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.