Thursday, September 29, 2005

GNU – A Virtual Communist Manifesto - II

Chapter 2: The Great Software Robbery

In last chapter I summarized the journey from proprietary to free software. Now I will dig deep into how this free movement became closely associated to communism.

Open source movement, as I said earlier, was born out of necessity to create efficient software. Although hacker culture existed before, the open source model was first successfully adopted in development of Linux. Some do argue that the commercial vendors (even SCO) never understood that UNIX was a business opportunity or that there was any market for it and now they acknowledge the mistake. So had any of these vendors seriously considered marketing UNIX at a commodity price, there would have been no Linux. But that is no longer the real argument because it is more or less an established fact that Linux is good piece of software at least as an alternate to expensive UNIXes in universities and research departments - if not for commercial purposes.

The moderate success of Linux attracted a lot of eyeballs. Some thought of it as magical software that would rid them of tyranny of the Microsoft. The best thing about open source was that people thought that they would be doing what they like to do rather than what their bosses tell them to do. This did sound very promising to individual developers who lacked other resources (like capital) because this made them believe that if they had a good idea (design), all they had to do was write a partial code and a large community will turn it into a wonderful piece of software. Though some realized that main developer or co-coordinator needs to be a good leader so as to keep things smooth (read bazaar rules), all this seemed attainable. Since it was necessary in this model that source code must be available to all, to ensure this, various licenses were formulated. One such license was GNU General Purpose License (GPL).

GNU GPL became the most popular license because of whole freedom philosophy woven around it (read GNU Philosophy). GPL is one the best cases of viral licensing, enforced by its clause 2b, which reads:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

In plain English this means that if developer uses any code from the GPL’d software then his new software will also fall under GPL license. Thus the number of GPL licensed software increased at exponential rate. And according to GNU philosophy this provided freedom to everyone. This may be true in the perfect world but that’s not where we live in. Human beings are driven by lust for power and greed.

The GNU philosophy (and GPL – Its mode of implementation), put forward by Richard Stallman has a very stark resemblance to communism. It may be thought of as its virtual avatar. To find why, read on.

Thomas Friedman in his book “The World is Flat” did say that globalization has enabled big companies to play small and small companies to play big. It has levelled the playing field and this has been due to increased collaboration and sharing between various groups and individuals.

GNU GPL instead of levelling the playing field actually creates an illusion that the entire developer society is equal, in sense that they all have similar goals and objectives. Hence the same reward for everyone – ego satisfaction. What they need to understand is that money is not just a reward, motivator or a necessity but in fact abstraction for work. People value different things differently and that is why trade is healthy. That is why a developer who has a family to support would like to make profit from his software while another who is researcher at a university would feel contended with good grades and peer recognition without worrying about profits.

Paying developers royalty or compensation for their work is not only fair but also ultimately a great leveller (of playing field) because it enables people to acquire whatever they value more. Some people think of GNU GPL as an exemplification of globalization. Let me put a warning sign here –

“The collaboration and sharing

without monetary compensation

will not aid in globalization

but rather communism”.

Not only does FSF (Free Software Foundation) falsely believe in equality of developer society (in terms of goals and objectives), it commits the same mistake while viewing consumer society. It fails to acknowledge requirements of different sections of society. What I mean is, though price is always a factor, it may not always be the deciding factor. Priorities of people (or consumers) differ. For one section of people user-friendly nature of software may be of prime importance while other may value after sale service and support. By voicing concerns of a limited section of society and claiming it to be need of entire society is the worst marketing technique imaginable.

To make matters even worse, apart from its inability to acknowledge different objectives within the developer and consumer societies, it commits the blunder of misinterpreting all customers as co-developers. Thus it believes in ONE big society. Subhasish Ghosh explains this point nicely in his essay “A Critique of GNU philosophy (II)”, which explains:

One of the most primary reasons of failure for Karl Marx’s communist theory was the basic all-important implicit assumption of ‘human labour as a commodity possessing both market and exchange value’. Stallman seems to exceed even Marx in this respect of baseless synthetic assumptions. Companies or individuals create software with a basic motive. The motive of using someone’s intellectual property (or of a collection of people) is using the commodity (or article of interest) and the effect produced by it as an immediate result. It is here where the difference lies. Microsoft Word program or vi (in Linux) is same in terms of functionality since they both allow an end-user to write down his/her thoughts. The effect is the same in both cases. How he/she achieves the end result is the most important, not his/her intrinsic ability of modify Word or the vi editor. Thus, being able to fix or adapt the program is an external additional choice, not an immediate intrinsic choice available to all mankind. Stallman’s whimsical philosophy of free (open-source) software seems to hover around this very basic mistaken understanding of life around us.

So due to this incorrect model of co-operation put forth by FSF, small-time and low budget developers, who do not have adequate resources, often end up using GNU GPL. They are subsequently forced to give up one thing that could have stopped their project from being low budget, their intellectual property rights, now forfeited by the GPL virus.

Thus the GNU philosophy, like communism, harms very people it claims to protect and breeds enslavement.

