As a group, open-source developers tend to be a freedom-loving bunch. If only their fans were the same. Even as open source has become a mainstream way to build software, many of its biggest beneficiaries opt to contribute little to nothing back. Or, worse, they use open source to build fortresses of closed software, closed …
Free-software philosophy forgotten?
It is nice to see some tacit support for the views of Stallman, the founder of the Free Software movement. But it is a shame they are not acknowledged. Concerns about more general notions of freedom lie at the philsophical heart of the Free Software movement, which has always been interested in defining freedom of software at a "higher" level, which encompasses protocols and APIs etc. It was essentially the Johnny-come-lately "Open Source Initiative" advocates who sought to dump the wider philosophical concerns of Stallman and the Free Software movement, and took access to the source, and avoidance of the word "Free" as being the only important issues. It is strange to see the OSI being alluded to as the "old guard" (that makes me feel really old) and how successful they appear to have been at eclipsing public awareness of the wider concerns that were, and remain, integral to the notion of Free Software proper.
I think the whole idea of measuring "giving back to the community" by merely looking at lines of code is flawed to say the least. Because all people look at is the amount of released code in an open project.
And to see a company like Google release their browser is fun. But we all know its heavily tied into their webstore where they hope people will buy extensions and themes for it. By releasing the code they very well can cut a little on development costs.
Now, I'm not condemning this mind you. But I do say that I think this model to be hardly as impressive as seeing Sun in its good days actually -spending- /company resources/ on trying to help out the BSD guys with porting ZFS onto FreeBSD. That is what I call not only providing for open source software, but also standing behind it in the way "OSS" was intended to be; you build something, you share not only the product but the knowledge too and you help others with it as well.
There is more to OSS than simply throwing a lot of money at it and saying "we contributed".
Hang on a minute
Don't Google contribute a humongous wedge of Mozilla's budget? In what way is Google then not contributing enough to free and open standards and software?
What about the FSF's 4 freedoms?
Freedom 0 - The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
Freedom 1 - The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Freedom 2 - The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
Freedom 3 - The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
No mention of Apple's use of FreeBSD or the forking of KHTML into Webkit? How about OpenSSH and SSL developed by the OpenBSD project get's no contribution from large companies yet the tech is behind every monitary transaction in today's world?
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