Linked by Sean Cohen on Tue 13th Apr 2004 06:52 UTC
GNU, GPL, Open Source Today I'm going to talk about why software - any software, all software - actually matters, what the different types of software are, and why you should care about its properties (no matter who you are, or what you do).
Order by: Score:
Good reasoning that will fall on deaf ears
by Abraxas on Tue 13th Apr 2004 07:34 UTC

Go and try Ogg Vorbis instead of MP3

I'll give everyone a reason to use OGG. It's better. Better sound/compression trade off than MP3. I use FLAC now though and it's amazing. Lossless audio in half the space, and it's open.

Re: Good reasoning that will fall on deaf ears
by Gusto on Tue 13th Apr 2004 07:42 UTC

Just to clearify: FLAC is half the size of a WAV file, but the lossless audio remains. ;)

Agreed, Ogg Vorbis is a truly great format. Too bad it's taking so much time to develop (many reasons for that, read the xiph mailinglist) the next version.

If you guys want an MP3 player that also supports Ogg Vorbis, check out iRiver and Rio. Rio also supports FLAC.

RE:Re: Good reasoning that will fall on deaf ears
by Thomas Wolfe on Tue 13th Apr 2004 07:56 UTC

Don't forget the Neuros www.neurosaudio.com heck, last time I checked they had lots of open source development going on, I think they have usb 2 now. btw, this is a great article, breaks it down for people who don't get it yet.

Potential Hazard
by Dark Lord Sauron on Tue 13th Apr 2004 08:00 UTC

Nice article, but your analogies and examples seem a bit too extreme. Might turn down some people.

uhmmm...
by Lumbergh on Tue 13th Apr 2004 08:03 UTC

This article might be of interest to Uncle Joe running windows, but I'm pretty sure that everybody that reads osnews is fully aware of all of these issues as they have been discussed thousands of times before.

v bravo! a manifesto for the oppressed, a song against the bankers
by the ghost of paulo friere on Tue 13th Apr 2004 08:10 UTC
Exactly! Info without zealotry!
by Pablo on Tue 13th Apr 2004 08:14 UTC

Excellent article. Sure, maybe the information will only be NEW to "Uncle Joe running windows", but even as a non-Uncle-Joe type I find it refreshing to see an informed argument for open source and open standards that isn't mere zealotry and flamebait.

Mostly good article
by BigZaphod on Tue 13th Apr 2004 08:35 UTC

I found it to be pretty good mostly, however it seemed to get a bit, I dunno, almost preacher-like at some points. Sort of a... "I'll bait you with this example and then... AHAH! See! You knew there was a trick somewhere here and then I delivered! Yay for me!" thing... But yeah, I think that those of us who know non-computer-types could easily point them to this article for at least a starter explanation on why closed software isn't the best idea for our future.

nice
by MNH. on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:04 UTC

great article. for some people who think open source is 'evil' and closed source is 'the way of life'.

BTW there are plenty of open source apps that can open MSWord Documents ;)

I use a FREE (speech&beer) system: GNU/Linux Debian.
by yuval on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:09 UTC

Nice article. I hope this will convince someone to usr Free Sofrware.

It's not about open source
by picz on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:13 UTC

>for some people who think open source is 'evil' and closed
>source is 'the way of life'.

The title of the article is wrong. Open source is nice, but it is not the closed source that is the main problem.

Closed standards are the problem. Not knowing how the data is saved, and not being able to find out, should not be accepted by any organisation.

Free Software matters, but Free and Open Standards matter more.

/regards
picz

i wish
by hobgoblin on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:32 UTC

that when they looked into microsoft for antitrust lawsuits that they would consider forceing them to put forth current and future data on filetypes, network protocols, file systems and so on. basicly then the idea of vendor lock-in becomes a nonissue and we would see ms dies a very horrible death or actualy start makeing quality poducts to stay afloat...

A good, clear article without zealotry
by Martin on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:36 UTC

I just want to say 'Thank you' for posting such a good, clear article on why open source and open standards matter. Although most open source advocates probably understand these issues as well or better than I do, I found it a pleasure to read an article that explains it as well as this one did. Here's hoping the author will keep on doing such a good job.

Martin

Word
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:40 UTC

You: So if my friend emails me a Word Document then I must buy a copy of Word from you to read my friends letter?

Microsoft: Yes, Sir.


Microsoft: No, Sir, you can download the word viewer from the microsoft website...

mp3 and other stuff
by Soofa King What on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:46 UTC

I dont know about the ipod, but there is open source firmware for my archos mp3 player (http://rockbox.haxx.se/).
Anyway i think the author is being a bit pessimistic here, there is allways an equlibrium in these things, if a company imposes too many restrictions on their software people wont buy it, they'll buy something else, take the author's example about apple only letting you read email with apples software, if they did that who the hell would buy a mac? I'm not being anti oss here, just pragmatic, i use oss whenever i can, but i'm not going to stop using (closed) software that i like. I run a xp/linux dual boot at home, a lot of the software i use on xp is closed, most of it i got for free (sygate, winamp, trillian, etc) other i paid for, mostly games, and i'm not going stop playing medal of honor or civ 3 to play tux racer just because it's oss....

Skip the Linux chit chat
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:50 UTC

Howabout BSD, what's the problem?

Can everyone talking about this kind of thing stop pushing everything towards Linux and talk about Free software as in BSD and MIT and other similar...

Slight criticism
by Luke on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:53 UTC

Nice article....but you call yourself an Aussie and then refer to the analogy of "under the hood".....shouldnt that be "under the bonnet"? ;)

Also, most people wouldnt know what a Monaro is.

hm
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:54 UTC

I must let you in on a little secret. Some standards created by large companies, such as Adobe's PostScript (the predecessor to PDF), are given to the community for free, in the true sense of the word. No strings attached. We have been given complete instructions on how to use, create, save, print and mince PostScript documents - all without having to pay any royalties.

That's why Apple switched from DisplayPS (postscript) in the NeXT operating system, to the PDF based Quartz, because of high licensing fees for postscript from Adobe.. I seriously hope you are not suggesting to use postscript to mail any documents you have, you could as well send a word document with automatic executing macros in it.


