Subject: Re: Source code becoming less important -- but freedoms still necessary
From: "D. V. Henkel-Wallace" <gumby@zembu.com>
Date: Tue, 01 Jun 1999 05:47:56 -0700

    Date: Tue, 1 Jun 1999 18:41:30 +0900 (JST)
    From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>

    >>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com> writes:

    Yes, but it doesn't have to be the user who is able to do the
    changing and reboots the system to get the benefits...Imagine that
    on January 3, 2000 there's an interview with Craig in the San Jose
    Mercury News where he explains how he called up Sony and explained
    how to fix the Y2K bug in the software

        Ian> Do people even bother to repair their cell phones at all?

(BTW, the idea of getting CALPERS to push for libre software is a
great idea, if we can find the right "shergold").

(quick digression for those who don't know: even the cellphone
_manufacturers_ don't fix the phones.  I've been to a factory in which
every engineer had a desk drawer or two full of phones (obtained
through dumpster diving) whose only problems were things like one bad
pixel or a small crack on the keyboard that caused it not to
illuminate one key completely.  It was just cheaper to throw the phone
out than to try to repair them.  The software can't be reprogrammed
either; they mfrs can't afford to put a connector inside the case; the
chips are usually programmed before being bonded onto the board.)

There's another way in which sources are becoming less relevant: app
leasing.  This is where one company provides the keeps the sw in-house
and sells you the output...like having someone run your payroll, or do
your accounting, except you do the work yourself over a network.  The
who are ignore history are condemned to...!


Note that Ian's and gnu's points go together.  90% (when measured by
lines of code run per unit time) of software will likely never be
libre, no matter what we do (for reasons like the ones above, for
safety reasons, etc).  But far more insidiously, openness is under
attack on the protocol side and on access side.  The US mobile market
is quite primitive when compared to the services and levels of
adoption in Europe and Japan, in a large part due to the tying of
cellphones to service ordered and mish-mash of proprietary services on
offer.  Net access is on the way to becoming worse: AT&T's subsidiary
At Home is trying force their users to use only AtHome's home page,
and limits how you can use the cable (e.g. they limit streaming video
in order not t compete with their cable TV business).

Why is this relevant to FSB?  _Control of standards._  It's not
terrible if 90% of the software is binary-only as long as the
important 10% is meaningfully free.  By "meaningfully" I mean both
libre and useful.  We have to be able to develop our own interfaces so
that we aren't locked into some proprietary system.

And we can use the lessons and precedents of the "S" part of the free
software battle to try to win the overall war.

-g