[TriLUG] Where is Linux today?
cmp at cmpalmer.org
Tue Jun 24 15:58:33 EDT 2008
On Tue, Jun 24, 2008 at 12:05 PM, Christopher L Merrill
<chris at webperformance.com> wrote:
> Cristóbal Palmer wrote:
>> Because I don't understand. Where is closed, proprietary software okay
>> under your logic?
>> I'm asking honestly and sincerely. Where do you draw the line and say
>> That's Not Right?
> I hope I'm misunderstanding you - but from the sum total of your post,
> my interpretation is you are saying it is "wrong" to use proprietary
> software. It is wrong to buy software. I assume that is not what you
> are saying, so maybe you could clarify what you mean by the above
> and below statements?
Firstly, I can only answer for myself. I tried to explain my own
positions in the post. For example, I use Adobe's flash plugin, which
is clearly not Free. Furthermore, I have a PS2 game console at home
and a coworker has a PS3 at work that I use. Both of those are closed
platforms that include proprietary software. Those uses aren't
entirely consistent with my advocacy of FOSS, but I feel they are
justifiable, and I hope my explanations for why I think that's the
case were clear enough for you.
My current personal standard for when I feel like it's okay to use
proprietary software? Taking a rough stab at it, I think that under
most circumstances you'd have to be able to answer yes to ALL the
following questions to justify use:
* Is the functionality offered by the software ONLY available from
this proprietary code?
* Is the functionality critical to success?
* Have you tried alternative functionality and demonstrated that it's untenable?
* Have you given support to actors developing an Open Source alternative?
Critically, I do *not* think that many web services qualify as
proprietary for the purposes of this discussion. I have no beef with
salesforce.com, for example. They're not selling you software; they're
selling you a service. I expect that there are plenty of people on
this list and elsewhere who will disagree with me on this point.
People concerned with the integrity of their data may want to stop and
think about their use of some web services, but do I use gmail for
most of the lists I'm subscribed to? Hell yes.
Again, this is my personal standard and clearly there are gaps where
this doesn't work. For example, I don't expect our military to use
only FOSS code to run the computers that keep their bombers flying. I
certainly won't demand that Shearon Harris control its reactor with
code that they release to the public. Those systems (including any and
all software) should be engineered to incredibly exacting standards,
but public source code?
I notice you work for webperformance, and I notice y'all sell some software:
as well as providing complete outsourcing:
It looks like on the product end you've got something like a MySQL
model (free basic, paid full) going on. Is that correct? Furthermore,
what license do you use for the stuff you allow people to use without
So, to answer more directly: no, I don't think you can say
categorically that use of proprietary software is always wrong, but
making such an assertion or drawing lines for everyone where right and
wrong go vis-à-vis software freedom wasn't the point of my post. The
point of my post was to get Tanner (and others on the list) to make
more clear where /they/ draw the lines personally, and to emphasize
that the Fedora Project's commitments on patents and licenses aren't
just some weird braggadocio but rather an important and costly effort
that all of us have some level of responsibility to support if we
value freedom and justice. I've seen too many justifications of use of
proprietary software that just don't add up. I want people to
critically evaluate why it is that they think using proprietary
software is okay in the particular contexts where they use it. If they
do that thinking and come up with reasonable arguments for their use,
then that's fine. I might disagree with them, but I'll respect that
it's a personal judgment.
Did I answer your questions?
Cristóbal M. Palmer
"Small acts of humanity amid the chaos of inhumanity provide hope. But
small acts are insufficient."
-- Paul Rusesabagina
More information about the TriLUG