Linux and Philosophy

Stuart Jansen sjansen at
Sat Jul 16 20:38:07 MDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-07-16 at 20:04 -0600, Stephen Shaw wrote:
> I'm writing a paper for my ethics and values class at UVSC and my topic
> is Linux.  The approach that I'm taking is Open Source: Restoring
> Freedom.  The idea is that Microsoft has stolen our freedom to choose
> and that with all the things that surround Linux and the Open Source
> community we regain that freedom of choose. ie apps, OS, etc.  I was
> wondering what others thought about this.

Two suggestions:

1) Never once use the words Microsoft, Windows, Gates, etc. It'll make
you sound like a useless fanboy. The problem is not Microsoft, it is
proprietary software.

Once upon a time, IBM, not Microsoft was the great evil. Then, as now,
the sin was trying to control customers instead of serve them. My
opinion of IBM has done a complete 180 over that last 15 years. The way
things are going for MSFT right now, I expect to say the same about MSFT
in another 15 years.

2) You can't tell the story I think you want to tell by only speaking of
Open Source. Ultimately, OSS was presented and championed based on
quality. Free/libre software, on the other hand, is about Freedom. Open
Source is a brilliant marketing label, but the most revolutionary part
of Linux is the freedom. You can't have true Open Source Software
without software freedom. You can't have true "open source" science
without scientific freedom. Etc.

There's no need to be anal like Stallman, insisting on terms like
GNU/Linux and rejection of the label Open Source, but be clear on the
concepts and history.

Stuart Jansen                   e-mail/jabber: sjansen at

"XML is like violence: if it doesn't solve your problem, you aren't
using enough of it." - Chris Maden

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