For years, open-source advocates – including me – have demanded greater open-source contributions from the world's largest beneficiaries, from Google to Morgan Stanley and the US Department of Defense. Now Amazon is on the firing line for not giving back commensurate with the benefits it receives from various open-source …
And true I think.
& Linus torvalds just put a torch in GNU where the sunlight don't shine.
I kinda like this new Torwalds more than the old one. Or, maybe I really didn't know the old one - just clubbed him with the rest of the GNU gang.
Agree very muchly
There are a plenthora of rational reasons, more than enough that there is no need to pull some "moral card".
Matt - How can you defend Google? They contribute almost nothing to OSS, they made sure GPLv3 did not require them to give back any contributions to the community and their "open" Andorid platform isn't. Instead, they market openness and deliver fragmentation.
Are you saying that as long as they use linux they are good open source guys? That's worse than foolish.
and make sure you comprehend it before posting next time, please.
(Here's a hint: the ENTIRE POINT of the article is that the quantity and quality of, and rationale for, OSS contribution is an individual, amoral*, decision. So claiming that Google is somehow right or wrong for their OSS contributions or lack thereof is, in the context of the article, akin to claiming that purple is 5.)
* That's amoral in the literal, correct meaning of the term, not "immoral".
The socialist-leaning majority of open sourcers don't want to hear that their little experiment bears striking resemblance to Rand's theories in action.
You mean the one
where government is bad and poor people are stupid so we should give all our money to a cult?
You're quite wrong, SoaG.
Ayn Rand thought selfishness a virtue. There appeared to be no room in her philosophy for the enlightened altruism associated with open source. Instead, she seemed to be enamored with psychopaths with no empathy for other people.
One of Rand's heros was William Edward Hickman - a 20's criminal famous for the kidnapping, torture, murder and dismemberment of a 12 year old girl by the name of Marian Parker. He did other stuff as well - armed robbery and other murders - but the death of Marian Parker was the most shocking crime of all. No wonder he went to the gallows. What was Rand's reaction to this, you may wonder?
"In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, "What is good for me is right," a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. "The best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard," she exulted."
I have no idea what Rand would have made of Linus Torvalds; I suspect it would be uncomplimentary. She would have blasted all the people who use Linux as "parasites", no doubt.
Y'all have the damndest definition of "objective" I have ever seen.
The socialist-leaning majority KNOW that the socialism inherent in FOSS is alive and well.
I'd say you need to find out what socialism means before you use it in a statement.
That link you included to Michael Prescott's page is most enlightening. I used to think Ayn Rand's ideas had some validity, but got over it. And that text shows she was actually a much darker character than I thought. People blasted by Ayn Rand or her disciples should take it as a compliment...
Why is it that Ayn bloody Rand is so often mentioned on Tech forums? It must be some variant on Godwin's Law that insists that stories which indicate all is not perfect in "socialist utopias" will eventually get a comment like SoaG's.
This isn't to say that there aren't utopians in the mix, which was part of the point of the article, or that it's actually socialist - socialism != people cooperating for whatever reason*, and "whatever reason" was another part.
A closer parallel can probably be found in Proudhon's collectivist anarchy rather than Rand's Objectivism, but then overweening individualism tends to only accept that one viewpoint (theirs) is possible and sees every situation as vindication.
*on those grounds any political party whatsoever is socialist, as are charities, and companies, and armies
The objective is the widest end of a telescope.
It's the narrowest end of a microscope.
Rand Corporation, Ayn Rand, Paul Rand or Ingersoll-Rand?
Because fluid power is something I can er...do.
Giving and the art of being where your customers go to solve problems are pretty well advanced past the nonetheless decent diversity in Andrew Carnegie's^W^WHideyoshi Toyotomi's lifetime. Ayn Rand cracked some decent literary criticism out when, as illustrated, your logic had previously lived by its straw men rather than critical merit. Retconning aside, (behold the exuberant bowing of Colossus Berlusconi? ... Sarah Palin the Indemnified?) if you never hit a wrong note, you must have played well (you roll chaotic, you work possibly long odds. Then drums in a metal band. Roll lawful and you call ahead to ask what time a city's curfew starts before dining out.)
