Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cool blog on the problems of freetards

There is a cool blog entry on the problems of the attitudes freetards have, and the issues with “free content”. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and the new economy hasn’t changed that.

People who think open-source software (OSS) makes it possible for all content to be free don’t understand how OSS changes the relationship between the developer and the user. A lot of people think an OSS program is like a commercial program, but free, and that they can ask for features or get support for free, and it gets pretty tiring to have people email me asking for free support, even though I make it clear that I don't provide free email support for my program.

The thinking behind OSS is that I donate some of my coding time and effort to the greater community. In return, people are free to contribute bug fixes or improvements to the program, or supply support on the mailing list. For example, someone wanted better IPv6 support, supplied patches, and now MaraDNS has good IPv6 support. Another person wanted better Windows service support, and supplied patches to make MaraDNS’ new recursive core be a full Windows service. Other people answer user's questions on the mailing list or translate documentation. Webconquest very generously provides me a free Linux shell account and hosting for the web site.

Likewise, I found an OSS Doom random generator I liked and provided bug fixes and improvements to it; when I lost interest in it, another person became the maintainer and improvements continue to be made even though I no longer work on that code. And, there is a Free Windows Civilization clone for Windows which I have provided a bug fix and extended the documentation with.

OSS doesn’t mean we have the right to demand all content be free or that we are justified in pirating media and software. OSS means that we can, together, make free content which complements the for-pay content out there.