Repeat after me: Every project I complete makes me smarter.

R.I.P. Eric S. Raymond...the hero I knew, the ass I know now.

Date/Time Permalink: 08/23/06 03:20:12 am
Category: General

OK, let's get this over with. It's pretty damn difficult for me to do.

Anybody who knows their Tolkien knows that it isn't enough to snatch the Ring of Power from Sauron; you have to chuck that sucker into the fire before you're free. You do not clutch your precious to yourself and churtle that now YOU'LL be the Master! There is a misconception out there that Linux's goal is to replace Microsoft and take over the world from it. No, not it at all; we come to free the people, not enslave them under a new dictator.

Lot's of news has been going around about Eric S. Raymond, whom people (some of them him) proclaim as a 'guru', who has been preaching lately to essentially have Linux give in to proprietary software and merge with it. It's not pretty, but there it is. I was waiting a few days to see if he would change his mind from saying these awful things or perhaps clarify them to mean something nicer, and then I remembered that I was still waiting from the last conference, where he said, "We don't need the GPL." I keep listening for the wise, witty voice who wrote much of the Jargon file and the Cathedral and the Bazaar, and it has been lost for years. We have a tin-pot greedy ogre's voice in it's place.

To recap; ESR was never a guru; at best a tribal bard. Until seven years ago when he got a horn in on the VA Linux-systems IPO deal, and whoops, made a ton of money. Since then he has come out of the closest as the most extreme FOX-watching, liberal-bashing, terrorist-fearing, Bush-cheering, Bill-O'Reilly-quoting right-winger, second-amendment-first and all. His blog: Yes, he calls himself "libertarian", but his breed of it is "too right-wing for the right-wing".

Becoming a sell-out and a turncoat against free (as in rain) software is only a logical step. I have been watching and agonizing over the situation for a couple of years, in fact, and though I have linked to him I think I have to remove that link from my own site and give him his RIP, as a dead hero whom I once was naive enough to idolize.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm moderate. But I prefer openness and freedom for absolutely everything. I will grant the necessity for works of art (including games) to charge something, and I think people should be paid for working, even if their work will be released for free. Yeah, I really live this way! Freelance job and all! Don't run a stick of Windows and haven't for years. Anyway, accepting a non-free solution is at best a temporary compromise which we have to make at an ever-decreasing rate; free and open source software did not get where it is today from backing down and wussing out on it's principles.

Here, those of you who are my beloved trolls, let me flame it for you: "LINUX WILL NEVER MAKE IT ON THE DESKTOP, AND U R THE SUXOR COMMUNIST! GO BACK TO RUSSIA blah blah blah." There, I saved you the trouble, hint hint.

Let me explain something to you; the only people who want to PUSH Linux on the desktop are the people who do NOT see the evil of proprietary software, but are only envious of Bill Gates because Gates has all the money and they don't. This is just one greedy swine wanting to take all the slop from the other greedy swine; nobody else but the swine stands to benefit. Free and Open Source software as it stands today benefits ALL of us, equally; I make money off of it, but I do not expect to be rich. There's room for everybody who can read this to make some money off of it, but probably not get rich. Pass it on. And FOSS can keep on the same path it's been on and get to the same place, just slower and with more owners.

Or you can choose stupid greed. The slow, stable, assured path to success, or the fast, bloody, risky one. I optimistically hope for the former but prepare for the latter by keeping one foot in other systems like BSD, Solaris, and ReactOS. And, speaking as one who is a *fire-baptized* Linux zealot, I have to regrettably say that were Linux to suddenly become Microsoft overnight, I would have no choice but to be ten times the enemy of Linux that I ever was of Microsoft; I never had a chance to know and love a free Microsoft for ten years like I have with Linux.

Final analysis; fat chance. And memo to ESR: nobody's that stupid. The world was fooled once, but in a big enough way the first time. Anyway, the vast majority of it is GNU software. Stallman may be zealous at the other end of the scale, but I never have to worry about Stallman turning coat for greed's sake no matter how nutty he gets.

Update: This Linux and Things blog post also helped to remind me that some of the people who are impatient to see Linux kick Window's butt out of the ring are motivated by being sick of living in a world with Windows in it. Granted; as I, too, have to baby-sit Windows users with their problems - in some cases just so I can do business with them! - I know that song very well. But the solution won't be any prettier if we have to gum up the works with "Linux Genuine Advantage". I submit that had Linux been proprietary, it would sleep today next to the graves of Amiga and BeOS.

UPDATE: 12/24/06 ESR's newest declaration. Mind you, Linus Torvalds joked about world domination; ESR is dead serious. Never forget for a minute folks, ESR as a dictator won't be any nicer to you than the dictators you suffer under today. Keep power in the people's hands and let nobody dominate anybody; that is the only way we all win.

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