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Re: Practicality of GNU project and libre movement (Sagar Acharya : 2)

From: Miles Fidelman
Subject: Re: Practicality of GNU project and libre movement (Sagar Acharya : 2)
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2020 16:12:27 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.12; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.10.0

On 7/24/20 3:14 PM, Roberto Beltran via libreplanet-discuss wrote:

Most people on here already know how bad things are, but I don't think it's 
black or white win or lose.
Do we really know how bad things are? Is there a report somewhere
showing, for example adoption in free software, copyleft license and
dependency in proprietary software / noncopyleft software in numbers and
how it has evolved over the time?

On a side note, do we have success criteria (over achievable stages, not
just disappearance of proprietary software from the world) that we can
use to compare and good metrics to measure the progress of the movement?

Funny thing, but...

- Pretty much every funded R&D project that I've been associated with, has contractual clauses requiring software to be released as either open source or to the public domain - the leading edge remains open source

- Pretty much every ISP, Hosting, and Cloud provider relies heavily on FOSS software - with the bigger ones both funding critical projects, and releasing a lot of their infrastructure code as FOSS (Apache & Open Stack come to mind, Lyft's Clutch infrastructure management platform is looking particularly interesting)

- The vast majority of the world's web sites run on Apache, on Linux or BSD - and a huge number run on WordPress (all FOSS)

- Savvy IT directors prefer open source software to proprietary software - not for cost reasons (maintaining software is costly, whether you pay a vendor to do it or hire people) - but because it's more flexible, and avoids vendor lock in (less-savvy IT directors use FOSS because they think it's cheaper) - by the way, that includes some rather large organizations, like large pieces of the US Marine Corps

Perhaps the real problem is that MOST software doesn't make it into wide-spread use, and hence cannot assemble a base of support for an open source effort.  Specialized software tends to have smaller audiences - requiring either a very high price-tag, or a grant, to support a dedicated development & support team.  And then there's the 90% that's a mix of pet projects, poorly implemented, that will never make it as either commercial or open source.

Yes... there are lots of practical issues with the GNU project & other libre software efforts - but they have a lot more to do with lack of focus, design by committee, and, these days, politicization of language & discussions, and ostracism of key people (e.g., Stallman, Torvalds).  The flaps over systemd (techno-politics) & Stallman (gender politics) have been far more damaging to free software, than financial matters.

All of this is, of course, one man's opinion.  Based on 50 years in the networking business, including a bunch of years at BBN, selling & leading lots of R&D projects, being the IT department for a non-profit, and building a small service bureau. And, yes, I rely on a Mac, and MS Office for lots of things - but I run my servers on Linux, Apache, MySQL, Postfix, Spamassassin, WordPress, and Sympa.

Miles Fidelman

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra

Theory is when you know everything but nothing works.
Practice is when everything works but no one knows why.
In our lab, theory and practice are combined:
nothing works and no one knows why.  ... unknown

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