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A Selection of Letters from the Slashdot Discussion

about  the paper Open Source Software Development as a Special Type of Academic Research (Critique of Vulgar Raymondism) by Nikolai Bezroukov
First Monday, volume 4, number 10 (October 1999),

The original discussion is at Slashdot Articles ESR Responds to Nikolai Bezroukov . Blue bold italic in comments is mine -- NNB.

Re:All to often... (Score:1)
by warmi on Saturday October 09, @04:19AM EDT (#190)
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Most of his criticism was factually supported by various quotes from active members of "OSS culture". Actually, I think Nikolais piece was first one to publicly point out the fact that there are some problems with OSS ( something that OSS community wasn't willing to do ...)

... (Score:3, Insightful)
by Signal 11 ( on Friday October 08, @09:24PM EDT (#14)
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... As if. Any discussion and critique is good - saying that it adds nothing to the debate is a rather foolish thing to say. If we don't question CatB, the GPL, the Debian Free Software Guidelines what point is there to even having those documents in the first place? The whole *point* is to think it over, talk about it, discuss it, improve it, and critique it.

Question everything. Mistrust authority - promote decentralization. Our community leaders are not exempt from this - we should question them often and in depth, because if we don't they'll be unprepared for what the rest of the world will. To paraphrase Buddha - "do not accept anything at first.. but if after careful consideration it agrees with your view, accept it and live by it." I know I mangled the quote, but you get the idea - in so many words question everything.

What goes up, must come down. Ask any system administrator.

Re:... (Score:1)
by Venomous Louse ( on Friday October 08, @09:51PM EDT (#34)
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. . . a discussion/critique only of ideas that do not appear in CatB is absolutely useless in an essay that purports to be a discussion/critique of CatB.

Actually, Raymond had to "refute" the analysis by drawing on his other essays, because it was a largely relevant and valid analysis of CatB. And he went downhill from there. He even wandered off and claimed that the OSS development model couldn't possibly be, in essence, socialistic -- because he has said in public that he doesn't like socialism! That, for me, was the major laugh-line in Raymond's response. I really don't give a rat's ass what Raymond said anywhere about socialism. It's completely irrelevant. He describes a development model which, in fact, has certain features in common with socialism. It just does.

And it has them for the same reasons, too; it just happens that software development and distribution happens to be one of the rare special cases where that model really works very well. But Raymond claims that that can't be true, because he, Eric Raymond, has a childishly emotional negative reaction to the word "socialism"! So what? We're supposed to ignore what's right in front of our faces, just because Eric's feelings will be hurt if we make him face reality? This is sheer childishness. It appears as if we've happened on a special case of socialism where, in a limited area, it functions very well (the traditional American nuclear family is another, by the way). If so, then let's be honest with ourselves and admit that the word "socialism" is not a magic spell that makes things evil. Rather, it's an idea which generally doesn't work, but when it does work, it does. Getting religious about which word we use is infantile.

"Once a solution is found, a compatibility problem becomes indescribably boring because it has only... practical importance"
-- Bjarne Stroustrup


Re:Take That ! (Score:1)
by Compuser on Friday October 08, @11:12PM EDT (#74)
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Pulling no punches may be good for a boxer but not for a community leader. Arrogance
is never welcome and ESR's arrogance is quite remarkable. His statement that publishers
didn't do their homework when allowing the article smells funny: it reminds me of how
the Packet Storm site was brought down via a complaint to the people above the site.
He also notes that he (along with three other people) has come up with all the interesting
points in Bezroukov's paper earlier. What humility! If ESR was any more self-centered
he'd collapse onto himself. Lately, the only thing I agree with ESR upon is his political

Aside from his coding efforts, could anyone enlighten me as to what exactly he has done for
the community? For that matter, what has any leader done for the community? Why does the
community need commercial involvement or publicity? BSD's have little of either and
they're doing just fine. Linux had virtually none for years and it kept growing. What would change if ESR eternally shut up tomorrow?

