Sunday, October 20, 2013

Opensource pragmatism

I just wanted to revisit the discussion of software as dogma.  I think it is very important that the open source community get the preference when the software is equal to or better than the closed source version.  But when the closed source version is well ahead of any open source competition, there is a requirement as a professional that I am as effective and efficient as possible.

Yes, this is a declaration that I use closed source software.  Absolutely NEVER when I can avoid it, but always when it is a difference between doing my work/play well.  If I have to get something done and it means I have a binary blob in my Linux installation, then so be it.  Most of us make these compromises often with flash or java as a start, many more even with binary blobs for video drivers, skype and more.  So while I am an open source advocate and recommend transitions to linux and migration from corporate systems for infrastructure to open source servers and software.  But only where they are equal or greater than the closed source solution.

I don't want this to sound like I don't have respect for young software projects who are struggling to reverse engineer and create the replacement software.  I do have a vast respect for the persons who, scratching their own itch are looking to produce the open source alternative, and I've contributed to a couple of those projects in the past doing documentation and testing (I can't program).  I know how daunting and huge such an activity is.

I just wanted to write this post since I've heard, more than a few times, in the last months very derogatory statements against members of the community who participate and contribute just because they have a windows computer for playing video games.  And I have a strong sensation that most of the people to are very critical of that, probably have already binary blogs on thier own systems and that makes them hypocrites, even if the insults are being cast at the wider OS level of consumption, my argument is that a little closed source is just as bad as a lot.  So, unless you are running GNU Hurd linux on your system, then you probably need to silence any condescending remarks to any of the open source community who do use a Mac or Windows for specific tasks that fall outside the area of expertise and excellence by the closed source community.

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