Entertainment makes money too.
If an Open Source contributor works for a Corporation that claims ownership of the work product of her every waking moment, there is a moral obligation to end the peonage. Forget the urge to 'give back'.
Whole article is an Aunt Sally based on your own misperceptions.
>"Glyn Moody does not agree. He believes that contributing to open-source projects is both rational and a moral obligation:"
Except that no he doesn't, not for one second, you are just putting words into his mouth. In the quote you provide, he says it is ungrateful of Amazon not to contribute; that means he thinks it would be grateful of them if they did. Also, he says it is unwise of Amazon not to contribute, that means that he thinks it would be wise if they did.
However, what he does not for one second say is that it was immoral of them not to contribute. He does not mention, raise, or imply issues of morality in either the quote you selected or the entire post you linked to.
You entirely confabulated that angle, based on your own ideological spin on what he was trying to say. The whole thing only happened in your own head, derived from an outward projection of your own personal issues onto your interpretation of the whole world. ("Right thing to do" does not even necessarily imply morally right, there are many other ways in which something can be right, from the pragmatic to the short-term advantage to the tactical or strategical, none of which need to be morality-related, and in any case, saying that Google did the right thing would still not imply that Amazon must therefore have done the wrong thing unless you engage in some kind of fallacy of the excluded middle.)
So the entire article is a strawman argument, and indeed you even provide plenty of quotes that make it perfectly clear that the open source movement is well aware that there are many reasons to contribute to open source, ranging all the way across the scale from pure self-interest to outward-going other-directed selflessness. Everything you said is already well-known to be the case, and already long-since acknowledged so by all the people involved; only in your imagination was it ever any different. So what are you *actually* trying to say in your content-devoid article? I think you're just having an emotional rant at a bunch of people you find ideologically disagreeable.
There's a strong tendency to view the Open Source community as some kind of cultish communist splinter group, and this article seems to start with the central premise that this is the case, indeed the 'Linux Hippies' in the title makes it pretty clear that the author subscribes to this stereotype.
As Linus' quote makes clear, it's a lot more complicated than that. The driving force behind open source development is that it is a more LOGICAL approach to systems design; peer review and iterative development simply outperform and out-adapt secretive monolithic approaches to software design. The Cathedral vs the Bazaar.
There may be moral benefits to open source also; RDS would certainly argue that there were. However the original MIT hacker culture which spawned him and which helped to shape the FOSS environment owes more to curiosity and a desire to optimise code than it does to 'socialism'.
As you say, the article is based on the ludicrous and patently false supposition that the driving force behind open source sofware is morality. He's confusing pragmatist open source, described so well by Linus, with moral 'Free as in Freedom' free software, as promoted by the FSF. A common mistake, but one which you would not expect someone with such an impressive CV to make.
an emotional rant at a bunch of people you find ideologically disagreeable.
Kettle? Meet Mr. Pot....
Except, some of the worst open source software I've dealt with...
...has been developed under a bazaar model.
You can have open source under a cathedral model, and in fact, Linux uses such a model. Linus gets the ultimate say over what goes into Linux and what doesn't, ergo, it's cathedral.
The best software tends to be managed pretty strongly by one person or one committee to avoid bloat, and push things in a certain direction, rather than a bunch of devs contributing code that they think would be cool in the program.
Not really. The bazaar model refers to software which is developed openly on the internet in view of the public.
In fact, the very terms Cathedral and Bazaar come from the book published by ESR, in which he specifically names Linus as the inventor of the Bazaar model, and linux as the prime example of it.
So, until you take the argument up with the person who coined the phrase, I'd say you were just plain wrong.
I do not think Matt Asay likes "Free Software".
Matt Asay avoids the term "Free Software" very diligently in this article. For those who do not know, there is a marked difference between "Free Software" and "Open Source Software". Open Source Software is not, strictly speaking, an ideology. Rather, it is a software development methodology which focuses on the benefits of development speed obtained through making access and contribution to software where the source-code is available. The concept is that open source through "many eyes" will have less bugs -- E. Raymond.
In contrast, while using the same developmental approach, "Free Software" is not a software development methodology. Rather, it is a social movement which focuses on the rights of software users, ensuring that they receive the "Four Freedoms" as shown on www.fsf.org.