Good responses (Score:3, Insightful)
by extrasolar ( on Friday October 08, @09:31PM EDT (#17)
(User Info)
I have to agree that the critique has almost nothing to do with "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" but I think the paper is enlightening in it's own right. By reading it, I feel that a lot of free software projects can avoid failing.

Also, I think a lot of people need to insert the following into thier own startup script:

#undefine COMMUNISM == BAD

Okay, call it pseudo-C, but you get the idea.

The red scare is over folks. And with people like McCarthy able to get in power, I think our system is far from perfect. I am not very political but I do know that talking about things you don't understand is among the worst of evils, more evil than communism supposedly is.

My personal quirps about CatB is that it doesn't account for when OSS fails. And the the original critique explained this expertly. While ESR was using Linux development as his model, he didn't consider that Linux is atypical as such a project.

I many times go to links of abandoned web sites of abandoned OSS projects, enough for the pessimism in me creeps some. I think for the next paper in ESR's series, he should examine why OSS fails and how to avoid this. Such a work would be enlightening to us all.

The world is full of good intentions and evil deeds.

A counter-CatB? (Score:4, Insightful)
by Surazal on Friday October 08, @09:34PM EDT (#20)
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I tried to read the criticism. I really did. It was painful.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar was one of the first papers on open source development I had ever read. Believe me it was an eye opener and I go back to read every now and then if I feel bored.

The funny thing is that I didn't even come close to the same conclusions that Nikolai Bezroukov did. Marxist?!?!? The Red Scare is starting to become popular again I guess. Unfortunately most people are a little more clued in these days than they were in the 50's. Otherwise we'd all be screwed over if someone whispered "Commie" and pointed at us while our backs were turned (happened a lot I guess in the McCarthy years).

Nikolai Bezroukov also over-generalizes. Hell I knew that not all open source projects operate Bazaar style. That's just the tendency, not a rule set down in stone.

I have one serious problem with one argument that he makes rather loudly: Authoritarian methods will kill any given Open Source project more effectively than anything else. Woah there, that's a broad blanket statement if I ever saw one. Linux itself operates under a "benevolent dictatorship" model, where one guy says "Okay this is it: Here's our release". GNOME does not (or at least it didn't when 1.0 was released... I hear they've gotten their act together though :^). Guess which software package is stable and fast? Okay, maybe that's comparing apples and bananas, but you see my point. :^)

You *need* authoritarianism for *any* software package to work, OSS or not. Someone has to be the boss. Otherwise you get the problem of "too many chefs spoil the broth" a la GNOME 1.0.

I should stop ranting now while I have the chance. I do feel better though. :^)

Re:A counter-CatB? (Score:1)
by jmweeks ( on Friday October 08, @10:59PM EDT (#66)
(User Info)
You *need* authoritarianism for *any* software package to work, OSS or not. Someone has to be the boss. Otherwise you get the problem of "too many chefs spoil the broth" a la GNOME 1.0.

I see what you're trying to say; in a way I agree. Yet for the most part (and this is aimed even more at Bezroukov's assertions about athoritarianism than yours) I beg to differ: A central ego is not necessary to guide a OS project. Consider Apache. Or (as far as I understand it) FreeBSD.

In other words, what I am saying is that authoritarianism is necessary for OS development not because "too many chefs spoil the broth," but rather because there will invariably be choices and someone (be that a single person with or without an overblown ego, a small group of core developers, or the majority sway of all those involved) must make them.
Jose M. Weeks


Word on Fragmentation.. (Score:2, Insightful)
by Awe on Friday October 08, @10:20PM EDT (#47)
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All this talk about linux distribution (or any OS) destroying the movement is silly. Examples of fragmentation that has survived: *religion - jewdasim -> christanity -> all 500 sects *politics/government - communism -> socialism - democracy -> conservative/liberal/other *commerical software - Unix -> commerical sects - Windows -> win 9x/winnt API differences - File formats -> ANSI, .doc, ect * all consumer products - automobiles -> take different parts - coffee makers -> different size filters ect, ect.

