjusting software to the buyer's purposes easy"

            I am getting tired of this. which customized version of MS is out there? Are they not all standard. MS will only customize if it meets their goals. Again if I want MAC I am scre***. But with Linux, lets see; SElinux developed by NSA, LIDS, RSBAC etc I can implement what I want and if it doesn't meet my needs, hey I can customize it.

            "about the political nature of open source"

            It no more political than if I decide for example to be vegetarian. Other may make it a political issue by telling me that I must now eat meat. People create political issues when they try to impose their will on others. Now, Anton tell me how does FOSS try to impose it's will on others. The GPL protects FOSS from others not the other way around. Nobody in FOSS forces anybody else to use it. It is a matter of choice. FOSS does not attack MS or Apple on their licenses. They are allowed to write whatever conditions they want. But they are on GPL's throat. So, again I contend my actions only become political because someone else wants to infringe on my freedom.

            I guess next I may have to fight for my self evident right to go to the toilet.
            goxk@...
          • Herding cats.

            You recognize that more and more is being prepared for the programmer. APIs and the attempt to make statements in a program more like everyday language are part of this effort. One goal is to avoid use of mathematical logic.

            An If, Then statement does not contradict my observation because it's conditional logic, which is not limited to math. A people who could only count, with the number "many", would still be likely to use If, Then constructions in conversation.

            That a form of logic is used in mathematics doesn't give math ownership of the logic.

            Can you identify a logical statement which would never be used in a verbal or written argument but which is essential to programming?
            If you can find such, I'll predict there are people working out a way to avoid its use in future.


            On patents, you wrote:

            "Can't you see that they [Different patrented mousetraps] perform the same function of catching mice. Software patents on the other hand forbid similar functions. I patent sudo then no else is allowed to write anything similar to this such as runas. Even though the code is different; maybe even different programming languages, hence no way I could have stolen your code."

            The outcome for mousetraps is, as you say, catching mice. So mechanisms are patented.

            Using an example of a real patent I consider absurd, the outcome desired is to record a sale, equivalent to catching mice. A one-click approach records the sale in a way that pleases the customer. What the software does is a mechanism, like the mechanical way a mousetrap snaps shut, and so it can be patented.

            Another person can come up with another way to record a sale and patent it. But it cannot be the same one-click mechanism, defined rather broadly as the outcome of the software working. Preventing theft of the code is too limited a restriction because of the versatility of software that you describe.

            The patent is absurd to me because the outcome is so obvious. It's a patent on the most apparent way to provide the customer convenience. It rises to the level of catching mice in my view. But Courts have disagreed, which is an indication of how the issue of software patents may be resolved.


            On unjust laws, you wrote:

            "They are valid only as long as people agree to follow them. They can be invalidated just ask Mandela or Gandhi about unjust laws."

            Gandhi explained that his approach was based on the idealistic view the English had about their presence in India. He showed them they were not living up to their professed virtues, and they were embarassed.

            That wouldn't woprk, didn't work with Churchill, who wanted to keep India at all costs. India gained independence after World War II, when England had neither the resources nor the spirit to remain.

            But Churchill had to be removed from office first.

            People who want to retain a law need not be stopped by disagreement with the law, even by widespread violation of the law without consequence.

            Concerning software patents, the money involved assures there are and will be many Churchills. With the resoures to assure the law is obeyed.


            On open source administration, you wrote:

            "Nobody said that FOSS is perfect. I could argue that the developer was very lucky that he could work as a hobby on a project. He would never have been involved otherwise. This is not his profession.

            Further, a single employer project has milestones and goals. No deviation is allowed. With FOSS, if he felt strongly enough about the functionality he wanted added he is not constrained from pursuing it. He can fork it. And guess what once he completes it it could still be added to the original project. Where else do you get such flexibility?'

            You've endorsed allowing people to be involved in a project only so log as it meets their interests and expectations. With the expectation they'll walk away if unhappy.

            You've also endorsed creating parallel projects when there's disagreement about direction, so it's appropriate that you implicitly oppose milestones and goals. And, by further implication, completion dates of any value.

            If ingle employer projects have trouble meeting deadlines, the cat herders must be making patience their highest virtue.

            Yes, if that were the way FOSS worked at all times, it can be said to be imperfect.


            On outsourcing and customising, you do realize there's an effort underway to make the various versions of Linux similar enough that it is practical to move from one to another. And that there have been observations by RedHat customers about how difficult it is to move from that software.

            The company that has your software business wants to keep you as a customer.

            Microsoft is not an exception.

            One of the company's most effective schemes is to provide organizations with tools that make it very easy for the company to adapt the software for their purpooses.

            Another stratagem is to provide customers with functionality not available elsewhere. That can make moving to other software a downgrade.

