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osOpinion: The Ethical Programmer

May 15, 2000, 07:06 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Monty Manley)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"Although I have been a professional programmer for many years, I have only recently begun to develop Open Source applications (nothing worth releasing yet, so don't bother looking ;)). Part of what drew me to Linux (and the GTK+ toolkit I chose to use) was the concept of "freedom" as embodied by the GNU Public License (GPL)."

"It seemed only fair: I was building on top of the hard work of many programmers, and it would have been wrong of me to obscure their efforts by producing a proprietary piece of code. After all, my efforts would at best constitute 20% of the ultimate codebase (and that doesn't even include the toolchain itself, which is GPL'd). My program rests upon the Gnu libc, various other libraries (like readline, glib/gtk, and others), and X Windows. Millions of lines of code, freely contributed, maintained, and distributed."

"I *could* have produced a proprietary, binary-only release. I could have taken the hard work of those faceless programmers and made it serve my own ends. I could have let greed overcome my sense of fair play. But I chose not to: to do so would have been to admit that my conscience had been totally burned away."

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