But there are now (as we speak) thousands upon thousands of programs that read and write (perfectly) OpenOffice.org documents


Thousands? Name 3! I hate OpenOffice.org, way too bloated, so I would like a lightweight word processor that runs natively on Mac OS X, and reads those OpenOffice.org documents perfectly.

No word
by picz on Tue 13th Apr 2004 09:59 UTC

>Microsoft: No, Sir, you can download the word viewer from the
>microsoft website...

You: shall I install it under /usr/local or under /opt on my Solaris workstation?

Microsoft: Solawhat?

You: No Solaris version? What about Linux?

Microsoft: Linux is evil

You: Nevermind. Just send me a Mac OS X version.

Microsoft: Sorry...

You: I would also write a perl script, that extracts references to local drives from the companys Word documents, moves referenced files to a network drive and changes the document to point to new reference.

Microsoft: We can sell you our brand new .NET package

Formats
by Don Cox on Tue 13th Apr 2004 10:04 UTC

The data formats used by DTP programs such as Quark XPress, InDesign or Pagemaker are just as closed as the Word doc format. Good luck to anyone needing to view or edit a Quark document.

The only DTP program with a fully documented file format is Pagestream.
http://www.grasshopperllc.com

Nice read
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 10:09 UTC

Good article. I've used OpenOffice but it didn't meet my business needs however I think most people would be able to use it for at least opening word documents. Ogg vorbis simply rocks. I don't use linux because I'm not interested in becoming an admin at home. It has its merits though and I think if it followed MacOSX's lead of making things easier it could really become a hit.

We need more open standards apps to challenge the closed ones like Office, Flash, <your favorite-but-closed app here> but if they cannot produce at least equal value it may be difficult to get users onboard.

trash
by Simple-Plan on Tue 13th Apr 2004 11:25 UTC

Actually this article is a piece of trash. Seem the author want to influence every one againts microsoft. Other close source stated above is just a porn to hide some political issues about microsoft. I like both OSS and Microsoft. Seem this article is a little bit bias to specific products. You want to turn 95% of desktop monopoly to OSS using this way, you r kidding right?

RE: Good reasoning that will fall on deaf ears
by rain on Tue 13th Apr 2004 11:27 UTC

I'll give everyone a reason to use OGG. It's better.

I've been trying to convince swedish radio to use OGG but they keep ignoring me and I keep getting angrier. Seems that when it comes to computer technology even people in the know are afraid.
The reason I've been trying to push them to use OGG is because they are a public service company, they pretty much owe people to use open formats. They currently use RA and WMA for their internet broadcast and that's like saying that you need either a Sony or a Panasonic radio to listen to their FM broadcast. And they call themselve an independant company in the service of the public. geez.

Re: No word
by Gusto on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:08 UTC

You: Nevermind. Just send me a Mac OS X version.

Microsoft: Sorry...


Microsoft: Okay, I'll send you the new Office 2004 for Mac.

What are you talking about? Office came out on the Mac long before it was released on the PC.

re: trash
by Peragrin on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:19 UTC

Not all fights between open Standards and closed Standards are between OSS and MS. Just because every Open standard out there has been perverted by MS isn't any reason to assume that. Why are there IE only websites because MS perverted HTML, Javascript, ASP, for their own goals. Not to improve the products but to make them their own.

The Ideal Software would prevent specific vendor lock-in. That list of companies includes, Apple, MS, Palm, Symbian, & every other software vendor. Some are better than others at following the standards but all are trying to create the standards. Instead of working together to create good software, they fight each other to create the next standard.

RE: Word
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:26 UTC

You: So if my friend emails me a Word Document then I must buy a copy of Word from you to read my friends letter?

Microsoft: Yes, Sir.


Microsoft: No, Sir, you can download the word viewer from the microsoft website...

You: So I still need to buy a copy of Windows to install the Viewer onto?

Microsoft: Yes, Sir. Do you wish to tell me your Credit Card details?

Thanks for all the feedback.
by Sean Cohen on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:31 UTC

I've been reviewing the (generally positive) comments here, and I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. As most people have realised, the article was written to point out - in simple terms - why closed software and standards are bad for the consumer. Yes, the title is a bit of a misnomer, however "Free" catches regular peoples eyes far quicker than "Open."

Some people are taking a particularly pragmatic approach in arguing against the general ideas I am presenting, however I believe they are missing the point. Open Standards - implemented correctly - have the ability to level the currently skewed playing field that is the software industry, and Open Source Software accelerates this process by allowing small, disparate groups and individuals to easily build on the work of others. Everything else is just a corollary.

Remember: It's all about the Standards!

Regards,

Sean.

Amen!
by Joe on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:34 UTC

Amen, brother. A more detailed version of Stallman's "The Right To Read", and right on.

re:trash
by Peter on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:35 UTC

[quote]trash
By Simple-Plan (IP: 210.186.80.---) - Posted on 2004-04-13 11:25:38
Actually this article is a piece of trash. Seem the author want to influence every one againts microsoft. Other close source stated above is just a porn to hide some political issues about microsoft. I like both OSS and Microsoft. Seem this article is a little bit bias to specific products. You want to turn 95% of desktop monopoly to OSS using this way, you r kidding right?
[/quote]


Let's say that I, being very fond of *nixes and OS, sort of disagree with the FORM this article was stated. It was beautified more that wanted.
Despite of this fact, the most important thing out of the article is the closed standard (if such a status can be called standard).
Let's say that to output a document in ASCII, HTML, JPEG, GIF, TAR, ZIP, ISO... can be ment a standard document for it uses a widely available documented format that different applications can process as well.
Talking about MS, they just abuse the fact that their systems, office applications and other products are widely spread out and used (legally or ilegally). That is why the hate or dislikes towards this company (and many other in different bussiness areas) are borne.
Open source just offers a possibility to create applications compatible with the other ones by respecting their format in case they describe their nonstandard.
I fear that in the future the Open Source will be abused for some dirty bussiness/political purposes that average users may not even notice at its very begining.

Re:
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:36 UTC

The need of the hour is that all governments should enforce Open standards and only make their purchases from vendors who agree on those standards.

