The Free Source Bigot's Perfect Desktop is... ?

by chromatic

I know it's not the point of the weblog, but a paragraph just jumped out at me.

For me, the perfect destkop has already been built: Mac OS X. Yes, I know of the inconsistencies in this (I'm a free source bigot and Apple may well be the most proprietary company on the planet, in more ways than source code). I just can't help it.

— Matt Asay, The Open Road

If you really wanted to help it, you could. When you find yourself replacing Apple's proprietary applications with software that respects your freedoms, it's time to switch.

Maybe you're not a freedom guy. Maybe you promote open source because you believe that it makes demonstrably better software, through the process of user feedback and enlightened self-interest leading to greater contributions of code, bugs, documentation, and support.

Maybe there's a third possibility I don't see... but it seems a bit inconsistent to suggest that there's a perfect desktop already, one which leaves you no choice as to what to support..


Simon Hibbs
2007-09-14 09:14:42
All ideologies are wrong. All of them. It's inherent in what an ideology is that it severely restricts ways of thinking about problems and how to solve them. Ideologies aren't wrong because they have no virtues, they are wrong because they are incapable of recognizing their own flaws and limitations.

Is it realy true that only open source programmers, because they doi it out of love and not for money, must be more motivated and creative than those paid for it? Are there no motivated, creative programmers working for Apple or Adobe? There can't be, because they are not writing open source!

Similarly, if I write code and I choose to sell all of my rights to it to someone for good money, that's my right. Similarly if I as a customer choose to buy a software product and don't give a toss about it's source code, that's my right too. Source code does not have rights!

That said, I do believe that customers should demand more access to source code in many situations and that public code review that respects the copyrights of the vendor can be very beneficial. If everyone made their code public it would also be very easy to spot plagiarism, perhaps even reducing the number of violations. However this should be done not because it is ideologicaly pure, but because it is the best way to get things done.

2007-09-14 10:13:48
-1 Boring

BTW, freedom is not just about source code. Therefore, being a freedom guy probably involves more than using free software exclusively.

And while we're at it, what OS are you using on your cell phone, PDA, router, DVD player, TV, car, etc? I doubt that all of them are free software.

I think that free software is great, and I contribute wherever I can. But that holier-than-thou attitude really gets on my nerves. Don' tell me whether or not it's time to switch. I make those decisions myself, thank you very much. Don't tell me whether I could help it if I really wanted. If you really wanted, you could probably help out some homeless person in some way. I guess you just don't want to, right?

2007-09-14 15:57:49
@s0, that's kind of a specious argument. I have a difficult time listening to a free software pundit who doesn't respect his own freedom enough to use free software where possible (and it's perfectly possible to buy a laptop with only free software installed; I do that), and I'm starting to have trouble listening to open source advocates who say that the open source model produces better software if they're not willing to participate in developing the software even by using that software.

(My router does run Linux though. None of the rest of the items you mention have user-replaceable software.)