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MacOPINION: Mac Skeptic: The Cathedral and the Bizarre

Jul 07, 2000, 19:23 (23 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jeff Lewis)

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"The OpenSource movement is one of those things I both love and hate. I love the concept - it harkens back to the 70s and how I got into computing. It was a time when almost no one actually owned a computer; we shared access to systems which ran Unix and MTS and other esoteric OSes, or we borrowed time on PDP-8s, and PDP-11s when the University would let us have it. We didn't compete about brand of computer - who could afford our own computer? - we engaged in friendly competition trying to improve each other's code."

"That all changed in the late 70's when a young programmer actually had the audacity to sell his BASIC interpreter to the other programmers rather than just giving it and the source code for it away. He went away and sold it to Altair and Apple and well... the rest, as they say, is history. With the IBM-PC making microcomputing respectable in 1981 (running an OS owned by, although not written by, that same young programmer), the die was cast and computing was changed in a fundamental way. Creating software, even for recreational purposes, was tied to making money - and nothing kills the notion of community faster than putting a price on it."

"Some people, like Richard Stallman, have always tried to keep a bit of this spirit alive - admittedly, it must be like fighting uphill in an avalanche. But it wasn't until Linux that the OpenSource movement really kicked in. Sure, there were lots of other OpenSource projects before Linux - BSD, GNU, and while Linux relies on GNU for a lot of its tools, the truth is that none of these projects ever managed to capture the heart of people like Linux."

"Which leads me to the 'hate' part. There's a growing fanaticism within the OpenSource community which is starting to smell almost as bad as the fanaticism it tries to combat."

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