Funny: Although I was the one who initiated the first Linux User group meeting I am now the first one that leaves. I have formed a new group entitled "Free Software". Some thoughts about the split:
In my view the heart of Linux is free software – but many of the Linux users in the SL Linux user group do not see it that way – they see any movement or push to open source as a danger for their usage of SecondLife. they do not see that the only reason why they can use Linux now is that some people like Richard Stallman once began to think that it does indeed matter what license a software is released. It was a hard work and often a tough fight to gain some ground. Finally Linux got some respect and free licenses where accepted as an alternative. Today it seems many users see a more radical approach to licensing like gpl-violations.org does as to being to offensive and harming Linux. They do not see those companies who abuse free software as those harming Linux! I do accept that users do often take a practical approach but I am sure we would not have gotten to the point of today if all Linux developers have thought like those modern, unpolitical Linux users did.
On LUGradio they also had once a dicussion why people always think that proprietary software is better than open source.
I think this has to do with some common misconceptions:
- If you pay nothing you can't expect anything. it's free!
- There are major implementations of Linux where millions of money is in the game. And also many, many users and companies are depending on good free software. Many would never use free software if they could not expect the software to work.
If you don't like, contribute code!
- This is also very popular within developer circles. There is not much sense that everybody contributes code. There are many aspects where software experience can be enhanced. People who can code will contribute. But it is better ifissues are discussed and either accepted or neglected. Then all sides no more afterwards. Discussing and arguing about issues is not popular but very important!
- If you don't like the software you use, switch!
- Sure I can switch. But should I? From a service perspective a user is a customer ans should be served right. A switch should be the last resort. A switch means that there is no way the user can make use of the software. Either this is because the software is useless or because the developers don't accept the users wishes. And even if you switch you will have the same problems
- If you don't like the software, make a version of your own!
- This is also very popular. Linux has about a dozen game engines and or RSS feed readers. To be honest there is not much use for anybody to start a new project. This can sometimes be a good idea if a company has other goals or if a developer has new creative ideas that the old developer core neglects. We have seen such thinks with Inkscape and with Galeon. This can be good, but it is often better if many people stick their heads together.
Summary: Just be able to use free software is nice, but if we don't do anything to keep it free or to promote it, it will disapear and that will cost us part of our freedom. I am frustrated about how many Linux users are ignorant to those ideas, although they use Linux every day. This for me looks like using Linux with the Windows attitude. Why do those use Linux at all? Just because Windows XP costs a licensing fee?It's important for the community to be strong against any outside forces to break up Free Software and to abuse the work that has been put into it. Free Software only has the respect for the developers that it requests – if this is neglected nothing will be left over. This is great harm to Free Software and Linux community because of disrespecting all the work. I hope this is not the approach of the new generation.
PS: What you think why it was some radical guy like me who started the SL Linux meetings ? Because these are the ones who do the community work. Without active people believing in Free Software Linux groups get hollow and soon make no sense.