Now that is out of the way, let me get something else straight, and it will not simply go away. The term Linux "hippies" is not only a misnomer, but it also fails to mention the considerable effort that the community (yes that's right: "community") went to, to ensure that Linux had a userland and that GNU had a kernel. You will find that the GNU project was helped along by a group of hippies and I do not use that term in any derogatory sense. Rather, I use it in the sense that these people put ideology, something that is seemingly elusive in today's society, ahead of simple technological superiority.
I support the freedom for people to contribute what they want/can, when they want/can. Analogously, I will argue to the bitter end to allow someone to speak whose opinion differs with my own. By the way, if contribution, strongly encouraged, by extension to 'copyleft' software is not beneficial to both parties, then I do not understand why FreeBSD, which while being free software is mostly not copyleft, lags behind the developmental speed of GNU/Linux. I also do not see how that lag can possibly benefit anyone who uses FreeBSD.
In the end, I look forward to a society that recognises the benefits of being both "open source" and able to obtain software freedom. I also respect the notion that developers may choose not to partake in such activities because of the potential detriment to their personal finances. But please, do not expect us GNU/Linux hippies to "Wake up" and believe that your way of thinking is the only way. It seems, and I cannot be sure, that the author does not believe in ethical realism.
" indeed the 'Linux Hippies' in the title makes it pretty clear that the author subscribes to this stereotype."
Although TBF while the content of the article is the author's, the title/head/subhead may well have been chosen by an editor/subeditor/moderator/whatever the hell the correct term online is.
This article is just common sense. You can complain about the budget all you want but no one is going to pay taxes unless they are forced to do so. No company is going to contribute to open source unless it is in their best interest to do so, or they are forced to do so by some legal obligation. Attempting to shame companies or individuals into producing code is just plain silly.
I like paying taxes... so long as I get to vote.
But we're not all excusing ourselves of our social obligations and responsibilities with half-clever moral myths about self-interest.
The 'Ideologies' argument presented here is outmoded and inaccurate
They are presented as an either/or proposition when this is not accurate.
They are complex ways of thinking about and representing the world and there is no way of avoiding them...they're merely ways of patterning relationships and of determining whether something should or should not be accepted.
Each individual creates them and lives by them and can generally be placed within them.
I really like the following quote, said to be by Linus himself:
"So the only ideology I really despise and dislike is the kind that is about exclusion of other ones."
I'm assuming he has a lot of self-loathing!
It's obviously contradictory and expresses a lack of knowledge of the subject.
BTW I appreciate all the work Linus T has put in to the very kernel I use everyday.
Reading too much into it
"So the only ideology I really despise and dislike is the kind that is about exclusion of other ones."
"It's obviously contradictory and expresses a lack of knowledge of the subject."
Actually, in context, it has only one contradiction, which is quite clearly a technicality. It is a quote specifically about software development ideologies, NOT about life ideologies. Within that context, there is no reason why someone can't happily work with people following all sorts of differing "ideologies." Yes, technically stating that you despise /any/ ideology means that you are exclusionary to some degree, but the true fact of the matter is a philosophy of "I'll deal with your motivations if you'll deal with mine and everyone else on the team" is about as open as you can possibly get, and it is pretty obvious that this is what Linus was trying to get across here. Whether by accident or with deliberation, trying to turn this into anything greater than that isn't intelligent or wise, it's missing the point.
I beg to differ
There is a moral obligation attached to using open source, and it's exactly the same obligation requiring us to pay for the work of artists and programmers that we commonly know as copyright law. For open source, it's called copyleft - the idea that if you can use the work I contribute for free, then the work you contribute must be free as well.
My reasoning here is this: If I spend days working on a code module for an OSS project, and I get no renumeration for doing so - I do because I enjoy the work, not to make money - then why should you be able to take my work and profit from it without giving your work back? I contributed. If you use my work in your own, so should you. Otherwise you can damn well pay me for it.
@I beg to differ
"There is a moral obligation attached to using open source, and it's exactly the same obligation requiring us to pay for the work of artists and programmers.....