The idea that OSS is immune to fragmentation is absurd. However, when one "sect" can view changes by another "sect", this ensures that they have the ability (they also pointing at the users) to provide compatibility and "mend" this fragmentation. - Awe

DEAD ON! (Score:2, Informative)
by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, @10:26PM EDT (#50)
Despite the flaws in Nikolai's argument, his analysis of the flaws in ESR's OSS rhetoric and the similarities with Marxism are accurate (IMHO). Nikolai's proof may not be that well thought out, but he's on the right track. The similarities between OSS rhetoric and Marxist rhetoric are very apparent. Marxism: The basic idea that if everyone cooperated and worked together, society will progress toward a utopia. OSS: The basic idea that if everyone just cooperated and worked together, software development would progress toward a utopia. I find the notion that any individual stating they are able to predict the future actions of any complex system (society, evolution, software trends) is ridiculous. My only fear with OSS, is that the primary leaders/dictators of the movement act very much like previous dictators in history. The pattern goes something like: Find followers, create enemy, convince followers to kill enemy for your cause. So I see OSS actually removing MY freedom to produce software however I damn well please and charge as much as I can without giving source out. RMS, ESR and Linus Torvalds seem to want force everyone to use the GNU model. But, the GNU model isn't freedom because it restricts my choice (I can't chose what I want to do with my source). Pretty scary if you ask me. I always wonder what would happen if these three had their way, and Microsoft was gone and the industry had to work the way they dictated. Well, I'd stop being a programmer, that's for sure. Now, take a look at all the followers on slashdot just taking the crap ESR, RMS, and Linus crank down without even questioning it. Look at the hate e-mail and the posts on this very message that show the true nature of the Linux Zealot. And ask yourself, do you want these nuts ruling the software world? Looks like another bloody revolution my comrades. See you in Antarctica.
Re:No, just another rebuttal of things never said. (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 10, @12:31AM EDT (#355)
This is the convenience of the OSS rhetoric: nobody has to take responsibility for what is said because everything is implied. Look at the video from Mad Dog, where he makes false claims (false as in no objective proof of the claim, not as in impossible) that Linux is more stable than NT. Why would he do this? To further his own goal of Linux dominating the world. So as you see, while this post may be uninformed, your's is simply blind follower worship of an obscure abstract idea that offers no evidence of your supposed informed opinion. At least this post doesn't claim to be informed, just an opinion.

Also, if the post was merely an "uninformed rebuttal" and doing so is wrong, then why did you post an equally uninformed rebuttal with absolutely no proof of your claims. The post you replied to never claimed to be a rebuttal, yet yours does, but you do not hold your rebuttal to the same standards that you demand from other rebuttals.

This is the typical hypocrisy found in the OSS rhetoric. Examples of this are the demand that MS be destroyed because it is dominating the world, and then Linus calling for world domination. I thought world domination was wrong.

Also, the pattern of dictators creating followers does not have to be something said to be apparent. Linus does want to destroy MS, he does want Linux to have "world domination", and he has convinced his followers to fight against MS to further his own goal of world domination. This is so similar to how other dictatorships form that I'm surprised others don't notice it.


Unsurprising (Score:2, Flamebait)
by RISCy Business on Friday October 08, @10:43PM EDT (#58)
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This isn't surprising behaviour from ESR.
  • I looked at it from a purely academic standpoint. Very strong solid arguments, that added a lot to the paper.
  • I looked at it from a personal standpoint, and saw the same thing.
  • I looked at it from ESR's standpoint and saw a challenge to my 'undeniable knowledge' about open source, and my media supremacy as ESR.

To put it bluntly, ESR is very egotistical and overly optimistic, assuming that if he says it, it will not only happen, but become law. This simply isn't true. I have analyzed much of what ESR has said throughout his 'reign' and have found most of it to be obviously written by an egotistical, overly boastful, angry zealot. Maybe ESR's just angry because RMS has held the spotlight for so long, and he wants a piece of the pie. Maybe it's because somebody wrote a critique that he views as a personal insult.

Either way, this is equivalent to a child's comeback. I say "you suck," ESR says "yeah, well you suck more!" We know for certain that at least one side is mature enough, hopefully, to simply say "whatever" and walk away before it becomes some ugly debacle.