To prove they are not communists, FSF generally makes a very lame excuse stating that (unlike communism) they are not so much in favour of equality but rather freedom. FSF repeatedly claims that paying for software takes away one’s freedom. This is definitely not true because sale of a product implies commitment to and responsibility for that product. It is the choice of the customer whether to buy specific software or not. It is not forced upon him. Instead we should be arguing how to provide adequate competition. This should have been the real discussion but FSF wrongly made it a “freedom debate”.

Some defend free software on grounds that if someone buys proprietary software but is unable to pay for patches and updates in future he’ll be stuck. That’s why, they say, free software is so liberating. My opinion is, though it may be justified to provide free patches/upgrades for home users but for commercial users, it makes no sense at all. When a company buys proprietary software, it makes an investment. Now it is responsibility of developers and management of this organization to produce profit from it and reinvest in future upgrades. If they somehow fail to do so then it is the organization that is to blame, not the proprietary software.

FSF in general is also opposed to getting rich – at least by programming. Here are a few lines from GNU Manifesto:

The real reason programmers will not starve is that it will still be possible for them to get paid for programming; just not paid as much as now...

In the long run, making programs free is a step toward the post-scarcity world, where nobody will have to work very hard just to make a living. People will be free to devote themselves to activities that are fun, such as programming, after spending the necessary ten hours a week on required tasks such as legislation, family counseling, robot repair and asteroid prospecting. There will be no need to be able to make a living from programming.

FSF argues that they are not against people making money. They say that people are free to make money by distributing or redistributing free software and through after-sales-support and servicing. If you had been reading carefully, you would realize what FSF is saying is very much self-contradictory. According to them the whole concept of free software was good because people were able to do what they love and have natural talents for - that is coding. Now they are asking people to do something they may not be naturally wired for. To be successful in business of distribution, service and support – skills other than programming are essential that may or may not be present in the same individual. Therefore it is very likely that some other person possessing these skills will reap benefits without ever bothering to pay the programmer who has no intellectual rights. Thus maybe few smart individuals may benefit but a large section of society will find itself helpless. A crude way of correcting this may be corporations, which may organize programmers and necessary managers. But no such organization can survive for long without profit motive and only on donations. Thus we come back a full circle to right where we started – the proprietary software. (If you are thinking about likes of Red Hat, those are cases of corporate embrace that I will discuss in chapter 3 – to be released shortly.). Corporations are more successful than individuals not only because they can mix talents but also because they can better define vision, goals and objectives and have ability to stick to them in order to provide long term support.

Another belief that the above statement from GNU Manifesto focuses on is that with the implementation of new technology, old professions are bound to become obsolete (Read “The Communist Baker Jesus”- by Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson for more on justification of Free software on these grounds). Since the new technology promises productivity, loss of profession is in fact acceptable. This argument is generally used to prove that FSF is not so much labour friendly and is capitalist, not communist. Also Thomas Friedman did say that in globalized economy some professions will become obsolete but the new technology will itself create new professions, thereby such transition is beneficial in long run. If this was indeed the case with software industry, FSF might have been right. But the following argument proves them wrong. First they are using litigation not technology to make a profession obsolete. Moreover, programmers are not really becoming obsolete, as their requirement will still be there. So they are actually being enslaved not eradicated. Had it been the case that development of AI (Artificial Intelligence) had reached a level that programmers were no longer necessary, every capitalist would have supported it and it would have been responsibility of programmers to upgrade their skills according to new environment. But the current argument by FSF is not capitalist ideology.

Now to conclude, the free software model and especially GNU GPL is seriously flawed. It is not a capitalist ideology or exemplification of globalization but communism. The only thing that has been accomplished by its widespread use is enslavement and robbery of software that has cost may programmers dearly.

All this does not mean that open source software is complete nonsense and must be revolted against. There is much good that it can lead to – which I will describe in chapter 3. But all developers, especially individuals must be very careful about whichever license they choose - based on what they value the most and their priorities - or it may end up destroying their livelihood.


Anonymous Deidre Bair said...

You are making 2 flawed assumptions, that Communism is equal to GNU and globalisation is good. Both are wrong.

I'd like to know if you paid for your software in the first place as well.

Ideas, such as the one that you articulated in this blog are powerful drivers, but be careful what it will make you into.

8:56 PM  
Blogger MOHIT JOSHI said...

I am not assuming GNU has characteristics of communism - I am proving it. And globalisation is nothing but capitalism at global scale.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayby one woice from Poland, where we realy known, what is, and what is not the communism (real communism, not stupid world with no mean).
If globalisation is nothink but capitalism at global scale, then I hawe very bat news, becouse globalisation is also communism in global scale.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry about first part.
There are other thinks in communism, we should talk about - like monopoly, restricted freedom (or patents, if you want). All you are talking about is the different form of the same thing. There will not be a communist government, but there will be a BIG CORPORATIONS. I don't see any difference.
One more thing, if you want to name GNU, a have one word it's democracy.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Mohit Joshi,
You have some false assumptions. Don't just read the books, but try to learn them. and then publish your thoughts. You are actually a slave of capitalism. and you can never escape from it.
poor guy !!! :(
my heartfelt condolence . :(

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never see the FSF put guns into people's heads and demands that they use GPL software. That's what communist governments do. You can choose what ever software to use. Heck, MS has licenses that are very restrictive. Try to break the EULA; MS will break you in court. GPL is a license of GNU software. Use if you like but abide by the license, just like any where else. One more thing, just in case you haven't noticed, you can take any GPL software, market it, bundle it, and $ELL and the money is yours. There are no restrictions on that. RH and Novel are good examples.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you really know the difference between software and software license? GPL does not prevent you from making money by selling software, it just prevents you from making money by selling license to use, which restricts other's freedom to use the software(yes, if this software is not under GPL you can and I and FSF cannot prevent this). For me, you have to know the difference between these things. The developers can make money on this, the business guys maynot take this oppotunities (if they do not know how to write codes).

