Monday, September 26, 2005

GNU – A Virtual Communist Manifesto

Chapter 1 : From Cradle To The Grave

In the beginning there was man. Man created machines. And greatest of them was the computer. To interact with these powerful things he created software – to control and dominate them. Then something happened. No, machines didn’t take over and we were not trapped inside Matrix.

Many people saw this development as a perfect business opportunity. They organized themselves into various groups or commercial organizations and started coming up with brilliant ideas on how to better interact with these machines – how to create better software. These groups patented the ideas they developed which were subsequently sold in market for profit.

The software so developed came to be known as proprietary software. The rights for development, debugging, improvement and distribution were reserved with the developers. So the development company would hire the best brains it could get and develop or maintain its software. The improvements carried out were released as different versions that were named/numbered accordingly. Mergers and acquisitions were also common and in some cases were part of expansion and improvement policy.

If you are a capitalist (like me) all this will seem very normal and productive to you.

Now as the years progressed the need for interaction among the machines grew. This led to the birth of the Internet. Internet solved a lot of problems (and created many new ones too). In Thomas Friedman’s words – It created a flat world. Most importantly it brought down the communication costs. Now developers from different geographical locations were able to work on the same project and communicate with their colleagues anywhere on the planet. Thus the transaction cost decreased.

Right from the beginning of the computing era there was a new culture in making. Many call it the Hacker Culture. Initially restricted to academic circles, it involved technicians who simply wanted to fiddle with the existing software. But since the rights of the proprietary software was generally reserved with their developers some of them started designing their own software. This was also the result of inefficiency present in some of the existing software.

The growth of the Internet gave a big boost to hacker culture. It enabled hackers to share their codes with everyone else. This sharing and collaboration ensured continual improvement of their software. Apart from this a lot of security related bugs (flaws in computer program/code) also started surfacing and it was becoming increasingly difficult for the software companies to remove them on regular basis. All this made it quite clear that the current business model (of proprietary software) wasn’t adequate anymore. Thus it was from necessity – to produce efficient software – that Open Source movement was born.

Eric S. Raymond proves this point quite nicely in his famous essay “The cathedral and the bazaar”. According to him, given a large number of people, software development could be very effective. Hence a large pool of beta testers can indeed find bugs much faster and eventually fix them. Furthermore, he laid down rules that software utilizing bazaar model must follow to maximize its gains. Moreover, he makes it fairly clear that one cannot code in bazaar style from scratch. The bazaar model offers maximum gains while testing, debugging and improving the software rather than designing it from the ground up. Thus a successful “bazaar style” software must have a coordinator (who may or may not be the original designer) who is not only a good designer but has leadership qualities and is capable of keeping his beta-testers constantly stimulated. So we had scientific method of increasing efficiency and productivity but the challenge to absorb it into a profitable business model remained.

So what did companies do to turn these events into business opportunity? Well, as you might have guessed everyone tried different things – some (read Microsoft) resisted it and went into war mode. Others like IBM developed better proprietary software over the open source software and reinvested part of their profits in development of open source. Many more ideas flowed in which ranged from mere political gimmick to very productive ones. I’ll have to write a different essay to cover that. For this one I’ll focus on a very different trend or rather a movement (as some may call) called GNU.

GNU is a recursive acronym for “GNU's Not UNIX”. Some developers (though they were more of politicians) felt that Open Source movement is all about achieving technical and economic objectives. They wanted to give this movement a moral and ethical angle – to take it from practicality to ideology. Hence a new movement called Free Software movement or GNU movement was born.

At the moment I am unable to think of more appropriate quote than this – The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from it. To induct moral standards, to accuse every commercial organization of monopoly and cry out for freedom of people is best trait a communist can show. I am NOT saying that we should not consider ethics, no organization is monopolistic and freedom is unnecessary. What I am saying is that these things cannot be achieved by idealism like communism. History has repeatedly shown that these things are best left to market forces – which is one of the biggest democratic forces. What is essential to make these market forces effective is adequate competition. When customers have options to choose from, they will themselves opt for most ethical company and that in itself is true freedom. The monopolistic companies will be forced to change their habits or loose business (that’s what is happening to Microsoft). This is exactly what open source movement was initially about – changing customers into co-developers – that is before communist driven Free Software movement took over.

Many developers consider the two movements – open source and free - to be same. Although at times the two do seem to be complementary and striving for similar goals but that’s simply not true. Free software movement has not given open source movement moralistic overtones – it has made it a communist movement.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following comment was written by nsanity in Network Security Forums:
1. The internet made the OSS movement more efficient, but it started even before the internet went mainstream. Hackers have been around since the 60s and 70s. Lest we forget that Unix started in the 60s at AT&T.