Great article
by rod on Tue 13th Apr 2004 12:49 UTC

Thanks for this article Sean, very well articulated, I'll send to some friends of mine who are a bit too tied to MS and closed standards, so they can think about it (no I don't want to "convert" them, but just make them more aware)

Now I'll pigback the thread and make slightly off-topic question, hope it's OK: is there a program for Linux which does "batch conversion" from MP3 to Ogg? Does Ogg support ID3 tags?

@rod
by Dutch_Cap on Tue 13th Apr 2004 13:11 UTC

"is there a program for Linux which does "batch conversion" from MP3 to Ogg?"

I wouldn't recommend converting mp3 to ogg. Both are lossy compression formats, meaning some of the sound quality is lost. So converting mp3 to ogg will result in even worse sound quality. You basically end up getting tho worst from both mp3 and ogg. When you're ripping cd's, ogg vorbis is probably a better choice than mp3, though (quality wise).

"Does Ogg support ID3 tags?"

If I'm not mistaking, ogg vorbis has it's own way of storing artist and track name etc in the file. I don't think any programs capable of playing ogg, have trouble reading/writing the info, though.

Re: Great Article, @ Rod
by dpi on Tue 13th Apr 2004 13:35 UTC

"is there a program for Linux which does "batch conversion" from MP3 to Ogg?"

Yes. You can decode a MP3 to WAV and then encode that to OGG. You could even write a script for that. You could use XMMS Disk Writer, LAME, etc and for OGG encoding OGG Encoder. A script which does this automagically is mp32ogg. It makes use of Perl.

However converting one lossy format to one other means a quality loss. You won't get lost data back either. Thereofore i rather suggest you rerip your CD's directly to OGG, with a bitrate depending on how much you play the CD, how much diskspace you have, etc. VBR is also good, the only huge disadvantage is that it can't be used for streaming.

"Does Ogg support ID3 tags?"

Something like that yes, but better (ID3v1 isn't very powerful). To edit these, you can use XMMS, TagEdit, Prokyon3.

MP3 might be an open standard, but the standard isn't worldwide Free because of patents. Many people simply do not know this, which is unfortunate.

example: FUD 101
by Richard on Tue 13th Apr 2004 14:14 UTC

I'm all about free and open. So much so that my neighbor, an ex-MS'er cringes everytime I mention it. But ya gotta admit, there is a lot of FUD here. "Oh my, what's going to happen tomorrow???". But on the otherhand, what makes me mad is that the content of the file is mine, and could be copywritten and maybe even patented by me... And I could be denied access to that data... it just does not seem right.

The "Hassle-Free" license
by Galley on Tue 13th Apr 2004 14:16 UTC

GoBeProductive offers a "hassle-free" license because it's "customer-friendly".

Q: How flexible is the GoBeProductive Hassle-Free License?
A: The Hassle-Free License lets you install GoBeProductive on every desktop and notebook PC in your home, then also install it on one desktop or notebook PC where you work. GoBeProductive includes a copy of the license, as well as an explanation for your employer permitting a single workplace installation.

legality, click-through and licenses
by quack! on Tue 13th Apr 2004 14:32 UTC

There have been some legal arguments with respect to whether a contract can be enforced if it is "signed" by clicking the "I Accept" on a click-through. I forget the legal term for the basis of a contract... but I believe one of the three criteria for a contract are not satisfied because of the click through. There must be a signature, to the best of my knowledge.

I love these contracts that state things like, we can change the terms of the contract anytime and it is your responsibility to check our website for an updated version.

Hmmmm.... how often do I need to check the contract? What if it has changed 2,3, maybe 4 times since I last consulted the web site?

Software licenses and many of these "contracts" will likely be unenforcable in a court of law. But then again... you never know ;-) It a crazy world.

Good article... now, about that license...
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 14:34 UTC

Hey, this is another good heartfelt article that was a pleasure to read on this topic. I agree wholeheartedly with the author on this stance and perspective on the way things are happening in the world today.

There is one thing which came to mind as a result of reading about the Microsoft Word format lock-down.

If I create a document, everything that I put into that document I could claim is my own intellectual propery. It is my copyrighted material. All the images I create, all the text I write, all the borders and layout that I choose, it's all my creation. I can own it if I so choose.

Now, if I own that content, and I save it as a Microsoft Word file, supposedly I am not permitted to access that content without someone else's permission.

Is it just me, or is it OBVIOUS that the two licenses clash completely? How can I have a license which says that I own the content, while at the same time Microsoft through their Word format is saying that they own it? We end up with a situation where the two parties are claiming ownership.

I am saying to Microsoft that the content I create is my own and they may not use it. Microsoft is saying back that since the content is stored in one of their file formats, they own it. Ownership means posession of access rights. When Microsoft prevents me from accessing the word document in any way they are claiming ownership of the document content, are they not? I know, they aren't forbidding access to the document, just not access to a description of how the document is stored. In other words, they will have taken something that is mine, confiscated it and emprisoned it, allowing me only to have access to it if I have the right key.

If I create content and claim ownership of it, posession is mine, and access to it for me should be absolutely open. Yes, I could access it openly and freely, if I only knew how. Surely, by Microsoft owning the know-how, they are in effect preventing access? If I can only access the content properly by using their Word software, and I don't want to use that software, then my access to that file is hindered and limited. Surely this is against my copyright.

I think the moral of this story, overall, is that when ANYONE claims ownership over ANY part of the world in which we live and create, it causes problems for someone else. When any TWO people claim ownership over access to the same part of the world - ie content in a document, there is a tug of ware and a stalemate.

If everyone decided to a) not own the content they create and b) not restrict access to the format that the content is stored in ... ie if nobody get's into the ownership business at all, then we would all be better of.

My point is, it's one thing to wish that others do not place ownership on a standard or a file format, but by the same token we must also relinquish ownership of everything we create or store using those techniques.

Freedom means freedom for all, after all.

a small one about mp3 to ogg
by hobgoblin on Tue 13th Apr 2004 15:22 UTC

let me get this straight, both work by removeing sounds that go outside of the hearing range of the avarage human ear right? the real diffrence is what they do to the rest of the data. so converting from one to the other should in theory mean close to 0, only that with a ogg you could get a smaller file with about the same quality. sure bitrate have something to say about the finer points but anything outside of analog will lossy in that respect. but then there is the audiophiles that back of from "lossy" compression like a religius person backs away from a discussion about flaws in theyre religion. to bad we cant prove that they hear or dont have what they claim unless we set them up with a clinical test, and why bother, its theyre own money they are burning anyways...

bah! file formats
by Luke McCarthy on Tue 13th Apr 2004 15:44 UTC

That's what you get with crappy character stream filesystems.