Why? You openly made a choice to give your work away free, no where is it written down that anyone that uses it must pay either cash or in kind. Artist CHOOSE if they want to give their music away (e.g. a street busker) in the hope that someone may pay for it, but no on is compelled to pay for it. If you decide you want to get PAID everytime, then there is this thing called a job. Many large users of OSS PAY people to programme the code. Therefore they are hardly using it for free.
"If I spend days working on a code module for an OSS project, and I get no renumeration for doing so - I do because I enjoy the work, not to make money - then why should you be able to take my work and profit from it without giving your work back?"
So in theory, you could claim that you spent 3 days working on a project, so therefore you are entiled to a share of Googles / Amazon et al profits, despite not spending billions of dollars on hardware, staff, infrastructure, etc etc.
This is the difference between a hobby and a career
Re: Steven Roper
> There is a moral obligation attached to using open source
Since you are the senior IT manager in your company, which no doubt makes use of open source to some extent, perhaps you could enlighten us as to how you are fulfilling your moral obligation?
Or perhaps this moral obligation only applies to others.
> then why should you be able to take my work and profit from it without giving your work back?
> I contributed. If you use my work in your own, so should you. Otherwise you can damn well
> pay me for it.
Why would I want to do that? I could just write it myself and do it properly.
I have occasionally released code into the public domain (the only "free" licence). I do this for complex reasons which I'm happy with. I am imposing no obligations, moral or otherwise, on anyone who wants to use it.
You should stop imposing your world view on the rest of us. We're not interested.
AC @ 08:16
"Why? You openly made a choice to give your work away free, no where is it written down that anyone that uses it must pay either cash or in kind. "
A basic, all too common, misunderstanding - they don't GIVE it away for free, they MAKE IT AVAILABLE for free.
Which is why several companies (and numerous more) have had to employ the services of Hunt, Lunt & Cunningham to represent them in court against the developers.
I'm with Stephen on this one, if I were to create anything from open source I would have no problem sharing it with anyone, but I can't see why anyone should then profit from my work by selling on my work.
If I tried to sell something google created, google would call me a pirate and call in the parasites, eh, lawyers.
@snivelling miserable coward 08:16; you seem confused about what the street musician is doing, they are not giving away their music, they are performing their music, they still retain ownership of that music and anyone who tries to profit from that music should pay the street musician a loyalty. So yes, if google are profiting (making hard cash) from Stephen's work then google should redistribute that wealth back to Stephen by either 1) hard cash to Stephen or 2) giving back to OSS.
Paris, because she has published her work on the internet for everyone to enjoy.
Re Field Marshal whatever
Read the bloody comment. Stephen does not mention selling on the work, he says there is a moral obligation attached to just using the work. That is a world of difference.
The GPL protects you from others selling on your work for a profit. It also allows anybody and their dog to use the work for whatever purpose they desire, and if they happen to make a profit from its use then that is not against the terms of the GPL.
Wow, what a thread
Ok, last AC: I'm not sure what you mean by "merely using the work imposes a moral obligation" so I'll clarify my standpoint. Consider an open source project, such as Celestia, which I've downloaded and use a lot. Doing so places no moral obligation on me or anyone else to contribute to the project, or pay anything for doing so. Although - in resonse to another poster who accuses me of double standards - I HAVE contributed to Celestia and a couple of other projects that caught my interest. So don't tell me that I don't when you have no idea what I do.
Now suppose someone were to take the code for Celestia and turn it into a closed-source space game for which they charge say $60 and a $20 a month subscription, without releasing the source. Not only is that a violation of the GPL, it's morally execrable. It is THIS that I was having a go at, and I stand by what I said. If I contribute source to a project, and some company steals that source and uses it in a closed-source product, that is what I meant they can damn well pay me for. Not merely downloading and using the program, but reusing open source code in their own closed source projects.
Sorry if I caused any misunderstanding of my view there, I hope this clarifies things. If you still disagree with me on my stance, however, then I am opposed to your way of thinking.
YOU are the one who controls the license!!!
"My reasoning here is this: If I spend days working on a code module for an OSS project, and I get no renumeration for doing so - I do because I enjoy the work, not to make money - then why should you be able to take my work and profit from it without giving your work back? I contributed. If you use my work in your own, so should you. Otherwise you can damn well pay me for it."