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a breath of fresh air to finally see someone with the ability to transcend this freeloading mindset that seem to plague what open source is really supposed to be and its purpose.

Richard Stallman is clearly a communist and you are right by saying he has transformed the practicality of programming into an ideology, his specifically.

Thanks for the read.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Lancelot Blog said...

GNU is part of the evolutionary process. It takes out excesses by balancing the monopolistic tendency of proprietary software and patents. Both model is good because everybody will benefit. The good thing is, we, the consumer now have a CHOICE. That's the most important.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first reason for your error, and at the same time the most important difference between communism and GNU (I'll call it open source instead) is that open source is based on voluntary participation, whereas communism on government monopoly. From this point of view it is rather closed-source software that resembles communism, because it depends on the government enfocement of copyright and patent monopolies.

The second "problem" for your theory is that I have a my very own open source (mostly GPL) linux distribution, that is freely downloadable, AND is providing me for most of my income, AND my primary reason for creating it was optimising profit:

I'll provide you an alternative view. Open source (and GNU) is a libertarian, not communist, ideology. Open source also resembles voluntary communities like the church or the scouts, which should make it acceptable for conservatives as well.

BTW don't try to explain to me what communism is, I used to live in a communist country.

Yours sincerely,

4:24 PM  
Blogger MOHIT JOSHI said...

Lancelot : You are right, we do have choice. To stop GNU by use of any legislation will be wrong. That why I have written this article, to make programmers aware of the downfalls of GNU.

But as I can see from most of these post, programmers do have very bad understanding of economics. I'll try to elaborate that in third chapter.

4:34 PM  
Blogger CP said...

I think you are missing the point in two of the central assumptions of your article.

"So due to this incorrect model of co-operation put forth by FSF, small-time and low budget developers, who do not have adequate resources, often end up using GNU GPL. They are subsequently forced to give up one thing that could have stopped their project from being low budget, their intellectual property rights, now forfeited by the GPL virus."

No, they are not. First of all, nobody forces these developers to use GPL. There are a myriad other licenses to choose from, they can keep their code proprietary, whatever. GPL does have its benefits and its disadvantages (specially when viewed from a "greedy" point of view), but it's up to the particular developer to choose whether to use it or not. The main reason they do is not because they are being forced, but because they think that it is the best choice for their project.

But even if they where forced to use GPL (that, once again, they clearly are not), that would not take their IP away. IP is _always_ the property of the programmer who writes the code; the GPL merely establishes the (supposedly fair for everybody) rules governing code modification and redistribution. If I write an application and release it under the GPL, I'm free (as long as all contributors, if there are any, agree, or I replace their contributions with rewritten code) to re-license the program with non-GPL terms. See MySQL, for example. And, by the way, they seem to be doing very well in this capitalist society of ours.

"FSF repeatedly claims that paying for software takes away one’s freedom."

Unless you can provide a sound reference for that affirmation, I sadly have to say that you are lying - and you know it, because you seem to be familiar with the FSF philosophy:

Heck, it's the _very_ first link on the GNU page that it's "Free as in Freedom", not "Free as in Price". Thus, you are accusing the FSF of deviating from the debate you perceive as correct (the one about "freedom") when this is the whole debate the FSF has been all about from the start.

By the way, you neglect to mention that the paragraphs before the ones you cite don't claim programmers should not be paid for their work; they state that there should be alternative ways to support programmers which don't involve selling software the traditional way.

Just remember: as long as nobody is forced to use GPL, and as long as GPL and commercial software are able to compete on equal standing because of technical merits, it's us (customers) who will benefit, and that's the whole point of capitalism, isn't it?

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Vegard Nøtnæs said...

As a libertarian, capitalist and economist I'd like to put things in perspective; Free Software might have a lot of ideology tied to it, as have communism. The difference, though, is that communists use force to make EVERYONE follow their rules. Free Software/GNU/Whatever offers an alternative that the user are free to use or not use.

The author, then, must also think that charity is communism, along with any other voluntary transaction without compensation?

Might it be the author that has a very bad understanding of political science?

7:00 PM  
Anonymous I R A Darth Aggie said...

The author, then, must also think that charity is communism, along with any other voluntary transaction without compensation?

That would be the logical assumption. I've read what the author has posted at (parts I and II), and the historical background is...lacking.

As a "for instance", the way part I is written, one comes away with the idea that Open Source came first, then the Free Software Foundation. That is incorrect.

Mohit may want to read this history of OSI and take close note of The prehistory of the Open Source Initiative includes the entire history of Unix, Internet free software, and the hacker culture. Whoops.

More background can be had from Of course, this all had it's roots back in the mainframe days. When you bought an IBM mainframe, you got a copy of the software. As source.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Wiktor Wandachowicz said...

