Warning about the use of free software. Respect the developers

Usage Warning

Is free and open source software (FOSS) at risk? Just as at some point we thought that the Linux permission system protected us from computer attacks, Today we are convinced that the 4 principles of free software and the different licenses of the Open Source Initiative will guarantee that our favorite projects are always with us. Maybe with just a name change and developers.

However, there are those who think that again we could have a dislike.

An analogy to understand the problem

To try to better explain what I mean, let me make an analogy.

In the 80s I got tired of hearing that there were four economic models in the world; Capitalism, Communism, Japan (That without natural resources became a world power) and Argentina (That having an abundance of natural resources, it is still Argentina)

Obviously nothing is that simple, but for the sake of the article, grant me that the claim is valid.

There are even those who found an explanation with historical and sociological roots. For a long time the basis of the Japanese diet was rice. The rice fields are close together and require a lot of care. Any disease that affected someone's plantation ran the risk of spreading to the rest.

The Japanese lived in houses of wood and paper. All very close. In case someone was irresponsible with fire, it could be a disaster.

Argentina is a very large country with fertile lands and suitable for growing livestock.

In the first case, the Japanese were obliged to show solidarity with each other and think about tomorrow. Argentines could afford to ignore their neighbors, take what they needed and not worrying about replenishing what is consumed. Until one day, you start to consume more than what is produced and the decline begins.

A developer makes a warning about the use of free software

Baldur Bejarnason is a web developer and consultant, in addition to being profitable in open source projects. He ago a description of the behavior of users of free and open source software and its use in the web development market, which in our analogy we can relate to that of the Argentines.

People don't appreciate how much web development involves extracting value from OSS, both individually and corporately. Almost everything we do in web development exists as a thin layer on top of open source software. Servers, building tools, databases, authentication, client-side JavaScript code execution, web browser - we are all building on a vast ocean of open source software work without returning even a fraction of the value obtained.

Baldur complains that since users assume that someone somewhere has to be paying, they behave as if they were paid clients of proprietary software. The OSS maintainer is supposed to serve them as if they made a living rather than volunteer collaborators.

The Icelandic developer cautions that projects are increasingly being abandoned due to lack of financing and the depletion of maintainers. Open source grows only from initiatives that are part of the business strategy of companies. But, even in this case the financing is not complete.

Open source software is a strategic lever for large technology companies. They finance when it helps their core business and stop when it doesn't. Cloud hosting has slowly been ushering in an era of extraction, where tech companies are specifically targeting open source server-side projects that they can leverage with little investment. Large sections of server-side software are under-funded.

May I recall that the Heartbleed bug was the result of a patch to OpenSSL uploaded by a volunteer developer on New Years Eve.

At any rate Article, whose reading I recommend, ends on an upbeat note.

Sustainable open source seems possible if it manages to balance the uninteresting aspect for big tech, but interesting enough to generate revenue. As WordPress shows, it can be quite large while remaining mostly uninteresting to the tech giants.

It is a difficult needle to thread, but it seems to be entirely possible.


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  1.   Philippe said

    Good post

  2.   Miguel Rodríguez said

    Let us assume that cultural differences allow us to explain some aspects of societies today, the question in Japan is that the culture itself (which in part also shares with China) not only religious but also philosophical would explain why this "solidarity" since the family is promoted and even extends to work, however, it brings with it other inconveniences such as submission to authority (because of this the changes in China and Japan regarding the end of the "Old Regime" arrived late, more specifically thanks to to its contact with the West) or a suffocating work culture of responsibilities that have degenerated into a society in which labor exploitation, death from working overtime, and suicide stomp on whatever the individual wants.

    However, in the Argentine case with respect to the Japanese it has much more to do with the commercialism that lasted for centuries in the colonial era, where having political contacts with which to win favors and benefits or protection was the norm, makes the common see and understand of citizens as that the State is a paternalistic or quasi-divine figure, on which it can depend to defend itself, protect itself or go in case of a problem. It is no coincidence that in Venezuela Francisco Linares Alcántara said that his government plan was "To face me in the tower of the Cathedral with two sacks of Moroccans and throw real to anyone who needs it."

    While the English colonies in America were not so lucky, since the soil was neither very favorable nor abundant in resources, they had to prosper by working hard and saving; Although Liberalism was born in Anglo-Saxon land, it has an undoubted inspiration from the School of Salamanca that emerged during the Spanish Golden Age, likewise, it is a philosophy that advocates solidarity through voluntary acts and not by imposition. "Solidarity is spontaneous or it is not solidarity . To decree it is to annihilate it ». Frédéric Bastiat.

    Being precisely free software and all the philosophy behind the closest thing to anarchism (seen as a philosophy that drinks from Liberalism), since projects are created, formed and consolidated as time passes, with the support and interest (whatever be their reasons) of various individual and other collective contributions (such as companies); its governance being entirely structured by the pure voluntariness and freedom of its members, being even freer than each person in their respective country because, which member or group does not like the direction of a project can create their own in parallel from the beginning or take the base of the previous one to make the competition. With today more and more initiatives as well as new ways of generating income thanks to capitalism, there will be more that join free software because a way will be found to compensate for the work contributed; Free software is today what it is because of its proximity to "Laissez faire et laissez passer, le monde va de lui même".