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Why Free Software Really Matters
Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 01:56 PM EDT

Groklaw's Shawn Boyette has written an article for Groklaw on why Free Software really matters. He tells anecdotally what this MIT research paper, "Management & Virtual Decentralised Networks: The Linux Project," [PDF] posits, that lowering barriers to entry and participation and utilizing a virtual, decentralized management structure are superior to command-and-control hierarchies when it comes to software development.

The MIT paper traces the history of business management structures, like bureaucracies, the assembly line, closed hierarchies, strategic alliances, economic webs, and the "learning paradigm," and then compares the open Linux-style of networked organization -- virtual, decentralized collaboration -- with Microsoft, "the archetypical centralised model in the industry".

The paper concludes that the Linux development style is superior, precisely because it favors and enables creativity and flexibility, by allowing anyone to participate, including users. Shawn writes about the role Free Software plays in making it possible to learn, so as to be able to participate.

Here's a brief excerpt from the paper, and the quotations are from interviews done for the study:

However, "the Linux movement did not and still does not have a formal hierarchy whereby important tasks can be handled out -- a kind of self-selection takes place instead: anyone who cares enough about a particular program is welcomed to try" . . . . But if his work is not good enough, another hacker will immediately fill the gap. In this way, this 'self-selection' ensures that the work done is of superb quality. Moreover this "decentralisation leads to more efficient allocation of resources (programmers" time and work) because each developer is free to work on any particular program of his choice as his skills, experience and interest best dictate." . . .

In contrast, "under centralised mode of software development, people are assigned to tasks out of economic considerations and might end up spending time on a feature that the marketing department has decided is vital to their ad campaign, but that no actual users care about". . . .

The authority of Linus Torvalds is restricted to having the final word when it is coming to implementing any changes (code that has been sent to him). On the other hand, he cannot be totalitarian since everything is done under perfect transparency. Most communication takes place at the linux mailing list (which serves as a central discussion forum for the community and is open to the public) and Linus has to justify all his decisions based on solid technical arguments. The management's accountability is essential and only by earning the community's respect, leadership can be maintained. . . . There is only one layer between the community of Linux developers and Linus: the "trusted lieutenants". . . .

Massive parallel development is evident in the case of Linux. "In a conventional software development process, because of economic and bureaucratic constraints, parallel efforts are minimized by specifying the course of development beforehand, mandated by the top. In Linux, such constraints are absent since Linux is sustained by the efforts of volunteers. In the 'Cathedral', parallelism translates to redundancy and waste, whereas in the 'Bazaar', parallelism allows a much greater exploration of a problem-scape for the global summit and the OSS process benefits from the ability to pick the best potential implementation out of the many produced". . . .

The critical business process in both Microsoft and Linux is the development process. Microsoft is characterised by centralised development since most activities take place in one site: Redmont, Seattle. [pj: sic. It's Redmond, Washington.] Brook's Law (co-ordination costs and complexity grow with the square of developers but work done rises linearly) holds strongly in every physical software development model and MS is not an exception. Therefore, the cost of co-ordination is high.

On the other hand, Linux is synonymous to decentralisation since the project is developed by thousands of dispersed people who collaborate under no central planning. It defies Brook's Law because of its parallel release structure, extreme modularity, 'trusted lieutenants' structure and as a consequence, co-ordination costs are almost negligible.

Microsoft has elaborated on a development model (synch-and-stabilize) that may be identified as parallel when compared to the conventional 'sequential' model . . . but is still far from comparable to the incredibly parallel development model of Linux. This is partly attributed to the Linux parallel release structure and mainly because of Linux being an open system that encourages anyone to participate. This is not the case with MS that naturally "encourages" (employs) only a tiny fraction of the programmers willing to participate (to be employed) in the face of financial constraints and increasing co-ordination costs.

This massive parallelism that characterises the Linux Project allows for an ideal allocation of resources towards both exploitation of existing advantages and exploration of potential future opportunities and results in skyrocketing organisational learning and innovation (both product and organisational) that in turn, renders Linux extremely adaptive to any environmental changes. . . .

Microsoft’s management is hierarchical as all the strategic decisions are made by Gates and ‘the President’s Office’ and employees are discouraged to bypass their superiors. Microsoft’s structure is built on this premise . . . and political manoeuvring within the company is not rare. And despite the fact that frequent job rotation and project-form of organising are the norm, information flow is restricted mostly due to politics and therefore the only value extracted out of the knowledge functions is the twenty years experience that MS has of the industry. Of course this does not mean that MS maintains ‘positive’ relationships with its surrounding environment since its arrogant management of the economic web has seriously damaged the information exchange between them. The effect on organisational learning and innovation is certainly negative.

