- Capitalism and Alternatives -

A GNU anarchism emerges

Posted by: bill on September 03, 1999 at 12:21:27:

Sometimes examples of anarchism simply emerge, without management planning or fanfare. Such has been the case with shareware which is threatening to become more than just a bad dream for the Microsofts of the world. Eban Moglan with delicious mordancy (I'm sure Dr. Cruel will savor his words) has described this virus that seems to be eating away at the protected walls of microsoft's imperial edifice. Nor is Gates alone, Murdoch, Disney, and others preoccupied with intellectual property rights are lately finding it more difficult to sleep the deep and comfortable sleep of the righteous.

Yes shareware such as GNU/Linux is growing like a weed while Microsoft is beginning to take on the attributes of a hothouse plant. But how and why did this come to pass? It shouldn't have happened, after all, as any run-of-the-mill Objectivist will tell you: "those that make something own it" (meaning of course those that own the product of the workers who make something). Why should they GIVE IT AWAY??!! WHERE'S THE PROFIT??!!

It is all particularly confusing to two types of people that Moglen calls the:

IPdroids: "The condition of being a droid is to know everything about something and nothing about anything else. By its timely and urgent intervention the droid has established that the current intellectual property system contains many intricate and ingenious features. The complexities combine to allow professors to be erudite, Congressmen to get campaign contributions, lawyers to wear nice suits and tassel loafers, and Murdoch to be rich".

econodwarfs: "…where the droid is committed to logic over experience, the econodwarf specializes in an energetic and well-focused but entirely erroneous view of human nature. According to the econodwarfs's vision, each human being is an individual possessing "incentives," which can be retroactively unearthed by imagining the state of the bank account at various times. So in this instance the econodwarf feels compelled to object that without the rules I am lampooning, there would be no incentive to create the things the rules treat as property: without the ability to exclude others from music there would be no music, because no one would be sure of getting paid for creating it".

The matter of motivation is addressed by another computer guru - Richard Stallman -who posts the following on his site.

(Another conundrum for the possessive individualists is the success of listener sponsored radio. Why, after all, would Anyone actually pay for something that comes to them free over the airwaves)

And to think that- "the benevolent aristocracy of BillG the Creator, Lord Murdoch of Everywhere, the Spielmeister and Lord High Mouse" are being seriously challanged by a bunch of "nobodies, hippies, hobbyists, lovers, and artists".

Well it's all too much....


ps- can anybody recommend a book for beginners on Linux?

McSpotlight: I can recommend loads of them;

A Practical Guide to Linux by Sobell - one of *the* standard books on the subject. My copy of this is getting fairly battered by now...

Running Linux - "the horse book" - another one of the standard texts.

Linux Companion for System Administrators : Jochen Hein - a very good book for the everyday bread-and-butter stuff and how to do it.

For actual setting up and beginning, you're probably better off looking up either linux.org or linux.com; I cut my teeth on linux.org.

You can also find nearly all the information you'll ever need for free at linux.org's Support pages; the books really aren't entirely necessary; it's just nice to have them sometimes; the best way to learn is to install it and play with it; hands-on.

Usenet will also help; there are groups like comp.os.linux.misc which are very busy - you can get any amount of answers there; some of them may even be right.

As to the various flavours; choose your favourite; I started on Slackware; it's pretty good. Red Hat is the corporate world's darling (and thus has the most big names behind it; S.U.S.E. (pronounced "Susie") is similar. Caldera's Open Linux is the easiest to install, but actually *costs money*. My own favourite, however, is Debian GNU/Linux; it's a bit fiddly to install, but is the most technically advanced distribution around, the favourite amongst the hacker[1] community and the one that adheres to the social and political aims of the Free Software Foundation.

Oh, and RMS[2] *is* God...*g*

Rex, McSpotlight

[1]That's "hacker" in the correct sense of the word - as explained in the Jargon File; as distinct from what the media seem to think it means.

[2]Richard M. Stallman. Also Root Mean Square; an electrical term; this is something of a geek joke...

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