Interoperability should be required by law!
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 15:44 UTC

Software products are not comparable to traditional manufactured goods. Closed fileformats - no matter how precious their "intellectual property" is to their owners - work against competition. If there is patents-laws protecting intellectual properties, there should also be laws that prevent patent-owners abusing markets with this type of "fileformat-traps".

RE: a small one about mp3 to ogg
by cheezwog on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:01 UTC

Lossy compression mainly discards sounds that are inaudible due to masking. There are two kinds, transient masking (you don't hear something quiet if something loud happens straight after it) and frequency masking (you don't hear a particular frequency if there is a louder one within a few hz of it).

The sounds discarded are not out of the range of human hearing, you hear them, but ignore them in preference to other louder sounds at the same time.

Different lossy compression methods use different methods and thresholds to work out what should and should not be audible.

Therefore, what one codec assumes is important information may be discarded by another.
So when you re-encode with another codec it discards a different set of information.
Re-encoding with the same codec also produces a different result, as the quieter sounds that led it to discard information during the initial encoding are no longer present.

The net effect of this is that transients become smeared (temporal masking) and quiter sounds are rendered more inaudible (frquency masking).
When A/B tests have been done, the artifacts of this process are audible to most people.

nutjob?
by Brad on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:04 UTC

Well, i'm sorry if there were any good points in this article they were lost in this guy coming off as a tinfoil hat nut job.

In what he said he pretty much voided his own argument. If you agreed to the license when you install it thats that. You know what you have got yourself into. Therefore this is no bitching later on. You don't have to use computers. It's pretty crazy to expect companies to make something then let you go nuts doing whatever you want. If you don't agree with it, oh well.

I agree that things should use open standards. That is what matters. And I also think it's fine if you have to pay to see the spec. As long as the company that created the format is open about if you want to see it you can, you just have to pay. If they are selective about who gets to pay to see it then thats not very great. To see the source of the app frankly doesn't matter. But if your files are in a open format that others can use then everything is ok.

Next people seam to be going after office and such saying things like "if i recive a .doc i can't read it, i use linux" this is not MS's problem, you decided to use linux. No company should be required to support your doings if thats not what they were going for. Take things up with the person who sent you a .doc file. Stop blaming software firms for such issues. Blame people who use such formats. It's fine your you to hold certain values and ideals when it comes to things, but don't expect others to care or work around what you want.

People have to accept that software doesn't follow our normal rules or property. With software to make a copy or dubplicate something is so incredibly easy. Which phyiscal items this is not the case. The reason companies have such agreements on their products is they have to. If there was a way to make software un-copyiable or shareable, (basicly give it all the attributes of a physical item) they wouldn't needs such things. But thats not the case.

I think he definitly took some ideas and stretched them way past reality. I don't think MS would ever some how manage to be alowed to force destroy every version of word on every computer in the world and every .doc file every made. Or what ever he was trying to get at. At some point you have to apply reality to things, not hypothetical what ifs that odd very close to zero.

RE. Why Free Software Matters
by Ozzie on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:05 UTC

I just had chuckle at the fact a "Monaro" (rock-on, being a former GTS-Monaro and XU-1 owner) was mentioned in the whole diatribe. Albeit doom and gloom, but still a truism from a licencing point of view and potential future for all of us wanting to "play by the rules" legally speaking.....

The entire second page is crap
by Anonymous on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:14 UTC

The entire rant on the second page is ruined by the availability of a FREE word document viewer. But I guess the author wants to be able to create and modify word documents, too? Without paying anything. Stick with free software instead of whinging that pay software is not free!

So, download the viewer, and read all the documents you want:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9BBB9E60-E...

Otherwise, stop embarassing yourself in front of others with your ill-informed whining.

Re: the entire second page is crap
by Rodrigo on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:34 UTC

The entire rant on the second page is ruined by the availability of a FREE word document viewer

No. The entire second page is about open standards, and Word was just an example, could be anything else. Next time you read something try to understand the ideas, not the examples.

Otherwise, stop embarassing yourself in front of others with your ill-informed whining.

Ditto.

RE: The entire second page is crap
by Gabriel Ebner on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:48 UTC

> So, download the viewer, and read all the documents you want:
> http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9BBB9E60-E.....

Hmmm, but say I have a sparc64...

This is just funny.
by Nick on Tue 13th Apr 2004 16:52 UTC

I use Linux, and I am an advocate of Open Source Software.

However, these kinds of articles don't help the cause any. They only make the cause look more desperate than it actually is. It's like the little guy in the back of the room flailing his arms saying look at me, I matter, why isn't anybody looking at me...

Unless you start seeing articles from Microsoft, titled why Microsoft matters there should never be an article like this put out. We should be walking the walk and talking the talk like we are the big guys and Microsoft should be looking up at us.

RE:This is just funny.
by Chris on Tue 13th Apr 2004 17:05 UTC

Did you read it, he didn't say anything rare or false. It's largely common knowledge and all true. If you can't see something inately wrong with licensed software you haven't read much about the power it gives software companies.
The article isn't really against closed source, it's against restrictive licensing. I don't see your problem with it, it's quite informative and well written. Even a closed source advocate should appreciate the idea of actually buying a copy of software which you can use to it's fullest extent (even it it's a binary you can't modify).

This is just funny
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 17:09 UTC

"However, these kinds of articles don't help the cause any."

Speak for yourself.

Re: This is just funny
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 17:14 UTC

"However, these kinds of articles don't help the cause any. They only make the cause look more desperate than it actually is. It's like the little guy in the back of the room flailing his arms saying look at me, I matter, why isn't anybody looking at me... "

I guess this shows your viewpoint as just being different. You perhaps don't value these freedoms as much since they are somewhat subtler. If subtlety is not your thing, which appears to be the case judging by your bold attitude of conquering just like Microsoft, then I can well understand why you would think this is a big mountain when it should be a molehill. I think it takes a greater depth and sensitivity to recognize the importance of these kind of issues.