Mohit Joshi wrote:

"GPL is one the best cases of viral licensing, enforced by its clause 2b, which reads:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License."

The part that I marked means that it's perfectly possible to use the GPL-ed software internally. You can make profit on it because you have the right to use it, both in original form or modified - as long as you don't intend to distribute or publish it. Only then you must comply with the license. In short - it's prohibited to sell your modifications, because the original software didn't belong to you.

So, you want to get rich by programming. No problem! But would you like to speed/ease the process of development at the same time by using snippets of GPL-ed software source code? This is forbidden by the licence, sorry.

On the other hand, you can perfectly use the final form of GPL-ed software (like Apache web server for example), without breaking any licence. You don't have to pay for it, but you can make lots of money by selling the added value (like doing web hosting for example). But you cannot use the Apache's source code and put it in the closed software, with the intent of making a profit by selling it. You must invest your own time to produce the same result (or better!) by yourself. It's considered a theft to sell parts of GPL-ed code which you didn't produce.

Remember also, that you can always buy the libraries you need, create the software you want and sell everything at the sweet price. That's capitalism.

And overusing the words communism and viral licensing in your articles doesn't look professional. I'm sorry, but to me it looks like you don't really know what you are writing about...

And yes, I'm from Poland too.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judging from the context of how you put things (Anti GNU Movement, black background, eliteness) I guess I won't convince you.

But I'd recommend to everyone interested reading the following article:

Editor's Note: Rich and Snooty

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mohit,
There are a couple of things I would like to add. First of all GPL is not the only license in use by open-source software. Trolltech has dual license scheme, use GPL if you want free software, else use their commercial license. No one forces people to use GPL license with QT.

As far as economics is concerned, GNU, atleast from my understanding says code should remain in public domain, but money should be made from modfying the code and using it for support. Enough organizations modify windows before using it, so be it with open source. Lastly, the other disadvantage i.e. "viral" infection is easily resolved with dual licensing. The original owner of the code has the right to make his code GPL and any other license, no one else has this right. I can't take KDE's code and say that I will make it a dual license GPL and Yada yada license, only KDE organization has that right. After all Nessus moved their code out of GPL. Is this communism, i would say bullshit!!

One can very well start a project with GPL, leverage the open source development model, whether they are successful or not, they can make it propreitary code again. No one is stopping them. I would call that as a democracy not communism. Lets be honest, chinese do not have a choice on what they read on the net, they are censored from most things. That is Communism.

The economic of open source are very very different from traditional closed source models. No one denies this, but that does not mean it is not feasible, although it might be hard to come up with a good strategy.

BTW I am from Bangalore, and I work full time in a s/w firm. But even I appreciate the advantages of open source.

As far as closed source models are concerned, they too have major flaws, Microsoft is one example of such a system. Open source has risen because of those flaws. Perhaps the final software development model in the future shall be neithe open nor closed , but a medley of the two. Read the paper "Opening Doors and Smashing Windows" for a pure economic analysis of existing software model.

Nonetheless, a well written and though badly researched article. And yeah, I also feel that Richard Stallamn is too extreme many a time.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Rasmus said...

Free software isn't communism. It's capitalism without patents.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Nyte said...

Dear Mohit,

I happen to be a software developer as well. I work full time for a software firm, but I also contribute to open source. The point you seem to miss is that you imply that the only way to monetize programming is via a corporation. I use only Linux. I'm a professional unix programmer. I use Open Office for writing documents etc. Consider instead that if I spend say $500 on a license for MS Word. For you, that would mean I converted my work (at office) to money(my pay) and then I converted some of that money to software (by paying MS). If instead, I prefer to contribute to the OO codebase, then I convert my time into software directly without having to make anyone else richer. So instead of making one corporation richer, my work benifits everyone else including me. Tell me why (unless you're MS itself), paying for an MS license is better ? To get software that's extremely restrictive ? To get software that I can't install on my wife's computer if I wanted ? To enrich a convicted monopolist at my expense ?

I'm sorry, but I have better things to do with my time and money.

Understand that when it's collaborative coding, and say I put in 1 hour of work along with 12 other programmers, I'm getting 12 times what I put in. I think then that the 1 hour is more than worth the effort. :) [Loosely paraphrased from Linus].


8:23 PM  
Blogger Coon said...

Your article is correct.

Calling GNU "communist" as an invective is generally a good idea, but I'm not sure it should be a part of the logical argument against FSF and GPL.

However, I don't think it's really a problem. Successful developers, by and large, work in commercial software. The linux/open source "phenomenon" is mostly confined to the developer community. Winners use software that wins; losers use software that encourage stangnation.

These people are enemies of freedom!

3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me tell you this. Communism is enforced on everyone.

We the GNU community dont say, that you have to use GNU and nothing else and we dont force users to do so.

Instead we give them choice.

If you understnad the meaning of choice then you would easily understand the text written above.

nothing more to say and nothing more for you to understand.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous aps said...

Alas If you had spent your time in something useful. We could have written some usefull software and made some money in the time wasted reading the flawed arguments. You seem to be using some facts/ arguments to get support as if a drunkard from lamp posts, which otherwise could have been used for illumination.

there is a lot of money in free software. Only if you know how to make it. More over there are a lot of commercial companies/ professionals that would not have been in software business but for FSF. Myself included.

