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Like many I'm sure, I'd heard a little of the Free Software Foundation - their petitions to the US Govt recently (and a public march if I remember correctly), brought a bit of a laugh. But I recently stumbled upon a new campaign being run by the FSF, entitled the "Windows 7 Sins"... you guessed it - timed around the release of the launch of Win7. Now granted, the full title of the campaign is "Windows 7 Sins: The case against Microsoft and proprietary software", but given that noone else even gets a mention in either the body of their home page, nor in the letter sent to 499 of the Fortune 500 companies - MS being that unsent-to member of that list - we might as well ignore that last part of the title.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm all for the growth of the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) community. Hell, I've been a Firefox user since around version 0.7, and use a number of fine open-source apps and utilities on a day-to-day, or regular basis. I'm also all for Linux stepping up as a stronger player for those outside the so-called "geek" community - that's not to say there aren't some growing contenders, but simply an acknowledgment of the fact that it is early days on that front.

But when I come across the kind of hyperbole being pitched in this latest effort by the FSF, my eyebrows are automatically raised.

In their campaign "war howl", they accuse MS of committing 7 cardinal sins against the FOSS community, as follows:

  • Poisoning education
    Isn't the purpose of our education system to prepare our students for the real world - including giving them the means to use the tools they will likely encounter? How many businesses are using Linux, OO or GIMP? Businesses are more likely to use Macs than Linux boxes, thus many schools teach both
  • Invading privacy
    Windows Genuine Advantage checks only to validate a genuine copy of Windows
  • Monopoly behavior
    No-one is forced to use have Windows - or any other MS product - on their computer, and HP/DELL both offer OS-free PC options
  • Lock-in
    XP reaches end of support period in 2012 - that's 12yrs of support! Last time I checked, Office XP and Office 2003 were also both supported. How many open-source project versions get such lengthy support? And how are users "forced" to upgrade within that period?
  • Abusing standards
    And exactly what standards does OO follow?
  • Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)
    Last time I checked, it was the various arms of the entertainment industry which had pressured both MS and Apple to support Digital Rights Management!
  • Threatening user security
    This one just gets so tired, it's not even worth picking apart

A full outline as to how the FSF is defining these "sins", as related to Microsoft, they can be found here. You can make up your own mind as to the legitimacy of the claims made.

Now I'm not sticking a halo on the head of Microsoft, but come on. This smacks more of the school-yard tantrum thrown because no-one wants to play with them; rather than a legitimate effort on FSF's part. Why is it seen as acceptable to attack the opposition rather than promoting a quality range of their own products. Are they that insecure?

One of my biggest criticisms of the FOSS community as a whole comes down to this: an almost complete lack of true innovation. The emphasis has long been on providing "alternatives" to proprietary software, rather than creating something truly new. Even the rumour-mill surrounding Google's Chrome OS, suggests a package of alternatives, without any real new ideas. Combine that with this latest campaign, and one has to ask - is the FSF's carry-on doing more to harm the open-source community than actually helping it? Is this latest campaign more likely to encourage large enterprise to avoid open-source software, rather than enacting any form of adoption?

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Edited by happygeek: spell check

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Last Post by The Mad Hatter
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Your title says it all:

Is the FSF shooting the open-source community in the foot?

The Free Software Foundation is part of the Free Software Community. It isn't part of the Open Source Community. And while the communities are related, and have some similar interests, they are wildly different in other ways. Eric Raymond for example thinks that the GNU GPL is a bad license to use, because you can't take the code proprietary. I on the other hand think that the GNU GPL is a wonderful license to use because you can't take the code proprietary.

We are interested in different freedoms. Eric wants the freedom to do anything he wants with the code. I want to make sure that the code remains free to everyone.

So, yes, the FSF, the center of the Free Software movement, is working in the best interests of the Free Software community, not the Open Source community. To expect anything else is stupidity.

One of my biggest criticisms of the FOSS community as a whole comes down to this: an almost complete lack of true innovation.

Funny. That's the complaint I hear about Microsoft all of the time (and I really have to finish the article on Microsoft "Innovation" that I've started). Microsoft hasn't introduced anything new. Free Software on the other hand has, with the new GUI metafors which have been released in the last 5-10 years being a good example.

Me? I liked the Vista Seven Sins campaign. The FSF's complaints about it are accurate. So the question is, why would you try and defend Microsoft? Seriously. Why would anyone who is "associated" with either the Free or Open Source software communities want to defend a convicted monopolist, who's main marketing push at present seems to be aimed at preventing Free and Open Source software from gaining any market share?

Come one. Tell us. Why?

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OK - I'll tackle the three major points separately.

Point one: the the FSF and the Open-Source Community are separate entities.

Unfortunately it comes down to public perception, and in the public eye, there simply is no difference (though you and I may see that it there is). My article was not to insinuate that there was, but to raise the question as to whether the FSF is dumping the entire open-source community in a deep dark hole.

