The divide between totally-free vs. free-when-we-can got
needlessly wider this week when open source practitioner Eric
Raymond issued a press release announcing his departure from Fedora
to Ubuntu, citing--among other concerns--Fedora's adherence to
purely free software as a reason for his departure.
Okay, first off, let me ask something: a press release? I mean,
I've run blog entries here about someone leaving one distribution
to another... I've even written a few. But alerting the media?
Truth be told, my concern is not about ESR's assertions about
Fedora. I don't believe that anyone should use a distribution that
does not fulfill their needs. And I understand that needs can
change over time. If he doesn't like Fedora, and wants to try
something else, then by all means, he should feel free to.
What I don't get is this need to constantly bring down projects
that people don't like or don't use. It's not just ESR; he's just
the perpetrator of the week. Last week it was Linus Torvalds,
railing on GNOME again (though admittedly, he did put his code
where his mouth was when he submitted patches for what he perceived
were long-term GNOME issues). Next week it'll be someone else.
This is a hard thing to stop, because it's easy to offer
criticism. I know I have done it, and will likely do it again. But
I wonder when genuine critiques become merely gratuitious
This is, without a doubt, the thing that bugs me the most about
Linux, free software, and all of the open source community: the
apparent need to assert your favorite project by tearing down
projects you don't like. I realize this is part of the human
condition, not just native to open source, but it seems especially
stupid when you consider that positive collaboration, not negative,
is what makes an open source project successful.
I don't know who's right or wrong: Eric or the Fedora
developers. GNOME or KDE. vi or emacs. What matters to me, and what
should matter to all of us, is that each of us has the choice to
use what we want.
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