Open Source isn't Free Software
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 17:17 UTC

Also, as Richard Stallman clearly also states on his website and in other places, Open Source software is not the same thing as what he envisages as Free Software. *Most* Open Source developers are not developing based on an interest in the ethical or spiritual ramifications of their development model. They want to share source to be productive, foster ideas, speed up development and allow contributions from many people. This is only a subset of what Free Software is about... ie, that people have an ethical and spiritual right to access and alter software, not just because it is more productive but because it is a reflection of their birthrights.

I see a lot of people equate Open Source with Linux and with the kind of content in this article, but in fact they are not the same anyway. Similar, but not the same. Unless you share your code on grounds that it is ethical to do so, rather than that it has development benefits, you're not on the same wavelength as what he is saying.

v Obligatory open source==communism post
by Paul-Michael Bauer on Tue 13th Apr 2004 17:46 UTC
It's not about open source (By picz)
by A.H. on Tue 13th Apr 2004 18:57 UTC

Closed standards are the problem. Not knowing how the data is saved, and not being able to find out, should not be accepted by any organisation.

Well said and I agree completely. I felt the article was well-written, but the arguments for open source software were less convincing than the arguments for open standards or open file formats. I don't particularly mind if the software is closed-source as long as the file or data it handles is open and fully documented. HTML is a perfect example of this - an open standard that has spawned thousands of closed and open-source applications. I firmly believe that the Web would not have grown so rapidly were it not for the simple, open specification of HTML.

RE: This is just funny
by Nick on Tue 13th Apr 2004 18:58 UTC

I wasn't saying anything wrong with the article. I was saying the community needs to stop acting like the small guy. The Linux server has x percent of the market, which is more than what Microsoft has. But the Linux community still wants to act like the little guy, because they don't know how to be anything else. I am just saying we need to stop these stupid little articles that just reenforce how much Linux people love Linux.

Let's start posting these articles to Neowin or many of the other Windows Centric sites.

Also for all those who accused me of not reading the article, you obviously didn't read what I had to say and really thought about it. If you look at the comments all of them are the normal reteric that comes out of the OSS community. You hate freedom, you don't know what Linux is about, you don't know what you want out of a OS, and blah-blah-blah.

We need to grow up as a community and stop acting so childish. The problem with Linux is there is no corporate mandated focus, and that is part of the problem. In addition there is not marketing of Linux, there is marketing of products built of Linux, but the HP, and IBM name always overshadows the Linux name in the comercial.

My mother actually asked me after she saw the IBM commerical. Who would actually name thier kid Linux. That floored me because what that says to me is that IBM is really only marketing to people that know what Linux is, instead of marketing to people that don't know what Linux is.

These are many of the problems that I have seen, and as a marketing person, I see Linux failing. As a peice of technology Linux is thriving though. That is one of the problems. Microsoft is accelerating in both marketing and the technical aspect. (Listen I don't want any of the normal comments, such as Microsoft doesn't innovate, that is getting old and know body actually beleives it any more, plus that is one of the childish remarks that I talked about above.) Linux needs a marketing campaign that isn't attached to any company, and that is the only way Linux is actually going to succeed.

Why are we talking about OSS again?
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 19:26 UTC

I am just wondering, why when people talk about freedom in software does the conversation come around to open source? Open sourced software is not the same thing as the free software that Richard Stallman advocates. There is a difference of intention and motivation. His article is talking about the impingement of freedoms, not about source-code availability. Open source is about sharing sourcecode to reap development rewards. Free Software is about sharing because it's ethically right.

His article isn't even about open source, or about linux. It's about basic human freedom. We should have the freedom to acquire and alter and redistribute software, not because that's a groovy sexy development model, but because that is in accordance with our human spirit. When people get on the open source bandwagon without being in touch with that sentiment, they are not talking about the same thing. There is a fine but definite line between the two.

See this quote from the author's website outlining this distinction:

Relationship between the Free Software movement and Open Source movement
The Free Software movement and the Open Source movement are like two political camps within the free software community.

Radical groups in the 1960s developed a reputation for factionalism: organizations split because of disagreements on details of strategy, and then treated each other as enemies. Or at least, such is the image people have of them, whether or not it was true.

The relationship between the Free Software movement and the Open Source movement is just the opposite of that picture. We disagree on the basic principles, but agree more or less on the practical recommendations. So we can and do work together on many specific projects. We don't think of the Open Source movement as an enemy. The enemy is proprietary software.

We are not against the Open Source movement, but we don't want to be lumped in with them. We acknowledge that they have contributed to our community, but we created this community, and we want people to know this. We want people to associate our achievements with our values and our philosophy, not with theirs. We want to be heard, not obscured behind a group with different views. To prevent people from thinking we are part of them, we take pains to avoid using the word ``open'' to describe free software, or its contrary, ``closed'', in talking about non-free software.

So please mention the Free Software movement when you talk about the work we have done, and the software we have developed--such as the GNU/Linux operating system.

Also...
by Paul on Tue 13th Apr 2004 19:32 UTC

Also I quote...

The official definition of ``open source software,'' as published by the Open Source Initiative, is very close to our definition of free software; however, it is a little looser in some respects, and they have accepted a few licenses that we consider unacceptably restrictive of the users. However, the obvious meaning for the expression ``open source software'' is ``You can look at the source code.'' This is a much weaker criterion than free software; it includes free software, but also includes semi-free programs such as Xv, and even some proprietary programs, including Qt under its original license (before the QPL).

re:It's not about open source (By picz)
by Peragrin on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:44 UTC

HTML is an international standard, unless you use Internet Explorer which MS Extended and modified HTML to be MSpecial. why are pages written for IE only when there are millions who don't use IE. I stopped using IE when mozilla was 0.9 and I haven't looked back.

Patronizing
by Nick on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:51 UTC

I'm not sure who the audience for this essay is but the tone is particularly patronizing. So much so, I had to stop half way through, go and calm down for a few minutes and return to read the rest. And we already know all of this anyway. The examples are very extreme doomsday scenarios and unlikely to occur in real life. I don't think this is a very well written essay at all for the tone, style, grammar and content!

re:It's not about open source (By picz)
by Nick on Tue 13th Apr 2004 20:57 UTC

< quote>HTML is an international standard, unless you use Internet Explorer which MS Extended and modified HTML to be MSpecial. why are pages written for IE only when there are millions who don't use IE. I stopped using IE when mozilla was 0.9 and I haven't looked back. </ quote>

Oh yeah and the blink tag is definitly part of the international standard. Let me ask you this you said millions of people aren't using IE, but what about those millions that aren't using it times 10? Are we suppose to cadder to the less than 10% who choose not to use IE?

