Subject: Re: Dealing with the Open Source community
From: kmself@ix.netcom.com
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 23:36:35 -0800
Sun, 19 Nov 2000 23:36:35 -0800
on Sun, Nov 19, 2000 at 01:27:14AM +0000, Simon Cozens (simon@cozens.net) wrote:

> On Sat, Nov 18, 2000 at 03:28:50PM -0800, kmself@ix.netcom.com wrote:
> > I've been known to use it for presentation tools, I far prefer other
> > alternatives -- mutt and vi for most work, AbiWord, Gnumeric, and any of
> > the various browsers-that-suck (w3m, lynx, Skipstone, Galeon) for their
> > relative apps.
> 
> I'm really not in a position to deal with the rest of your posting
> right now (maybe I'll look at it in the morning) but there is one
> thing worth picking up on here. One of the browsers you mention,
> Galeon, would not have been possible had Netscape not launched a dirty
> great commercial product upon the free software world. 

Actually, two.  Both Galeon and Skipstone are based on Gecko.

> We can't really have it both ways. We can't essentially claim that
> giving a load of old code to the community is useless. Because yes,
> OK, it's a pig if corporations dump a load of abandonware code onto
> the free software community; but, we *do* ultimately reap the benefits
> of this because there is always some coder somewhere who is
> intelligent enough to make use of it. We took the HTML rendering code
> from Netscape and turned it into a library that we can build things
> like Galeon on top of; we'll take the file format stuff from
> OpenOffice and turn it into convertors - I'm sure Sun didn't expect
> this, but it's what we, as a community, need to have.

Violent agreement, Simon.  I'm not saying that these projects are
without merit.  I *am* strongly suggesting that the community may wall
find the parts of these projects which it likes, and which suit its
needs (if we can talk about The Community as having One Mind), leaving
the rest of the cruft in the dust.

I said as much when I posted a Galeon story to Kuro5hin earlier this
year (Oct 5, 2000):

    What I like about Galeon: it's fast, light, clean, and provides both
    a sane configuration and sane configuration options, much in the
    precise way that Netscape and Mozilla do not. This is user software,
    not corporate software.  Browsers since NS/IE 3.x have been strongly
    influenced by the needs and desires of commercial web interests,
    sacrificing both usability and privacy concerns of users. I'm
    thoroughly sick of this. 

    Galeon crossing usability threshold
    http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory&sid=2000/10/5/132548/172
    [1]

And, in a followup comment:

    Galeon is taking the core Mozilla engines and steering the project
    in a direction favored by developers and end-users, not corporate
    interests. This is made possible by the open-source nature of
    Mozilla, and represents one of the extremely powerful democratizing
    principles of free software. The Mozilla project can ignore this
    statement, but it does so at its own risk. 

    Why I advertised Galeon at K5
    http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=2000/10/5/132548/172&pid=5#13

If you're familiar with Lessig's  Code and other laws of cyberspace ,
this is one of the technology-as-influence-leveller concepts he touches
on.

> In a sense, this is a vindication of my point - once companies get
> involved with open source development, they have no control over
> what's going to happen to the product that they've given us; they give
> us a web browser, we come out with a rendering widget. They give us an
> office suite, we create a file conversion library. Damn right it isn't
> what they expected. But it's what we, as a community needed.[1]

Bingo.

> And I suppose this is really something that this guide, in whatever form
> it may turn out to be, needs to get across: once you've given your code
> to the free software movement, you really, really can't predict what's
> going to happen to it.

Hmmm...Thinking 'bout this, you read the Cluetrain?
http://www.cluetrain.org/   I think it touches on a lot of what you're
hitting on as well.

[1] Technical note.  From casual measures (ps, top), galeon, skipstone,
and (particularly) mozilla are larger apps than Netscape 4.75, though
netscape's memory leakage and instability are legendary.  The
alternatives aren't measuring up particularly well in this department
either.

-- 
Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>     http://www.netcom.com/~kmself
 Evangelist, Zelerate, Inc.                      http://www.zelerate.org
  What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?      There is no K5 cabal
   http://gestalt-system.sourceforge.net/        http://www.kuro5hin.org


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