BTW I do hope IBM/ HP/ Redhat etc etc and a number of other commercial companies, who are investing in GPLed software have not turned communist, have they?

If you assume that you will make the software once and that will feed you the whole life, and you can live like a parasite and feed on the IP
... hmmm...

Next time I will ignore you, if you forget to do your homework before you write.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough is that this blog is run on "communist" software...

Food for thought.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Madcap said...

The above poster made one of the best points in short... for the Blogger to note. Anyway, hey Mohit care putting a link to M$'s 'Get The Facts' link here... and u never know might end up earing some money urself... lol!!

12:38 AM  
Blogger Madcap said...

Ooh... Mohit a food of thought for ya as this link cites ""

"Someone better mail IBM and tell it that it's considered a low-budget developer by the great Mohit Joshi."

12:47 AM  
Anonymous ihsoj tihom said...

There is a word for people like you who support companies who could care less about you -- it's call a Tool.

Thought I must say that your article starts off well, but it goes off the rails about a third the way through in the paragraph with that says:

"Hence the same reward for everyone – ego satisfaction. What they need to understand is that money is not just a reward, motivator or a necessity but in fact abstraction for work."

Are you really so ignorant of economics that you don't know that money is simply one of many media to transfer value. Until you understand the new and interesting value propositions that these many licenses create -- you will not have any worthwhile contributions to make to our very interestion world.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates said...

YoU ArrRE SoO FucKing StuPId! ManO!

Watch the Revolution OS, by which I qill quote Mr. Raymond and tell that if GNU was communism, you'd be in some jail so far for offending it. But you aren't, u are free to write whatever your ass wants, and teach your children whatever the money can buy to do it...

I heard Microsoft was looking for Bi or Homo sexuals as Secretaries. You fit perfectly!

5:12 PM  
Blogger Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates said...

AHhaha As the anonymous above me said, PEOPLE this Blog is run on free software.

Fellow Antignu writer, can u be more stupid?

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your thinking is really bizarre on this subject. Let's look at the three most common scnerios for programmers. The first is when you write software for yourself, You choose the tools and the license and the time is yours. The second is when you are employed as a programmer. You use their tools on their time and the IP belongs to them. The third is if you are a consultant or contractor and you negotiate the terms and IP ownership. The second is the only model where you lose control of your IP and are most likely to be required to use proprietery software.
The other two offer you a choice of whether you control your IP or not. I write both OSS and software for hire. Which one gives me more control over my IP? Silly question. If I use GNU tools, I can still choose what to do with my IP. The only restrictions are what I can do with other people's IP, and it would be hypocritical not to respect their choice.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The flipside is low-budget developers writing something worthless in a few hours and throwing it on for a price that nobody will pay. That will harm their financial security too if they expect to make a living off it, but they probably don't, just like most open source coders don't. The ones that do are paid because what they produce provides benefits for organisations. It's almost symbiotic in a way, but realistically it's just like "regular" software.

Of course developers should think about their choice of license and it is precisely this point which means GPL *is not* viral.
Viruses spread by force, GPL spreads by choices.

4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But as I can see from most of these post, programmers do have very bad understanding of economics."

As a corollary, economists have a poor understanding of programming.

Using GNU licensed code in your project doesn't require you to make your whole project open, unless you are an incredibly bad software engineer. The concept of modularity is intrisict to developing good software; if your program interfaces with some GNU modules, you must make those GNU modules available with your program. If you copy code from a GNU module into one of your modules, you must make that module's code available.

Just using GPL'd source code in your program doesn't render the whole program under the GPL.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mohit, I feel sorry for your ignorance. Do you know _anything_ about computing at all?

Or do you just fling dung around to grab attention?

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work. Brilliant.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like the whining of a graduate student who was busted for plagiarism after trying to pass off GPL code as his own.

What a maroon.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Smith said...

"Thus maybe few smart individuals may benefit but a large section of society will find itself helpless."

That sounds like capitalism not communism. In Communism "a few well connected individuals may benefit but a large section of society will find itself helpless."

But of course this blog is not about the reality of GNU software. Its yet another attempt to paint Mr. Stallman as an nut job (which is easy to do because of his lack of compromise) so that the entire nature of free software can be dragged into the mud as well....

The GPL is about capitalism as much as any other license out there. It encourages competition. Of course for some capitalists that is the problem- they don't mind a system of competition as long as no one compete with them!

I'm sure if the term existed with the same connotation it does today then the buggy and whip makers would have called the car makers that were driving them out of business “communists” in order to prevent their own personal loss of income.

What GPL software DOES do is make it harder for the thousands of people who got into computers just to make a quick buck. Now they have to have enough talent to make software better than the high water mark set forth by a competing piece of free software. Of course this is competition in its purest form, its just that these sorts of people do not want this competition. So the best way to deal with it is to call it a name others don't like in hopes that your meager cause will gain support ("those GPL software makers OUT COMPETED ME in my MARKET- anyone that good at competition has to be a communist!").

If GPL software means the end of the thousands of careers of those who got into computers for a quick buck so be it. If you cannot compete in the modern world with your competition (GPL software or closed software) then you don't get to eat. Only a true Communist would argue that this is a bad thing.....

