[Marxism] What's in a name? Linux vs. Stallman's GNU/Linux

Clay Claiborne clayclai at gmail.com
Thu Jan 2 11:09:32 MST 2014

On 01/01/2014 05:58 PM, Tristan Sloughter wrote:
> Relying on someones contributions to free and open source software is a
> problem with diversifying hires in Silicon Valley. 
More on why this is so wrong - from my own history.

I received the same 1975 issue of Popular Electronics announcing the
first personal computer, that prompted Bill Gates to drop out of college
and start Microsoft, in fact, I still have it. But unlike Gates, I
couldn't even afford the $500 entry cost to start building a system.

I remember trying to buy parts and ask questions about that time at Jade
Computer's in the South Bay. The snobby white boys that ran the store
clearly exhibited the attitude that this stuff was beyond the purview of
a black man, and were most insulting and unhelpful.

Economics and white chauvinism proved to be major barriers to my entry
into this industry, nonetheless, I formed my own computer company,
Cosmos Engineering in 1984. Still the barriers remained, especially the
economic. I couldn't really learn UNIX because even a low-cost UNIX
system was more than I could afford and my ability to learn programming
was limited by the high costs of a C compiler, VB compiler and the other
programing  tools from MS or other non-free sources.

Then came Linux. I jumped on board late in 1995 and never looked back.
Suddenly there was a full fledged UNIX-like system that I could afford
to build and it came with source code - something that cost a small
fortune for other OS's, if they would sell it at all. And suddenly the
programming tools, and ANSI compliant C++ compiler and much more could
be downloaded for free. And there were HOW-TO's that explained the
technology in simple practical terms, and people willing to help you learn.

Also, when the big money came rolling in, it was widely shared. In
recognition of my contributions to Linux, Red Hat Software included me
in their "Friends and Family Program" when they did their IPO. It was
the sweetest money I've ever made. Even before that, RH would recommend
my competing product, Linux On A Disk, if they thought it was a better
fix for the customer, even though I used Red Hat on the disk without
paying them penny one. Think "Miracle on 34th St." with Macy's sending
people to Gimbel's. There was a lot of that in the open source community. 

White chauvinism was still to be found in the open source movement but
it was noticeably less and consciously struggled against, similar to
what I have found in the white left over the years.

What was true for me was true also for other non-white people and women,
and even more so for 3rd world nations all around the globe. China,
Mexico, Peru and Brazil, among many others, have saved exporting
billions to US corporations thanks to Linux.

Maybe this will help to explain why I am so passionate about this
subject and get livid when I hear somebody claiming to be a Marxist
saying that open source software in a problem for diversity. 

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