08.13.07

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GNU/Linux is Not Being Divided, But the ‘Extended Family’ Fractures to Alienate Its Foes

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 5:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Linux was never being divided into camps. Linux had freeloaders with a proprietary mindset enter its community. It is time for them to change their agenda or depart.

There appears to be growing tension between the Free software side of the fence and those who want to commercialise it while accepting compromises. Commercialisation is of course no sin. In fact, it’s a necessity in order for projects to thrive. The question is, how will freedoms be lost (if at all) in the process of monetisation. A recent minor move made by MySQL, which is already worth some obscene amounts of money, led to a storm in a teacup.

One of the challenges open source companies have is that you serve two distinct markets: your customers as well as non-paying community users. Paradoxically, the non-paying users can be the most vocal and demanding.

MySQL did not violate any of the rules, but its move symbolised a trend where Free software is made less convenient to access and/or use. OpenSUSE is still different from SLED, so there is a similar example at Novell.

There is another new essay that is worth mentioning.

No matter how hard we try to down play it, the patent threats and deals that are being made because of them are hurting the community – it’s a simple fact. The real trick will be to see who sticks this out and who falls back to closed source alternatives, as we see Linux getting split with IP politics.

The gist of it all: Microsoft divides the community. The only other alternatives is to blend and to accept Microsoft’s new rules, imposed through the Novell deal which Microsoft paid a lot of money to make a reality. The vocation of the Open Source Initiative is not more encouraging.

If we don’t stand up for our freedoms, these freedoms will soon be lost to those who are willing to throw money to eliminate them. It’s sad, but it’s true. Is the community divided? Not the Linux community, but only the ‘extended family’ that includes those who wish to exploit or destroy Linux. Microsoft wants to be part of this extended Linux family, but it will never truly belong due to malice. To quote Groklaw:

Mr. Carmony [of Linspire] asked a question, will Linux split in two factions? The answer is no. Some Linux distros will limp along a while and then die off, because they misunderstood what folks want when they choose GNU/Linux and FOSS. You can see that already. Red Hat, which refused to sign any such deal, is flourishing, for example. It’s not about code that “just works”. Apple offers that already. It’s the freedom. And we’ve proven willing to put up with some temporary frustration in order to get it. In time, FOSS will win, and all those proprietary codecs and everything else will be made available on pleasanter terms, because market share does that.

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