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Linus Converts to Islam

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Linus Torvalds, joining such other pioneers as Cat Stevens, and Sammy Davis Jr., has converted to Islam. As a result, he has now renounced his prior work in furthering the “open source movement” and revoked the licence for use of his Linux kernel.

When reached for comment, the notorious recluse stated that he aims to re-issue the licence in the near future once the kernel has been adapted so as not to function with uses which are contrary to Islam as he interprets it. What future remains for the GNU project remains unclear, although insiders note that it sharpens the distinctions between the open source compared with the free software movement. Speaking off the record, the source expanded on the “knife-edge” or “house of cards” on which the open source movement is built, dependent on a small span of traditional rights, whereas the free software movement encourages more broad, cultural change, which, he felt, may inspire new ways to address the current conundrum.

When asked if this is the beginning of a macro-fragmentation of Linux some wonder if this is not already occurring now, and raise the issue of China and its parallel standards to accepted protocols. Others point to the eventual expiration of the protected rights which are key to all “open source” software, so that Linus Torvald's conversion should serve as a wake-up call as to the broader problem — a kind of Linux Y2K — even if a new kernel is reverse-engineered to replace the Torvalds kernel.

One free software ideologue summarized the current situation as that most people think of the relationship between the open source movement and the free software movement as like that between socialism and communism. Instead, he argues, we should see the open source movement as like boosters of movable type (as both spread a form of technological literacy.) The free software movement, in contrast, promotes the culture of public libraries, including with respect to software. Obviously public libraries benefited from movable type, but they are not limited to such productions, he added. How much publishing drives reading patterns or reading drives publishing patterns is an open debate, he concluded, although he suggested an historical review of that dynamic might be fruitful in suggesting new interactions between open source and free software, as competing views.

Critical of the Eric Raymond model, which he says examined an empirical case, the early growth of Linux, and distilled what he took to be the active ingredient — massive independent peer review — he points out that while such review may help debug software, that it doesn't inspire software (nor new ideas in general) unlike a culture of freedom such as free software promotes. Additionally, open source only promotes peer review of those who can afford access, whereas the free software movement encourages a much wider peer review, and “that's just better for software too,” this insider claims.

Moreover, whereas the Raymond model is an outgrowth of an empirical case, stalling actions in the inexorable development of software suggest to developers that a revision of the model may be in order, with these hiccups as the new empirical case to consider.

Both the open source and free software movements were built by those with a certain playfulness, both in computer terms, and linguistically. One new proponent suggests that the time is right for a new challenge, which he terms, “often aims.” This manifesto he derives as follows: habitual and often are synonymous, as are goals and aims. Whereas a manifesto is a statement of habitual goals, this translates as that a manifesto is a statement of often aims, of which manifesto is its anagram.

The often aims movement suggests that the open source and free software movements are in a cultural cold war as to whether the way of thinking on rights expiration day will indulge non-restricted licensing when the legal protection will be absent.

The often aims perspective in considering the free software movement as a cultural concept to spread, sees it as offering some hope that when those licenses expire that the way of thinking within the world will see the benefits of preventing restricted licenses.

The open source movement, with a culture based only on entwined interests, seems more likely to fracture at that time, he notes.

Right now though is the critical time so that the free software message is in place for when that day arrives.

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