[Marxism] Cuba to switch to Linux

Jean-Christophe Helary fusion at mx6.tiki.ne.jp
Sat Feb 17 22:04:32 MST 2007

On 18 févr. 07, at 00:17, Louis Proyect wrote:

>> Since free software is made by a "from each according to their  
>> ability, to each according to their need" basis, it makes sense  
>> for Cuba to switch from Windows to Linux:
>>  http://apnews1.iwon.com//article/20070216/D8NB1EK05.html
> Has open-source lost its halo?
> Predatory tactics and opportunists lurk everywhere, critics charge
> By Eric Lai
> February 15, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Is open-source still a  
> grassroots social movement made up of idealistic underdogs trying  
> to revolutionize an amoral industry? Or has it become a cloak used  
> by IT vendors large and small to disguise ruthless and self-serving  
> behavior?
> Some observers argue it’s the latter. Despite occasional protests  
> from oldtimers -- the heated backlash against the Microsoft-Novell  
> détente, for example -- open-source has become so co-opted by  
> mainstream IT, so transformed by "accidental open-sourcers" simply  
> looking for a better business model, that it’s lost its cherished  
> moral edge.
> "Open-source has become a free pass for all sorts of competitive  
> actions that would once have been -- at a minimum -- roundly  
> criticized," wrote Gordon Haff, an analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based  
> Illuminata Inc. in an online piece last month.
> full: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do? 
> command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9011340

The whole article is confused. It totally fails to see the difference  
between free software and open source software. Free software can't  
be "windows only" because Freedom requires a free environment. So  
even GPLed soft only running on Windows can't be (and is not)  
considered free: cf the apps built on .NET 2.0. (see the FSF FAQ for  

The fact that open source is now (ab-?)used by big actors is exactly  
what open source leaders wanted. And that is the reason for the Free/ 
Open Source ideological split.

Personally I think it is good that thanks to open source more and  
more code is licensed under the GPL (the most used license) so that  
unwillingly, a lot of soft is being freed when the intention was  
maybe only to open its source. I don't think SUN's move to GPL Java  
(and maybe Solaris) is totally innocent though, but FOSS is probably  
the best way for them to very cheaply outsource a lot of cost  
intensive processes (including localization) while remaining cool in  
the eyes of a lot of non-political actors -including developers.

Communities want what is happening today _because_ FOSS is much more  
now than a few Linux based communities. FOSS is now arguably mostly  
present on Windows, thanks to the massive adoption of the Mozilla  
brand of software and of OpenOffice (as well as plenty of p2p soft  
and other more specialized soft like Gimp etc).

A huge number of software service companies now offer solutions for  
Linux based systems (including of course IBM, HP etc) and a growing  
number of small actors provide solutions for OOo based workflows.  
OOo's file format is now an ISO standard, which means even further  
adoption of the suite and of compatible applications.

The business model is simple: as I wrote above, outsource most of the  
low level technical activities (localization/testing/debugging/"bells  
and whistling" etc) and provide technical service.

But I think that in the end, the corrosive effect of volunteer  
communities will greatly influence the business of creating/selling  
software. Until now, communities were Linux based and pretty  
technical, because Linux requires a minimum level of understanding to  
participate, now that communities flourish on the Windows side where  
the tradition was not technical or organizational, I think we are  
going to see a lot of interesting developments. INcluding more and  
more people/developers shifting to the Free side of the open source  

Jean-Christophe Helary

More information about the Marxism mailing list