Linux and Philosophy

Doran Barton fozz at
Sat Jul 16 22:22:28 MDT 2005

Not long ago, Stephen Shaw proclaimed...
> 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.

I agree with Stuart: Don't mention Microsoft by name -- they are just a
heavyweight amongst proprietary software vendors. 

I would suggest you use some of Eric Raymond's essays for source material.
He goes on at length about the ethical issues of software development,
business, etc. For example, Raymond argues the only real value in software
is the support that comes along with it. He points out an obvious
illustration of this: the price of a piece of software from a company that
has gone out of business is very near to free. Think bargain/clearance bin.

Microsoft does deserve some specific mention on this subject because they
don't even provide much support with their products. You can pay upwards of
$200 for the latest Windows operating system software, but Microsoft,
would have you contact the vendor you bought the software from rather than
contact them if you need support. If you insist on getting support from
Microsoft, you get two free support calls and then it's $35-245 per
incident after that. 

Forget Windows, let's say you're stupid enough to shell out the nearly $500
for Microsoft Office Professional 2003. Something's not working right, so
you call Microsoft. No free support calls. First call is $35-245. 

So what ARE you paying for with Microsoft products? Are the CD and the very
thin paper that says all documentation is included on the electronic media
worth $500 by themselves? Does Office come in some fancy-pantsy cardboard
box that costs $500 to manufacture?

Anyway- Eric Raymond says support is really where the money is anyway- so
don't believe it when someone tells you a business model based on
open-source software is a dead-end. 

I hope that helps.

fozz at is Doran L. Barton, president, Iodynamics LLC
Iodynamics: Linux solutions - Web development - Business connectivity
 "Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half"
    -- Headline seen in newspaper
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