Page Body

Page Main

Post Main

Post Article

Cory Doctorow:

When you are making choices about software freedom that relate to code quality, and not to freedom, per say, the freedom can be eroded, without the code quality losing out.

What happened with open source is that we got open source code being integrated into increasingly locked down systems and services, like Facebook…

What we found is that all the software freedom has ended up in the hands of giant corporations, and users of software get no software freedom from free software anymore.

Kyle Rankin recently elaborated on this on a great episode of the Linux Journal podcast, Reality 2.0:

Everyone got complacent. Everyone’s patting each other on the back about how we dominate the Cloud, and we’re in everyone’s pocket, and we’re in everyone’s kitchen now. But, while that’s technically true, it’s also really hidden. Linux exists everywhere, but it’s all under this shield of proprietary APIs. It’s hidden under many layers. You would never know that it’s there. You would never know the freedoms that you have, because of the way its been wrapped and packaged.

The challenge is it’s way more insidious than it was originally. Originally, it was the case that, if you run this operating system on your computer, then you’re locked in and you can’t see the source code, and if there’s a problem, they can force you to do x, y, z. Now, you can see the code, in some cases, but in other cases you can’t. In some cases, they have this Community Edition for this piece of software, but we also have this Enterprise Edition that’s all closed. The community helped us build this one, and thanks, community, for doing that, and now we’re selling this other one, but we have this perverse incentive to not move changes down.

It’s an odd world. The only way to combat that world is for everyone to be informed with what the problems were originally. You have to map the original fight to where we’re at now. If you don’t understand how Linux triumphed over Sun, Microsoft, and Oracle, then it’s going to be way harder to figure out how free software can extend people’s freedoms now, when the giants have completely different names, in some cases.

We can’t rest on the fact that, hey, we’re buried underneath an Android phone, somewhere hidden, underneath a bunch of proprietary stuff, or hey, we’re buried underneath a bunch of proprietary Cloud APIs. The time for patting yourself on the back is over. We haven’t won anything, and the battles we have won, if we don’t continue fighting, we’re going to lose.


Paul Ciano

Enjoyed this post?

Subscribe to my feed for the latest updates.