Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 28 - Open Source Options

August 10, 2006 Comment on this post [7] Posted in Podcast
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My twenty-eighth Podcast is up. This episode is about the Open Source Community. This is a pretty open ended talk, as there really isn't an easy solution.

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This show was FULL of links, so here they are again. They are also always on the show site. Do also remember the archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature.

Links from the Show

Blog: Is Open Source A Crap Idea? (h73)
Open Source: Free as in "Free" (h77)
Free as in Beer (h7c)
Blog: Patching with CVS/Diff Files (h74)
Free like a Puppy (h79)
Open Source Licenses (h7d)
Blog: Patching an OS Project (h75)
The Free Software Definition (h7a)
Problems in OS Licensing (h7e)
Free Like a Flower (h76)
Categories of Free and Non-Free Software (h7b)
WP: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (h78)

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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August 10, 2006 20:13
I don't know how you did it, but I'm starting to listen to these. I *told* you that I don't do Podcasts. I'd prefer to just read as podcasts take up more time which is fleeting.

But NOOO, you had to discuss such interesting topics that I cannot NOT listen. (yes, double negative, live with it).

Damn you.
August 11, 2006 0:26
I think that CodeSmith coupon has expired. At least that's what someone from CodeSmith told my manager when he tried purchasing a copy from the site
August 11, 2006 0:39
I'd like to submit a patch to this blog post (I didn't see any place to submit bugs though).

The 12th word (13 if you consider hyphenated words to be 2 words) in the body of the post should be Open, not Option. Could you do a post sometime on the procedure for submitting a patch so I don't have to post a comment like this? ;)

Seriously though, thanks for the walk-through post on using TortoiseSVN and Subversion to contribute to the open source community.
August 11, 2006 0:58
Scott I really really really appreciate your taking up the cause for OpenSource! It's a major endeavour to keep these projects going, and your walkthrough of creating a patch is awesome.

I'm lucky enough with the CSK ( to have some great volunteers (like Chris Cyvas, Mark Schiavetta, and J Sawyer) - I hope they keep coming! Articles like yours will hopefully inspire them.

Chris recently posted a nice idea on his blog (DasBlog of course) about a "1% Pledge". It's a pretty cool idea...
August 13, 2006 7:25
I ran across a forum thread where two guys were aguing which license is more 'free', MIT/BSD versus GPL. The main difference being that you can take MIT/BSD code, package it up, and sell it in a retail box if you want -- there are basically no restrictions whatsoever.

-- You, and the people supporting licenses like MIT, use a definition of 'freedom' that maximizes choice for the largest number of people, optimizing across the *first* round of choices after you release the license. That trades-off more choices for more people about what to do with the licensed code today for a risk that subsequent changes may permit fewer choices for some people in future. Nothing wrong with that, and there are plenty of people out there who use a similar definition.

-- Stallman and the people advocating GPL use a definition of 'freedom' that maximizes choice for the largest number of people, optimizing across *all future* rounds. That trades-off a reduced immediate 'freedom' for some (the GPL restrictions you mention) for a guarantee of the same amount of 'freedom' for all people in all future rounds. Despite your personal FUD, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, either. And clearly, there are a lot of people who use a similar definition.

Despite what you may think, this doesn't mean that MIT is better than GPL -- or that GPL is better than MIT -- or that BSD is better than Linux -- or even that Betamax is better than VHS ;-). It is literally impossible to predict which strategy will result in greater total 'freedom' without making some pretty strong assumptions about (a) the relative size of the first v. subsequent-round audiences, (b) the proportion of each audience that would actually want to do something contrary to the license in question if given the opportunity, and (c) the current context and future direction of the particular OS application and its community.

In other words, both options maximize choice for an arbitrarily large group of people: they just each define the group differently. And as both economists and psychologists can tell you, when used in a predictive capacity, those two strategies are more a matter of individual taste than right v. wrong. Some people ride motorcycles off-road without helmets; others won't get out of bed unless the insurance policy is paid-up. Taste for risk varies, as does future-orientation.


With me, personally, the license is secondary to the community around the project. But all things being equal, I probably feel a little bit 'safer' contributing to an GPL project. The reason is, I know that the core team of committers isn't just going to take the code with my work in it, package it up in a box, and stop releasing future generations of it to the public, leaving me stranded. But generally, if I'm committing to a project it's because I like the community, and I rarely consider the differene between GPL and BSD in that context.
August 13, 2006 7:28
Whoops, the quoting isn't very obvious there. I hope it's clear that the 'You' there is not referring to anyone on this site! It's just an artifact from the argument. The quoted text was supposed to be -- You, and ... future-orientation.

August 16, 2006 4:40
Great stuff!

Keep it coming.

Hooked on Hanselminutes!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.