This latest campaign is really a case of the FSF - very much under the helm of Stallman (the author of all 3 GPL's) running a campaign as if it speaks for every member of not only the FSF or FOSS community, but the entire open-source community. The problem is, his methods are so abrasive as to likely cause a backlash that includes even those in the OS community who want nothing to do with either the FSF or Stallman personally. Unless the Open-Source community finds a voice that is just as loud, you'll just find yourselves bunched in with the FSF like it or not.

Point two the lack of innovation in the open-source community: - arc up all you like, but I'm yet to see any examples.... but feel free to list any. I'm a regular haunt on the open-source and Linux boards, and the most common response I see when one complains about a certain app not working in Linux is along the lines of "try this alternative". Indeed, almost every free or open-source app I see markets itself as an "alternative" to some proprietary application, rather than as something original. It seems to speak for itself really. Even if you have one or two unique products, they'll be drowned out by the majority offering unless vocally pitched.

point three: Microsoft actually included a number of inovations in Vista (granted, were certainly not bug free at roll out), that are still not found elsewhere, even now that they are refined in Win7:

  • Turbo Cache and ReadyBoost: both co-developed with Intel, and not replicated outside the Windows OS, even though they both provide massive performance hikes.
  • Hardware accelerations - look it up
  • Efficient usage of GPL - Vista intro'd the sharing of the load btwn CPU and GPU. Win7 sees unparalleled resource sharing btwn the two... to the point both nVidia and AMD both declaring Win7 the next gaming platform - and like nothing seen in other OS's
  • Then there is both developments in the areas of TaskBar and Networking realms.

Like MS or hate them, they've actually proved as innovative as Apple at least - probably more so on the enterprise front which most don't even get a look at - but due to biases, it gets ignored. But really, whether or not MS was innovative had absolutely nothing to do with the original article, so is beside the point.

The FSF is running a campaign which is likely to affect the image of the ENTIRE open-source community (and likely in a negative manner).... are you happy about that?

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OK - I'll tackle the three major points separately.

Point one: the the FSF and the Open-Source Community are separate entities.

Unfortunately it comes down to public perception, and in the public eye, there simply is no difference (though you and I may see that it there is). My article was not to insinuate that there was, but to raise the question as to whether the FSF is dumping the entire open-source community in a deep dark hole.

I think its doing the Free Software community a lot of good. The Open Source community I don't pay a lot of attention to.

This latest campaign is really a case of the FSF - very much under the helm of Stallman (the author of all 3 GPL's) running a campaign as if it speaks for every member of not only the FSF or FOSS community, but the entire open-source community. The problem is, his methods are so abrasive as to likely cause a backlash that includes even those in the OS community who want nothing to do with either the FSF or Stallman personally. Unless the Open-Source community finds a voice that is just as loud, you'll just find yourselves bunched in with the FSF like it or not.

Hey, I like the FSF. I don't like the Open Source Initiative. But that's me.

Point two the lack of innovation in the open-source community: - arc up all you like, but I'm yet to see any examples.... but feel free to list any. I'm a regular haunt on the open-source and Linux boards, and the most common response I see when one complains about a certain app not working in Linux is along the lines of "try this alternative". Indeed, almost every free or open-source app I see markets itself as an "alternative" to some proprietary application, rather than as something original. It seems to speak for itself really. Even if you have one or two unique products, they'll be drowned out by the majority offering unless vocally pitched.

point three: Microsoft actually included a number of inovations in Vista (granted, were certainly not bug free at roll out), that are still not found elsewhere, even now that they are refined in Win7:

* Turbo Cache and ReadyBoost: both co-developed with Intel, and not replicated outside the Windows OS, even though they both provide massive performance hikes.
* Hardware accelerations - look it up
* Efficient usage of GPL - Vista intro'd the sharing of the load btwn CPU and GPU. Win7 sees unparalleled resource sharing btwn the two... to the point both nVidia and AMD both declaring Win7 the next gaming platform - and like nothing seen in other OS's
* Then there is both developments in the areas of TaskBar and Networking realms.


Like MS or hate them, they've actually proved as innovative as Apple at least - probably more so on the enterprise front which most don't even get a look at - but due to biases, it gets ignored. But really, whether or not MS was innovative had absolutely nothing to do with the original article, so is beside the point.

I'll disagree with you about that. Microsoft is good at imitation. I can remember seeing my first copy of DOS. It did a good job of imitating CP/M. But there was nothing new in it.

All of the Innovation in computer operating systems come from either Linux, BSD, Solaris, or OSX implementations. Windows? Microsoft does know how to copy. But they don't even manage to copy as well as they used to.

The FSF is running a campaign which is likely to affect the image of the ENTIRE open-source community (and likely in a negative manner).... are you happy about that?

I don't think it will hurt the Free Software Community. I don't think that Open Source really matters. Free Software or Proprietary Software. The mushy middle really doesn't matter.

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