            Linux distributions can be better than other Linux distributions. That's lock-in. The better a Linux distribution, the less the flexibility to change distributions that you endorse will be available to you.

            You can end in the position of urging that no particular Linux distribution become too exceptionally good.


            Finally (Thank you, thank you.), on the political nature of open source, being a vegetarian affects no one else. You could, if you wanted, eat meat at any time. Though you might feel embarassed if you've copmmitted yourself too publically.

            The open source equivalent here would be, you become a vegetarian and everyone who eats with you must not eat meat as well.

            That's political, the enforcement of principles through enforced rules.

            What rules?

            I appreciated your observation about the GPL:

            "The GPL protects FOSS from others not the other way around. Nobody in FOSS forces anybody else to use it."

            Yes, the GPL is voluntary to select. But once selected, rule apply. Those rules prevent actions by others, and that's a restriction on those others.

            Rules you agree with, rules that prevent actions by those with whom/which you disagree are still rules. That you like the rules doesn't change their nature.

            So you endorse FOSS and the GPL much like someone else would endorse a candidate or a party platform.

            That you're being political doesn't make you wrong. Being wrong in my view is what makes you wrong. To me.
            Anton Philidor
          • Invalidated again and again

            ?You recognize that more and more is being prepared for the programmer?... One goal is to avoid use of mathematical logic.?

            Please stop straying from the discussion at hand. By throwing in mathematical logic (which by the way is not constrained to computers but also includes pure maths) you want to muddy the waters. Are you using mathematical logic as is defined or are you implying Boolean logic? My question is simply because both are miles apart; mathematical logic involves things like recursion, set theory etc. And this is also due to the fact that you want to confuse the argument by stringing logic and mathematics together. Logic is all encompassing. We have informal logic (by the way where mathematics typically falls under), formal logic (Aristotelian syllogistic logic is an example which has nothing to do with computers), symbolic logic (e.g. propositional calculus; very useful in building computer systems) etc. Go to wikipedia and see the various fields of Logic. Now, if we stick to Logic programming then we are at par.

            ?That a form of logic is used in mathematics doesn't give math ownership of the logic.?
            Moot point since I never raised this. See above.

            ?An If, Then statement does not contradict my observation because it's conditional logic, which is not limited to math.?
            Another moot point. But let me address it; In computer programming it is not conditional logic as you want to define it. An if ..then .. statement tests If a condition is True or False and only one of this is possible. In other conditional logic, it is not If ..followed by? Then. If I don?t exercise, I may (probability) get sick not then (absolute)I will definitely get sick.

            ?Can you identify a logical statement which would never be used in a verbal or written argument but which is essential to programming??
            Another moot point. See Above.

            ?Another person can come up with another way to record a sale and patent it. But it cannot be the same one-click mechanism, defined rather broadly as the outcome of the software working.?

            The sooner you stop contradicting yourself the better we shall all be. Why can?t I come up with a similar one-click method? You have just stopped me innovating because I am now not allowed to develop anything similar to yours. Which is what software patents do. They limit similar functionality, not same functionality ( or exact copy) as you keep on implying. Now say this isn?t so. Let us stop dancing around. Patents should prevent copying a design not implementing something similar. Because my engine uses diesel, you are not allowed to design a similar one. Design one that uses paraffin not diesel (that is analogous to software patent). That is exactly what you keep on saying but you keep on rejecting this by saying it is not what you are saying. So, say it loud and clear Anton. I have maintained that software patent stop similar work such that if I write hello world in Perl, I have violated someone?s patent for hello world in C++. Now say this isn?t so.

            On your other comments, I have endorsed freedom. Freedom of choice. So, I take it then that you have endorsed tyranny.

            As for difficulty with moving among Distros in Linux, so what? you choose the one that meets your needs or you develop it. Now, for MS you even have difficulty moving within the same vendor, now that is whacky.

            ?Linux distributions can be better than other Linux distributions. That's lock-in.?
            Dude I want what you are drinking. How again am I locked in? What is stopping me moving, lack of skill or may be too much work? But locked ?in.

            ?The open source equivalent here would be, you become a vegetarian and everyone who eats with you must not eat meat as well.?

            Silly analogy Anton, a better one would be if anyone comes to my home (FOSS software) they are not allowed to eat meat (GPL). It is my home. I have not forced them to come to my home. If they want to come, they are restricted to vegetarian food. Simple as that. I have not refused them eating meat in general. All those caf??s that sell only Indian or vegetarian or Chinese; how dare they discriminate against others.

            ?Yes, the GPL is voluntary to select. But once selected, rule apply. Those rules prevent actions by others, and that's a restriction on those others.?

            So are you saying that there should be no rules whatsoever? That because you should be free to do what you want, any law that forbids you to take away my life is a restriction on your freedom. Amazing Anton. Why though do you not complain about all the restrictions that MS puts on you? Very ?. what to say ? interesting.

