lad at solobanjo.com
Wed Nov 26 21:24:16 EST 2003
On Wednesday 26 November 2003 07:35 pm, Billy Biggs wrote:
> Hi Lea,
> Stonekeeper (stonekeeper at stonekeeper.freeserve.co.uk):
> > On Thu, 2003-11-27 at 19:01, Juan Linietsky wrote:
> > > It's not bad, but it's not really free (OpenSource),
> > Generally, musicians don't give a toss whether something is
> > free(Opensource) or not (let the flaming begin). Seriously, I've not
> > met a single non-coder who felt this was an issue. "Opensource? I
> > don't know about that. Does it allow me to make good music?"
> Just a comment (not a flame). This is the linux-audio-dev list, so
> most of us are both application developers and musicians ;) So Juan's
> comment is quite relevant, readers of this list would be much more
> interested if it was open source, since that would be an application we
> can contribute to and source code that we can use ourselves.
I agree, and I would also like to share a few observations of my own.
IMHO, the question is not "will musicians in general care whether this
software is open source?", but rather "will the target audience of this
release (musicians who use Linux) care whether this software is open source?"
As a general rule, musicians who don't care about proprietary vs. open source
won't be running Linux to begin with.
The Windows-centric world from which the program is coming has a
"culture" which is drastically different from the Linux world. Proprietary
licenses are the norm in the Windows world, and the term "freeware" still
implies closed source. When authors actually release their source code,
Windows users say "Wow! How generous!".
In my experience of the Linux realm, by contrast, closed source is the
exception rather than the rule. Programs which only come in binary form are
begrudgingly used only when no reasonable open source alternative exists.
It's important for any potential Linux developer to understand that the
prevailing Linux "worldview" perceives proprietary software licenses as being
useful only to achieve selfish goals. When someone releases proprietary
software without charging any money for it, therefore, the Linux mentality is
bound to react with thoughts of suspicion: "Why are they keeping the source
code a secret, if this is really free? Why should I trust them when they say
they will never charge money for it? What does he have up his sleeve?"
For me, it's entirely an issue of trust. I've just seen too many
freeware products disappear, with no possibility of resurrection. I cared
about this even before I started actually using the source code for the
applications I use. I felt secure in the knowledge that if the original
author dropped it, somebody else would pick it up and keep it going.
"Freeware" with closed source is unique in that it creates a situation
where the software author has no accountability to anyone. With proprietary
retail software, the authors are accountable because if they don't meet the
needs of their users, nobody will buy the product (unless you have a monopoly
- but that never happens....). With open source software, the authors are
accountable because if they don't meet the needs of their users, someone will
fork the code and start a new project that does meet those needs. When
freeware authors don't meet the needs of their users, the users are the only
ones who lose out.
> Your comment here is interesting:
> > [...] Saying it's crap because of X,Y and Z will ultimately end up
> > being bad for the linux musicians community not him (he can spend all
> > his time accommodating the windows users who really appreciate his
> > efforts).
> Because I agree that these politics make Linux awkward for a new
> developer who may be wary or unable to release source code. I am not
> sure how best to approach this.
I can understand someone new to the Linux realm being hesitant to release
their source code, since doing so puts the burden of trust on them instead of
on their users, but I'm puzzled by your mention of authors being "unable" to
release their code. If it includes proprietary components licensed from a
third party, couldn't these be built as a separate library, and the rest of
the code released? Even releasing the source code for the GUI would be
helpful, and would go a long way toward easing "diplomatic tensions" ;)
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