codeblog code is freedom — patching my itch

October 10, 2008

the goal is freedom

Filed under: Blogging,Ubuntu — kees @ 10:37 am

I’m proud of Ubuntu, but I’m always a little sad when I see news items like this.

I don’t want to see everyone who contributes to the World Resource Institute and the Conservation International Foundation to start giving entirely to the Greenpeace Fund. They’re all doing fantastic work and doing it in slightly different ways. Changing allocation between these organizations doesn’t have any real benefit.

I want to see the news of everyone moving their money out of Exxon and General Motors and putting it into the things linked above or anything like them. Then big stuff starts happening; multinationals have less to work with and environmental groups have more. That’s a win.

Organizations moving from Free Software to Free Software is a distraction. There is no net gain; there is no more freedom; there are no more users and no more chances to create new Free Software developers. It is news when an organization moves from proprietary software to Free. That’s important, and we should stay focused on that goal.

© 2008, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License.
CC BY-SA 4.0


  1. Of course, for profit organizations don’t have nearly as much incentive to publish the competitive advantages they find in switching, and most non profits who switch aren’t recognizable, and certainly don’t expect any gain from announcing a switch away from Microsoft.

    Obviously moves like Dell and Asus eee are important, and very well publicized among us. But a lot of places already do use linux in some small way; the community college I work at teaches students Windows and Redhat administration. I’d like to see Ubuntu in the mix, and while it might be newsworthy if there was a switch, the fact that a community college teaches Linux is not news itself.

    Comment by jldugger — October 10, 2008 @ 2:29 pm

  2. My ‘zealot’ alarm went off just now.

    I cannot explicitly define what is, in my opinion, wrong with your article. I believe it is the fact that you are “saddened” by a news article merely reporting the facts. Or that moving money out of a company (that was built on free-market principles and could easily be fueling the car you travel to work in and the servers Ubuntu runs on) into a pseudo-environmental, fundamentalist terror organization (Greenpeace) is a good thing.

    I agree that this is not as large a deal as if a multinational corporation (like KBR or Exxon or ) switched from Windows to Linux. I do not agree that this is not noteworthy news.

    Comment by Luke — October 13, 2008 @ 1:49 am

  3. I never said I wasn’t a zealot for Free Software. :) As for my analogy, it wasn’t perfect, but I was trying to make a point. While the RedHat to Ubuntu move is certainly a factual accounting, my opinion is that it is still a no-sum change. They were using Free Software, and now they’re using Free Software. I’m sad that it is considered significantly news-worthy.

    (And as an aside, I don’t use a car to get to work and my servers are wind and hydro-powered. And not surprisingly, I disagree with your characterizations of both multinationals and the environmental activist groups.)

    Comment by kees — October 13, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  4. Wikimedia was using a hodge-podge of fedora, centos, and ubuntu. In each of those distros they had multiple versions running in different places. They simply decided to go with one single distro, and as few version as possible. As an enterprise decision, this is a very good one.

    There is no reason to be sad about this; it wasn’t a philisophical move.

    Comment by Ryan — October 16, 2008 @ 12:48 pm

Powered by WordPress