            ?That you're being political doesn't make you wrong. Being wrong in my view is what makes you wrong. To me.?

            So, what political agenda is it that I am pushing? Please enlighten me for I am at a loss. On the other hand, I think you are the one on a mission. You seem to want to attack FOSS. If you don?t like FOSS, why don?t you choose whatever else you like and leave us alone. We have no desire whatsoever to even find out what you are doing if only you will leave FOSS alone. But alas if you attack me and I defend myself with GPL I am the aggressor/ getting political etc. Amazing
            goxk@...
          • More clarification

            As for my choosing to be a vegetarian analogy. Here is why it was appropriate. Choosing to be vegetarian (choosing FOSS as my home). Others telling me that I must now eat meat (Telling me not to follow GPL). I just thought I should prempt you prior to you saying I changed my analogy. As you can see it still remains sound.
            goxk@...
          • Glad we now agree.

            I observed that those who prepared languages and tools for programmers had a goal of avoiding mathematics, or mathematical logic, which is the way math concepts are expressed.

            You observed:

            "By throwing in mathematical logic (which by the way is not constrained to computers but also includes pure maths) you want to muddy the waters. Are you using mathematical logic as is defined or are you implying Boolean logic? My question is simply because both are miles apart; mathematical logic involves things like recursion, set theory etc. And this is also due to the fact that you want to confuse the argument by stringing logic and mathematics together."

            There's some contradiction in the statement. You comment both that mathematical logic exists and that I'm confusing the argument by stringing logic and mathematics together.

            Still, we're agreed that mathematical logic exists, and you haven't disputed that it's being avoided in response to the sensibilities of programmers.


            We're also agreeing on patents. I said that they referred to a mechanism and not specific code, and were more valuable than copyright because of the versatility of software.

            You wrote:

            "Why can?t I come up with a similar one-click method [to record a sale]? You have just stopped me innovating because I am now not allowed to develop anything similar to yours. Which is what software patents do. They limit similar functionality, not same functionality ( or exact copy) as you keep on implying. Now say this isn?t so. Let us stop dancing around. Patents should prevent copying a design not implementing something similar."

            You're agreeing with me about the effect of patents. The difference of opinion is, you would prefer to remove all the value from the patent by doing the same thing with different code. "Implementing something similar", similar functionality, means that the idea oexpressed in the functionality ceases to have value. The purpose of patents is to assure a financial reward for ideas through exclusivity.


            I'm confused by this comment:

            "As for difficulty with moving among Distros in Linux, so what? you choose the one that meets your needs or you develop it. Now, for MS you even have difficulty moving within the same vendor, now that is whacky."

            We do agree on the main issue, which is that differences among distributions implies that one will in fact meet your needs better than others. So long as your needs remain the same, you're locked into the distribution that best meets your needs.

            The confusion comes from the idea that moving from one Microsoft product to another is difficult. If this does happen - I think you mean upgrades(?) - that's a problem Microsoft is going to take seriously. And have substantial resources available for the solution.


            On the political nature of open source, in response to my observation:

            The open source equivalent here would be, you become a vegetarian and everyone who eats with you must not eat meat as well.

            ... you responded:

            Silly analogy Anton, a better one would be if anyone comes to my home (FOSS software) they are not allowed to eat meat (GPL). It is my home. I have not forced them to come to my home. If they want to come, they are restricted to vegetarian food. Simple as that. I have not refused them eating meat in general.

            Your home, then. You'd create an exception to the rule if someone were eating with you at a restaurant, presumably. Rules, exceptions, that's what you're discussing. You agree with me that open source mandates rules, and that was the purpose of the analogy. We agree that far.

            Though you do misstate my argument:

            "So are you saying that there should be no rules whatsoever? That because you should be free to do what you want, any law that forbids you to take away my life is a restriction on your freedom. Amazing Anton. Why though do you not complain about all the restrictions that MS puts on you? Very ?. what to say ? interesting."

            Straw man. Sorry.

            I originally responded to a Comment titled Open source is apolitical.

            My argument was that open source has rules. Those rules are an expression of principles about actions in an aspect of life. Those principles guiding behavior are by necessity a social philosophy. That makes them political.

            Believe what you like politically. Don't exppect everyone to disagree with you, of course. Expect counter-argument based on different premises. Political premises.

            My contention was that the political dispute exists. On that point, too, you're agreeing with me.
            Anton Philidor
          • There's also circular logic..

            which you take to such an extreme I wonder if you have any interest in actually answering his points or if you're just going to continue to answer claims he hasn't made.

