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RE: [zzdev] Re: [zzdev] :gbg: Flame: User-hostile ethic of the Li nux community

> in Microsoft's interests to concentrate development expense on making
> thier products compatible with their competitors', nor should it be.

But I do not think it would be in Quark/Microsoft/Adobe's best interest to
make the file format specifications secret, either.  For example, Star
Office can read MS Word files, and there is no need to pay licensing or
anything for that (AFAIK).  In fact, I remember recently seeing a free
download on MSDN that described the Office 2000 file formats for people
wanting to write XSLT transforms, etc. to generate office docs as HTML.  So,
while the format is not designed by committee, and can be considered
proprietary in that sense, it's not as closed as one might think.

> I would ask you, if PostScript, TeX and Mozilla files are 

I like PostScript.  In fact, I think Acrobat is nicer -- certainly more
user-friendly that TeX or PostScript.  And now with XSL-FO and FOP/RenderX,
anyone can generate PDF files programmatically with much less effort than
other methods.  And Apple is now exposing User Interface through a PDF
programming engine; we live in interesting times.  Of course, HTML is the
best document exchange format for crude documents :-)

For more on where I'm coming from, I am an original Unix guy, and have
worked on Solaris, HP-UX, Irix and many others.  I was hacking my own Linux
kernels in '93, and was for a long time an op on #Linux, helping shepherd
new converts into the fold.  (Prior to Linux and the Internet, I used to
swap code samples with people on 300 baud BBS systems, the Internet has just
made collaboration and sharing easier).  Back then, no lines were drawn;
developers were just developers, and we all hung out together and flamed the
same things (mostly scientology in those days :-)).  Today you are
considered "dirty" to be associated with "proprietary" software, as if that
means anything at all.  We forget that we are not serving ideals, or causes,
we are serving users.  Commercial developers have always found ways to agree
on certain things being non-proprietary if it serves the user population (if
I open my specs and let others make compatible software, we can compete on
implementation and the users will experience more value in my software, thus
I make more money).  There is no black and white distinction between "free"
and "commercial", and neither way is right for all things.  To say
non-proprietary software advances the social benefits of software more than
does proprietary software would be a lie.  For example, the "Internet"
itself is seen by many to be a creation exclusively of the Unix world.  But
the Internet as a social phenomenon owes at least as much to Windows and
proprietary software.  Hypertext experiments were around before Mosaic, and
I would argue that the true explosion of the Internet depended on a
proprietary software called Netscape, and commercial platform called
Windows.  Would the Internet be a social phenomenon today if there had been
no Netscape, and Mosaic ran only on Unix?  Or another example would be
Napster.  Anyone can cite researchers who have envisioned P2P for years.
But it took one guy writing an app that ran on Windows to make a huge impact
on people's lives.  Would he have blessed as many people if he had coded to
Linux?  So in at least these two cases I see no proof that the FSF method
*alone* yields the greatest benefit for society.  "Free" software has it's
place, and always has.  So does commercial and proprietary software.  I
personally wish we could get the politics out of software and start focusing
again on providing as much value as possible to as many users as possible...

(talking for me only)