In total contrast, Linux relies on four structural layers that are comprised by the leader (L.Torvalds), the ‘trusted lieutenants’, the ‘pool of developers’ and the open source community. Even though the community layer does not appear to be part of the Linux structure at first glance, it is in fact incorporated in it and has significant influence over the project. . . .

Consequently, this transparent 'collaborative, community centred' management is by far the greatest innovation of Linux and the key enabler for limitless value extraction out of the 'knowledge functions' since all organisational members including the surrounding community are encouraged to freely share information.

Shawn writes from the perspective of the role free software plays in enabling anyone, anywhere, no matter what their background or station in life, to participate by making it possible to learn. It's axiomatic that the lower the barrier to entry, the higher the creativity level must be, because, as George Bernard Shaw once pointed out, you simply have no idea where talent will turn up. I'll bet a lot of us can relate to Shawn's article. Enjoy.


Why Free Software Is Really Important
~ by Shawn Boyette

Everyone now agrees: Free software is important. Even its staunchest opponents have been forced to move on from their untenable tactics of dismissal and disdain. I argue, however, that not nearly enough attention has been given to one very important reason why it is important.

Everyone talks about how Free software is important because of its benefits to business. It can mean lower operating costs, happier IT departments, better interoperability, improved security, and lots of community goodwill. Everyone talks about how Free software is important legally. It is the vanguard of the revolution in intellectual property, both in courtrooms and in the minds of people around the world. A lot of people talk about how Free software is important because it will liberate end-users everywhere from the tyrrany of commercial software and end the problem of worms, viruses, and trojans forever. 1

What almost no one talks about is Free software being important because of its educational potential.

Let me tell you a short story. I grew up in an economically depressed and very agrarian part of the United States. In 1983 I met my first computer. It was an Apple //c at school, and it was love at first sight. When I got to high school in the early 1990s, Apple ][s were still standard equipment, so the only programming language I had access to was BASIC -- the Old World, line numbered kind of BASIC at that -- and I was desperately wanting more. I actually bought books on Borland C++ despite having no PC on which to run the compiler, and no compiler to run! (C++ compilers cost *hundreds* of dollars in the late 1980s/early 1990s.)

There were no nearby universities or large corporations where someone could get me access to powerful computing systems (this kind of thing was apparently not uncommon in the Northeast US at the time, as I now know several people who say they got their start on "real" computers this way). I completely missed out on the BBS scene, because there were no BBSes which were not long distance calls, and I didn't have a modem for my Commodore 64 anyway. I was, until entering college, completely cut off from the wider world of computing. I had no advanced tools, no decent learning materials, and no community.

The point of all this isn't to point out that my childhood was sad (it wasn't) or that I feel somehow disadvantaged by all this (I don't; I like to think that I managed to catch up). The point is that Free software -- especially Free software in combination with Internet access -- provides everything I so desperately wanted, to anyone, for almost no cost.

A typical Linux or BSD 2 install includes not only C and C++ compilers, but also popular languages like Perl, Ruby, and Python, which excel at data munging and system toolsmithing; PHP, which is good at rapid web prototyping; less well-known languages like Lisp, Scheme, Ada, and FORTRAN; and even "dead" languages like APL are available.

There are powerful programming tools at your disposal, such as the Vim and Emacs editors, and version control systems like CVS, svn/svk, and Arch. There are graphical toolkits, so you can learn how to write GUI programs. There's ncurses for writing console-mode applications. There's Apache, so you can learn how to write web-based applications, or you can go one step further and use Mozilla as an application development platform by using its XUL toolkit and JavaScript. Powerful databases like Postgresql and MySQL are at your fingertips, offering information storage, retrieval, and inquiry capabilities which not long ago were the purview of large corporations. And on top of all this, there is the *nix environment itself, designed by programmers for programmers, and arguably still the finest development environment available.

In short, anyone who wants to learn how to use computers as information tools instead of information appliances now has access to everything 3 they need, no matter what their specific interest area. This huge toolkit is available now, to everyone, for next to nothing. All you need is desire and the right mindset; geography and money are no longer barriers to entry into the upper ranks of the programming community. I hate to use buzzwords like "democratizing", but that's exactly the effect which is shown here.