Let me ask you this, who owns the standard that everybody is using? The people with 10% of the share or the people with the 90% of the share? I say the "standard" is the people with the 90% of the share.

Personally I think standards are very realative to who actually wants to impliment them. The supposed standard of the web is suppose to be PNG image format. Now if I was to ask you what the standard for image formats on the web, you would tell me JPEG or GIF. So are you wrong, because you aren't following the standard of a self proclaimed group? I say no, the standard is with the majority of people who use one thing over the other.

So stop this they aren't following the standards bull crap. No body bitches at OpenOffice for not following the standards of a Microsoft Word Document when they try to generate one. It is only when Microsoft decides to deviate from the god given plan of the Linux Guru's that they get critized. So top you bitching and go back into your hole.

Lets take a vote:
by Nick on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:33 UTC

How many people are running priated Windows XP license? Because he says most of this audiance is doing that. I don't know about the rest of you but as a Software Developer I beleive in paying for software and that is just what I did for Windows XP. Who else here is on the same wave length as me?

Trusted computing
by Mike Rowehl on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:36 UTC

The trusted computing initiative (TCPA) takes a lot of these "de facto" freedoms (the vendors can't take away software I've already got on my system or completely cut me off from my data or monitor what other software I'm using) and makes it possible for the vendors to enforce their restrictions using the computer architecture:

http://www.bitsplitter.net/blog/index.php?p=240

RE: Why are we talking about OSS again?
by Lumbergh on Tue 13th Apr 2004 21:44 UTC

Paul, you might be one of Stallman's minions that is assigned to troll boards like this to announce that the FSF/Stallman created the concept of source code availability, but everybody knows you didn't. I was using Public Domain before the GPL/GNU/FSF was a twinkle in Stallman's eye.

Stallman and his followers like you are just bitter that people don't really care for Stallman's political and semantical games with the word freedom. Do yourself a favor and pull yourself out of the cult now.

More realistic conversation, between You and Me
by Russian Guy on Tue 13th Apr 2004 22:05 UTC

You: Hello, my Russian friend! Thanks again for configuring Windows XP Home on my new EMachines computer. Yes, I'd like to know how Word documents are saved.

Me: You'd like to know what?

You: I'd like to know how Word documents are saved, I'm trying to find someone to write a new software application to be a replacement for MS Word I had.

Me: I'm sorry, but I think Microsoft cannot reveal that information for free, you'll have to pay.

You: Why?

Me: It's their intellectual property. They believe that intellectual property has a material value.

You: But I have ten years worth of essays, articles, assignments, photos, music, and other memorabilia saved as Word documents. My copy of Word is right now somewhere on the tarmac of the Iceland International Airport. A friend of mine, Steve, who is quite good with computers, told me I'll have to buy a copy of Word if I wish to access those files.

Me: I'm terribly sorry, but he played practical joke on you! You do not have to buy a copy of Word if you wish to access those files, there are plenty of alternatives, some are free of charge, some will costs you, some will cost you a lot.

You: But I play my MP3s without buying anything (except the original CDs, of course).

Me: Before we continue, I need you to agree that it is OK to pay for software. Software developers like to be paid. You like to be paid for job you are doing. The money to pay salaries has to come from somewhere. If you do not pay for driving on highway, it does not mean it costs nothing to build and maintain roads.

You: OK, OK, chill man. I need your help with that Wordy stuff, so I am going to agree it is OK to pay for software in one or other way- just to make you happy.

Me: So, back to your trouble: you had been able to create Word documents before, for the last ten years to be exact, what's your problem now?

You: This new EMachines you set for me, I don't want to buy another copy of Word for it. I can retrieve my old copy of MS Office eventually, but I need something now!

Me: Fear not! I can help you. Won't cost you a dime. Anything else?

You: I have a question: if Word is a standard then surely everyone needs to know how it works?

Me: You have new Toyota Prius that made me jealous, with that overly complex hybrid engine and automatic transmission as a standard option. Do you know how they work?

You: No... On car dashboard there is flashy screen that tells me my current MPG. Low numbers make me happy, high numbers make me reconsider my driving habits.

Me: Your ignorance in basic and advanced automotive concepts did not stop you from buying and driving this car... Next question!

You: My friend Steve told me that I am in danger of losing my ten years collection of documents if Microsoft stops supporting MS Office and MS Word becomes obsolete.

Me: Well, what I am going to say means nothing to you, but please repeat the following to Steve exactly as I say: "Do you know how many banks out there are still running OS/2?" As for you, my friend, allow no uncertainty in your mind: you can still use your old Word to open, edit and print your old Word documents.

You: My friend Steve also told me I lease software, not own it, so that Microsoft well within their rights to make running old versions of their software illegal.

Me: You told me before that you lease your Prius. What would happen if dealership you leased it from revoke your lease and legally take away your car from you and also from every Prius owner?

You: I will never have business with that dealership, I will not buy cars from that car manufacturer ever again, and I'll sue their collective asses in a high profile class action lawsuit!

Me: So, even if you would not go so far as to start a law suit, I know you are a peaceful man, would you agree it is suicidal for a for profit public company that sells its products for money to alienate their customer base that way- especially when alternatives are plenty?

You: No doubt!

Me: Well, these car analogies really work! I should use them more often. Next question!

You: If my friend emails me a Word document then I do not have to buy a copy of Word from Microsoft to read my friends letter?

Me: You do not have to. You can, and it would be right thing to do if you like Microsoft Word, but no- you do not have to.

You: I See. My friend Steve also told me that open standards are better than anything else.

Me: There are open standards, and there are de-facto standards. De-facto standards appear when a specific product implementing them becomes very popular. Then, competition catches with it, and starts supporting it- boom, suddenly you have plenty of choice. It is exactly like Word documents: it is de-facto standard from Microsoft but you do not need to have software from Microsoft to use it.

