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RE: Why Would Fedora be Free ? Can it be Trusted?



Thanks...

-----Original Message-----
From: fedora-list-bounces redhat com
[mailto:fedora-list-bounces redhat com] On Behalf Of Rodolfo J. Paiz
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 12:42 PM
To: For users of Fedora Core releases
Subject: Re: Why Would Fedora be Free ? Can it be Trusted?


At 06:57 5/12/2004, Benjamin J. Weiss wrote:
>From: "Chalonec Roger" <Chalonec Roger pbgc gov>
>
> > 1.  Why is fedora free and why would people work on it for free?

Some additional comments to what others have said here.

Linux started out as a hobby, a free project just for fun. Its license
was 
written by the GNU Foundation to ensure that the software could be
legally 
modified or changed and redistributed in any way, with the ONLY
CONDITIONS 
that the source code be made available as well and that any
modifications 
carry the same license. This was done so that people wouldn't steal the 
work the hobbyists did.

That "hobby" became so successful that it turned into a major operating 
system, which now powers about 70% of the Internet's websites, a huge 
percentage of installed business servers, and a growing percentage of 
desktops. But the license still requires that people be able to see and 
modify the source code and that modifications be contributed in the same

way. So it keeps growing and improving... it's a fun thing to do for a
lot 
of people, but it has also grown to be such a useful tool that people
work 
on it also so they can use it in their business.

For example, the commercial people who make firewalls such as Firewall-1

run their products on Linux because it is robust, stable, secure, and
they 
can see and audit all the source code so it is a solid base for them.
And 
since Linux costs nothing, they can make more profit on their product.
So 
they have an incentive to see Linux grow and improve even if they do not

profit by selling Linux itself.

>Linux Torvalds wanted [...]

Err, that should be "Linus."

>That's one reason why I used to volunteer for the Red Cross and am now 
>in the National Guard.  Not everybody's motivated by money.

In addition to that, not all money/profit motivations are direct. As I 
mentioned above, firewall vendors can make more profit on their products
by 
basing them on Linux, and they have an incentive to improve Linux so
their 
products get better... so they *do* make more profit because of Linux
(by 
not having to pay Microsoft for licenses) even though they do not sell 
Linux itself.

As another example, I help run three small businesses. All of them use 
Linux for their servers (mail, web, database, etc.) and so far Linux has

saved me *at least* $15,000 in Microsoft license costs. That is a fact
and 
a cold hard number. I am very motivated to help Linux grow and continue
to 
be free, since it will continue to save me money (and therefore increase
my 
freedom, my happiness, *and* my profit).

> >2.  Some people are concerned that since Fedora is open source that 
> >they  don't know where the software comes from so they can't trust 
> >it.  How  can they trust it?

The argument is silly, and just downright stupid. People are willing to 
trust Microsoft even though you are not allowed to see the program, even

though they could do anything with your computer and not tell you, even 
though they have been shown to attach tracking numbers to your
documents, 
even though they have been shown to send identifying information about
your 
computer to themselves during the registration process, even though they

have a TERRIBLE security record. Why? Because they know the name 
"Microsoft" and because it costs money... and in the USA, due to the
mostly 
mistaken perception that you could sue them if you wanted.

In Linux, you can see and read *all* the source code, and tens of
thousands 
of people *do* read source code. So nothing gets in there that
shouldn't, 
and no one plays any tricks. You know *exactly* where each piece of 
software comes from since someone maintains it and their name and email 
address are always available. All code is audited and checked by Red
Hat, 
the Debian Group, Mandrake, IBM, Novell, and hundreds of other groups.
The 
security record is excellent.

So Linux is transparent, readable, auditable, open, and the origin of
every 
little bit of code is clear. HOW can someone possibly say that this
system 
is *less* trustworthy than Windows, with code you've never seen and
never 
will see, and where one company *can* play secret tricks on you. Never
mind 
whether they do or not... they point is that they can, and how are you 
going to know?

By definition, Linux must be *easier* to trust than Windows.

> > 6. Ostensibly Redhat offered free versions of Redhat Linux because 
> > they could make a profit on support.  Now Redhat has built a market 
> > and Redhat is no longer free.  What is the profit motivation of the 
> > Fedora group and persons/orgs who make software contributions to it?

> > (By the way, there is nothing wrong with profit.)

You are making a wrong assumption: "...ostensibly Red Hat offered free 
versions of Red Hat Linux because they could make a profit on support."
The 
error is in assuming that this was Red Hat's only motive. Of course Red
Hat 
wanted to make money on support, but there are surely other, additional,

motivations as well. For example, by distributing free copies of the
Linux 
operating system and a group of tools to work with it:

         * More people would use it, more people would choose to work on

it, and more bugs would be found more quickly. So the software improves 
more quickly with more users.

         * They provide a social service to those who cannot afford to
buy 
the software. Think about the entire world, not just the middle-class
USA. 
How many of the 6,000,000,000 people on Earth can afford to pay for 
software licenses? Less than 10%, really.

         * They honor their moral obligation to contribute something
back 
to the Linux operating system which, by being available at no cost,
allows 
them to make a business selling support.

Remember this: Red Hat did not offer Linux for free to make a market for

support. No! In fact the opposite happened: the only reason Red Hat is
able 
to sell support services is because Linux is free. :-) Of course they
have 
put an enormous amount of work into improving it... but again we go back
to 
profit and non-profit motives being less clear than you thought they
were.

As another comment regarding motives, several countries around the world

have passed laws saying that it is an issue of national security for
them 
to know what code is in their software, and to know for sure that no one

can change the file format and force them to upgrade. Issues of national

security, cost (think about how saving millions on software licenses 
impacts a poor country in South America or Africa), openness and trust, 
freedom and liberty, open systems... these are all discussed frequently.
So 
having the freedom to choose and not being tied to a single supplier is 
also an intensely strong reason for people to contribute to Linux all
over 
the world.

As a strong example, proof that Linux is secure, and that its software
can 
be audited and trusted can be seen by the Communist Republic of China 
adopting Linux as their operating system of choice. They trust nothing
and 
no one, but they do trust Linux. If the Most Paranoid Countries on Earth

[tm] use Linux to make sure no one is snooping on them, isn't this a
good 
enough argument for you too?

Cheers,


-- 
Rodolfo J. Paiz
rpaiz simpaticus com
http://www.simpaticus.com


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