Posted by: 2stepsback | October 4, 2007

Microsoft, well done!

At the time of writing this blog entry, the followng URL indicated that Microsoft has opened it’s .Net source code for viewing :Here is the URL
Read again :
Microsoft has opened its .Net source code for viewing.
However, it has cautiously named it shared source.
Wonder why.
Anyway, the other news is that Microsoft has also opened the code of WinCE(TM) only for viewing.
Again, the same thing that Java did about 5-7 years ago (or earlier, maybe).
The Java SDK always shipped with the source, so that you could
1. see the way experts code
2. see the way libraries are to be structured
3. see that intSomeReallyLongIntegralVariable was not as suitable or usable as i, j or k, and even “the gurus” 😉 who work for SUN would use simple language like i, j, k where necessary.
I know that many would say that this is exactly the opposite of what typical Java code looks like, but you really should see the sdk /src code before jumping to a conclusion.
In hindsight, that was the unofficial but top-quality programming training that Java gave for free.
Finally then, open source has arrived, well and truly. No more viral cancers!!

Linux and its true “free-FREE” minded folks (let us call it just that or maybe “doubly-free” or “free-double” or “freeeee!!” 😉 ) saw this very productive programming method, now called open-source, decades ago.
In polished language, it would probably be called “co-operative coding without malice”.
Simply, free and friendly.
But thievery would be rampant in such a scenario. To prevent that, a legal framework was needed to ensure that people did not spoil the free and friendly code co-operation culture. This was created by the GPL, or General Public License, for the first time in the 1980s.
The makers and contributors of GNU tools and UNIX programs knew that a bazaar is always better than a cathedral.

Even outside programming, bazaars (or marketplaces), form quickly, need nothing much in terms of infrastructure, self-organise, thereby removing the need for expensive control hierarchies and structures and generally let you roam about freely from one shop to another inspecting goods till you get the ones that are just the ones you are looking for.
If one village carpenter starts making too many demands from people for his goods, the other guy can always set up shop across the street and sell better goods at reasonable prices. People are not fleeced or coerced or forced into buying from just one shop.

That means,
open source and free software are actually the best tools to implement a free market economy with a healthy number of players and freedom from repressive and unfair regulatory or licensing regimes.
People, meaning users, in short, YOU, don’t have to bend to anyone’s diktat.
If a storm comes up, the Bazaar quickly wraps up much like a tortoise would retreat into his shell, or like beautiful creatures on the ocean floor quickly retreat inside to safety, and emerge only after the predator has left.
Again, reorganizing does not take time.
In short, the Bazaar model is authenticated by an authority no lesser than Nature!

A cathedral is very unlike a bazaar.
It takes months or years to build, is very expensive to build, needs an elaborate authority hierarchy, still can make massive blunders, both technical and ethical, and can be destroyed in one go by an expensive lawsuit or a strong legal ruling, and may take years to rebuild (Netscape, Turbos).

Who suffers in the interim?
YOU the user, who is forced to use whatever little is available in the interim.

So, if you are a wise user, you will support any and every program and project and user that follows the best bazaar model around.
The only set of laws that help keep the bazaar honest are those that mandate that no single entity can rob public property. Or, in other words, create a shortage of goods so as to fleece you, the user. That, today, is the General Public License or GPL.
Go read the preamble of the GPL, if not the full license.
See the intention behind it.
See the philosophy behind it.
Then decide for yourself whether the GPL is user-friendly or coder-friendly or both or neither.

But for my poor memory 😉 , I would have decided to always call the GPL “the most user-friendly open-source license around”.

Now that SUN has GPLed the Java language compiler and runtime, it is clear that GPL is indeed the way to go for platforms, languages and technologies.

In conclusion, the GPL now comes across as a Genuinely People-friendly License.