You: Don't be so evasive, are open standards always better?

Me: I hate words like "always," they belong to the religion. What if new and very popular SuperOffice supports open standard for documents that your Office does not? What would you do if your friend emails you a document in SuperOffice native document format? You will have to wait until your Office vendor makes an upgrade to their product- which could or could not be free of charge. Alternatively, you could switch to SuperOffice- which could or could not be painless. Even getting viewer for SuperOffice document format may not be an easy task, if your computer runs PC-DOS or OS/2, for example. Never mind PC-DOS, in any case, establishing open standard as a new de-facto standard is not so simple as it sounds when Steve tells you.

You: Steve, Steve... You know, in my country people are hung for this sort of thing.

Me: That is why you and me left our countries for America. But do not be so harsh. Steve wants you to live in a better world. I am willing to help you live better in your world.

You: Hello?

Me: See ya soon. Will be at your house shortly to fix your Wordy problem and then I can drink a glass of vodka with you. It's OK, my wife will be driving, she wants to see your new Prius too.

Another go round
by rjd on Tue 13th Apr 2004 22:28 UTC

Me (Scientist): Dear journal X, please accept the attached manuscript for publication...

Journal X: Dr. Dyer, please send us a word format, we do not accept the XXX format.

Me (Scientist): Sure, you'll find the attached .doc format (from OpenOffice)

Journal X: Dr. Dyer, none of our MS Office applications can read your formulas.

Me (Scientist): Sure, please see the attached .doc format (from Office MacX)

Journal X: Dr. Dyer, your equations are fine, however, we can't see your images.

Me (Scientist): Do you accept LaTeX?

Journal X: Look pal, we're not into anything kinky here...

Me (Scientist): How about ps, pdf, dvi, rtf, ...

Journal X: Dr. Dyer, our reviewers typically use Office 2000, however out typesetters use something else and we sometimes have problems, that is why we are requiring Office XP.

Me (Scientist): Journal X, KMA. I'm spending more time trying to standardize on the so called "de facto" standard that it is eating into my research. I'm going to journal Y that takes LaTeX.

Wow a poorly organized company
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 00:45 UTC

Blame Microsoft!

v Stallman
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 03:56 UTC
Re: Word
by Brian Hawley on Wed 14th Apr 2004 04:55 UTC

You: So if my friend emails me a Word Document then I must buy a copy of Word from you to read my friends letter?

Microsoft: No, Sir, you can download the word viewer from the microsoft website...


You: Why doesn't my document look right? The formatting is all wrong...

Microsoft: That's because the Word viewer hasn't been updated in more than 5 years and is only compatible with Word 97. You should try a more recent full version of Word.

RE: re:It's not about open source (By picz)
by Wrawrat on Wed 14th Apr 2004 05:16 UTC

Let me ask you this, who owns the standard that everybody is using? The people with 10% of the share or the people with the 90% of the share? I say the "standard" is the people with the 90% of the share.

I say you're confounding standards and de facto standards. Computer standards are usually guidelines. De facto standards aren't guidelines: it's all about the majority.

Personally I think standards are very realative to who actually wants to impliment them. The supposed standard of the web is suppose to be PNG image format. Now if I was to ask you what the standard for image formats on the web, you would tell me JPEG or GIF. So are you wrong, because you aren't following the standard of a self proclaimed group?

Once again, you're confounding "standard" and "most used". The W3C never said that you must use PNG images. Furthermore, they never discouraged the use of JPEGs or any other image format other than GIF. They just can't recommend it due to some patenting issues in many countries.

[i]I say no, the standard is with the majority of people who use one thing over the other.


Using your logic, MS Windows is a standard on desktops. Yet you cannot interoperate with it flawlessly except with another version of MS Windows as Microsoft don't publish their specifications. That's what a standard is all about.

It is only when Microsoft decides to deviate from the god given plan of the Linux Guru's that they get critized.

One word: no. I don't need to elaborate further as you're just plain wrong.

So top you bitching and go back into your hole.

Nice idea, you should exactly do that. Bye!

What about the average users?
by Thunderknight on Wed 14th Apr 2004 05:18 UTC

I totally agree with u that if open aggrement are not given then the user is restricted from using a software to its full.
Here is my question in many countries and even in USA a huge amount of people are not so well educated in the computer line, to modify the open source one must know how to change the script I myself know no computer language but when i see some of my freinds trying to make a change in linux then i feel not knowing C of C++ of java is a limitation faced by a lot if not most of the people.

What about them are they not better of just using what they can rather then modifying and making a mess of things.

Thunderknight

The Prius story was a pretty good read, and it was well-written. However, you don't use cars to make lasting things. If your lease company takes away your Prius, you can get a different car and still drive on the same roads.

The point of the article was about "lock-in". Once you have a bunch of Word documents, you can't easily move to a different platform and still access those documents. This is certainly not a Microsoft-specific issue, by the way, although MS seems to be particularly good at using this dependence to their advantage.

If Toyota made a Prius which only runs on special "Prius-fuel", started taking over gasoline stations one by one to sell this Prius-fuel, and make it illegal to reverse-engineer the chemical structure of Prius-fuel, you would have a similar situation to the software world of today.

Lock-in is a very efficient business practise, so companies will probably try to get away with it when they can. This is why you need to be very aware of it. The same type of lock-in is possible for, eg., telephone providers - making it cheap to call people using the same provider and very expensive to call people using a different one. Once the majority of people is using a particular provider, this would quickly push the others out of the market. Which is why governments regulate these things.

Re: Thunderknight
by Anonymous on Wed 14th Apr 2004 11:47 UTC

You're right in that most people don't know how to program.
However that's not really a requirement.
The truly important thing here is: you do not NEED to modify the source, you MAY do it! (or in fact let anyone else knowledgeable about it do it for you according to your requirements...).
Just try to pay a software developer to fix your problems with your favourite closed-source program... good luck!

So yes, most people won't care too much about being able to tamper with the program, but they SHOULD CARE about the long-time guarantees which only open source code provides, by being able to ask OTHER people to adapt or improve a program.

Ahmen. You took the words right out of my mouth. I have been trying to come up with a good word for what I was talking about and I guess it already has one. De-Facto standards.

