Metaprogramming and Free Availability of Sources
Tue, 29 Jun 1999 20:49:38 -0700 (PDT)

> > > it. Therefore, the users should be allowed to see what the software
> > > actually /does/, so that they can judge for themselves the quality of
> > > the software and decide whether they want to use it or not. Without that
> > 
> > this is silly. people don't look at the source code to open-source programs
> > before they run them to check to see if they're high-quality or not. the
> > best way to tell if a program is high-quality is by running it (you don't
> > need the source code for that).
> I didn't express myself correctly. What I meant (and what RMS has
> pointed out over and over) is that Free Software /allows/ the user to
> see or change the source, if he wants to or if he deems it necessary.
> E.g., a user can fix bugs for himself, can modify functionality, etc.

yeah... that's right. having the source code definitely is great for that.

> > > Without that kind of requirement, incidents can happen... like the Ken
> > > Thompson/original UNIX CC fiasco (see the Jargon File for details).

heh heh ... actually, it sounds like having the source code for the compiler
actually didn't help much. but i get your point; sometimes it is nice to have
the source code.

> > i certainly wish we didn't have copyright, patent, and trademark
> > laws; however, as for a software-writer's choice to offer his source-code,
> > i don't think we need government intervention. remember, you don't have
> > to use software without source code if you don't want to...
> I agree, especially on the last point; I'm a rational self-governist,
> and strongly despise anything that smells of government interventionism.
> Nonetheless, in a perfect world the high-quality Free Software would be
> widely accepted (because of quality, user freedom and price) to the
> detriment of proprietary blowware; but the FUD and propaganda as spread
> by the large Big Brother-ish companies (I'm not going to name any names)
> have great mindshare effect, and thus exert [sic] much more power on the
> marketplace right now. So it's necessary that some action be taken to
> change that - not government intervention, but maybe some kind of
> awareness campaign akin to what ESR et. al. are doing with the OSI.

exactly. the marketplace doesn't always choose the best product
(dvorak vs. qwerty keyboards are another good example in the
computer area), but there are better ways for changes to occur than
government intervention, such as awareness campaigns as you mentioned,
and, in the case that change is difficult (especially if you're the only
one to make the change), coordinating organizations (with voluntary 
members) could be used to say "when", although in the case of dvorak 
keyboards, awareness has probably not reached the necessary level, and 
large-scale coordination would probably no longer be necessary anyway, 
because keymappings can be easily changed in software (although the
problem still remains of the typists relearning; of course, government
intervention couldn't help this either). i'm not aware of any such
coordinating organizations actually in existence, but they seem
like they could be a very good replacement for government force
in some areas. certainly, industries already coordinate with each other,
but such coordinating organizations could extend this by incorporating
the small-scale consumers into the coordination as well... 
> Peace,
> Kaufmann


- iepos