ESR and Bruce Perens didn't get along with each other for a reason. I'll save them both the embarassment of bringing those details back out into the light again, and leave it at that ESR is totally uncompromising unless it's going to further him personally, from what I have seen and heard.

People can flame me all they want, but the fact of the matter stands that ESR would probably slap the 'Open Source Certified' sticker on any product who's maker paid him off personally, under the table. He's the equivalent of a televangelist in my eyes; "can I get a hallelujiah!?" 'HALLELUJIAH!' "Can I get your credit card number?!" '4129...'

ESR makes strong points, but only politically. I've yet to see a 100% objective and reasonable writing from ESR. He has a habit of dodging the tough questions, of dodging things that could get him in trouble, of running away when he's scared of something small. In all the years I've known the brash, opinionated, certainly egotistical, and sometimes downright insane RMS, he has maintained a fair level of professionalism. ESR's level of professionalism varies wildly from paper to paper, word to word. At times he reminds me of a coworker at a former job who was recently fired for gross unprofessionalism. When it suited him, he'd be the penultimate professional idiot; always had an answer, and always said sir. But when it didn't, he'd curse up a storm, get personal, and get impolite and downright unpleasant.

I never chose ESR to represent me, or my views, or the Linux community. Who did? I don't recall anyone of any real import beyond business people with 'open source' software actually endorsing him, but I honestly haven't paid any attention. The fact of the matter remains; I'd rather ESR didn't attempt to mis-represent any community I consider myself a part of, but he's going to keep right on doing it, so long as people hail him as their saviour.

Don't get me wrong; I'd rather not have RMS representing me professionally either. RMS is a hardliner who actually gives a damn about his morals and won't compromise his views, except to extremes. (I'm sorry, but if I *ever* have to listen to 'Join us now and share the software' again I'm gonig to have to rip off RMS' lips. ;)

ESR's behaviour, conduct, and words have turned the term 'open source' from a very meaningful term into a pair of words that just means you let people see the undocumented features and ESR slaps his personal seal of approval on it.

Means nothing to me. Honestly, I'm fairly indifferent about GPL vs LGPL vs 'Open Source' vs Commercial. I concern myself only with whether or not it gets the job done first, then I consider the possibilities later. As anyone in any IT field with half a clue would. Functionality should always come before whether or not it's "free" software by anyone's definition.

In closing, all I can say is that I'm wholly and totally displeased with the conduct and quality of work ESR has done. All he has done has create meaningless terms, poor relationships, and damaged the credibility of an entire community at times, in my opinion. Maybe he should take a hint, and start acting a great deal more professionally and less 'geeky.'

/* This is my opinion, these are my words. I'd say 'em again in a heartbeat. And quite frankly, I don't give a damn if it ticks you off. It's an opinion, and they're like assholes - everyone's got one. So deal. */
-RISCy Business | Rabid unix guy, networking guru
"I don't give a damn if it's ugly; DOES IT WORK!?"

Re:ESR's *VERY* hasty reply (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @09:21AM EDT (#235)
I'm a different Coward.

In his reply ESR addressed very few points of Mr. Bezrukov article.

Abstract of Nickolay's paper states:

Eric Raymond's bazaar model provides a too simplistic view of the open source software (OSS) development process. This paper tries to explore links between open source software development and academic research as a better paradigm for OSS development. Open source software development should better be viewed as a special case of academic research. Viewing OSS this way probably can lead to a better understanding of open source phenomena.

It is _NOT_ said that the aim of the whole paper is to criticize Raymond. In my opinion Nikolay's paper raises many important questions (dismissed by ESR as 90% part which "doesn't address or refute my work at all").

I disagree with ESR that it's "hard to draw something of value from this paper", I personally had rather good reading. I disagree with ESR that this latter part of the paper does "repeat observations that other people (including Jamie Zawinski, Alan Cox, Andrew Leonard, and myself)". "Repeating" other's ideas is more an ESR's own approach (in his words, they are "incorporated it into later versions" of CtB, etc). Instead, the paper by Bezrukov _explicitly_ quotes people, selection of these quotes, order in which they are put -- constitutes major part of his work.

