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LinuxPlanet: .comment: Wanna Invest in a Bridge? Okay, How About a Donation?

May 02, 2001, 13:27 (155 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)

"If the handful of people who have preserved their common sense were to take a step back and look at it, the ridiculousness of current events in the "free" software world would become laughably apparent."

"I took that step back when I read my friend and colleague Michael Hall's gnotebook column last Friday. It dealt with the flagship GUI desktop of the Free Software Foundation. Which is to say, it discussed the products of two commercial enterprises, Ximian and Eazel. In the case of the former, it had to do with the lengthy wait users had endured before gaining access to the binary version of Ximian-brand Gnome. The discussion of the latter had to do with Eazel's solicitation of donations to keep the company afloat."

"Now. Wait a minute here. Gnome was started because the Free Software Foundation ("information wants to be free") got itself in high moral dudgeon over the fact that an independently developed (meaning, no one kissed Richard M. Stallman's, uh, ring) desktop, KDE, was being produced under terms that no user could find objectionable but that the Free Software Foundation found insufficiently "free," based upon its made-up definition of the word. We jump ahead a few years. Gnome is controlled -- c'mon, don't kid yourself -- by two companies. KDE, meanwhile, isn't controlled by any companies. It doesn't even have any companies that distribute versions of it exclusively. If one were the suspicious sort, which I am, one would wonder if maybe there were more here than meets the eye."

"The Free Software Foundation was formed because Richard M. Stallman had a vendetta based on the disparity between the way things work and the way he wished things worked, and he was smart enough to realize that packing up the most complicated text editor in the world and taking it home would not make quite the statement that forming a movement would. He was aware of the phenomenon codified by Abraham Maslow: there are lots of people who will sign on to just about any movement in exchange for the sense of belongingness that being the proud member of a group imparts. Fair enough. Nothing wrong with that. As long as you live it."

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