Freedom and open source is not for all

I have been living under totalitarianism for 15 years. And I must say, it was a great time. It was funny and joyful, because it was my childhood. I never wanted to live in a free country. In fact, I thought, I am living in a free country. I just did not know the taste of freedom.

But there were people that knew what is the taste of freedom and that the totalitarianism is a stinky place to live. Fortunately, there was the Velvet revolution in 1989 and the freedom came to my country.

Some time ago I found the free software and open source movement and frankly speaking, the more I know it, the more it reminds me the difference between totalitarianism and freedom.

The open source means for me

  • possibility to choose the best option for me. No restrictions given by “dictator”. But it also means responsibility for the choice that was taken.
  • possibility to go my way, not to follow the main stream. Possibility to select any minority software and be different and to take advantage of being different.
  • responsibility – one must be responsible for himself… and believe me, this is one of the hardest things in changing totality for freedom; changing proprietary software for free software.
  • annoyingly lot of choices. I know, it is an advantage, but this is one of the reasons why changing proprietary software for open source is so painful.
  • evolution – systems are built on other systems, different teams working on the same code, the best libraries survives. Seeing difference between Windows and Linux shows how strong is this principle.

On the other hand, closed source represents

  • simple life. Any feature either exists or does not exist. I do not have any impact on it. I always can say that the XY company made wrong decision.
  • hard life, once I really need something that was not “planned” by the proprietary software designer. Usually a workaround is needed, but it often made the resulting system more complex… and try to change any part of the proprietary code! You will have neither code of your system, nor support of the system.
  • no choice. Once I live in proprietary software world, I do not have much choices. The companies creates lock-in strategies and it is painful to change the vendor.
  • I do not have any impact on the functionality of the closed software. OK, one can write a mail to the company asking for a feature, but the result is the same like changing totalitarianism via “elections”.
  • massive marketing – the same is essential for any totalitarianism.

The most important thing I have learned about totalitarianism and freedom is simple: “People that were living the whole life under totalitarianism, does not understand the free people. People living the whole life in freedom does not understand the totalitarianism.”

And last, but not least: “For some people, living in totalitarianism is more simple and comfortable than living in a free country.”

So please, be patient and let the proprietary software users live in their world. Give them chance to free themselves and prepare them simple “escape tunnel”. And do not be angry if they stay with closed source software, because freedom and open source is not for all.

7 Responses to “Freedom and open source is not for all”

  1. warmcat Says:

    Interesting article, good English, but for one thing: “living in totality”—> “living under totalitarianism”.

    A key word I would add to your list of bulletpoints about Free vs proprietary is “control”. With FOSS control cannot be taken from you again, with proprietary you are under the provider’s control completely. If the product is deprecated or changed beyond recognition, tough.

  2. Roman Mackovcak Says:

    Thanks for the grammar corrections. Some words are tricky. I found the term totality in my dictionary, but it seems it was a special term.
    As the control, you are right. I saw it many times in my previous job. Good hint.

  3. Federico Fissore Says:

    Stunning post! Makes me think about advocacy… makes me realize I’ve probably wasted time

  4. Joe Vinegar Says:

    Quite enlightening. I’m impressed.
    Federico Fissore: advocacy is not wasted time as it is a way (“the” way?) to dig the “tunnel” to freedom. Maybe FLOSS is not for all, but without advocacy a lot of people won’t understand, or even know of it, and they’ll prevented from joining it or refusing it.

  5. Aníbal Rojas Says:

    Off Topic:This is just a quick note to invite you to register your blog at RubyCorner.com, a meeting place for people interested in the Ruby Programming Language or any of the related technologies. I would suggest using a custom focused on ruby/rails only.

  6. Payton Byrd Says:

    Free market (Closed Source) software operates in a free market where features and competition matter. If you want a feature, you vote with your wallet. I have not seen any OSS projects that are of any particular usefulness that actually elicit and implement the ideas of end users. Why? Because end users don’t buy support subscriptions. End users want to pay for something up front and be done with it.

    And if you think OSS is any more morally inclined than free market software, then you are mistaken. Only a handful of the people contributing code to OSS actually get paid for their efforts, and as such it resembles communism more and more. In communism, you get a stipend for doing for the country what you are “supposed” to do for the country. If you are lucky enough to become a leader of a bunch of nobodies, then you might make a turnips more. OSS is the exact same way, just minus the initial stipend!

  7. Roman Mackovcak Says:

    2 Payton Byrd:

    Not sure if I understood your comment, if so, it is quite aggressive.

    Open souce does not mean free of charge: see e.g. Atlassian products

    Closed source and open source operates on the same market. Be it free like in US or regulated like in China.

    Please, distinguish between communism and totalitarianism, kapitalism and freedom and democracy.