Why KDE4 is called KDE?
Boyd Stephen Smith Jr.
bss at iguanasuicide.net
Thu Dec 10 05:55:28 GMT 2009
On Tuesday 08 December 2009 20:28:31 Eyolf Østrem wrote:
> On 08.12.2009 (06:36), Boyd Stephen Smith Jr. wrote:
> > On Monday 07 December 2009 23:44:25 Thierry de Coulon wrote:
> > > May I ask what changes with free programs as long as you are no
> > > programer? I love this affirmation but it's very theoretical for the
> > > average user....
> > No, it's not.
> > With free software any programmer with the necessary skills can modify
> > the program; even if you lack the skills there are a number of ways to
> > get the modifications you would like done. It might not be without cost,
> > but it is available.
> However much I agree with the principle of open source/free software, this
> argument stays for the most part in the "principle" area. In PRACTICE
> (which is what the OP implied with the "average user"), there is little or
> no difference between open and closed software. Sure, you can see the
> source code, but how many do? I usually don't, because I'm not a
> programmer, and mostly it doesn't mean anything to me anyway. And I would
> NEVER dare to tinker with source code for anything bigger than a bash
> script (well, I have, and it turned out horribly...).
With proprietary software you have to have the blessing of the single entity
that controls that software in order to make changes. With Free Software, you
can make changes without blessing from any single entity.
Yes, it doesn't change the skill level required to make changes. Licensing
terms can't and won't change that.
In practice to make a modification to the Windows kernel, you'd have to
convince someone currently working on the Windows kernel team to make the
changes for you (generally, some cash exchange is involved) *and* get them
pre-approved by Microsoft (again, some cash exchange is involved, in addition
to a customized license that is agreed to by both parties).
In practice to make a modification to Linux, you'd have to convince someone
currently working on the Linux (kernel) team to make the changes for you
(generally, some cash exchange is involved). But, because of the license
chosen for Linux, the second requirement is lessened. 
> So, in sum, the "you can see the source code and do anything you like with
> it" is a meaningless statement to anyone who is not a programmer: NO, I
> can't do anything I like with it -- I can't do anything AT ALL with it.
> Ideologically, it may be a valid point, but in practice it's not.
There is a difference in practice. It doesn't remove the skills requirement,
but it does remove the centralized control. On top of that, the description
above glosses over the fact that there are programmers outside of the normal
development team that have the skills required.
> Besides, what you describe is in effect a fork -- a one-person or
> one-organization fork, but a fork all the same. Unless the changes are
> trivial or the application is very modular, chances are that it will be a
> dead end: for every upgrade of the source code, you'll have to incorporate
> the changes, hoping that they don't break something. If I am a big
> corporation with enough money to spend to pay a developer to implement my
> wishes, I would still be caught in this trap. And since I'm not, it's
> still just a dream scenario.
Not a dream scenario. Multiple successful forks have occurred with the free
software world. (Xorg was a fork, ECGS was a fork later merged back in,
Xemacs started as a fork.) A fork of a large project can take a lot of effort
-- licensing won't free you from that. However, because of the licensing, you
have a wider pool of contributors that aren't risking legal action to aid you.
I don't know why everyone decides that the 4 freedoms guaranteed by Free
Software have to be something they can *individually*, *alone* exercise.
 If you can't use the GPLv2 license for your modifications you would still
have to do the same negotiation that would would for proprietary software, but
with many, many, entities.
Boyd Stephen Smith Jr. ,= ,-_-. =.
bss at iguanasuicide.net ((_/)o o(\_))
ICQ: 514984 YM/AIM: DaTwinkDaddy `-'(. .)`-'
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