(Brandon J. Van Every wrote a very interesting essay on the
future of free software, "Freeware vs. Microsoft technology
Brandon warns us that the Evil Empire, investing its billions,
is likely to take over the world and leave us in the Linux
community with nothing. He neglects to point out that every
outside observer would say that this happened long ago; or
that Free Software has been considered an impossible (or silly)
dream by a rather large majority since before the name GNU
Who *should* we write software for?
We have always written software for ourselves.
Why *did* we write it?
Because we wanted it.
We will always have a system we can use to write the software
we want, and we will always write exactly the software we want
to have. If we try to break out of our tradition, and try to
anticipate what some other population wants, and code to that,
it will have two effects:
1. We would fail. Who the hell knows what somebody else wants?
2. We would disband. Who's going to write free software they
don't even want for themselves?
It's in day jobs that people write code they don't want, for somebody
they don't care about. (Not all day jobs, of course...)
The essential quality of the GNU community, and of Linux, is not
its graphics technology, or its internet pizzazz; fads come and go.
The essential feature of Linux is that you can build anything that
interests *you*, and join with anybody else who is also interested.
This is not to say that Free Software is invulnerable to attack.
Patent claims are a continuing threat. Hardware device interface
secrecy is a current nuisance, and could become much worse.
Commercial concerns siphon off a few of our best developers
But none of these threats requires us to become Microsoft-watchers,
and let them set our agenda. We are served best by noting, not what
the hype machine is boosting, but rather what we would like for our
own use, but don't have yet; and building it.