Tag Archives: linux

Free Software?

There is a controversial issue in the programming world that has been around for decades: whether it would be better for software to be free and open to everybody, or whether the current system of licensing and selling software is more beneficial. GNU (Gnu’s Not Unix) supports the former, whilst Bill Gates’ Letter to Hobbyists expresses the latter opinion.

While free and open software sounds tantalizing, there are serious drawbacks to the concept. Writing, debugging, and distributing software requires work – and the truth is, we live in a largely capitalist world where nobody does anything for free. Salaries and pay raises give people incentive to do the best work they can; without it, products that they churn out will be inferior at best. 

On the other hand, the power of the people is not to be underestimated. If software were made free to the public, and if enough competent people felt motivated to improve it, the results would not be unimpressive. However, these are big if’s. In the end it really comes down to your view on human nature; basically, if you handed a silver bracelet to the mob, would you expect to get it back spit-shined and clean, or would you expect it to be tarnished by the grubby hands of the masses?