Rchard Stallman vs Darl McBride

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Sat Jul 17 15:56:31 MDT 2010


On Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM, Stuart Jansen <sjansen at buscaluz.org> wrote:
> On Fri, 2010-07-16 at 11:43 -0600, Roger Brown wrote:
>> I agree, if it wasn't for the AT&T lawsuit we would probably all be
>> running some BSD flavor today.
>
> *sigh* I'm tired of this meme. It should have died years ago.
>
> Attributing the success of the Linux kernel to lucky timing is myopic.
>
> It ignores the importance of the GPL in encouraging contributions during
> a time when many people didn't userstand F/OSS development or believe
> that it was possible to write significant software under a BSD license
> without it getting hijacked by powerful corporate interests.

What's the big deal about 'getting hijacked by powerful corporate
interests', anyway?  It was clearly possible to write significant
software to be released under a BSD license, because BSD did it.
Certainly lots of noise and many heated arguments were created by the
GPL, but I'm not convinced that it was a major factor in getting stuff
written.

> It ignore the disadvantages to BSD's more heavy weight and bureaucratic
> approach to coordination. Perhaps Linus Torvald's greatest contribution
> is not Linux or git but demonstrating that large software projects can
> be loosely coordinated, innovate quickly, and still maintain an
> impressive quality level.

I'll have to agree with you that the development model for Linux ended
up being a major source of its success, but I don't think it has
anything to do with the license.  I can easily imagine an alternate
future where GNU didn't exist, Linux was BSD licensed, and the
userland tools were all forks or rewrites of BSD tools.  I think for
the majority of people involved, the point was to have a working,
hackable, no-cost UNIX system.  The details of licenses were a
sideline issue brought to the forefront by RMS and the BSD lawsuit.

> (In fact, it's starting to look like the Linux development model is the
> only viable model for very large projects to achieve success. Remember
> the train wreck that was Vista? Microsoft attributed much of their
> failure to too much project coordination overhead. There response was
> increased decentralization, producing marked improvement in Windows 7.)

It also helped that Windows 7 was largely a refinement of Vista,
rather than another major rewrite.  There are some serious downsides
to the Linux development model, too, but there's no doubt it's been
successful.

> Let's not forget that Linux has gone through periods of significant
> growing pain. Anyone remember the shameful early days of the 2.4 kernel?
> If ever there were a time for one of the BSDs to step up and replace
> Linux, that was it. Lucky timing might have given Linux a boost, but it
> doesn't explain why none of the BSDs could retake the lead despite
> having arguably better technology at times.

Linux and GNU would pretty much have to have been absent for BSD to
take over, but having 'been there', so to speak, I know that the time
was ripe for a free UNIX system to spread to home hobbyists.  PCs were
finally powerful enough to run them, people wanted to run them at
home, and free UNIX systems existed.  It was just time for it to
happen.


        --Levi


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