Won't. Can't make me.
Don't like it? Then release it under a different license, which does obligate me to do so. Then I'll either decide to follow the license, or not use your software. (Because at that point, I /DO/ have an obligation, legal and moral, to do so.)
That said, if you can't understand this, then I don't trust your logical reasoning sufficiently for me to want to use anything you've coded anyway.
Re: Steven Roper
This is the first sentence of your original comment:
"There is a moral obligation attached to using open source, and it's exactly the same obligation requiring us to pay for the work of artists and programmers that we commonly know as copyright law."
Note the phrase "There is a moral obligation attached to using open source...".
The article itself is about companies USING open source and making mega bucks without contributing, not about them ripping off code. It is therefore reasonable to interpret your words, both in the context in which they read and in the context of the article, as meaning you believe use of open source imposes a moral obligation.
Ripping of code is another matter and is an illegal act in most countries so the morality of it is irrelevant.
Seriously: I'm happy you've made your work public domain (it's not a license, but what ever) but you shouldn't try and promote your ideology of unaccountable anarchy to other software developers who are simply not interested in your world view.
Especially since it has known flaws.
>large users of OSS PAY people to programme the code. Therefore they are hardly using it for free.
They are unless they throw down for a household licensing fee on top of the use fee.
Additionally, in a career rather than a trade, you take risks and are not assured of a payoff; buy, hold, encourage, repeat. Sometimes the board are split on your ideas and you go hold a bit. You can pretend to be a dirty stinky pirate hooker hippie if you need to abstain from the encouragements that discourage you. See also: _Dreams with Sharp Teeth_.
It's hard to know where to start
Matt Asay lacks a notion of 'self-interest' that is coherent or developed.
The same simplistic and basic arguments that are really circular argument.
"People contribute because it makes them feel good - thus it's self-interest."
The argument is absurd and regularly shot down philosophically.
It is really a claim that there is a simplistic relationship between feeling good about contributing to something, feeling good that others can use it, feeling obliged to do something to help others, to contribute for others.
Linus is good at what he does, but he's not a philosopher and his grasp of social relationships is not strong. Furthermore, other people did the work that kept and keeps the larger companies from crushing him and defeating his work and the work of others.
No, this is not paranoia, merely that many things are banned in various places for no reason other than they threaten already existing monopolies or powerful groups - growing hemp for instance.
I think the EFF would have a few things to say about ensuring FOSS remains so.
>"Linus is good at what he does, but [ ... ] his grasp of social relationships is not strong."
So, you've seen his mailing list posts too then?
Morally? Who cares?
Now contractually, that's different. Using GPL and similar copyleft licenses, companies are legally bound to give back any improvements or derivative works they distribute. This seems to me like a great arrangement - if companies want to sell FOSS stuff they can, but everybody gets rights to the source code of binaries they receive. Plus additions and improvements make their way back up the line, slowly, so the hobbyists and other geeks and freaks are happy.
Whether the benefit gained by the firm is 'morally' equal to the amount they give back is irrelevant.
Morality only ever seems to come into the conversation when you throw BSD zealots into the mix, because apparently giving things away with no restriction is a morally superior action. Also not using this right to clam up and give nothing back is supposed to be the moral thing to do. Witness the outrage when some wireless drivers were copied from BSD to Linux, improved and put under GPL....
What is the price of goodwill?
For any company, being seen to be a "good guy" in the (often simplistic) public image is worth a lot,even if it cannot be expressed in money. Ethics and corporate responsibility are becoming more and more important in shaping that public image, if nothing else. This too may be seen as selfish, but it is not expressed either in terms of money or contractual obligations.
Pile of shit
BSD, MIT and Apache licences take the politics out of open source. Any hoohah about GPLing BSD code is more about the hypocrisy of applying the GPL to something that is already open source. Inasmuch as commercial use is more or less encouraged you can argue that this is both inconsistent and sour grapes but it's really just a storm in a tea cup.
For US corporations the BSD licence means they are more likely to contribute back, should they ever feel the need, as they don't need to get the lawyers involved and this really does lower the barrier to entry. See the work on Postgres or Juniper's contributions to BSD and why Trac changed its licence.