Of course, continue to think you are proving something that you are not. Continue to post such tripe that anyone with a basic economic understanding could debunk. You hurt your cause greatly and therefore you help mine. I will show others this site to PROVE that GPL software is capitalist ( because you are giving the best argument possible for it being communist and its failing).

I can guess that you are a programmer that is losing in the MARKET to GPL software so that is why you are bitter (and is also why you lack basic economic knowledge), but before your next entry think about what harm you are doing for your cause....

Or at least host your anti-GPL remarks on a site that does not use GPL software. This is like Microsoft hosting their “Get The Facts” campaign on a Linux server. Hypocrite does not begin to describe it.

From your own comments:

“But as I can see from most of these post, programmers do have very bad understanding of economics.”

This is like the pot calling the kettle black. Let me give you a clue- anything that competes openly in a market (as GPL software DOES DO -ask Redhat) is not communist. Its that simple. A basic economic textbook would tell you that. But hey, you have the right to be wrong. That part of what freedom is about.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh....Communism killed millions of people and deprived people of choice mainly by gun point. Communism squelched dialog and freedom of speech mainly by gunpoint.

With open source you get choice and if you so desire a voice.

Your comparision is obsene and extreme.

Please pick another analogy.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If free software is communism then you are supporting that!
Your blog is in an Linux+Apache box..

Cmon boy be consistent with your own words and get a Non-GNU box for your blog now!!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can't be serious about this, and you're obviously not a programmer. you have some extremely twisted ideas, and flawed reasonings. you sound a bit unbalanced psychologically. becasue you are so far off in your assesments, and strange idealogical justifications. stop wasting your time writing about concepts that you clearly don't understand.

remember, it is fear of the unknown or misunderstood that causes humans to demonize ideas or phenomenon.

don't be afraid of open source, you poor lost soul.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous irish said...

You poor, sad, disillusioned man. GNU=Communism? 1+1=3, pigs do fly and coal is gold are further topics I'd like to see you 'prove'.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mohit one day you will take a job to pull together existing GPL code for a company, and alter it to their specific needs so they can become more productive. Either that or they'll hire someone else to do it.

Your article mentioned something about user-friendly software which made me think you should probably search on the inventor of the mouse to see what he has to say about interfaces. The work he has pursued in recent years suggests where society is inevitably headed.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As a libertarian and the opposite pole to communism I can clearly say you are completely wrong.

Proprietary software == communism && nazism && fascism && islam

GPL'ed software == Freedom As In The Good Old Days(TM)

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Modern globalisation is fascism and communism on international scale.

If Globalisation was about free trade then I'd agree with you on globalisation.

But in fact Globalisation is mostly about striking deals with islamic terrorist countries forcing peaceloving europeans to bow for the gangrapers of Saudi Arabia.iutklfx

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not really fussy about other stuff but the entire OSS community always utilises propaganda just like the manner the commies do which always gets to the head of any sane man Come on OSS ppl if u make something good is it a must that you call that whatever others make is a piece of crap If u make some thing good try to promote it by spreading its virtues and not pointing other's flaws...

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, after searching for a long time over google, i found a really nice analyse of what really is "open source" ideology. Because is nothing more then an ideology. Very soon programmers around the world will understand that this kind of weapon is the worst weapon against Microsoft. As long as open source ideas will continue to spread over programmers, Microsoft will continue to be a big monopolistic company.

I see here that a lot of people have no idea of what is communism (didn't read all comments anyway), but i think that i (from Albania) (with the polish guy also) know better then anyone here what is communism. In what mode it starts, it spreads and it continues.

This resambles properly what "open source" was, is, and will be (from what we see) in the future.

Entusiast technical people, with lack of knowledge in politics, history and economy make always the same errors.

Fortunately, right now there is no direct link with politics, but this is just a question of time.

Best Regards Mohit!
Well done!

Renis Cerga
Tirana, Albania

*Profession: Programmer from 1989
*Studied philosophy in Tirana University

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, a few people have used Apache as an example of GPL software. I would to point out that Apache is not licensed under the GPL. I see this very often - GPL advocates naming software that is not licensed under the GPL as part of an argument as to why the GPL license is superior or neccessary.

So for those of you who enjoy advocating the GPL in public forums, here is a, "cheat sheet", if you will, of software that is not licensed under the GPL (or even a GPL-like license).

ogg vorbis

Those are the major ones I can think of off the top of my head. When arguing a position, it helps not be ignorant of the subject matter. Hopefully the above list will encourage you to go out and learn a little more about this thing you care so much about.

Arguing from a position of ignorance only serves to weaken your argument, and the fact that no one else here has corrected those who impropoerly cited Apache is troubling to me, because it shows a collective ignorance of the FS community in general. Ignorance of the masses is not a good thing.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous HippieHunter said...

Your are perfectly right. First of all, the FSF effectively limits your rights. If you develop an application and use an commercial component, You normally have all options... you can always update to another piece of software. You can do whatever you want to with your software. You can create a leftist gpl commie software if you want to, you can sell it. But if you have ONE component that uses the gpl, you have no more choices. you have to be gpl. therefore its an excellent choice not to use GPL components. With the LGPL its a bit different.