2. I think many people who call this "communism" are scared rich people who feel threatened by the OSS movement enough to call it communism. They can't control it. I also believe that people who haven't used it or haven't been able to comprehend the business model would call it this as well.

Have you seen Revolution OS? Have you read the Cathedral and the Bazaar? Have you talked with developers who's bread and butter are OSS? Obviously you know little about the business model that OSS creates, or how it can symbiotically co-exist with other technology, support it or accentuate it and create a richer environment. OSS helps me pay my bills every day.

This "movement" I think scares people because they can't control it, and that's what most people like to be able to do. They like to be able to control it. In a world where it seems like everything wants to be controlled... and this is exactly the opposite.

Oh no! This means we have to re-think our stategies... it means we have to bring our own products up to snuff! It means that we have to make our software something that people WANT to buy. Is that so hard? I write code for a living, and believe me it's not.

3. ASIDE from what I just said, you don't really back it up with why you think it's communism. You say it's communist-like, and that it has communist traits, and the title calls it a "virtual communist manifesto" but... where's the beef?

Define the free/open software movements. I know the difference, but if people read this and don't know the difference, you'll leave them confused. Is that an accident? What makes it so horrible? It's like you published an incomplete thought. Very sloppy.

I'll stop now because if I continued, I'd not get any work done.

Flame on! (if you have something interesting to say, give me an e-mail. I'm always up for a good debate.)

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following comment was written by M/Q in Network Security Forums:
I do not want to get into an argument at all. This is one of those unresolvable personal opinions of a very complicated issue. It is easy to see your political allegiance and that is fine. Also debate on this business model fracture has been going on for years, you just focussed it on a specific business plan.

I see many statements with unsubstantiated or loosely substantiated proof if you will (aka blog). The one statement that interested me the most, has a spelling error that you may want to correct as it adds a rather ironic twist.

"When costumers have options to choose from, they will themselves opt for most ethical company and that in itself is true freedom."

I also would be interested in hearing from these developers as to what they think about you calling them communists. In somewhat alarming statements like that you need to define significant terms, other-wise people are going to use their personal meanings and any kind of resolution will be un-attainable.

I really cannot comment on that personally as I have not figured out how you made the leap between two different business ideologies and then changed it to business versus communism.

I only commented as I felt it important to fix the typo as it will distract from your intended personal opinions. I can see this becoming another heated thread real fast and a totally fruitless debate which helps no one. To help that end I am limiting myself to just this one post.

As usual, just my humble opinion.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Deidre Bair said...


8:51 PM  
Blogger Karmic Nirvana said...

Feels like Deja Vu as I had also written something on the lines of this...
The dumb and the dumber - Open Source, GNU, Linux et al.

9:44 PM  
Blogger bigpicture said...

I see some chronological sequencing in this article that to my understanding is incorrect. Firstly it was the open source software and the associated hacker hobbyists that came first, and not the propriety commercial software. Secondly I understood that Stallman devised the original GNU way back when, to protect the open source hacker code, because since this did come first, some of it was used in the original propriety software, (stolen???) because it was not protected by any license. Was there not open source hacker code in CP/M, that eventually turned into DOS?

8:36 AM  
Blogger bigpicture said...

I see some chronological sequencing in this article that to my understanding is incorrect. Firstly it was the open source software and the associated hacker hobbyists that came first, and not the propriety commercial software. Secondly I understood that Stallman devised the original GNU way back when, to protect the open source hacker code, because since this did come first, some of it was used in the original propriety software, (stolen???) because it was not protected by any license. Was there not open source hacker code in CP/M, that eventually turned into DOS?

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well i think your just a moron! you just dont get it do you? in the context of free software, free means freedom to see, modify the source code and redistribute and not price.

and even if you cannot charge for the software, you are not prevented from charging for service. does 'redhat' ring a bell?

finally, communism has an element of force. the whole idea of communism as described by karl marx should be implemented by force because no one in his sane mind would work all day long and just give his earnings to the govt.

im waiting for the day the world will be free from money, free software and open source will pave the way for it. apparently there are other worlds out there where money is non-existent because highly advanced technology made it irrelevant.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you need to check you facts if you're trying to make a serious argument. GNU and Free Software predate Open Source Software by years

