A post by Bradford White as reported by LXer has a fear that the new AppStream project will create a mono culture which makes everything boring and everything a corporate decision.
I wanted to make a post about my thoughts on three separate issues raised in Bradford’s post, some of which I think were raised unintentionally.
We must fight consolidation!
When industries consolidate, we, the consumer of these industries products loose out. The reduced competition in the market place causes inevitable rises in prices and eventually leads to monopoly situations. So, the theory goes, if in my gut I need to fight off consolidation, then I must be fair and fight any attempt to unify the code used for Linux/FreeDesktops.
The problem with this sentiment is that it’s wrong. When an industry consolidates it’s combining production and reducing market sellers. When multiple system distributions opt to use the same package management software, they are adopting a standard. In fact for free and open source this is more a kin to another industry deciding to take up a mechanical free and industry agreed standard.
Fear not! Consolidation of standards, formats and free software code bases is a good thing and should almost always be welcomed.
But We Should Hate Corporate Interests Right?!
The anti-corporate movement is another reflection of the modern age of corporate abuse and government corruption. But I think it’s application in free software is misguided and worse a distraction. So long as the code and projects being worked on by any corporation (Red Hat and Canonical included) are free software. I don’t think their interests are anything more than a much more honest reflection of their economic situation involving a complex dynamic between their investment stratedgies and their customer’s demands.
More important is to pay attention to where free software is being contorted. I speak of course of closed project development practices (android), required code assignment (ayatana, unity) and branding and platform control (Canonical/Ubuntu). These things are normal done for honest enough reasons, but of course that’s why we have to speak up when they’re implemented in ways that harm the free software ecosystem and culture. They’re most certainly wrong and we must work out ways to fix them without breaking the bugs they were brought in to fix. But then that gets you back to corporate interests…
But Making Things Easy Will Make Things Harder!
There is a growing backlash against the design movement from seasoned linux admins/users. The theory is that as development is funded and the funding is focusing most strongly on making things easier for the new users, that all the old tools and methods will be neglected as their economies fall apart.
I know some tools are rubbish in design and probably should be replaced. Things like find and gnupg are the extreme examples of inhuman interface design. But just because money is following design at the moment, doesn’t mean it isn’t also following functionality. The thing we have to be most aware of, is that in our free software ecosystem we’ve had an abundance of good functionality for so long, that the design has been neglected.
And besides, if there is enough people who want certain tools to exist and work in certain ways, then there will always be a distribution or tool-set providing just that set of functions in just that way. Our objective as geeks is to make sure we never loose the ability to form communities around those ideas.