Ask yourself how ESR learned about the phrase of Edgar Allan Poe quoted at the end of his reply. I think it was applied to his "work" first, that's IMO is more justifiable.

Political red herrings and a missed opportunity (Score:2)
by Morgaine on Friday October 08, @11:59PM EDT (#101)
(User Info)
I think it's extremely unfortunate that Nikolai Bezroukov permeated his essay with political labelling laced with so much historical baggage that it was bound to cause from ESR a knee-jerk defensive reaction permeated with an equal and opposite amount of irrelevance. And it did.

It's unfortunate not because it caused aggravation in the community (we thrive on that), but because there were quite a few real points dotted around in Nikolai's article which could usefully have been presented as a well reasoned critique of CatB, but as a result of the political red herrings the opportunity to do so has been lost, at least to Nikolai. All it's done it to make ESR hopping mad and to provoke the standard response of the stereotypical indignant American accused of anything sounding vaguely non-capitalistic. Needless to say, it was not productive.

Political and sociological analogies of that sort are just *analogies*, not anything real. Even when the forms are totally congruent, the referrents are always utterly different and so the end result ranges from questionable to ridiculous. It's not meaningful, and it's certainly not helpful.

Re:Political red herrings and a missed opportunity (Score:1)
by rcade on Saturday October 09, @01:15AM EDT (#135)
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I think it's extremely unfortunate that Nikolai Bezroukov permeated his essay with political labelling laced with so much historical baggage that it was bound to cause from ESR a knee-jerk defensive reaction permeated with an equal and opposite amount of irrelevance. And it did.


The central point of Nikolai Bezroukov's essay seemed to be that the open source model may have something to learn from the academic model it emulates.

It's an interesting line of thought to travel, especially when you compare the IPO millionaires open source has created at places like Red Hat to the vow of poverty that's both expected and respected in the academic community. How essential to the open exchange of knowledge is the notion that none of the participants are getting rich off the exchange?

Unfortunately, Bezroukov's comparison between "vulgar Raymondism" and "vulgar Marxism," and Raymond's subsequent comparison between socialism and "pure evil," ensured that the discussion would be about everything *but* the issue most relevant to Slashdot.

Rogers Cadenhead E-mail: Web:

Here's That Needle In the Haystack (Score:1)
by Jon Palmer on Saturday October 09, @07:41AM EDT (#216)
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Reading through the comments is mostly a thankless task, but what keeps me going is the chance to find the rare, well-stated insight that nourishes my curiosity and understanding.

Tonight, buried under yet another spasm of narcissism from ESR, and the rush to weigh in for or against him, rcade here has posed a penetrating question:

"How essential to the open exchange of knowledge is the notion that none of the participants are getting rich off the exchange?"

This deserves thinking about. Contributing to free software projects under the GPL is altruistic, yet it simultaneously serves one's pragmatic self-interest (not reinventing the wheel, etc.). So we find self-respecting Libertarians opposing it because they smell the altruism, and other self-respecting Libertarians praising it because they are free to just take whatever they need.

Resentment arises when we ignore contrary aspects of the situation, and instead try to defend an oversimplified, one-dimensional conception.

Thus the ironies. Free-marketeer Raymond writes "C & B" to explain our all-for-one, one-for-all operating system project to the capitalists (who don't get it), then gets testy when the socialistic aspect is pointed out. I think his essays have been valuable contributions, but I doubt that he would admit that they are classic propaganda and are intended to function as such.

This is why Bezroukov's use of the terms "vulgar Raymondism" and "vulgar Marxism" were guaranteed to get ESR's goat. Raymond and his groupies reacted predictably to the "Marxism" part, because their point-and-click political simplemindedness fails to understand that the term "vulgar Marxism" refers not to Marxism itself, but to ignorant charicatures of it. It is just such ignorant charicatures of free software that Raymond has worked to correct.

ESR's counterblast, and most of the comments, seek to divert us from the core of Bezroukov's essay, which is the analogy between free software development and academic scientific research.

Notice the different strategies: "C & B" sets up oversimplified, polarized extremes and advocates one against the other.