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you were able to string together such an elaborate array of non-sequiturs, historical inaccuracies and misunderstandings. There are some similarities to theoretical communism, but that word is now so loaded that your use of it is disingenuous. One of the greater differences between software and other commodities is that once written the cost per additional unit is nominal. Why should computer science differ from the other scientific domains with regard to sharing of knowledge?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider also that not all open source software uses a 'viral' licence - there are numerous alternative licences such as those used by BSD that do not require code be given back to the public domain. You have the freedom to use any software you like or if you don't like the way it's licensed, write your own.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With much of the software industry in Europe and the US having moved to lower wage countries, like India, people that like to do programming had either to focus on something else (and continue programming as a leisure) or work for the adaption of software to match very local demands that could not be outsourced easily. Both parties profit from GNU software.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems that you live in india, tell me honest do you have LICENCES to the windows software you own. I live in India as well and we all know how rampant piracy is here.

just because there are some high paying MNC jobs at Microsoft doesnt make the whole thing good. Maybe 10 years down the line these jobs will move elsewhere, I would love to see your capitalist credentials then

6:56 PM  
Blogger UltraCrepidarian said...

One of the most elaborate Tinfoil hat tirades I've heard in years. Thanks for the belly laugh. You really don't get it, do you? Are you annoyed that the OSS movement may limit the heights of arrogance which major software vendors can scale to, and it may thereby limit your own chosen career path? Do you want to work for Microsoft? Or are you just a 'capitalist' on principal? Guess what? There are quite a few very rich capitalists out there who have GNU GPL'd products out there. How does that figure into your twisted logic?


7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lord God Almighty.... will you please review your facts and timelines before spewing forth this bullshit!? Go read Rebel Code for a nice place to understand how the current Free Software movement started! GNU and FSF PRE-DATE Open Source ideas you fuckin' moron!

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free software, as exemplified by GPLed software, is the epitome of capitalism. After all, development takes time, time is money (and if you disagree here, hire a consultant that will work without compensation, and tell me how that works out), and source code is chosen for further work based on the merit of the project. The GPL ENSURES payment in kind (access to future work) for enhancing a GPLed product. Indeed, enhancing a GPLed product is a kind of investment - if the product is good enough to 'make it' (helped along by your investment in time), you will reap many other contributions to the project.

Even if you decide that $$ are the only possible compensation possible for capitalism, the proprietary/shrinkwrap vendors are the smallest minority of IT. Most work is done in-house, and Free software would have no effect on compensation for those workers; most software houses that hawk their own products (and I have worked for plenty over the last 26 years) use those products as a kind of trojan to get their consultants into a targeted business anyway - GPLed software would work just as well. They make far more money on the consulting side than they do from the licenses.

Artificial scarcity as practiced/enforced by proprietary vendors is doomed to eventual failure - it's a relic of the 19th and early 20th century manufacturing economic philosophy (when it was inconceivable that the 'supply' part of the equations could be essentially unlimited).

In short, not only are many facts in this article incorrect, but it's conclusions are unwarranted as well.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My, my. I remember being young, back in the mid-70s. That was when IBM was the company everyone loved to hate. They used to have user conferences, somewhat like MacWorld. Do you know what they were called? SHARE conferences. And they lived up to the name. At every one, attendees could pick up a book with the source code to utilities written by system admins (called system programmers in those days, because that was what we did). IBM not only encouraged the sharing, they contributed. Why did they do that? Because it contributed to their profits. The more useful computers were to their customers, the more customers they were able to attract.

Then one of their own engineers, named Gene Amdahl, started a company by the same name to build "plug compatible" mainframes. You may have seen the graph comparing the price of hardware and the price of software. It looks like an X with hardware prices going down and software prices going up. (You see, software, including the source, used to be given away by the computer manufacturers because the hardware was proprietary, so the software had very little value.) The point at which they cross is about 1 year after Amdahl installed its first computer. About 20 years later, software patents were found acceptable by the US PTO.

The point of this history lesson is that business climates change, usually in reaction to the status quo. Richard Stallman found himself in a situation that he did not like and set out to do something about it. What he did was to invent a license that turned the status quo upside down. The GPL is a capitalistic tool, just like a proprietary license, but instead of enforcing the hiding of source code, it enforces the sharing of source code. Enough people have agreed with him and built software licensed under the GPL that the Free ("libre") Software movement is now a potent force.

So, while you may find yourself in a situation that you don't like and are trying to do something about it, calling the GPL communistic is completely inaccurate, and you will not find very many intelligent people agreeing with you. And if your aim is to make money in the software business, you want to convince intelligent people.

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Marc DM said...

The arguments you've put forth against the GPL, I believe is the same reason the LGPL was created.

A developer has the choice of license(s) that s/he applies to the resulting software.

So it's cool that we (you) have problems with the GPL in it's current state. It's called debugging .

