March 24, 2019

From the Desktop: F Stands For FVWM95 and fOX Project - page 2

The Saga of the Evil Twins

  • November 14, 2000
  • By Brian Proffitt

In the publishing world, the response to twinning a work has traditionally boiled down to one thing: call the lawyers and sue someone for plagiarism or copyright violation. This response has long applied to literary work and in most cases software.

It was with this attitude that I first came upon the open source movement: an open-minded techie with eyes wide about all the cool stuff getting made out there, but very close-minded about the integrity of my own works.

In short, my first reaction to the open source crowd was "are they nuts?"

This is, I think, a valid reaction for many people who are used to having everything under the sun copyrighted and trademarked. Open sourcing sounds like some leftover hippie experiment from the Sixties.

After a while thinking these evil thoughts, I started seeing some of the real benefits of open source and began to come around to agreeing with many of its merits, particularly in the software arena. When it came to open-source publishing, I was still a little leery.

Keep in mind, my entry into the Land O' Linux was not escorted by any guide pointing the way to the works of Eric Raymond or Richard Stallman. At the time, my biggest concern was trying to get the sound card working on my machine. I was unaware of much of the complexities behind the creation of Linux and other open source software--I only knew it worked and it wasn't as buggy as Windows.

After a few months of some of this head down in the trenches mentality, I started looking around at some of more theoretical works around me. I immediately began wishing I'd seen some of this stuff earlier. And while I am no convert to the open source movement, I understand most of what it is saying and tend to agree with much of its principles.

I think that when we start bringing in newcomers to Linux, it is important we start pointing them to this stuff soon after we explain the third mouse button to them. Go show them gnu.org. Recommend The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Buy someone a copy of Running Linux. Even if you don't agree with what these works have to say, point them out to newbies anyway at the same time you're highlighting HOWTOs. Let them form their own opinions, just as you did.

Understanding this side of Linux will explain much of the technical side, like how it is that Linux Pro can be based on Red Hat Linux and still not get sued. Or how FVWM95 can look so much like FVWM2 and get away with it.

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