Re: Pile of shit
"For US corporations the BSD licence means they are more likely to contribute back, should they ever feel the need, as they don't need to get the lawyers involved and this really does lower the barrier to entry."
I'd like to see the numbers on this. Certainly, Linux has seen a lot more US corporate action than the BSDs ever have, at least as far as we know, and maybe that's the point the commenter was making: the copyleft-licensed code has to see the light of day at some point; permissively-licensed code can bask in its binary glory if the corporations so wish.
Contributing back to permissive projects is mostly a survival tactic: any small company or small group of developers can't hope to fork such projects and see their workload go down. On the other hand, Microsoft and pals have little incentive to contribute back.
A final note on applying the GPL to BSD-licensed code: the hypocrisy is surely that of the people who license code permissively and then complain about seeing someone take advantage of the very privileges conferred on the recipient. Naturally, one can always say that the original BSD-licensed code is "still available if you want it" instead of the GPL-licensed derived work. Apparently this is acceptable when a company makes proprietary software from permissively-licensed code, but not when copyleft enters the equation: yet more hypocrisy in action.
And so on.
Morality is irrelevant given sufficient law.
Morality is irrelevant given sufficient law. The Law exists specifically because you can't trust individuals to live together in peace with each other. SOME ONE will try to take advantage of everyone else. This is where governments and laws come in. They arbitrate conflicting individual interests.
For lack of a better term, people are evil. This evil is mitigated by law, order and contracts.
Free Software is nothing more than a framework to assure that everyone "plays nice" with one another. It imposes it's own "sufficient law" through contract and license law. A good license ensures that everyone plays by the ground rules that the original talent specify. If someone thinks that they can take advantage of everyone else, then the apparatus of the state can come into play.
As far as "morality" goes. The same "morality" applies to all authors regardless of how they choose to license their work.
"This is where governments and laws come in. They arbitrate conflicting individual interests."
Laws, yes. But not governments. They just _are_ another bunch of interests.
Rational calculation of interests is not always enough to get the best results
"The moment it's perceived self-interest is furthered by contributing rather than free-riding, Amazon will contribute." That's all very well and rational, except that free-riding can cause problems - in particular the under-production of public goods. Game theory nicely shows how rational agents can back themselves into corners by choosing strategies that appear to maximize their self-interest. Sometimes you need more than a perception of your own interests. Maybe talking about moral obligation can get a little tedious, but some kind of communal strategy can be necessary to overcome problems caused by narrow calculation of self-interest, as anyone who has ever investigated prisoners' dilemmas will tell you.
Needs to be said, but...
Good post, and when you and Glyn Moody agree about something it's worth noticing. Bt I have some difficulty with the suggestion that contributions by users of Free Software should be "commensurate with the benefits it receives." That. to my mind, is a tactic to peg Free Software to the money economy, which is unnecessary and too controlling, and quite probably the fact that the value of Free Software is expressed differently to /only/ economic value is the reason for Free Software's rise and rise.
As a matter of interest, some years ago, when responsible for the implementation of a particular piece of GPLed software, as a contribution, we shelled out quite a few thousands on getting the software prepared for multi-lingual operation and for translation work. The company which produced the software promptly pulled the work we paid for into a new paid-for version, meaning our contribution supported, oh, one company, and made me forever aware of the iniquity of "open core" and other weaslly marketing gambits.
"Bt I have some difficulty with the suggestion that contributions by users of Free Software should be "commensurate with the benefits it receives.""
You claim this is pegging it to a money economy, but to me it sounds like "to each according to his ability, from each according to his need."
The thing about free open source is that it's ideologically neutral. It *isn't* socialist, nor "objectivist", nor capitalist. It's just a thing that is, though if I were to to say it was close to any ideology it would be libertarian. Somewhat. Maybe. It's a tool, like a gun or a hoe or electricity, that can be used by anyone regardless of their beliefs.
The point is, you're projecting your ideology onto it, and that ideology is suspicious of the "money economy", so you would naturally see the above statement about contributions as confirming that suspicion. You *could* see the opposite, that it supports a socialist stance. Either way it's irrelevant, as it's your ideology projecting itself onto something that isn't inherently part of any ideology.