Posted by: Anonymous
on August 11, 2007 05:05 PM
I don't agree with everything you've said here. Capitalism and individualism are found all over the world. There's a reason that Hong Kong has so many billionaires, and that Sweden has one of the world's richest men (founder of Ikea). But I think you're right in that the enlightened self-interest/altruism divide is what separates Linus and some of the other Open Source people from the FSF and the Free Software crowd. Stallman believes in altruism, and in setting up a system that rewards it. Linus only believes in self interest. And I think Linus is wrong and naive in his position. At a minimum, an open market needs rules enacted for the common good. Without those rules and vigorous enforcement, some will always abuse the system. The GPL v2 is one set of rules governing the Free Software market. It's a good set, but it can (and should) be improved, because some have found ways to abuse the market it set up.
And clearly, there is a difference between empowering individuals and sharing code. Suppose the manufacturer of the famous printer whose proprietary code inspired Stallman to start the Free Software movement had given him the code, but used DRM to lock down the software in the printer. He would have had the code, but he still would have had a buggy printer. The FSF has always taken a user-centric approach. The kernel hackers generally take a developer-centric approach. Everyone is a user, but only some users are developers. I side with the FSF.
If Linus really thinks he's right on these issues, he should license the kernel under the LGPL v2 rather than the GPL. That would be less coercive to potential users of the code. But I doubt it would work nearly as well.