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Old 5th June 2014
thirdm thirdm is offline
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Originally Posted by LeFrettchen View Post
Ok, he's got a real influence, but why ?
  1. He's got good ideas and really worries on how to apply them...
  2. He's got a big mouth, bigger than the others, and speaks louder than the others...
  3. He and FSF are big and heavy actors on stage, don't let much place for the others free foundations.

For me, it's clearly #2 and #3 : replace the FSF/GNU/GPL staff by any BSD staff, and see.
I don't think the motivations would change a lot, nor the result (except the licenses).
I'd kind of go with 1, myself, but I'm struggling a little with it. I like his four freedoms (although I find it better expressed combining two of them into one point, but four rings familiar for fans of FDR). The moral argument is the part where I struggle. It seems most succinctly expressed here:

"Distributing a program to users without freedom mistreats those users" (his definition of the quality of freedom associated with software being that of allowing actions as required by his four freedoms)
"If the users don't control the program, the program controls the users. With proprietary software, there is always some entity, the “owner” of the program, that controls the program—and through it, exercises power over its users. A nonfree program is a yoke, an instrument of unjust power."
-- https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-...important.html

There are some problems of overwrought language with the second statement and maybe it's debatable how powerless or without choice a buyer of proprietary software is. But even taking only the first milder statement combined with the golden rule, the idea looks okay to me as a moral statement. But then the question for me is whether wrong is quantifiable and whether you can say, "well that's wrong but it's only a little wrong so I'll continue taking jobs producing proprietary software in the absence of good offers for jobs producing free software." Is that the not as bad as fallacy (I learned about in an unrelated thread on this site, thank you) in action or is there a real sense in which degree of wrongness can be quantified and it's legitimate to have a threshold for yourself below which your violations don't cause you to lose sleep?

Whether BSD developers would act the same, I don't know. For one, even some (a lot?) of the GNU developers contribute to GNU for non-philosophical reasons so it's hard to say how much the philosophy drives the coding. But assuming some philosophy, or at least attitudes, drive people to some degree, there seems a fundamental difference beyond (or subsuming?) simple dislike of copyleft on the side of many BSD people. I've seen BSD writing in places express a very different moral idea (or simply a motivation? but I'll treat it as an ethic anyway), one that it's good to put something well crafted into the world and have that used (under any license). I guess, in the narrow sense the good is to avoid some fool getting it wrong when they try themselves with the harm coming back on the developer or the world at large. Then in the general sense, perhaps (not sure if I can really infer this), there's the sense of it being good simply to create and add useful well crafted things to the world for their own sake. Like it's good we have televisions (maybe that's a bad example) so the inventor of the television did a good thing.

The difference comes when you look at some software that's well done but under a proprietary license and ask whether it would be better that that software exist or not exist. FSF/GNU people generally would say better it not exist while BSD people I doubt would say that in general. (Though it's hard to be sure, since BSD people like less to have philosophical debates (so... sorry for this?), and the places where I have seen them I often tuned out because I didn't like the tone or didn't find the arguments compelling, e.g. BSD licensing being superior to copyleft argued in the form of a pissing contest over which license is shorter textually or is most free in the sense of being free from expressed restrictions in the license. I like the way Jeremy Allison meets the latter kind of argument, which he complained about encountering in its crudest form, I think it was here: http://faif.us/cast/2011/may/10/0x0F/ )

Last edited by thirdm; 5th June 2014 at 04:35 PM. Reason: punctuation
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