[This article translated in a latter time]
Originally published in July 17,2008
[EDIT: Aobut KDE 4 and on how final users are acting and expecting as consumers is also mentioned here.]
The latter interventions on it.comp.os.amiga here (google translated), concerning the coming soon Amiga os 4.1 and the recent discussions shown on linuxhaters blog here and on linux.com here makes me consider on how probably i misunderstood badly the motivations behind ther open source movement: I always thought at social motivations as the need for computing tools for who cannot afford to get a closed source operating system or applications, i thought about humanitary and non-profit organizations support, learning and start-up tools for third world and underdeveloped countries, beside the intentions to disconnect the IT from the traditional software and OS industry, the knowledge share and the opening of algorythms and libraries available to everybody for any purpose, without the need to quit the project or being forced in pay royalties for quite banal algorythms.
Maybe am still too naive and idealist: it is sure that, once somebody reach an age close to 40, having a reality check is quite painful ot handle than when young.
And i can also understand the hatred of linux hater and the strong frustration of the newcoming linux and AROS developers, to mention a project which am emotionally tied at.
Things as reading here on how Krzysztof Smiechowicz is completing the libraries status report by himself, with very scarce help and feedback from other developers – that might speed it considerably – is kinda descouraging.
And also read in most of the interventions of Linux Hater on how some of the base concepts of the open source philosophy are backfiring on the FOSS purpose itself: the well known package manager mess, GNOME,KDE,XFCE and other desktop environments, the problems with sound managers, the worn out excuse to read the sources instead of producing adequate documentation, on how the open source movement is under developed due to internal clashes, the programmers ego trip mentioned already here and many other.
In the aforementioned thread Alessandro Pellizzari says that, in order to have a fully working AROS a “spiritual leadership that give directions” is required; i agree with him, just am afraid that who do not agree will fork and subtract vital energies to an already slow project, which is not good.
Taking for a moment AROS apart, i already mentioned how my point of view is that, when a project reach a certain “critical mass” of users, the developers should have at least the common sense to feel morally entitled to listoen to their users’ reasons or, anyway, to keep them in mind while bringing on the development.
Reading about the mess happened with KDE 4, looks really like this did not happen: some distros put KDE4 as standard feature desipite the declared (not enough it seems) provvisionality of the release and user got scorned and frustrated from it due to its unfinished features.
Is quite comic read on linux.com here on how the fact that users are behaving as consumers is considered wrong frmon FOSS supporters. But, fact is that an user IS a consumer: it use (read: consume) a tool (read product), even if is not sold and CAN and SHOULD give a feedback on its experience if he point to be an active member of the open source community.
This double standard make me feel about italian leftist wing (socialist/communist inspired); at a first look there are lots of parallelisms between FOSS and socialist/communist points of view; there are parallelisms even between some FOSS behaviours (as free software purisms and evangelization) and some religious zealotries, swapping closed source with sin, devil with Microsoft, etc: the factitself on how an enemy is needed to bring on the cause.
I usually keep myself out of politics, being a quite pragmatic person (ok a bit idealist) grown up in a house with conservative mother and a communist-oriented father; none of them pushed me toward one or the other side: i personally evaluated good and bad of the reciprocal points of view and, despite some little basic influence, i almost never choose either one or the other side but take what i like from both sides or even from third parties opinions that i share.
I follow the same philosophy for the open source: the approach actually followed by AROS and its APL looks to me more compatible with my way of thinking, so as the AROS and Amiga oses interface itself: they can be handled with or without GUI much more easily than windows or linux.
But am going off topic here.
I also cited here the Product Beautiful article that talks about product management: an open source project, liking it or not, is a special kind of product: a bit like the Wendy’s custom burger: the developer provides a base application and the user requests expansions or even add its own modules, then he hangs the receipe in the bulletin board so that other people can try it and customize it too. And the kitchen is open and visible, for people to go cook its own stuff, and the cook looking arouiund to prevent excessive damage.
At least on paper.
Well, if we want to go on with the figure speech, gotta say on how sometimes the cook is a gremophobic or cannot deal with criticism or either that has its own way to place blades and utensils or that allof the sudden he might decide that the users recipes are not accepted: that is the case of pidgin.
And once again i cannot avoid to put ashes on my head admitting that i had my own ego trips, and still have some now: i also admit that probably one of the reason I advocate and write articles is because i like people talk,possibly good, of me and wish that happen because i do good things for others.
Then, being one of those people that think, once you build something, to have some moral obligation towards users beside the pure pleasure of doing it, guess is a good thing. In my opinion this should be one of the main motivators of the open source philosophy: do something good for others, a way to make the world a better place with your work, and not plitics, camps, ego trips, etc.
Also because the FOSS, such as other “ideologies”, work good on paper but then, once put in practice in the real world, end up in conflict iwth the human and emotional factor. Not keep this in account means sure failure.
That is exactly what is happening now in KDE, Pidgin and, partially, in AROS too; the steadfastness in the original positions and goals is not a good thing in the long term. If IMHO the developers have still some ethic sense they should put egos,steady positions and golden rules apart and focus in reach at least some milestones on the path, so that there will be set some bases for decide how to go further in the next future.
Well, 40 years old and still believe in fairy tales and in the fact that people can do the most logical and practical choice… guess am hopeless:(