Free software removes barriers -- if you have the talent, then we have the tools -- and that is why it's really important.

1 I, personally, take issue with this kind of assertion, but that's a topic for another essay.

2Most of this is true of OS X as well, though Apple doesn't make their Xcode tools available under a Free license (but they are a fairly good citizen, having contributed to the gcc project and opened a number of their internal projects).

3 Free CS literature (as in textbooks, references are readily available) still has a long ways to go, but recent advances have been made, like the "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist" series.

I asked Shawn if he would want to give me a brief sentence or two with any biographic information he cared to share, and this is his cute reply:

About me, huh? I'm just this guy, you know? I did my first Linux install in 1995 (Slackware 3) and have used it every single day since then. I've never been part of any large projects, but I've written my fair share of Free software, some of which is even in use by other people :) I'm currently a housewife/hacker, but professionally I've been a mainframe programmer, Linux admin, and network security dude. I like bad movies, old books, cooking, and photography.


Why Free Software Really Matters | 242 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Why Groklaw Really Matters
Authored by: rjamestaylor on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:16 PM EDT
It's the articles and insight of the contributors. Thanks, people!


SCO delenda est! Salt their fields!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:26 PM EDT
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:29 PM EDT
If needed, to help PJ maintain the very best blog to its usual high standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:37 PM EDT
And please help keep the site working ergonomically by making links where appropriate, as shown below the box where you type in your text. Please remember to post in HTML mode! And, please do a preview first, and click on all of your links to see that they work correctly.

That way, you will be satisfied with the quality of your contribution. And so will we. And Groklaw will remain the best blog on the entire web.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Could it be 'survival of the fittest'?...n/t
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:45 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: MajorDisaster on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:47 PM EDT
Ahhh, another resource for my plan to take over the world!!!

....the "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist" series.

Thanks Shawn dude!

Death twitches my ear, "Live", he says "I am Coming."


[ Reply to This | # ]

nothing new here...
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 02:54 PM EDT
this just re-preaches CatB with new phrases:
"virtual, decentralized management structure" = bazaar
"command-and-control hierarchies" = cathedral
baazar is better than cathedral, blah blah blah

but hey, we're all in the choir here, so start singing!!!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Don't forget RMS
Authored by: Nick_UK on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 03:52 PM EDT
Love him or loathe him, you have to respect what he done
for OSS.

It's GNU/Linux. Don't forget Linux kernel is a small (but
important) part of the whole schema.


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • gcc - Authored by: freeio on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 07:29 PM EDT
    • gcc - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 01:57 PM EDT
      • gcc - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 04:02 PM EDT
  • Don't forget RMS - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 12:13 AM EDT
Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: inode_buddha on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 04:20 PM EDT
Thanks Shawn! I'm kinda amazed at how much we have in common... and I've still got a disk full of slack 3 around here somewhere ;-)

Copyright info in bio

"When we speak of free software,
we are referring to freedom, not price"
-- Richard M. Stallman

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 07:27 PM EDT
Yes, but Linux is just the kernel, so if a comparison is to be made with MS, I
think it ought to be with the unit within MS that develops their kernel. Maybe
that particular unit isn't as heirarchical as MS overall.

OTOH, the arguments do apply to GNU/Linux *systems* overall. It's just the
Linus only oversees one part of the overall system. Other parts of the system
(KDE/Gnome/the GNU utils/ are all developed in parallel and
each has its own development approach. What's at the head of all those parallel
projects? Nothing? OSDL? LSB?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can't Groklaw to better than this?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 09:00 PM EDT
The reason why Linux was behind the other systems is simple: it started much
later but had much higher "speed".

In all companies I worked for software design was structured as shown in this
article. The structure or task was defined, broken into pieces and then the
result depended on the qualification of the individual who worked on the
individual tasks. No parallel work to avoid cost....

Sure, the article was written by a biased author but it still doesn't mean that
the content is wrong. As with everything you have to apply your own judgement.


[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a tautology
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 10:11 PM EDT
Basically you define "good" such that it applies to Linux and not to
Windows. Too bad it's mostly based on subjective criteria and doesn't really
apply to anything. To buy this argument basically means you have to assume Fred
Brooks was wrong about everything and there really is a silver bullet.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 10:18 PM EDT
Just pinpointing some stuff, apache is the web's _standard_ web server. More
than half the market runs it. So php turns out to be a very common language to
develop the web. And you can find good tutorials mostly everywere, about both,
and in combination with some of the RDBMS shown in this article.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Can't Groklaw to better than this?
Authored by: vinea on Sunday, May 08 2005 @ 10:56 PM EDT
Arguably Unix was open opensource is/was capable of developing
an OS.

