Saturday, October 16, 2010

Free Software and a Better World- Part I

Imagine you're living in a newly built town. There are no proper houses yet, and there's only one factory where there are all the tools and trained workers required to build houses. Its just that the folks who run the factory, don't give those tools out to people. So, if you want to get yourself a house, you go to them, pay as much as they demand and get them to build you a house the way they want to. What does it sound like, monarchy? That was what the software industry was like until Richard Stallman decided one day to find like-minded people who had the most primitive of tools but nevertheless wanted to build their own houses. So what they did was they started to build simple houses, those they could with their tools, shared their tools with others so that they could build their houses and soon developed more complex tools to build bigger, better houses. That way, everybody could build the houses the way they wanted to and because they pretty much shared the tools, it cost them a lot less than they paid the guys at the factory. So, what about those workers who worked in the factory? Wouldn't they run out of a job and living in case everybody had access to tools and could build their own houses. Well, its just that though all of us can have access to bricks and concrete, we can't build nothing. Because we've never been trained to do that. And this is where all those trained workers get into picture. They provide their expertise according to your whims and desires. The bottom line, share the products, sell the services.

For the first time all my life, now, I have a clear idea as to what the GNU and Free Software movement are all about and as to why they're so essential to the society we live in. Read this speech by Stallman in NYU, which inspired me into writing this.

I'm writing a detailed follow-up article soon.

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