The backbone of the FSF and their approach to copyLEFT (these commie bastards) is the use of the programming language "C". As a consequence, microsoft and other proprietary vendors will focus their energy on putting their APIs into non-c programming environmenets (c#, or java). Hence, the platform vendors itself do no longer expose functionaliry via a C API. C never was a bad thing, and because of those commie bastards we will get a very more closed world.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At one time, Borland was a cool company which employed developers to work on cool tools such as JBuilder, C++ Builder, Delphi, Interbase, etc.

Now they are selling the IDE business. Reason: the profits of the IDE business are dropping FAST because of open source.

Here is a piece of news from

"Borland’s IDE business has been beset by the commoditization of Java IDEs from the open source Eclipse Foundation and by Microsoft’s Visual Studio juggernaut. In May, the company reported revenue from the IDE products of approximately $84 million, or 30 percent of total revenue for 2005. That’s a decline of $49 million, or approximately 37 percent, from 2004, the company said."

Yes, there are a handful of companies making profit out of open source, such as MySQL and Red Hat.. but they are very few.

Many other software companies have been badly hurt by open source software and are struggling, and firing developers in the process.

Because open source, we may all be forced to work on "support and customization" instead of working on new software. Thank you, open source guys, for moving all of the developer guys to janitor-like jobs.

Support and customization SUCKS BIG TIME!

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be quite interested to learn how you arrived at your rather strange assumptions. To make one thing clear: basically, Open Source as well as Free Software are capitalistic. How is that? Simple:
We offer an alternative to proprietary software. In capitalistic terms, this is called 'competition'.
We believe that our alternative is superior, so we evangelize it. In capitalistic terms, this is called 'marketing'.
We do not force it onto people. That would be what you seem to consider communism (which happens to be something very different).
So we are just engaging in something capitalist (your term, not mine) theory calls healthy competition..
I am really hard pressed to see something like benches of struggling programmers with a stallmaneske guy behind them sporting a whip. Proprietary software, that's quite a different ballgame. Oh well, to each his own.
But still: Neither OS nor FS are basically communist. Nor are they threatening your beloved system. I repeat: you do not have to endorse them. The internal workings of individual projects are totally unimportant to their external appearance - or at least they should be. (btw., in Europe we have quite a few commercial organizations constituted on a (near-)socialist base that compete quite well on a capitalist market. Think farmers, especially winegrowers. Without those organisations your affordable italian white / french red / whatever probably wouldn't exist - or just taste awful, because it's cheaper that way.)

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mohit dear, may I know why you chose this path of anti-communism (the basis on which you put forth this flawed assumption of anti-GNU). Have you even read communism properly... do you have any exposure to the rich stream of communism in Indian literature?

Meanwhile, when are you planning to fly to USA... so we can finally put up a disclaimer for your writings...
Attention: This blog is NOT Indian.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Z505 Software said...

Regarding the LinuxToday article called rich and snooty:

"The GPL is geared to share knowledge and information, not capital. If I share code I have written, I still have to figure out a way to get paid. Maybe I will provide services, such as technical support and documentation. "

Hold on a minute. Technical support, consulting, and documentation are forms of information! So restricting the technical support (charging for it) is also a form of restriction. You can't charge for technical support or consulting, because it is restricting the speech.

This is the basic problem and is why I write about it on my website at least once monthly - people don't understand that consulting equals software, software equals information, and information equals software. It's all the same stuff. Charging money for your technical support is indirectly charging money for your source code.

See also:
Some comments made about why charging money for technical support is a form of restriction, and is in the end a reimbursement for source code anyway.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent writing. Open-source is now being exploited by big organizations and destroying small software businesses. We must not let this continue. Please help protect our profession and let programmers know they shouldn't write for open-source.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

I think it is sad that there are not enough people who see the pitfalls of GNU. Open Source may be great for hobbiests and pet projects. But it is not a good way to operate business. And the way that GNU treats software is just sick. The Free software foundation basically believes that all software through the world should all use the GPL, while the GPL is just about as closed minded as you can get. It does not open up the software to be used by many other people, it DEMANDS that all derivative works use the GPL also. The GPL is basically a virus, it attaches itself to software and infects everything that software comes in contact with. It feeds on the greed of people who dont want to pay for any software at all. For many of the hobbiests out there this may be good, but someday I hope to make a living off software, and if all software is free, then developers cannot be paid for their work. It is a terribly flawed system. I think it is wonderful when groups of people decide to jointly write a package of freeware or OSS and release it for the world to benifit from. But when people from the GNU or FSF spew all this tripe about how proprietary software is a "walled garden" which must be broken into, i just cant stand it. I am glad there are others out there who can see this and are working to resist the movement. Cheers.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in response to z505's quote

"...people don't understand that consulting equals software, software equals information, and information equals software."

Yay, just like most computers are basically universal turning machines (minus the infinite capacity thing). While this is technically true, it doesn't usually mean that much in the real world where constraints like 'time' are concerned.

The same argument goes for your little software=information=tech-support blurb. Yes, technically they are all forms of 'information', but in the case of consulting, its format and cost of delivery are a lot different than that of software. Developing open source software solves a problem for both oneself and the community. Giving someone technical support benefits only the person receiving it because you are spending your time fixing their specific problem, or walking them through a process that you already understand.