Now RMS doesn't agree but from my recollection and reading peter's history
here you get the idea that these folks were after one thing: building a better
mousetrap (aka operating system). For all intensive purposes the unix source
code was open. Hence the BSD settlement going the way it did. So
opensource, the lifestyle if not the name, pre-existed free software.

Now, without the BSDi "kerfuffle", as Tanenbaum might say, things
might be a
bit different today but that's a different kettle of fish.

I'm also mildly tired of the MS bashing in as much as I too remember the
Apple ][ days and when IBM was still king. IBM may be the darling of Linux
today but its no different than any other company. Had it not been Microsoft
pummeling IBM we'd still be looking at $3K+ (in 1980 dollars...adjust
accordingly for today) for a PC rather than $499 including OS. The only way
to reach the commodity pricing that we have today is from the monopoly that
is Microsoft that didn't care so much about hardware sales but more on
commoditizing the software world. They succeeded. Everyone won except
for the old time companies like...Unisys, DEC, Sperry, etc. IBM is also no
longer the dominant force it once was.

I like the post-MS world far better than the pre-MS world having lived in both
(the pre much more briefly than the post).

The free software movement forgets that and frankly hasn't done as much as
Microsoft to bring computing to the masses. Grandpa doesn't send email to
his grandaughter or get the latest pictures of his grandchild because of FSF
but because of MS. Perhaps some other company might have achieved the
same thing. But they didn't...not even Apple.

Apple at the time had also gone from the open Apple ][ where clones
abounded to the far more tightly controlled Lisa and Machintosh. They are
reasonably good citizens today with OS/X but really, their emphasis is still
making money on hardware sales.

As far as the free software development model goes...its great at certain
things. Not so great at others. If someone is interested in something, it gets

done. If folks aren't interested it doesn't get done, or done well.
Documentation is often the first casualty of open source projects.

And to date, no one has managed to make a Unix for the masses system
other than Apple. The level of integration is superb and only possible by the
tight control of development process and direction.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: blacklight on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 06:47 AM EDT
"Everyone now agrees: Free software is important. Even its staunchest
opponents have been forced to move on from their untenable tactics of dismissal
and disdain"

... or lose all credibility. On the other hand, Microsoft implicitly recognizes
the quality of the Linux code because Microsoft's beef with Linux is that Linux
is licensed under the GPL, which prevents Microsoft from doing the kind of
wholesale code import into Windows that it has been doing with BSD.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: blacklight on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 07:02 AM EDT
The Linux software development model is decentralized out of sheer necessity:
contributors are from all over the world. In addition, if Linus Torvald were to
insist on a centralized, rigid corporate command structure, contributors and
would-be contributors would be voting with their feet and running away from
Linux. In other words, Linus Torvalds has to work effectively with the
constraint that no one can be compelled to contribute to Linux - and to date, he
has worked very effectively with that constraint, indeed. Finally, the
fundamental reason that the Linux software development model works is that the
contributors themselves are world class systems developers. Without this element
of quality, it matters little what the Linux software development model is: it
just won't work. A secondary reason why the software development model works is
that deadlines are secondary to code robustness and code quality, unlike the
commercial software development model which is influenced by marketing and even
financial management considerations - timing of product introduction, ading
features that marketing can brag about, need to announce that the product has
been introduced before the quarter is over, etc.

I note that while the contributions are decentralized, all contributions
converge toward the kernel and in terms of QA, the whole of Linux has to work -
This is where the rubber meets the road.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Timing..... - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 08:06 AM EDT
I Love the Irony of this. Does this mean Groklaw has an MIT "Rocket Scientist" On Board?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 07:26 AM EDT
I hear a certain Darl McBride is looking for 3 of them.


[ Reply to This | # ]

from the tyrrany of commercial software and end the problem of worms, viruses, and trojans forev
Authored by: shareme on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 07:39 AM EDT
He is talking about theproblem of viruses, torjans, and etc not the

From the ned user perspective it snot hte occurrnace but the actually be
protected from ubiquos infections form everything becuase of wrong
design/engineering decisions inthe commercial OS sector..