And, they're working on a new version too :)

My point is that Freedom is about choice. We have the choice of using the GPL in our code, or some other licensing scheme.

The viral nature of the GPL is intentionally designed to protect developers that choose to release their code as GPL. Nothing more, nothing more, nothing less.

5:18 AM  
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...

I could write about how uninformed you are, Michael Tiemans explains how he made a many millions from GPL software.

As an aside, my customers pay $100/hr U.S. because they want to deal with an American that they can talk to, instead of $10/hr for someone from India that they can't understand. (The irony is that my grandfather marched in the Salt Marches.)

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To induct moral standards, to accuse every commercial organization of monopoly and cry out for freedom of people is best trait a communist can show."
So most religions are communist, as they represent moral standards? The US were founded as a communist state (anyone remember the "land of the free" thing)? Yeah, sure.
Denouncing as communist anyone who doesn't share ones views is the best trait a troll can show.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GNU - A Virtual Communist Manifesto

1. The author’s entire argument is based on a cynical perspective of the world. Here in his own words is one of the many examples: “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.”
2. This is the same “attack dog” mentality often used in politics to get something someone wants, completely regardless and with direct contempt toward whether it is good for everyone being considered.
3. The author, with great disregard for the reality of the GNU and FSF development impact, neglects to mention –other than in the context of grudging , tertiary reference- the force exerted on software companies to clean up their act or lost to free software.
4. The author seems to either forget, or is not old enough to remember the near tyranny of software companies who “lorded it over” their licensees (i.e., customers) before another choice was available. Software companies themselves abandoned their software suppliers in favor of open source, to get themselves out from under onerous licensing and contracts.
5. Companies do not mind hiring staff to: “install, maintain and configure” open source code, because it is often more cost effective to the corporations’ respective bottom lines.
6. The author is hypocritical in that the Indian economy has grown by leaps and bounds specifically because of Free Software! The Indian marketplace has competed heavily with American companies and has been successful SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF FREE SOFTWARE AND OPEN SOURCE PROCESS IMPLEMENTATION. Without it, India would not have made the gains it has made in the past fifteen years.
7. Most technology corporations, software and hardware have recognized the value brought forth by the “marketplace of ideas” and recognize that without those ideas, their products would not be as high a quality. Many companies support open source specifically because that “marketplace of ideas” supports their capitalist business models.
8. An entire industry of distribution selection and specialized configuration programming has grown up around the GNU model. Redhat, SuSE, even Apple, and SUN (the list is very long), etc. have and continue to make money by merely packaging and enhancing existing code, developed by the open source community. That is an unparalleled service to the capitalist environment in a nearly egregiously offensive manner. The financial leverage in that kind of situation has been a tremendous boon to these corporations who hire programmers, professional services staff, administrative staff, other technical staff, etc., who in turn are paid a salary and earn a living. This satisfies the FSF quote referenced by the author: “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...”, albeit in a different manner that which he proposes.
9. In the author’s statement: “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. He places the “blame” for inferior software on the customer, claiming it is the customer who should be expected to carry the burden of a poorly designed product. I wonder if the author would feel the same way of he lost a relative in a car accident while driving an automobile of a questionable design; or if someone he cared for was maimed by a machine whose guard fell off, exposing the person to danger, due once again to poor design.
a. Not good enough? Would it be acceptable to the author if the software his bank uses, whose security is so poor that it allows back-door entry and compromises his accounts and the accounts of thousands of his neighbors, relatives and friends, losing millions of dollars, were to have no remedy against the company who put the banks customers in harms way?
10. If the author does not want to develop under the FSF/GNU paradigm, perhaps he has a better way he’d like to design and promulgate. How about it Mr. Author, where is the text of the license you propose?

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Angeltc said...

Hi and hello. Well, I want to give my opinion even if you dont read it.
Whatever you want to say, I have to say congratulations to you, I see that you are not a radicalist that says "I love Microsoft" or "Kill Stallman", I see that you have a nice open ranged point of view.
But my point is that, as Im not communist nor capitalist but anarchist-communist ( really weird mind of mine ), The GNU Movement is really far away from communism, the GNU movement have been giving me chances to learn and to develop for over 3 years, Im a young person and I dont have money or time to learn and work, but the open source gave me those chances, and now Im a better developer and even Im richer. The GNU movement is as open ranged as you opinion, As I can sell my software with no problems but follow the GNU License, as I can give it all for free and spect donations if my software is good, you may see examples like Wikipedia and Ubuntu Linux, fundations that survive only from donations and they actually are very competitive companies on their camp, Wikipedia, as I see it is very above from Encarta from Microsoft.
So, this is my point of view. I hope you read it, and I say it just cause the little money I have, was the GNU movement that gave it to me.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Matteo said...