            Oh, and the point of patents is to take knowledge that would be a trade secret and make it available for public viewing so that people can learn from it. It is the [u]only[/u] reason patents were created in the first place. When a visual element of a program is patented, there [i]is[/i] no trade secret to be protected as it is visible for all to see. It's patenting Look and Feel and nothing more. It's all very well saying that work should be protected, but Copyright did that just fine for some hundreds of years and is a perfectly adequate protection for software.
            odubtaig
          • I think

            This will be my last response, since as odubtaig has observed you haven't answered any of my arguments.

            The simple reason why I objected to you putting in Logic with mathematics is easy for anyone to see. Logic involves more than mathematics. All logic is not mathematics and all mathematics is not logic. And you tried to now twist the argument we were having to encompass Logic. Nothing that I ever said. My statement still stands that computer programming is built upon mathematics as so is mathematics. I never refuted even when you raised it that mathematics has Logic in it. But like I pointed out logic and mathematics is a moot point regarding our argument. Also, you tried to deviate by invoking programming conditionalities as being similar to everyday conditionalities simply because you had now included logic (as the term is defined). I still maintain programming logic is boolean; True or False are the only 2 conditions that you get and both are mutually exclusive. And programmers all day long deal with boolean algebra no matter how much they profess to hate maths.

            And no, we haven't agreed on patents. I never said that patents should never be invoked. I just complained that software patents as currently exists is wrongly implemented. It prevents others from being innovative. It protects functionality which is wrong. that is similar to me patenting boolean algebra and seeking royalties from anyone who has anything to do with a computer since they will inevitably be using boolean algebra. Like I said prove that this isn't so. Take any of my earlier analogies and prove that they are wrong.

            "We do agree on the main issue, which is that differences among distributions implies that one will in fact meet your needs better than others. So long as your needs remain the same, you're locked into the distribution that best meets your needs."
            And this is different how with regards to what MS or Apple has to offer? Don't still choose your best fit? But as I have always argued, FOSS allows you to extend the code to much more easily meet your needs.

            "My argument was that open source has rules. Those rules are an expression of principles about actions in an aspect of life. Those principles guiding behavior are by necessity a social philosophy. That makes them political."

            And finally to politics and rules. You always throw in wide swaths so that you can justify your arguments. Lets see. Because Religion has rules therefore it is politics. Because Marriage has rules it must be politics. Because a workplace has rules, it must be politics. Heck because a cafe has rules it must be politics. Guess what Anton, programming languages also have rules that must be strictly followed. Try breaking them and your program woun't even compile. So, by your argument, programming languages are also political. Now, what can I say but conclude that in accordance to your arguments, anything that has rules to you must be political. So, if someone breaks their marriage vows and the partner asks to be compensated, they must be politically motivated. This is among the most absurd thing I have heard. So, I will still contend FOSS is not political like anything else, it is governed by rules (GPL), and the GPL advances no political agenda. It seeks to preserve itself from all the assaults that it faces. Nough said.
            goxk@...
        • Balderdash!

          You're getting worse than Zuny and No_Fax.

          That was too much garbage to even read. Do
          you think anyone takes that stuff seriously?
          Ole Man
    • Missed the point..

      You know, I disagree with both of your statements ("Software is too pure to provide income." and "Software is the property of all") and yet I am a very active FLOSS developer/proponent/policy wonk/etc.

      I think this was Dana's point. It isn't that FLOSS isn't "political", but it isn't "partisan" and limited to being supported/supportable by only a limited number of political philosophies.

      People who otherwise share absolutely nothing in common politically can have their own unique political reasons for supporting FLOSS.

      Even my use of the term FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) is my attempt to use a global label that mixes together a number of different sub-groups that are different in their politics but still share/contribute to the same software.


      As to your specific statements:

      I consider charging royalties to be a business model choice, and not even a good one. Being FLOSS doesn't mean you don't make money, it means you make money in ways that respect the nature of knowledge.

      As to any reference to the word "property", whether individual or common, I can only point to http://www.digital-copyright.ca/Jefferson_Debate

      The point is, we can disagree on these statements entirely, but still both be using and/or contributing to FLOSS.
      russellmcormond
    • showing political sides

      [i]Open source is built on a few assumptions, the most salient of which are:

      Software is too pure to provide income.
      Software is the property of all.[/i]

      I agree with odubtaig, you're projecting properties into open source that really aren't there. Many people, including myself, would also say that you're projecting the "Open source is communism" propaganda famously raised by Bill Gates here. The fact is, is that open source is neither for nor against capitalism, communism, socialism, or any other "ism". And also open source clearly defines ownership(and enforcement of ownership) of software and code via copyright law. And lastly, there's no restriction on charging for software as long as the terms of the license are met(see: Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

      If open source truly had those properties you stated, nobody(not even myself) would ever use it. A possibly more appropriate place for those properties might be to describe public domain software, as public domain has no copyright(owner) and as such has lost the ability to gain meaningful income. But even then public domain still has value as part of a commons for all to use as they please.
      Tony Agudo