Subject: Re: Summit
From: Rich Morin <>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 14:07:59 -0700

As a long-time "free software groupie", I was very happy to be able to
attend Tim's clambake.  Although the authors sitting around me at the
table did not represent all parts of the free software community, they
did bring sharp minds and quite a diversity of opinion to the table.

OTOH, I agree that the media side was not handled as delicately as it
might have been.  Tim, Eric, and other participants had several "memes"
they wished to promote.  Here are some (hope I get them right :-):

  *  Open Source software is already a large player in mission-critical
     applications such as the Internet.

  *  Open Source software can be commercial, without being proprietary.

  *  Open Source software is "safer", because the users are shielded
     from vendor actions (not to mention business failures & mergers).

  *  Open Source software tends to be both robust and up-to-date, due
     to massive peer review and the fact that folks can "scratch their
     own itches".

  *  The motivation for people to develop, distribute, and use Open
     source software can be quite pragmatic and divorced from questions
     of ideology, etc.

These are valuable ideas, and ones which I'd like the public to grok,
but they are by no means the whole free((ly redistributable) soft)ware
story.  The "bottom-up" efforts of the techie community continue to
be vital, whether or not the pointy-haired bosses buy in.  The ideals
embodied in the GPL (whether or not you agree with them) have shaped
the development and nature of the freeware movement.

The developers that Tim invited were, in general, creators of the sorts
of "important" software that Tim wished to highlight:  Apache, Bind,
Linux, Navigator, Perl, PGP, Python, Sendmail, and Tcl/Tk.  They were
also very pragmatic people; I heard no "appeals to authority" during
the day, just opinions and facts, each presented as such.

Even granting the West Coast orientation, the selection had some notable
absences.  Where were Jordan Hubbard (FreeBSD), Donald Knuth (TeX, etc.),
and Adam Richter (Yggdrasil)?  Where were the government (e.g., NASA) and
University (e.g., UCB) folks?

But this is nit-picking.  Tim got a bunch of freeware "heavies" to sit
around and talk for a whole day, without yelling or throwing things.  He
then got some media coverage that could well work for all of us.  I say
he deserves applause, overall, and cooperation in setting up follow-on
events.  I'd love to see an annual "Open Source" conference, including
all parts of the community.  Let's see if we can help make it happen!


Rich Morin, Canta Forda Computer Laboratory | Prime Time Freeware - quality
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