Hello all. Stop commenting and see
I was wondering what about the author was referring to when he wrote "I'm a capitalist". Take a look to and you'll understand how confused he is.

6:22 PM  
Blogger s p q r said...

* * * * * * * * * PLONK * * * * * * * * * * * *

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GNU is great. I find it is the subjacent idea of Linux, which I like very much.

Though I seriously doubt these tech people's ability to choose mascots. GNU's gnu, Python's python, Linux' penguin? Could it be worse?

Oh, BTW, you're off-mark, son. GNU's a good thing, even my 7-year daughter knows it. Your efforts to fight it are totally futile.
So I say to you: don't lose your time. Or lose it, after all, you're free to choose!


6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... is Linux. is GNU software.

Hey dude, you need to eat your own dogfood.

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But what's the big deal? You don't want to develop stuff that's covered by the GPL? That's OK! Don't use that code! Nobody's forcing you to. It's damn good code? Hell, yes! But it's not the only one available. Go ask Microsoft and they will tell you... won't they?

Oh, and by the way... how's it that total freedom can be comunism? That still bugs me! You even have the freedom to NOT use gpl code.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Matthew W. S. Bell said...

The word 'viral' is a terrible misnomer in this case.
It is true that if you distribute or publically display a work that contains portions, whole or otherwise, from a copyrighted work that is licensed under the GPL, then you have to do so under the GPL. The solution to stop this, is to not use a work under the GPL. You can't usually distribute or publically display proprietary works/software under their standard licenses anyway; well, excluding fair use, which goes for works under the GPL too. If the author is willing he can even relicense the work for you to distribute or publically display; although when there are many, many authors, this becomes difficult.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im sorry but who ever wrote this is completly retarted uneducated and unlearned. Please research communism before you relate open source to it. It may be similar in the fact that it is achieving an equal community, but it is in no way controlled by one big source (government). The people that do this for free are some how lessened because they dont charge for it? Yes this makes sense.... Also please dont down play Linux just because you have an opinion. Just say you like microsoft and save your breath. Linux may not be right for everyone but fuck you if you down play it just because it isnt microsoft (IBM has no money.....) yeah right.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be a real confusion in the article about what free software is. The 'free' in free software relates to the freedom to access, modify and redistribute the source code (why is this communism? - can you imagine being able to modify and distribute Das Kapital in the old USSR?).

Sure, the author is aware of this but then devotes a lot of time to focussing on the free (as in gratis) aspect of free software. A lot of free software is, well, free but this is not a requirement. You can sell 'free software'.

But, I suppose it is the bastions of hardcore communism like IBM, Novell, Sony, and Philips that the author fears.Those bastards are just champing at the bit to overthrow capitalism and institute a Worker's Paradise.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous wotp said... is associated with which is front for Ayn Rand's Objectivism (notice that her intellectual heir, Leonard Peikoff, writes on capmag). I'm not sure if you have read Atlas Shrugged yet, but you have swallowed her ideas whole. NO ONE in academic philosophy takes Ayn Rand's ideas seriously. Most of her ideas came from others like Adam Smith anyway. Kant's 'Copernican Revolution' (and everyone after him) is a good starting point for why her entire method is flawed.

You have very rigid ideas about property, what it is, and its owners rights. Free software is not about property (especially in the sense of Marx's private property [distinct from possessions], which Marx viewed as a remnant of the power/political structure of older modes of production like feudalism and slavery). Its creators and users don't view it as property. Although I bet you already have some proof for how you know computer instructions are objectively legal property anyway.

I'm not a Communist, just an ex-Randroid. What philosophers do you read? Have you ever taken an upperlevel philosophy class? Keep in mind that Marx had nothing to do with any of the Communist contries who's leaders built off of his philosphy; they existed at different times (Marx died in 1883, the Soviet revolution wasn't until 1917). None of the modern Communist contries would have fit Marx's definition of communism. Despite your technical research, your philosophical premises make your argument uncogent. Go back to poetry.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if Indians can afford a 200 dollars copy of Winblows...

Future belongs to GNU...

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free software is the way forward.

You are very keen to suggest that being similar to theoretical comunism is a bad thing. This is not the case, in a true comunism everyone is equal and has the same wealth and works the sam as everyone else, this is surely a good thing. The only problem with comunism is that is easily snaps into facism, this cannot occur with GPLed software as the act of releasing it under the GPL makes the code free and avalable to every one and that status cannot be removed or controled.