“...why charging money for technical support is a form of restriction, and is in the end a reimbursement for source code anyway.” Like people here have said dozens of times, the open source community isn't against developers making money on the things they produce.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Finnegan Deuce said...

That's the GNU General Public License, not General Purpose License.

5:22 AM  
Anonymous prisonerx said...

You, neighbor, need to study up on your political science. I can appreciate the ideas you have regarding educating people as to the potential situation they create by using GNU. However, you appear to be (certainly are) a punk to the machine, to say the least and your attempts to slander the work put forth by folks trying to make positive changes in the arena of proprietary IP are nothing but antiquated and fear-induced tripe. Good luck making your fortunes at the expense of others. It would seem to suit you well. FLAME ON!

6:13 AM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

this blog made me lol

looks like someone took too many econ classes and not enough cs

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice analysis and right on the money.

Programmers can, should, and do use source code any way they like. Ignore anyone that tries to tell you what you *must* or *must not* do with it.

Sell it, give it away, use it to line your cat box if you like. And tell the GNU folks (or anyone else that tries to define what "freedom" is) to kiss your butt while you're at it. Now *that's* freedom baby :-)

11:05 PM  
Anonymous The french evil Commie said...

Go on man you are making me laugh so loud that that the pigs will come to my flat if i don't quit soon.

This is a little manifesto to prove you right. It reproduces the structure of the communist manifesto bye K. Marx and it is written (without any humorous intention) by Eben Moglen, a friend of the Evil Richard Stallman, the same guy that put the legal form of GPL.

Kisses from a French commie bastard (that uses GNU/Linux). ;-)
Oh and please do forgive my bad skills in English.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous c0le said...

Well, half way through I was rolling on the floor laughing on your baseless argument. This is just a whole lot of fud. And waste of time.

11:53 AM  
OpenID Sam said...

I'm very happy this blog has started and that I found it....continue the good work to show that GNU philosophy is against honest business. Now, I'm no fan of captialism (I'm a distributionalist), but I'm certainly no fan of communism either. The whole GNU philosophy is obviously arrogant. The only thing the FSF licenses are good for is protecting academics who want to share their research, which is an honorable goal. But as a technical person who makes his living testing, writing, or supporting software....the FSF is obviously silly.

10:51 PM  
Blogger node357 said...

You said FSF discourages paying money for free software. You are wrong. From RMS selling tapes of EMACS to Red Hat selling server operating systems there is money coming in. Capitalism.

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



2:54 PM  
Blogger Free Freak said...

I think GNU is something positive.
Nothing in this world is perfect but it is in the right direction.
I think (if you worry about how to support economical your family) that If you can modify software's in the way that you would sell it, even if you don't have the right to do that, there are alternatives.
For example you can use this mod for FAME or to make a better CV.
(Sorry for my English)

12:17 PM  
Blogger 林俊娟 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[low budget developers end up using GNU GPL. They give up intellectual property rights to the GPL virus]

"Thus the GNU philosophy, like communism, harms very people it claims to protect and breeds enslavement."

I avoid GPL like the plague. I hope it winds up in the dustbin of software. We used to have a big open source initiative at my company, but it hit a brick wall once managers realized what the GPL does. Now paranoid managers force us to verify where everything comes from and we can't even accidentally look at GPL code in case we are contaminated. GPL is a curse and I hate it.

4:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you fart in internet? Go to toilet

7:44 PM  
Blogger Jacob Dawid said...

Sometimes there are different words for the same phenomenon. The one kind of people call it a terrorist, others a hero. Some call GPL'ed software is viral, some say it has an effective way of protecting users freedom. Who is right now? Well, it all depends on your opinion.

I am also developing on GNU - and I am quite happy it is viral, that's what I want it to be. But to me it is rather protecting the freedom that's important here, that's why I emphasize this feature.

On the other hand, you should not give priority of economic reasoning above ethical - this is what Stallman simply says. I give you a simple example: Using slaves is much cheaper and efficient than constructing machines that do the job, too. So from a pure enonomic point of view, slavery is a good thing. Ethically, (I think) we both acknowledge that slavery is not a viable way of making money, so we don't do it. Rather, sometimes we are seeking for probably (personally) more unmfortable ways to achieve the same goal, just to fit our ethics.

The uncomfortability with free software is that you can't squeeze out that much money out of your customers and competition generally is harder (as you stated in your blogpost). It leads to the conclusion that developing free software requires less developers and will build strong competition.

If you are responsible for your family that is a sad thing. But being responsible for someone should not make you drop your ethics.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Sites like this are a good opportunity to double-check one's opinions. I've considered your arguments, And I am still certain that GNU is worth supporting.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Repeatedly in the comments I've seen people say that use of the GPL is voluntary and therefore it's not communism. But that's not exactly true. The viral nature of the GPL means that any developer who writes programs that will interact with code licensed under the GPL, has to use the same license. If I write a kernel module for Linux that makes use of internal kernel structures, I don't get to "volunteer" to use GPL. I'm forced too. That's the metaphorical gun to the head that GPL zealots pretend doesn't exist.

12:33 AM  
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3:24 PM  
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5:38 PM  

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