Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Jun 2007 18:51 UTC, submitted by WillM
Linspire Kevin Carmony, CEO of Linspire, writes: "With the recent news of several Linux vendors entering into partnership agreements with Microsoft (Novell, Linspire, Xandros), there has been much debate recently about two factions of Linux forming. Saying that Linux is going to be torn in two, makes for good press and lively debates, but this is certainly nothing new for Linux."
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RE: Withs and withouts
by butters on Fri 29th Jun 2007 04:23 UTC in reply to "Withs and withouts"
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The Linux community is split into as many factions as it has users. That large numbers of users happen to use certain distributions and share certain preferences is merely a social phenomenon. We're every man for themselves, each with the freedom to express our individuality through code, words, art, politics, and the interaction thereof.

What binds us together is our use of copyleft, share-alike copyright licenses that ensure that our unique contributions to the remain the sovereign property of the community. This is a powerful notion, and it is not surprising that some users feel compelled to pay and trade for confirmation of such valuable rights.

I consider this not unlike charity, and although there are software vendors more deserving of voluntary donations than Microsoft, the honest among us will admit that there are less deserving firms as well. Voluntary compensation for the use of free software in no way affects one's right to use it without compensation. My donation to Ardour, for example, does not affect anyone else's right to use Ardour without payment.

As free software becomes more prominent, businesses will find all manner of excuses to pay and trade for rights in software that has been freely distributed for anyone's use. Businesses make deals; it's what they do. They're not used to doing business with parties that offer the same non-exclusive deal to everybody. They're going to look for ways to use their assets to get a deal that seems different and better.

Those of us that find this game disturbing must realize that by distributing free software, we continue to assert our right to do so, and this right has never been challenged. By distributing free software, the few distributors that have signed patent covenant deals with Microsoft continue to assert their right to do so without these deals. These distributors want to offer their customers a different deal. It doesn't matter if the difference has no real value, because people value difference in and of itself.

These vendors and their customers have found a way to express their individuality by making and accepting deals with Microsoft. It doesn't make sense to many people, but it makes sense to them. There are several commercial Linux distributions to choose from, but only some of them come with a special message of forgiveness from Microsoft for one's decision to chose a competing vendor.

Some of us have borderline irrational and obsessive relationships with particular free software projects. Many businesses have a similar relationship with Microsoft. Free software can appeal to all sorts of people and their wide spectrum of preferences and neuroses. Let them get their special promise from Microsoft. It's silly and unnecessary, but we've always accepted eccentricity in our community.

Now is not the time to start alienating those with an unhealthy fear of Microsoft. Our community is well-equipped to treat this condition, and many of us believe that it is our moral obligation to reach out of Microsoft addicts. Microsoft is telling their frightened customers that its ok to use some kinds of Linux.

Hopefully after realizing the benefits of free software, these converts will also realize that they don't need Microsoft's permission to use free software. They can chose whatever free software they want, and there's nothing Microsoft can do to them. Let them discover freedom.

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