What is wrong with the concept of a viral licence? I create some code and release it under some licence, the licence is in effect a "will", stating my wishes for my creation, if someone else uses my code I would like my wishes for my code to have an impact on their software especialy if it is the generous wish for fredom.

What if not cost is a deciding factor? Usability you say? These things are being worked on and improved all the time, I think you would not say the same thing about DOS? Windos 3.1? windows ME (OMG)?
OSS Is improving all the time and is already better in many cases than the alternatives. For a basic enduser KDE is better than windows IMO.

Just ny thoughts...

11:04 AM  
Blogger MiPu said...

It's look like presentation own "problem with acceptation" of the "altruism" of open-source and free software developers

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After sifting out the fluff your argument comes down to Sharing is Communism. Which is not quite right, Enforced Altruism is Communism, and Sharing is Building a Community. Shades of meaning, but not so subtle when you live them.

The key here is that no one forces you to use OSS. Force is the ingredient that turns Charity to Altruism and Community into Communism.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should one software company be allowed to own and control almost all of the software industry?

Monopolistic capitalism is communism. The poor shared what meager table scraps the Soviet goverment would allow them. Most of the Russians were poor, while Stalin and his cronies lived like billionaires. This is why most post-communist countries still have third world living standards. Do you honestly think Stalin shared? Do you think that Putin does now?

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your effort of opening the eyes of other programmers regarding the GNU and open source software.

The problem with open source software is that it undermines the ability of other programmers to make a living!

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a programmer uses GPL licensed code he is aware of the license and it's implications. You are not denying him anything as his free will made him choose GPL code.

Why can people not write code for free if they want to ? Next you will be telling me I cannot give my neighbour a beer for free or the begger in the street 20c as somewhere I'm depriving someone of a potential income.

Capitalism/greed is a bigger evil in my book than OSS/GPL and I think people are tired of it and the only ones complaining are the capitalists & governments they lobby with $$$ to look after their interest. If you think the world is run/controlled by the vote of the man in the street then you are wrong, it's run by big corporations.

It's scary when you see control slipping away from you...

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you dont like GPL there is always the BSD license....

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ehm.... You bash linux bat your site is linux powered....
How do U explain this???
Moreover, your info are not accurate. Seem that you don't know what are you talinkg about.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Great texts, I wish you had more links to similar sites. Programmers are here only group which suffers. Red hat and others earn money, but mostly on support, documentation, etc, IBM on hardware with preinstalled linux, etc. So programmers made it all, so somebody else could get rich, and we are still talking about Big corporations, only difference is that Microsoft PAYED programmers for its software. Also free like in freedom, LOL, if freedom is that everyone can sell your own software (which is by fs definition) then free is exactly the same as $0. Well, sincerely, you can sell one first copy :)
Actualy FSS is trying to legalize piracy, which is of course great fpr everyone but programmers. Please dont respond with I am X programmer from country Y, and I am earning $50/hour working on OS software. Well, imagine that you and your friends instead of giving your (often very good software) to someone to get rich with it, try to offer documentation, service, etc, and sell it as they do. Or why dont you pay someone $50/hour to make documentation and/or support and you get the real money. Of course if you think writing documentation for software is harder than writing the software itself, in that case you are right.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as I'd love to write a long, detailed counter argument, I have neither the time nor the inclination. I stumbled upon this article and I shall only say that you apparently have no understanding of liberalism, communism, the open source movement or the human condition. I suggest you get out more.

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, all I have to say has been said in earlier posts, but still, this is somewhat obnoxious, so I feel compelled...

1. The point some people (including the author of the original post) try to make seems to be something along the lines of "Oh, bugger, GPL doesn't let me cannibalize some code someone else wrote and sell it for a huge profit" or something like that. Oh well, just don't use that code, then, if you think that's the better business model. (Actually, I don't...) But the mere fact that it's even there for you to see is basically due to the idea of free software.

2. The notion "us, the developers, are forced to put out code for free while the distributors get rich" or suchlike is patently absurd. First of all, no-one forces you to do anything. If you turn out code and put it under the GPL, that's entirely your choice (as long as you don't use GPL'ed code, see above). Secondly, I know of no distributor just making money by distributing. They generate their revenues by enhancements and - first and foremost - by support. Who stops you doing the same?

