I recently got flamed for this post on misc@openbsd list. Basically I was suggesting that Linux developers have stood up against binary blobs before the recent position statement of kernel hackers. In my post I made some quick statements that were wrong due to some assumptions. I often write about things that i did not check myself 100%. One could say this is silly, but I think that this is often naturally. How much of what is in the news did I check? I don’t have a problem of getting things wrong. I have often made false statements in the past. My way to learn is through discussion and feedback. If I just read random statements I often can not see what is true immediately. I believe a good debate with strong opinions is often better to clear things up as when you do not tell what you think and just be what I was accused to be: A fanboy. At least Wikipedia thinks that a fanboy is:
“an individual who is devoted to a single subject in a fanatical manner, or to a single point of view within that subject, often to the point where it is considered an obsession.”
I would rather describe me as the opposit. For instance I have advocated projects like Fedora, GNOME and Foresight in the past but always kept my critical distance and never feared to get the heat of an opposing view. One bad side of my personality is that I seem to encourage people to react heavily on my statements. So I think maybe often thats rather the style of argumenting. If I would be a fanboy, I would advocate OpenBSD only as my new hero – but that is inf act what I do not do. So funnily I think most of the posters that argue back are fanboys in the sense that they do not accept any positive of GNU/GPL. Maybe thats also because of the history. People like Stallman, which I also think has done a lot for promoting free software has bee arguing silly on the very same list just some months ago. Stallman has questioned the openness of OpenBSD which just cant be questioned. It should be clear that no OS is more open than OpenBSD and to suggest something different is rather FUD.
Those who read this blog know that I admire OpenBSD more and more, so to define me as a GNU fanboy is plain wrong. I may not have investigated the real facts behind the “openness” of the EeePC – that was my fault, but all posters would have to agree that the Linux hackers indeed have stood up. Maybe not strong enough and maybe its also true that signing the NDAs has really hurt the open source matter more deeply – but still not all developers have done this and to criticize somebody for being to weak or to have done something wrong is something different as if people did not try or if they would have bad intentions.
I think its good to debate openly what is the best way to reach the goal of open driver documentations. Personally I believe and this is were most OpenBSD developers STRONGLY disagree that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. In the past I have been mobbed out of SecondLife LUG for demanding the opening of the client source code. That was when I learned that many Linuxers do not seem to value open source but take it for granted. I always like how Theo de Raadt openly demanded open documentation. I think the Linuxers have been too often too quiet. I think this might be because of a culture of benevolent dictatorship where Linus was leading with his approach of: “we do what works”. Linus is by far no free software advocate and thats a pitty because otherwise many drivers may have been more open than they are now.
I also think its important that Linux is being shown by other free OSes where it fails. my impression of Theos rant is that he got so emotional because he and many think that its unfair that Linux did get so much more media attention while in fact OpenBSD has the ‘better’ approach. I think it does, I am still learning, but I think that Linux really has some major failures. But its always a question how you see things. Sure Unix in itself is outdated – and Plan9 sure has driven the basic concepts to a more consequent point. What I dont like is the view that the fact of argumenting itself is seen as being offensive. I can accept that people get tired od some argumentation. I also am tired of some argumenting, for one I am tired of dogmatics that want you to be either foe or friend.
Sometimes I start thinking of why I am never convinced of a single concept and wish I would – but as soon as I learn more I begin to question what I just learned. I think thats the way you learn: Dont hide, speak out, learn – and try not repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Too many just echo the words of their leaders, thats easy. Everybody can echo – but only really understand what they are saying and only fewer do question what they say and think.
So again: I will never be anybodys fanboy, although I am advocating one or another project at a time. I am writing this here because it makes no sense to continue arguing in the thread, but it makes sense to share this experience.
PS: To those who think Theo is an idiot I would strongly disagree, he has founded and maintained a great project and he is still leading the open source community in very positive directions. Without him we would be missing a creat deal of energy and ideas. I rather like people who bluntly as those who keep their thoughts and act in the shadows. People who attac others openly give them the chance to react and to learn. I think Theo was much too emotional, but then again maybe he wouldnt do what he is doing if he wouldnt. I am often also emotional and this is what drives my own activism, though I try not to be too harsh with those unfamiliar with ideas of open source and anarchism.