March 20, 2001, 4:21 PM —
My criticism of the Debian installer in the slink-and-a-half release passed out at LinuxWorld Expo drew a lot of fire from the Debian faithful. I stand by what I wrote, but I will admit that, as a result, I've tried to shy away from red-button issues for this week's piece. I went looking for a safe topic. A respite from abuse. Something so boring that nobody would get riled up about it. Something like free and open source software licenses, for example.
The motivation for the topic came from a recent article by Dave Winer entitled "What is Open Source?" The URL is in the Resources following this column. I found Winer to be way off the mark in answering his title question as well as in a few of the conclusions he reached.
Winer is a bright, literate software professional. At first blush I thought his negative tone about open source and his confusion about the topic were simply the result of classic ingroup vs. outgroup thinking: a legacy programmer writing proprietary code versus the free and open source revolution that is turning the software world on its head. That and perhaps a bit of fear about the inevitability of free software and the impact that might have on his economic well-being.