3. That communism thing. Ah well. Sorry, but the author of the original post seems american to me. USA citizen, to be more precise. I know of no other country where "Communism" is that much of a taboo. From a political viewpoint, we should get one thing clear: At least in the last couple of centuries, at least in the so-called civilized world, there has been absolutely no such thing as a "communist state". I mean, really. Even the acronym "USSR" means "Union of Socialist Soviet Republics". If you don't know the difference between Socialism and Communism, I recommend to do your homework before posting. Try Wikipedia and work along from there.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have removed Linux from all my PC's and the notebook, not because of technical problems, but because of stupidity and primitivism of GNU activists. I didn't want people to think that I have anything in common with GNU, FSF and Stallman. I am in IT business and I don't want my customers to think that I am part of it. Now I am running FreeBSD.

I was particularly shocked after the "community" reaction to Novell-Microsoft deal.

I am glad that there are people that are not infected with that GNU insanity.


7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done! Long and tedious as this article was, it was still a tremendous feat to pack in so many fallacies, non-sequiturs, absurd assumptions, and simultaneously demonstrate complete ignorance of politics, economics, recent history (legal and technical), philosphy, and logic. Outstanding achievement!

If your profile is correct, you were about 11 when I started using Linux. You're just too young to remember what commodity PC OSs were like before Linux put a fire under Microsoft's ass, and too ignorant of history, politics, and economics to understand why a non-free (speech and beer) OS could never have radically changed the landscape the way Linux has: Coherent, Minix, and others had zero impact on the juggernaut. Even people who've never heard of Linux have benefited hugely from it.

I wouldn't let someone with your critical reasoning skills design a paper airplane, let alone a mainframe.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Jamon Ham presunto said...



1:00 AM  
Blogger Bernaridho Hutabarat said...

Anonymous said...

> The problem with open source
> software is that it undermines
> the ability of other programmers > to make a living!


> Artificial scarcity as practiced/
> enforced by proprietary vendors
> is doomed to eventual failure.

Hell, no. Steve Jobs and Apple
do not put all their software
free, and they are not doomed to

> 2. The notion "us, the
> developers, are forced to put
> out code for free while the
> distributors get rich" or
> such like is patently absurd.

You've never been to Indonesia, have you. And how many countries have you visited before making this claim? In Indonesia there are Linux distributors making money more than the programmers.

> I know of no other country where
> "Communism" is that much of a
> taboo.

You've never visited much countries, have you? At least you probably haven't live quite sometime in Indonesia to know that talking about Communism here is very taboo for 32 years. You shouldn't make any stupid claim like this.

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh .... Very vague ideas indeed .... that too being and Indian .... and such a lame understanding of OSS .. cool ... u dude are a proprietary moron .... i suggest u go out and read more about ..... OSS ... u understand very little about what it is ... i thought Indians are smart people .... u might be an exception ....

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Open Source is a very real and commercial alternative to proprietary UNIX and this is proved by so many commercial LINUX companies Out there .... in every possible thing ... desktop, servers, laptop , cellular phones , appliances ...
No other proprietary solution can give computer education to so many people in countries like Somalia ..... OSS is going to stay .... u better watch it bro ....

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communism is great to .. someone in that country .... u dont make a claim about that ... if u have never lived in a communist country ...

9:03 PM  
Blogger John said...

LOL your AGAINST people giving things away for free? thats not communism thats generosity. Didn't your mommy ever teach you to share? and guess what the best part about it is? you can change and modify what was shared with you into something better or completely different and the only condition is that you share it with others. does that really sound like a bad thing?

7:47 AM  
Blogger Marco F. said...

This myth that “Free SW is communism” is still around… and it may damage Free Software more now than five or ten years ago, when almost nobody knew what FS is anyway. After a couple of recent comments on Linux Today I put together an interview with some facts, which I hope you will find useful:


12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this guy is brahmin or at least a high caste moron. These people are the one who restricted knowledge to the low-caste people. They forced them to do all the menial jobs and they reserved high profit jobs for themselves. They didn't even allowed the dalits to read their vedas (holy books) for thousands of years. No wonder this guy wants to keep development with few elites and enforce it on others ruthlessly. Being here in India and working as a developer, I earn 20k per month. But can I buy copies of xp, photoshop, ms office, anti-virus etc for myself and my dad (both second hand PCs bought for 6k each). I use Fedora. I do translations and other menial documentations for the community. You call me communist? I call you hindutva terrorist!

8:26 PM  
Blogger budden said...

Hi! What makes me scared is a distinct satanic symbolism of GNU.

This picture shows some strange entity which is not a human, not a beast. It resembles a Baphomet.

Also, FSF embleme ( ) shows a snake at the tree, if you rotate the picture 90 degrees (this symbolism is also at the important currency signs, including dollar, euro and british pound).

