Editor's Note: Hard ChoicesFeb 23, 2007, 23:30 (39 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
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By Brian Proffitt
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 insults?
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.
That's the whole point.
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