Sharing and thinking is only a crime in those societies where freedom doesn't

[ Reply to This | # ]

I beg to differ on one point...
Authored by: Atticus on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 09:38 AM EDT
The author said this,
Consequently, this transparent 'collaborative, community centred' management is by far the greatest innovation of Linux
I think there are hundreds of Internet RFC's and Open Source programs that demonstrate that this kind of management was not an Linux innovation. One could even argue, I'd say, that RMS himself didn't even create such a thing... he created a great organization that codified the collaborative model and produced the GPL (probably its greatest contribution to the software world). It's true that Linux has done very very well in regards to its development model, but when I first heard about it I considered it nothing more than one amongst hundreds of collaborative projects I'd witnessed created, and sometimes compiled and used, since I entered the UNIX world in 1983.

-Atticus (who is not a lawyer :-) aka Mike Schwager)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: Toon Moene on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 10:07 AM EDT
> The paper concludes that the Linux development style
> is superior, precisely because it favors and enables
> creativity and flexibility, by allowing anyone to
> participate, including users.

Indeed. The development of GNU Fortran showed this principle in action
recently. At the start of the year GNU Fortran had just three developers. Now
it's more like a dozen, people who simply started to contribute bug reports,
then patches, then volunteered to review other people's patches, etc.

Toon Moene (A GNU Fortran maintainer and physicist at large)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Modularity and loose coupling - virtue producing virtue
Authored by: tz on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 10:38 AM EDT
Linux need not have been modular. GCC was originally a catherdral, as was BSD.
But GCC was not originally as modular (1980's) until EGCS took the bazaar model
Linux used, and the system feedback tends to split things into pieces so they
can be handled better by the parallel method.

Windows is the opposite. The browser is integrated and inseparable from the OS.
Microsoft can't even easily work with such. Were windows to be opened up, one
of the first things would be to modularize it to the extreme.

Also remember Mozilla - Netscape was thrown away and restarted. There were
several large systems that weren't easy to divide and conquer. Instead they
restarted with a split design.

And all the parts in the standard GNU/Linux distributions - The kernel, the
utilities and daemons, the X server, the Desktop, the Applications are all
independent because they have to be under the model.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why Free Software Really Matters
Authored by: Bas Burger on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 01:27 PM EDT
The reason why it takes a while for the free and open source communities to gain
ground is economics. A certain kind of economics, schooling is just part of that
economics. We are on the border of change of economic face and guts, till not
too long ago the 19th century liberal way of economics prevailed.

It works by discrimination, creating scarcity by price discrimination, making
that most people cannot participate (buy), this keeps prices high. Another part
of economics we still have is even worse and we inherite that from the guild
system before the 19th century. This is the practice of keeping out developers
from our nice little club, mainly by giving starting developers a high wall on
it's entering path. This is done by asking higher fees and higher education
levels. The better expensive schools give you more chance to a better paid
working life and more diplomas will as well.

Now comes along this strange bandwagon of early birds, entrepeneurs, coders,
scientists etc... They allow everybody to participate, developers with talent
and customers alike. Everybody that wants, is allowed to try and make a good
opertunity for their own lifes.

Don't you think that this scares the hell out of all these people that try to
maintain the status quo of the 19th century liberal economic model? The schools
they come from still lecturing that old stuff and it takes a while before things
are emancipated to the current reality.

Often people speak of a paradigm shift when some level of science is broken by
something way more powerfull. You can say we are at the start of a similar
paradigm shift when it comes to economics. Free and Open source is starting to
export it's ways and doings into other scientific fields as genetics, medicine
and chemicals.

I think we are heading towards new economic models, we have to for many reasons,
not only the REAL scarcity we are creating very fast, also because of the number
of people participating in economics. In the 19th century there were way less
people so things are not strange in why this model is starting to wear out on

Bas Burger.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Massively Parallel?
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 03:02 PM EDT
There are I think several questions regarding teh Open Source model which remain
to be answered.

Only a few projects ever achieve the critical mass to become massively parallel,
Linux is of course one of the Apache is another and there are certainly more.
However most Open Source projects are not massively parallel. They do not have
many eyes or voices pouring over the code. Those projects are usually dependant
on at most a few dedicated individuals for their progress.

