Freie und Open Source Software (FOSS) (OSP)

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Akademie, Kloster, Handwerk

Pekka Himanen

The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age

Die Fußnoten zu Platon (OSP)

Kooperationsmodelle (OSP)

Richard Sennett

The Craftsman Sennett: Handwerk

Julian Bell. New York Review of Books 55/16

At the same time, Sennett in his mid-sixties—now, by his own description, one of the "elderly" — is attentive to immediate contemporary concerns. Early in his argument's trajectory, the ongoing debates over Wikipedia fall within its penumbra. Is the wildfire expansion of that nonprofit reference Web site a trend to celebrate, or does it show that knowledge acquisition is succumbing to "part anarchy, part mob rule"? Does the incessant shuttle of volunteers' entries and editorial alterations amount to nothing more than an "online multiplayer irreality game," as a onetime editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica has alleged?

Sennett notes that Wikipedia has problems with the quality of its input, but the drift of his thinking comes to the Web site's support. For in principle, at least, it is an "open source" project, one that encourages its users to act as its codevelopers and that publically reveals, rather than conceals, the constant evolution of its content. As with the Linux operating system for computers, the trailblazer for "open source" models in software development, Wikipedia trusts to the good sense and goodwill of interested parties at large. The kernel of the Linux code "can be employed and adapted by anyone; people donate time to improve it."

That is the type of institutional model that Sennett, who inclines to some form of socialism, tends to favor. The foil he sets against it in this context is the Microsoft Corporation, with its secretive, proprietary approach to product development. By contrast, those engaged in "open source" projects such as Wikipedia put considerations of ownership behind them. Their signatures are not on display. Concentrating on the identification of problems and the exploration of fresh possibilities, their online chat is terse and content-packed. A "blunt impersonality turns people outward."

And in such a light Sennett, with a characteristically bold sweep of the hand, associates these networkers with the nameless potters, smiths, and weavers that Hesiod celebrated in archaic Greece, when he composed a hymn to their master god Hephaestus. "Open source" participants form a community of craftsmen to whom the ancient appellation demioergoi [literally, "public producers"] can be applied. It is focused on achieving quality, on doing good work, which is the craftsman's primordial mark of identity.

For Sennett, then, the "craftsman" across the ages has been a person who knows how to do "good work." What is good work? Answers to that question are what he constantly tries to find on his book's rarely beaten and sometimes rugged track of argument. He wishes to close in on a certain quality of activity, rather than on the particular social role that his chosen title might seem to denote.

Paul B. Schmidt, Berlin OSC 15 (2008)

Wie der Wirtschaftsethiker Ulrich Thielemann (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.2.08) sagt: „Nicht das Geldverdienen sollte die Hand führen, sondern der Wille, gute Arbeit zu verrichten“, verfolgt der amerikanische Soziologe Sennett die These, dass ein zentrales menschliches Bestreben sei, „seine Arbeit um ihrer selbst willen gut zu machen“. Das ist nun durchaus nicht immer ganz einfach, und eine Quelle der Unzufriedenheit kann das Fehlen dieser Möglichkeit auch bei hohem Einkommen sein. So berichtet Sennett von zahlreichen Linux-Programmierern, die es leid waren, für weitaus mehr Geld mittelmäßige Programme für eine größere Softwarefirma zu schreiben, die ihre Produkte beim Verbraucher testet. Sie entschieden sich, lieber auf Teile ihres Gehalts zu verzichten, aber die Chance zu haben, gute Arbeit zu machen, unter anderem dadurch, dass sie in der open-source-community mit anderen Programmierern kooperieren konnten, statt überwiegend in Konkurrenz zu anderen Leuten ihres Fachs zu stehen.

Auch an anderer Stelle waren solche Firmen im Vorteil, die z.B. bei der Entwicklung neuer Produkte auf Kooperation statt auf Konkurrenz setzten, denn ihre Produkte waren besser oder die Entwicklung verlief schneller. Gute Arbeit entsteht auch dadurch, dass die Entscheider alle wichtigen Informationen erhalten. Wenn in einem Unternehmen die Beschäftigten zwar Freundlichkeit und Teamarbeit simulieren, aber dabei wichtige Informationen zurückhalten, gerät es in Nachteil zu einem solchen, in dem bei allem Respekt vor dem Vorgesetzten in aller Deutlichkeit Kritik vorgetragen und auch gestritten wird, wie dies Sennett von einer Reihe japanischer Unternehmen darstellt.

Perlentaucher | The Guardian, Review | Kostis Velonis

frei versus offen

Das GNU Projekt

Freiheit, Richard Stallman

Getrennte Wege 1997

aus: Glyn Moody: Rebel Code S. 165ff

An important cat­alyst for these changes was the appearance of Eric Raymond's essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which he had finished in January 1997. "One of the first people I bounced the paper off was Erik Troan," Raymond explains. "He was a key developer at Red Hat, and a good friend of mine.


The conference took place in San Jose, California, on 20 August 1997. Larry Wall made his first idiosyncratic keynote, which bore the punning and yet descriptive title of `Perl Culture,' and Raymond read The Cathe­dral and the Bazaar. This time, Raymond notes, there was a subtle differ­ence to the response he received from that of the audience in Germany. "In the intervening couple of months," he explains, "the paper had spread through the culture so rapidly that at the Perl conference there was already a sense of celebration that hadn't been present in Bavaria, where it had nonetheless been received with "wild enthusiasm," as he re-calls.


O'Reilly decided to organize another meeting. "Late in the fall [of 1997] I started organizing a meeting for the spring, which was really this summit, which we called the Freeware Summit. Where I thought, gosh, let me just see if I can get the heads of these various well-known projects ... together and meet." Those heads included Linus, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Paul Vixie and Eric Raymond. Originally planned as a meeting for hackers who were based on the West Coast of the United States, it was later broadened to be more inclusive. Although not the only gap in the line-up—there was no representative from the free BSD variants, for example—the key name conspicuous by its ab­sence was that of Richard Stallman.

