Tuesday, July 10, 2007

GPLv3 - Good or Bad?

The General Public License version 3 is out. Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux kernel and current trademark holder doesn't like it. I don't pretend to have the first clue on legal issues (get it? clue?), but from what's been going around, it seems Richard Stallman and The Free Software Foundation are more interested in sticking it to Microsoft than pursuing the interest of Software Freedom. While I agree Microsoft has participated in some rather unscrupulous business practices, they aren't alone. People absolutely love Apple, but I'm sure Apple hasn't been the most ethical company either. They both stole the graphical user interface from Xerox, after all. Or, did Xerox share it with them?

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) has it's place, but I believe proprietary software has it's place too. Most of all, I believe the consumer should have the choice. In practice, I choose a blend of both. I prefer the operating system I use to be Open Source and Free. It's okay if the drivers I use are proprietary (close) source, but I prefer them to be free (of charge). If software is worth it, I'm willing to pay for it, but not an exorbitant price. $400 for an Office Suite is exorbitant. If a business needs a specific, mission critical software application designed for them, the developers should be well paid for their work. Such applications are going to be expensive.

I'm encouraged with Linux and Open Source Software. I love the idea that the average person now has a choice of what to run on their hardware. I love the idea that we can use this technology to keep older hardware in use, and used by people who need it. I'm encourage that people are willing to contribute their spare time to develop excellent software (thanks OpenOffice.org people), and give it away for free.

The GPLv3 may prove to be a good thing in the long run. At the moment, it's fracturing the Free Software community.

In the meantime, I'll keep using Ubuntu, and loading it on the the FreekBox computers I build (I recently discovered Free Geek rebuilds are called FreekBox, not FreeBox). I'll even keep using Windows XP - as little as possible though. I'll use Vista kicking and screaming "Cancel! Freaking Cancel!"

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