I also think it is somewhat of a fallacy to compare Linux and Windows then
declare that the traditional method does not work. Windows has so many inherant
problems it's not fair. More improtantly it ignores other comparisons. AIX for
example (or VMS) was developed in a traditional manner and has equivelent
performance and security to Linux. There are other examples of operating systems
which have achieved that level, without being Open Source.

The question of responsiveness to user needs has I think also not been settled.
When you have a project, even a large one without significant direction from
user development may either ignore users issues or may pursue issues at odds
with the needs of existing or potential users.

One of the projects which always struck me as illustrating this was the GNU
kernel project which took many years to release and suffered many setbacks
during development. Linux in contrast focused on getting the kernel running,
then making it work better and better.

The Hurd history

1983 Richard Stallman starts the GNU project
1988 Mach 3 is chosen as micro-kernel
1991 Mach 3 is released under a Free license
1991 Thomas Bushnell, BSG, founds the Hurd
1994 GNU/Hurd boots for the first time

Taken from

Even today in many well known Open Source projects you can find many
longstanding and irritating bug, which are not fixed because no one is
interested in fixing them.


"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hilarious Hilary
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 03:35 PM EDT
Hilary Rosen on the iPod
I'll let the Irony speak for itself

[ Reply to This | # ]

The irony...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 03:59 PM EDT
I am now seeing an amusing thing.

Unregulated, market-based development is being called "communistic" by
advocates of centrally-planned, paternalistic development...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux Development Model Rebuttal
Authored by: vinea on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 10:00 PM EDT
Well, I'm short on time to do a very good job on rebutting the paper on the
superiority of the Linux development model at the moment but I'll toss out an
excerpt in response to get a discussion going:

"No Renegade Group Behind Linux

By Stuart Cohen
May 6, 2005 2:16PM

Imagine the birth of Linux -- thousands of renegade hackers coding in the dark
in their parents' basement to create the open-source operating system. You would
have to ask yourself: Are the world's biggest companies wise to build the future
of computing on this basis?
Thing is, it didn't happen like that, though the urban legend continues to this
day, and I get asked about it all the time. My job is to run the Open Source
Development Labs (OSDL) where the original creator of Linux -- Linus Torvalds
-- works. The myth of the hacker is just that, a myth.


Fourteen years later, the combination of the right idea, the right leadership,
and the Internet have made Linux perhaps the most successful open-source
software project ever. To this day, Linux benefits from the contributions of
computer hobbyists, corporate developers, and everyone in between.


But the romantic notion that Linux is the product of a freewheeling, loosely
affiliated band of thousands of independent hackers collectively turning their
backs on the status quo is no longer an accurate description of the Linux
community -- and hasn't been the case for many years.

Looking at the top 25 contributors to the Linux kernel today, you'll discover
that more than 90% of them are on the corporate payroll full-time for companies
such as , IBM, Intel, Novell , Oracle , Red Hat and Veritas , among many

And the process they follow to build Linux looks almost exactly like the
software-development steps that their employers follow for any other enterprise
software project -- with key differences.


Linux looks a lot like how companies should make enterprise software.
Specialists work on subsystems, and the code works its way through a series of
reviews until the project leader approves the end result and releases it.

The biggest difference with Linux, as opposed to a proprietary operating system,
is that the development process is open. At virtually every stage of
development, the code is available for review by those who have an interest.
It's like a global faculty peer review that follows the traditional tenets of
the scientific method.


So forget the counterculture myth of the renegade Linux programmer. Sure, it
represents a new way to create software, but the actual process looks a lot like
how enterprise software has been made for decades. Linux creator Torvalds has
also turned to a much more experienced community of developers to help him, many
of whom already work for the world's largest I.T. companies."



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Why Free Software Really, Really Matters
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, May 09 2005 @ 10:46 PM EDT
I was listening to Eben Moglen in Canberra last month, and he explained it quite
succinctly (I paraphrase him badly here):

We live in a civilisation dominated by technology. If we are unable to have free
access to the hardware that surrounds us, and cannot control that hardware, then
it will be used to control us. Imagine what restrictions would be loaded upon us
if PCs only could run Windows; if Windows Media Player was the only playback
mechanism for audio files; and Internet Explorer the only browser available.

In short, folks, there would be a bloody revolution. That's essentially the
eventual alternative to free software, and it sucks large rocks.

Vik :v)

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Why Shawn Doesn't Really Matter
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 10 2005 @ 06:11 PM EDT
Whose Shawn and why do I care? Bring back PJ. We want more PJ.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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