[OT] RE: [Israel.pm] Are we open source advocates ?

Offer Kaye oferk at oren.co.il
Sun Jan 4 04:35:42 PST 2004

Hi David,
I found your comments very intersting and wanted to reply to some of them,
however this is off-topic for this list which is why I put [OT] in the
subject. Poeple interested only in Perl can stop reading here... :-)

> I am not an open source advocate. There is a place for open source, and
> we work with open source code when applicable.

You're right, working with open-source software (OSS), or even I would
imagine with actual *code* from open-source projects, does not make one an
advocate of open-source -- only releasing code under some OSS license and/or
publicly supporting OSS makes one an advocate. I am basing this on the
definition of the word "advocate", as given by the Merriam-Webster
dictionary (http://www.m-w.com/):
advocate, noun:
	2. one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal

My interpretation:
* maintains - releases code
* defends - publicly supports

> However, I don't
> encourage anyone to include open source code (especially under the GPL)
> in their projects.

The GPL is only one form of open source license. See the following page for
many more approved types:
I'm sure you'll notice that Perl's very own Artistic License is also there.
That out of the way, what have you got against open-source code in projects?
If it's not under the GPL license but rather under the BSD license (for
example) is it okay?

> If someone wants to contribute to an open source
> project, well hooray!

Interesting- are you *sure* you're not an open-source advocate? :-)

> I think it costs just as much (if not more) to
> work with an open source project rather then build a project on
> purchased, licensed, and supported code.

That statement deserves a long email all by itself :-)
I'm not sure what you mean, whether you meant:
1) integrating open-source code into a project, or
2) using an OSS tool in a project.
There are arguments both for and against both points, but see the many Perl
success stories for good examples of where OSS used in major projects (both
as in point 1 and point 2) helped to lower costs.

> Perl is an exception and exceptional. It is very easily integrated into
> open source and commercial projects without violating the license.

Perl is exceptional, no argument there :-)
But not because of its license- or at least not only because of it. There
are many other OSI approved licenses which are "very easily integrated into
open source and commercial projects without violating the license".

> I
> think that comparing Perl to an open source project like Linux is like
> apples and oranges.

You're right- but not in the sense you mean. Linux is an OS, and Perl is a
programming language. It makes sense for the license for each to be
different, and I for one am very happy with the respective licenses of each.
But just because Perl uses by default the Artistic License does not make it
any less open-source. It does perhaps make it less *free*, as in the
definition given by the GNU Foundation, but we were talking about
Open-Source Software here, not Free Software.

> Personally, I have never contributed to the Perl language or CPAN. I'm
> not sure I have anything of value to offer, as I mostly write scripts. I
> have posted my product specific scripts to the public, but they are only
> of interest to about 100 people in the whole planet.

How do you know they are only interesting to about 100 people?
Where are they? I tried Googling your name but couldn't find your

Have you ever had a friend ask you "How can I do <something>, and answered
'Perl' or 'linux' or 'apache' or 'MySQL'"? If yes, you just advocated an
OSS. It doesn't matter you weren't advocating OSS itself, like Gabor said,
we are interested in what gets the job done, and in many cases, OSS gets the
job done. It would be great if you came to believe in and support OSS for
the philosophical reasons, but that is not a prerequisite.
If you do become converted, contributing code is not the only way to
contribute- submit bug reports, go to community meetings, spread the word,
heck, go wild and contribute $10 to your favourite OSS project :-) there are
many ways non-programmers can contribute...

> Because I made four
> scripts written in Perl freely available, does that make me an advocate
> of open source? Of course not. It simply makes me a show off, and expose
> myself to criticism.

The desire to "show off" is the second most important reason for
open-sourcing software for most people, so don't dismiss it so casually (the
first reason is of course to scratch an itch :-). As for "expose myself to
criticism" -- this is one of the great virtues of OSS- it maked it better.
So again, not a negative thing.

> And that is the intent of Perl, to get the job done, with no strings
> attached. It doesn't require us to advocate open source.
> -David

Right, it doesn't. But perhaps, one day, you'll appreciate that Perl, Linux,
Apache, MySQL and all the other great tools we've grown used to having and
using would not and in fact *could not* exist without the Open-Source (and
Free Software) movement, and perhaps, you'll find yourself wanting to
contribute a little something back, or like me, you'll find yourself
advocating Open Source in an email :-)

Offer Kaye

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