Linus Converts to Islam
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
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
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
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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