Bezroukov takes several aspects of the two phenomena and considers how they are alike and how they differ.

Propaganda vs. inquiry.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. -Albert Einstein

Re:Political red herrings and a missed opportunity (Score:1)
by tytso ( on Saturday October 09, @10:07AM EDT (#245)
(User Info)
It's an interesting line of thought to travel, especially when you compare the IPO millionaires open source has created at places like Red Hat to the vow of poverty that's both expected and respected in the academic community.

Cough.... if you really think this is true, you haven't spent *any* time in an academic community. Professors have consulting gigs, and start companies to commercialize their ideas just as much as in the Open Source community. In fact, I would say it's much more common for Professors to do so; there's certainly many more worked examples of such.

Exhibit one: RSA DSI, was formed by MIT professors to commercialize the RSA public key algorithm, and it has been argued that it has done more to stop the usage of RSA than any government ban on encryption export could have ever done....

Some definitions... (Score:1, Informative)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @04:02AM EDT (#182)
...for those who don't seem to get it.

Political definitions

Unfortunately, this was the best I could find with short notice. I say unfortunately, because the definitions aren't 100%, and I don't have a copy of some of my old "-ism" texts from school anymore. Anyways, here goes:

Communism - the political system under which the economy, including capital, property, major industries, and public services, is controlled and directed by the state, and in that sense is "communal."

Marxism - the theory developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which became the official doctrine of communism. According to Marxism, the key to how society operated was economics; all other aspects of society, such as politics and religion, were conditioned by the economic system. Under capitalism, society was divided into two classes: the capitalists who owned the means of production and distribution, and the workers, or proletariat, whose labor was exploited by the ruling class. Marx saw history as a dialectical process in which two opposing forces (thesis and antithesis) generate a third, synthesizing force. According to this view, capitalism would eventually break down because of its own contradictions and this would lead to the proletarian revolution and the establishment of the classless society.

socialism - a political system in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are mostly owned by the state, and used, at least in theory, on behalf of the people. The idea behind socialism is that the capitalist system is intrinsically unfair, because it concentrates wealth in a few hands and does nothing to safeguard the overall welfare of the majority. Under socialism, the state redistributes the wealth of society in a more equitable way, with the ideal of social justice replacing the profit motive.

In short though, Communism (big-C) is the kind practiced in the Soviet Union, had very little left in common with the little-c communism that was proposed by various philosophers. I'm sure RMS can relate.

Communism is a form of socialism, as is Marxism. The Problem is, as with most things, is that they rarely ever survive the transition from paper to practice intact. Socialism is not a _bad_ thing. It just seems to get flummoxed up when applied to reality. Why? Probably because there are still people, and failible people at that running the controls.

apologies for being anonymous

FAQ: Risks in Open Source Development (Score:2, Interesting)
by robla ( on Saturday October 09, @04:14AM EDT (#188)
(User Info)
I can totally understand why Eric isn't a fan of Nikolai's paper. The paper sets up Eric as a straw man to be bounced around, and hey, I've been there. Having a cartoon caricature of your beliefs criticized is just frustrating and doesn't seem terribly useful, since one can't learn anything personally from such a critique.

However, I think that Eric misses the value in such a paper. Nikolai's paper answers the question "what are the risks in embarking in an open source development project?", and is the most focused and complete answer I've seen so far. That's very valuable from an advocacy perspective, because advocates need a single URL to point to for a thorough treatment of this frequently asked question. Otherwise, a properly skeptical skeptic won't believe that all of the homework on the subject is done.

Are there better treatments of this subject available that are as complete and focused on the question at hand? I think that this document provides a very good starting point if a better document doesn't exist. Even if a better document does exist, this points out some useful anecdotes and quotations worthy of inclusion in any answer to the risk question.

Berroukov... (Score:2)
by Graymalkin on Saturday October 09, @05:49AM EDT (#196)
(User Info)
has alot of points I think alot of people miss out on. The whole cathedral and the bazaar idea seems a little idealistic to me anyways. Sure open software is great but for the most part users want things to run without tweaking them, things the bazaar has a hard time understanding (at least what I have seen).