RE: re:It's not about open source (By picz)
by Nick on Wed 14th Apr 2004 14:30 UTC

"Using your logic, MS Windows is a standard on desktops. Yet you cannot interoperate with it flawlessly except with another version of MS Windows as Microsoft don't publish their specifications. That's what a standard is all about."

Yes for many developers and users around the world Microsoft Windows in the standard. Well using your same logic, Linux is a standard. Yes you cannot interoperate with it flawlessly except with other versions (sometimes) of Linux. Microsoft doesn't have to publish their standards, that is the nice thing about creating you own stuff. How would you like it if spent years designing and drawing scetches and everything for a product that you had. Then all of the studden somebody came along and started making your product after you put all that work into it. Would you feel jipped. Hell yeah you would.

You are probably one of those people that think generic drugs help lower the cost of perscriptions. When that is totally wrong. Drugs are so costly because they spend 20 years making a drug that has about a 25% chance of getting approved. So they spend billions of dollars, and then they have to try and make it back in 20 years before every company with a chemist can make it. So they not only have to make back the money for the research of that drug, plus all the failed drugs. Perscriptions would be alot less if the patent process was 40 years.

My point is if there is no way of protecting work, then the work is meaningless, and not worth doing. Because as soon as you release it anybody that knows the process can start making the same thing. Thus you have all the costs to make back, but you cannot because every moron with a computer is making your product. So what is the use of puttying anything out.

Microsoft does this, Sun does this, IBM does this, HP does this, and on and on and on. So if you have a problem with the practices of Microsoft, why don't you ask Sun to release the source code for Solaris or Java, or IBM for DB2, or HP for a number of their drivers for their printers or their medical equipment. So that other companies can start making medical equipment too.

Stop being so biased and really take a look at your views, and get rid of the hate, because it doesn't help you argument and everybody sees through the biased, in addition it is not healthy to have so much hate.

Interesting
by RobInNz on Wed 14th Apr 2004 22:32 UTC

Interesting article. Some of the commenters are missing the point, there IS s/w that can open a Word document. But they arent legal and have to play catch-up each time a new format is released.
While we mention contracts, there was a service pack for Windows Media Player a while ago. By accepting that 'contract' you actually effectively gave MS rights to do whatever they wanted with all the data on your PC.

Something else that only one person has touched on, which is actually a VERY scary extenstion of this article is Paladium aka 'TPCA'. THINK along these lines (im not saying this is what WILL happen, but is the sort of thing that TPCA COULD be used for).

Say you get your next version of Word (which happens to use some new format). Convert all your docs. Your PC blows up. Because TPCA is hardware keyed, Word wont open those docs you had nicely backed up to CD on another PC. Its important that I have this doc for a meeting... PLEASE HOLD FOR THE NEXT MS REPRESENTATIVE...

Or, for another example, Word15 has just come out and its TPCA enabled. You no longer buy your licenses, but rent them on a time-period basis (sound familiar - this is what MS are giving as an option now with corporate licensing). Maybe you didnt pay your bill, or maybe MS just THINK you havent paid your bill. They make the TPCA key invalid until its sorted. But now you have no access to any of YOUR intellectual property. Another, similar example is new versions. Say Word 16 comes out. MS tells the key that only Word16 can open Word docs. Thus, to get at your documents, you must upgrade.

This isnt just vendor or format lock-in, its complete DATA lock in. I imagine that those documents will be encrypted as you save them in Word and the only way you will be able to open them is if your TPCA key says you can.

As I said, just examples... but the technology for making this sort of DRM happen is just around the corner... in fact MS are slating 2005 for releasing TCPA style DRM. It will be for music and videos at the start...

RE: Why Free Software Matters
by Mystic Knight on Fri 16th Apr 2004 18:57 UTC

Let's just make all software web-based with generic formats and be done with it.

HTML-based word processor and spreadsheet program anyone?

|/|. |<.

RE: Word
by Krunch on Fri 16th Apr 2004 23:58 UTC

>> You: So if my friend emails me a Word Document then I must
>> buy a copy of Word from you to read my friends letter?
>> Microsoft: Yes, Sir.
> Microsoft: No, Sir, you can download the word viewer from
> the microsoft website...
You still need to buy a copy of Windows to run it.

re:It's not about open source (By picz)
by Krunch on Sat 17th Apr 2004 00:33 UTC

> No body bitches at OpenOffice for not following the
> standards of a Microsoft Word Document when they try to
> generate one. It is only when Microsoft decides to deviate
> from the god given plan of the Linux Guru's that they get
> critized.
The problem is there is no public specifications of Microsoft's (and other companies') "standards". So when OpenOffice wants to implement MS Office format, the implementation won't be "perfect" since nobody (except Microsoft) really know how the MS Office format is supposed to work. On the other side, when you implement an open standard, you can know exactly how your program is supposed to react. So deviating from that standard it and still pretending you use it is silly (the example that come to mind is Internet Explorer and w3c web standards).

An excellent article
by Mikhail Zotov on Sat 17th Apr 2004 08:59 UTC

I agree with Steve absolutely.

excellent
by xlynx` on Sat 17th Apr 2004 17:51 UTC

Excellent, but I think it should mention auto-updating software and examples of devolution that it can cause, which would discredit the 'no company would actually enforce' arguments..

Also the emerging threats from patents and trusted computing...

A great article. Bravo.
by Simon Holloway on Sun 18th Apr 2004 08:57 UTC

Not being computer savvy (I thought a motherboard was a sex toy), I was naturally delighted to read an article that was capable of explaining something potentially rather complicated to me in an entertaining and friendly manner. I wouldn't say that the article has given me an opinion about anything (which is a good thing) but it has certainly introduced me to what looks like a very interesting topic and one which I, now, should be able to look into further. Oh, and congratulations on getting engaged, Sean.

Free Software
by Isaac Solomon on Sun 18th Apr 2004 13:44 UTC

Dumd. Truly, truly dumb. The free software was just sounding like a broken record. Now it's sounding like a broken recoird that never contained anything but silliness.

If yu want anyone to belive in free software, then give us free software that's better than what MS gives us. All the shrill cries to the contrary, most of the free software out there is nothing but junk when compared to proprietary software.

And the kind of ludicrous, nonsensical, completely foolish warning in this article would drive any thinking person as far away from free software as it's possible to get.