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Thread: A No RMS Alternate Universe

  1. #1
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    Default A No RMS Alternate Universe

    Greed abhors a vacuum.
    If MSFT didn't exist, there are dozens of companies that could have taken its place.

    Stallman turning copyright on its ear as a force for good came out of left field and
    that has changed the world of software much more fundamentally.

  2. #2
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    Before Stallman and after Stallman, there were plenty of developers willing to produce non-commercial programs inspired by over priced commercial ones. The major change without Stallman would be that there would a lot fewer lawyers and publishers making loads of money convincing programmers that programming has no monetary value.

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    The only decent programs that have no monetary value are the very niche ones where charging for them would not supplement your other wages much so people do it as a hobby.

    Every industry is the same, they explode out of nowhere because of a new invention and dozens of companies are started to take advantage of it and eventually a few get enough market share to kill and swallow the others up. Sooner or later there is little need for creativity and advancement because of the cost to enter the market vs rewards so industry stagnates and just dies if something new takes its place.

    MS didn't become king because of DOS, there were other players providing it and all the major apps that ran on it were made by others. MS because king because they created Windows and allowed it to be pirated in the millions causing everyone to have to program for Windows giving MS time to create apps that eventually became good enough to kill market leaders who were either too slow to update their apps for Windows are did not come together to bundle their apps into a cost effective suite (MS office won because it had everything and was good enough).

    Linux being free was a good idea to get people to switch their OS once developers decided to code for it and make major apps people wanted. The problem was no developer wanted to make Linux apps because nobody would buy them. The only people who make money with Linux are the support people who keep somebody elses free apps running in a work environment (the internet).

    So even if MS didn't exist some other group would be MS because that is how things end up. Mature industries are just monopolies created because nobody has the money to jump in and shake it up mostly because they would rather bet on a new thing with other peoples money and win big.
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  4. #4

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    Despite what he seems to think, RMS didn't invent (sorry, pluck from the very eternal aether) the concept of public-domain software or community-driven development. All the actually important parts of the open-source movement would've coalesced out of the hacker and hobbyist culture eventually.

    That said, Linux probably wouldn't have happened when it did; interesting to ponder what the fallout from that would've been. Would the freenix world have coalesced around the BSDs instead?
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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post
    ...
    That said, Linux probably wouldn't have happened when it did; interesting to ponder what the fallout from that would've been. Would the freenix world have coalesced around the BSDs instead?
    I would think so, remember that Linux and * BSD we're coming up at the same time but that BSD was having legal issues. I think if those issues had not been there there would have been fewer Linux users and more BSD users. But I don't know which BSD, the were 2 that were at the top.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post
    Despite what he seems to think, RMS didn't invent (sorry, pluck from the very eternal aether) the concept of public-domain software or community-driven development. All the actually important parts of the open-source movement would've coalesced out of the hacker and hobbyist culture eventually.
    Agreed. RMS has a vastly-inflated sense of his own importance and influence. The reality is that everything he did would have been done by someone else, and probably at around the same time as things were already trending that way anyway, so he's not even special for getting there early. For example Europe had a thriving public domain software scene around the same time, which grew up almost entirely independently from the US hacker/college computer lab scene.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ncherry View Post
    I would think so, remember that Linux and * BSD we're coming up at the same time but that BSD was having legal issues. I think if those issues had not been there there would have been fewer Linux users and more BSD users. But I don't know which BSD, the were 2 that were at the top.
    It is because of RMS and the GPL that Linux did not have the same legal issues. And when presented with a serious challenge from SCO, it survived, not in a small part because of Linux's GPL and the policy of accepting only GPL-compatible code into the kernel.

    Certainly public domain code is not RMS' contribution. He created the GPL in response to what he felt was abuse (in spirit, if not by law) of public domain code by companies that benefitted from public code written by others, so that code tended to migrate from authors of public domain code into companies, but no improvements ever came back, even if the original authors requested it. Of course such behavior is not evil or illegal--it was expected of companies, especially at that time. So RMS created the GPL to set the rules for the code that he created, and encouraged others to join him. Saying that RMS contributed nothing is like saying that Steve Jobs contributed nothing to Apple. RMS is like Jobs and Woz rolled into one for the GNU project.

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