Cathedrals have the problem of putting too much emphasis on their talents and charge you amazingly exorbant fees to merely license the use of their software without actually owning it. I think ESR goes too far to one extreme and people like Bill Gates go too far to the other.

FreeBSD is an excellent example of how the middle ground can be more versatile than either one of the extremes. The BSD license doesn't require you to reproduce the source code yet it states you need to give credit where credit is due. This kind of license doesn't force anyone to do anything except give the person who they based their software on the credit they deserve. Imagine if all the software Microsoft copied was released under the BSD license, it would add another GB to the size of Windows 2000. More to the point, FreeBSD is a successful development model because it's major development and source tree is maintained by a smaller group of individuals yet it remains completely open and free. Smaller groups are much easier to manage than thousands which leads to better organization and cohesion.
Give and ape a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe.

ESR, Rebuttle, Hypocricy? (Score:1)
by tqbf on Saturday October 09, @06:40AM EDT (#203)
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I'm going to refrain from discussing ESR's personality, ego, or station within the open source "movement". I do not know ESR and thus can only evaluate him by the words he chooses to represent himself with.

Has anyone else noticed that the following statement from ESR's response article:

... I have made a point of not gratuitously waving my policitcs around in my papers...

... contrasts rather starkly with ESR's actual writings? For instance, have a look at ESR's "acceptance speech" , delivered upon receiving, on behalf of the entire Open Source movement, an award from the CPSR:

... All too often, people who invoke 'social responsibility' are demanding that we give up individual liberty -- that we accept just a bit more taxation, just a bit more regulation, just a bit more government intrusiveness, all for the supposed good of society...

... this paper goes on to claim that a "socially responsible" programmer must never become involved in projects that aid firearms regulation.

Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with ESR's political beliefs, I find it questionable that ESR has any business taking umbrage at the notion of questioning those beliefs. He has made a point of injecting those beliefs into his discussions of open source, and he is acting as a representative for this community.

Personally, I think that makes criticisms of the consistancy, logical foundation, and appropriateness of his politics fair game in this discussion.

ESR's *excellent* reply. (Score:1)
by jcr on Saturday October 09, @04:09AM EDT (#185)
(User Info)

Eric's reply was a far better piece of work than was Bezroukov's cirtique.

Comparing the work of Bezroukov and Raymond, provides a good example of the slipshod work accepted today in the humanites.

I consider it very telling that an engineer dabbling in antropology does a far better job than a supposedly *professional* social scientist.

See Ayn Rand for a more detailed discussion of why people capable of logic flee the study of the humanities for scientific disciplines.

I notice that you denounce ESR's reply, without addressing even a single one of the points he raised. So on that note: fuck you, too.


Very well put. Popular vs scientific writing (Score:2)
by Morgaine on Saturday October 09, @08:59AM EDT (#233)
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That is a very clear and precise description of the main problem in ESR's writings --- well said, Jon.

ESR's role probably serves a useful function for those that believe that horses will die unless led to water, but it is a million miles away from the antiseptic dissection of a complex subject that one would and should expect in a rational scientific study. From what we've seen so far over the years, that won't change, so I suppose we'll just have to lower our expectations or look to more dispassionate commentators whose analyses are less dogmatically coloured by personal preferences in other areas.

None of this should really surprise us though. There has never been much in common between the popular press and the scientific press in other walks of life. We have our own popular press and our own self-styled popular writers, and we should acknowledge them as such and no more.

Re:ESR, Rebuttle, Hypocricy? (Score:1)
by phosgene on Saturday October 09, @08:52AM EDT (#229)
(User Info)
It is unfortunate that the open source v closed source "debate" always seems to degenerate into a profoundly uninteresting discussion of politics, ego and other things not worth spending much time on. Perhaps the two cannot be separated but I think they can.

The amateur debate about the definition socialism and all the rest is easy enough to ignore, and I do. What few contributors to this thread seem to be interested in (though there are some) is the software that results.

