The Economist: Open-source software has won the argument

Well, yes. I’m kind of wondering why they didn’t figure that out sooner. They had the data; I’ve probably been quoted in The Economist more often than any other single magazine. Except maybe Linux Journal.


  1. Maybe i’m wrong but it seems to me like that article is trying to talk about cloud computing and giving 80% of its article to Open Source as a historical roundup. As you say, there’s nothing really new there, even considering the lag time of regular media, about Open Source. If the first four paragraphs where condensed to one or two i wouldn’t have blinked(except the article would be a bit small).

  2. Shortest esr blog ever? It even comes dangerously close to being appropriate for a twitter.

    Anyhow, I’m wondering why you’re even bothering writing about this, besides maybe the fact that they’ve quoted you so much. Stories like this are quite abundant, along with “Linux is ready for the desktop”/”Is Linux ready for the desktop?” (they appear on Slashdot *AT LEAST* once a week), but I don’t see you blogging about all of them. :/

  3. >I don’t see you blogging about all of them. :/

    The Economist is kind of special. Best news magazine in the English language, IMO.

  4. It’s definitely one of those “stating the obvious after the facts” kind of articles — although I question whether cloud computing as a ‘lock-in’ will actually remain so for very long (at least for scales larger than Facebook).

    By the way, I’ve been trying to email you, but I’m guessing that my emails are going into your spam folder based on the last email you sent me. I even went so far as to CC someone else onto the email before last, who would then email you to see if you got the email. I take it none of the emails have arrived?

    When you get a chance, please drop me another email letting me know if you did receive my emails. :)

  5. >When you get a chance, please drop me another email letting me know if you did receive my emails. :)

    Your mail of 1 Jun received, reply sent.

  6. Open source has won the argument in the server room.

    Unfortunately, open source still hasn’t adopted anything remotely resembling a sane usability discipline, which means it’s a no-go on the vast majority of desktops. If technology doesn’t work for people, it doesn’t work.

    As for “cloud computing”, isn’t this the Network Computer pipedream of ten years ago, with a Web 2.0 Javascript candy-coating shell?

  7. >The Economist is kind of special. Best news magazine in the English language, IMO.

    i recommend also, but for different reasons: The Week.
    essentially, it’s an aggregation in a single slim magazine of the previous week’s full media reporting (UK perspective here, but i believe it’s now international, so you may find a US version exists). the interplay of different perspectives/reportings of the same story is done spectacularly well.
    unreserved recommendation.

  8. esr, what do you think of this comment from Linux Hater’s blog.

    Someone mentioned communism and I was going to write about it too. Cause it always amazes me how the linux world can be likened to a communist state. Coming from a former communist country I have vague, childhood first hand experience of it. You got this official propaganda, that goes something like this: We are the land of freedom and people’s power, and they the land of exploitation and slavery driven by greed. Even though we our developement is staggering, and the whole thing is collapsing we invent this bullshit statistics to show that we are in fact doing better and better. It doesn’t matter that prices are going up and there is less food in shops, because in fact we are doing well but you can’t see that yet cause we’re in the process of it (still in beta). In the news we show only our achievements and enemy’s failrues. If someone criticises us, we immediatelly accuse him of being a spy and spreading propaganda (FUD). And the enemy is constantly watching and spying on us, desperately seeking to undermine our glorious progress. Even if we somehow admit that capitalists do something well we explain that it is due to exploitation, unethical practices and global conspiracy. Our progress is in fact more designed to show off than to do anything good (take soviet space and nuclear race – it is a terrible waste of resources but it sure looks well and makes us look better … yeah compiz pwnz aero). But no matter how bad we do we are still better, cause we give you freedom (although you can’t just install a new software unless we care to make a package for you) and we fight for you against the Imperialism that is bad for you, although it gives you everything you need. Just like communism, Linux started out as a great enthusiastic movement and tremendous collective effort that looked to be extremely productive at first, and evoked high hopes. But quickly enough its flaws began to surface and it gradually collapsed into stagnation and inner power struggles. Fuck, thats just exactly like linux point by point. No wonder. It stems from the same basic idea that you can change the way the world has always been working, just because you think it is the right thing you do. As your idea is completely incompatible with reality you fail more and more and end up being worse than your enemy.

  9. >esr, what do you think of this comment from Linux Hater’s blog.

    Linux staggering and collapsing? It is to laugh. Whatever universe he’s reporting from isn’t this one.

    But the really absurd thing about this analogy is that the guy ignores the most important characteristic of Communism, which is that if you don’t “cooperate”, they’ll fucking kill you. Whatever else can be said about the flaws of the Linux community, the prospect that it’s going to open a network of gulags is…remote.

    Analogies like these trivialize a great deal of very real suffering. Whoever wrote this one should be be beaten about the head and shoulders with a copy of Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror until he develops something resembling a sense of moral proportion.

  10. I think thats the brand of eastern european (i presume) who is terrified of any remote superficial
    similarities with communism. But the substance of Open source is the exact OPPOSITE of communism
    or socialism. Its voluntary cooperation, its hobbyism. Its infact mostly done PURELY for the pleasure
    of the doer, though undoubtedly theres the core free-software group who work ideologically.

  11. This is not supposed to be a flame but:

    >> But the substance of Open source is […] voluntary cooperation

    Sometimes I think, Open source is not about voluntary cooperation. It is about reinventing the real, showing off and avoiding cooperation like the plague. Think of deb vs rpm, gnome vs kde vs xfce vs whatnot. Think about zillions of distributions and each one needs a slightly different kind of package to install. Think of at least three ways of configuring your wlan (the gnome networking applet, the kde one or via commandline)

    On the server this is usually a non-issue, since the functionality you will need is limited (compared to a desktop)
    On the desktop, this make the situation very often confusing for the enduser.

    >>the most important characteristic of Communism, which is that if you don’t “cooperate”, they’ll fucking kill you

    sometimes I think some _forced_ cooperation would be benefitial in the end – for everyone. Like for example, you could download one package in the net and install the application from this package on _several_ distributions. Yeah, I know I might sound crazy, but you know, there are platforms where this is in fact possible

  12. and a second add: In fact, in _democracy_, we do that. We don’t have a direct democracy, where we have two US-presidents competing with each other, each one making new laws and some citizens obey to the ones made by the former, some obey to those made by the latter. We select one leader and then, at least for a limited amount of time till the next election, we are forced to obey, forced to cooperate in some sense.

  13. correct. we have what’s termed a Representative Democracy, where we vote for representatives rather than all participate directly in the minutiae of government. it’s a scaling issue.

    where direct democracy has been reintroduced it often has unintended and undesirable consequences, due to the sheer scaling issues with large populations. california is the primary current example.

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