"RMS was not invited," Raymond explains. "I argued that he should be, and lost the argument. Tim O'Reilly and the other co-organizers thought he would disrupt the effort to achieve a consensus from which we could go forward." The exclusion turned out to be symbolic. As well as allowing the others to meet and swap experiences, the Freeware Summit signaled a key shift within that world and made explicit a tension that is still unresolved.

It all centered on the word "free" in "free software." For Stallman, free­dom is absolutely central to everything he does, and so there could be no question of choosing anything else. But even his admirers have trouble with the word, if not the idea. For example, Bruce Perens has described the GNU GPL as "one of the revolutionary documents of our century" But he acknowledges, "The word `free' is somewhat intimidating to busi­ness in that they think they can't make money if it's free. English has this problem that most of the time when we say `free' we mean without cost, and the way that Richard Stallman applies `free' to `free software' it means `with liberty.' So he was talking about rights not price; that didn't really come over."

A couple of months before the Freeware Summit, Raymond began looking for a new name that would be less ambiguous than the existing "free software." The trigger for this search was Netscape's announcement in January 1998 that it was releasing the source code for its Communica­tor browser suite (discussed in Chapter 11). In the wake of this move, Raymond saw that the free software community had a unique opportu­nity to exploit the media interest it had generated.

After visiting Netscape at its headquarters in Mountain View, Califor­nia, Raymond convened a meeting at the offices of the GNU/Linux hard-ware company VA Research, at that time also located in Mountain View, on 3 February 1998. "I put forward the proposition that we needed a new label that was less threatening to the mainstream," he remembers, "and we brainstormed it and we came up with `open source."'

Those taking part included Raymond; Larry Augustin, the CEO of VA Research; John "maddog" Hall, who was there by telephone for part of the meeting; Sam Ockman, from the Silicon Valley Linux User Group; and Christine Peterson, president of Foresight Institute. Raymond ex-plains, "The Foresight Institute [is] a bunch of thinkers who are con­cerned about nanotechnology," building machines on a molecular scale, "trying to bring it into existence, and trying to control it so that we use it properly." It was Peterson, he says, "who actually came up with the term `open source."'

One of the main items of business for the Freeware Summit organized by O'Reilly, which took place on 7 April 1998, in Palo Alto, was to find an alternative to the name "free software" that all the leaders present were happy to rally behind. Suggestions included not only the newly coined "open source," but also "freeware," "sourceware," and "freed software." After some discussion, a vote was held, and "open source" won.


The Open Source Definition lays down nine criteria that the distribu­tion license of software must meet to be called "open source." The first three — the ability to distribute the software freely, the availability of the source code, and the right to create derived works through modifica­tions — enshrine the basic characteristics that lie at the heart of the new software methodology. The other criteria spell out ancillary require­ments; for example, they ensure that the license does not discriminate against persons or groups or fields of endeavor (such as business), and they close loopholes that might otherwise be exploited.

In a press release issued before the Freeware Summit, the software pro­jects it embraced were called "freeware"; after the summit, another press release called them "open source" ("sourceware" was also mentioned). The reason given for the shift is significant: "While this type of software has often been called 'freeware' or 'free software' in the past, the develop­ers agreed that commercial development of the software is part of the picture, and that the terms `open source' or `sourceware' best describe the development method they support."

That is, the meeting represented a conscious attempt to make compre­hensible and acceptable to software companies what had hitherto been something of a fragmented and fringe activity. This was an important repositioning. The leaders present at the Freeware Summit had agreed that to drive the uptake of their software further they needed to adopt a more business-friendly approach—including an easily remembered and understood name. In other words, a brand.

Richard Stallman has always viewed this shift with alarm. "The open source movement is Eric Raymond's attempt to redirect the free software movement away from a focus on freedom," he says. "He does not agree that freedom to share software is an ethical/social issue. So he decided to try to replace the term 'free software' with another term, one that would in no way call to mind that way of framing the issue. "In the GNU Project," Stallman emphasizes, "we want to talk about freedom, so we continue to describe our software as 'free software'; we do not use the term 'open source.' Raymond hopes that using the term 'open source' will convince existing software companies to release useful programs as free software. This is useful when you can do it, but what our community needs most is to be full of users who value their freedom and will not easily let it go."

There was little that Stallman could do to prevent the others from car­rying out what amounted to a rebranding exercise. The marketing aspect of the summit had been one of the key considerations even while it was being planned. "As we thought about it," O'Reilly recalls, "we said, gosh, this is also a great PR opportunity — we're a company that has learned to work the PR angles on things. So part of the agenda for the summit was hey, just to meet and find out what we had in common. And the second agenda was really to make a statement of some kind about this was a movement, that all these different programs had something in common."

At the end of the summit, a press conference was held. Nothing could symbolize better the new approach than this phalanx of top hackers fac­ing the press for all the world like the board of some conventional corpo­ration. O'Reilly recalls that "the basic message was, you guys [in the press] are talking about 'are you going to beat Microsoft?' — and I said, look at these [open source] guys. Every one of them has dominant mar­ket share, with no money, nothing but the power of their ideas, and this new model. And I went down the list and said look, here's Apache, here's Sendmail, all these programs that are the market leader. I said, so tell me this isn't a winning model.""

Linus Torvalds: LINUXs History

Linus Torvalds: The Origins of Linux

Ragib Hasan: History of Linux

Eric Raymond Trilogy

Richard Stallman: The Free Software Movement and the Future of Freedom

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