Often, the "discussion" here reminds me of the worst of usenet. I should just stick to the articles.

e-s-r, r-m-s, m-o-u-s-e

This is a learning opportunity (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @12:40PM EDT (#286)
Aspects of this are dead on, some are off base, but ESR and the rest of us should learn from this document, as it contains the first sensible criticism of the OSS community EVER
Wow. I'd say ESR nailed him there. (Score:2)
by grappler ( on Saturday October 09, @01:29AM EDT (#143)
(User Info)
I disagree with ESR about a few major things - namely that open source development is inherently the best way to make good software (Go try BeOS! I am hereby throwing in my BeOS advocacy!)

But I can still respect Eric on the many things he has done right, and for his great ability as a writer. He is certainly far above most technical people in that regard, and he has done great things for open source both by writing code and pushing our ideas into the workplace.

And concerning this so-called "critique" of his work, I would say his response has properly nailed the critic on all counts. Nice job. I especially like the Edgar Allen Poe quote at the end.

#include <std_disclaimer.h>

I'd say ESR was nailed. (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @09:33AM EDT (#237)
ESR's "great ability as a writer" is nothing more than his ability for demagogy. And he _CERTAINLY_ "far above most technical people in that regard".

The code he has written is trivial, and overhyped.

  • 1 reply beneath your current threshold.
ESR can no longer command respect (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @02:05AM EDT (#155)
His remarks are now obviously merely his opinions and not in the interests of The Community.
you are all making things complicated! (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, @02:15AM EDT (#157)
what is linux? Linux - a programming project by Linus Torvalds when he was a student, released the source code to everyone NOT bcoz he is into OSS, BUT bcoz he needs HELP and is too clueless to finish Linux! Linux is a good OS, and its a great help for programmers that the source code is there...that's it..what's all the fuzz about linux??! Linux is popular due to the wide-spread anti-M$ campaign..let us all be honest here..there are people who is using linux JUST bcoz its not M$...but ofcourse there are also people who really likes linux.. if i wanted to have a really good free UNIX OS, i'd go to FreeBSD, or to other BSD variants.. Alot of people definitely just wants a piece of the action...a piece of the limelight and attention that linux is wants to be considered as "one of the ppl who killed M$"...and one of this ppl is ESR...jjeezzz..he keeps on talking like a girl...i dont see any REAL contribution he is doing right now??!! he doesnt even contribute to the kernel..he actually have written some software but thats about it.. ESR..stop talking and start coding...
Are you on crack? (Score:2)
by grappler ( on Saturday October 09, @03:19AM EDT (#171)
(User Info)
I have not met ESR, and I'm not so sure I would like him if I did.

To elaborate on problems I have with him:

He has this battle cry he keeps using: "I just want to live in a world where software doesn't suck." Notwithstanding the very narrow focus of this life goal, it differs quite a lot from his litmus test of software quality: "What's the license?"

I am a BeOS person and I know for a fact that a good closed source operating system can be made. In fact, it is better in today's climate, because it has less legal problems encumbering it (such as getting code to run certain hardware). So I differ greatly with ESR on that.

I also have the impression that he has an ego of sufficient size to make him widely resented and get in the way of compromising on anything, or getting along with certain people. Certainly a person that took it upon himself to go into the spotlight like that ought to conduct himself better than he does.

And while he's right about not stuffing his libertarian pro-gun views into his essays, he certainly hangs them out there practically everywhere else. And his depiction of communism as Pure Evil was also uncalled for. I am not a communist, but come on - this is not the cold war. His politics should be kept in their own section on his web site, IMHO.

The big question about ESR is whether we want him or not. It would be a Good Thing if more businesses start seeing things our way. On the other hand, it is debatable whether ESR is helping this goal with his speaking skills and constant traveling and visiblity, or hurting it with his ego and poor ability to get along with others.

That said, I still respect him for his intelligence, the code he wrote and maintained, and because his intentions are good and perhaps he just can't tell when he rubs people the wrong way.

And regarding the critique posted earlier, I think the guy that wrote it is clearly a flake and absolutely rehashed stuff other people said earlier and better. And he grossly misread those essays. ESR put him in his place in this case, though unfortunately he also let his ego come through loud and clear.

#include <std_disclaimer.h>



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