Sence of GNU term is unclear. It is well known that "GNU's not UNIX". Attempt to follow recursion would lead to stack overflow only, not to any reasonable reply.

Well, what's GNU after all?

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to read your blog, but white text on black background doesn't work well for lengthy reading.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The various Communist parties (Autocratic remember) around the world can assure you directly that they themselves are Pro-Proprietary. Ask them. They are very Totalitarian about it.
The Free Software Foundation, thankfully, is rife with Pro-Democracy activists, many of whom are themselves capitalist. Democracy has proven itself to be the only true guarantee of equality and it is here that many capitalists themselves are forced despite their hard sell to cede to fair play: Consumers have freedom of choice. Here it is this freedom of choice that the Free Software Foundation is safeguarding.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous GNG is Not GNU said...

The GNU GPL scam is exposed at "GNG is Not GNU website", showing that The Free Software Foundation had over 1 million dollars in the bank account in 2001, and yet stallman has been quoted as saying "you see we have been so successful at developing software because we have done it without any money".. Eben Moglen has had a salary of 6 figure income ($281,000).... and stallman lies saying it is all done without money. exposes stallman with all kinds of evidence, direct quotes, screenshots (of salaries), bank account details..

A modern religious cult practicing DoubleSpeak similar to George Orwell 1984 movie.

The free software movement started really developing software in 1984.. Coincidence...

GNU GPL is not about free speech it is about free cost. The legal contract in the license says

"Must be licensed free of charge"

in section 11.

All these details are available at the "GNG is Not GNU" website

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are misguided in what the GPL license is about. What you perceive as communist, and capitalist, is in fact the opposite, and Stallman is right that it is about freedom.

To give you an idea, I'm an anarcho-capitalist, and couldn't, as such be more remote from communism. I start from the dogma that state and law are oppressive means to entitle a small elite to undeserved wealth, extorted from many. This sounds like Marx, and Marx made the correct observation, but suggested the wrong answer, by proposing even more state to halt the extortion by state and law - that's communism, and is bound to fail of course: you do not heal by increasing the dose of what makes you ill.

What is utterly wrong in our state-capitalist system, are laws that protect intellectual property. Laws that protect property find their origin in the evil of theft, but theft is evil because it TAKES AWAY rightly owned stuff. If you have a piece of bread, and I take it away, you don't have it any more, and that's the bad part of theft.

However, if I study, look, analyse, learn, imitate, I'm doing what set humans apart from animals. We became great as a species, because we analyse, learn, imitate. By imitating me, by copying me, you don't take away anything from me, except *my power to frustrate others*.

The hackers' movement was a natural and human response to that fundamental human property of analysing, learning, telling others, imitating, copying.

Intellectual property laws is what makes a small elite rich on the basis of the effort of many.

The GPL wants essentially to fight intellectual property rights in a subtle way, by abusing the extortion laws and taking them at their own game.

Of course, by definition, if you write something under GPL, you *give it away*. You can only guarantee that nobody is going to become rich by frustrating others on the basis of your gift. So you will not be able to do so yourself either. If your goal is to frustrate others and be assisted in doing so by repressive laws, you shouldn't give away your code. That's the essence of the GPL as I understand it: to be an eternal repository of free gifts nobody will be able to use in the amplifying pyramid of extortion, which is the basis of our state-capitalism based upon IP laws.

Fighting that is not communism, it is anarchism (that is, freedom fighting from oppressive extortion states and their laws).

One could think of a totally different business model of code development under GPL: crowd funding. People who want/need/desire a new development pay in advance some development that will then be rendered public under the GPL. Who will pay for that ? All those who need it, where their need isn't rooted in the frustration that they will be able to set up.

If I really need a text processor, then I might propose crowd funding for a text processor. Everybody needing a text processor can participate in it. Once I have my text processor, I don't mind that others have it too. It has been tailored to my needs. I can now do the things with it, that I wanted to do. That there is now a text processor in the wild is not a problem: it solves MY PROBEMS. Of course, that's not a way to buy "competitive advantage". But then, it shouldn't be. Competitive advantage shouldn't be so cumulative that it makes pyramids of over-wealthy, profiting from all those elements underneath which are essentially under-paid because they had to trade their individual intellectual contribution without the lever arm of the top part of the pyramid. If there were no restrictive IP laws, GPL wouldn't be needed, as anything could be legally reverse engineered. The GPL adds the little perversity that you are now supposed to *help* those imitating you. That's brilliant.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'd like to read your blog, but white text on black background doesn't work well for lengthy reading. "


7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'd like to read your blog, but white text on black background doesn't work well for lengthy reading. "


FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7:45 AM  

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