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Sun's McNealy Wants Obama to Push Open Source 176

CWmike writes to tell us that Sun's Scott McNealy is pushing for the Obama administration to adopt a much more open-source friendly policy similar to what has been done in Denmark, the UK, and other countries. "Although open-source platforms are widely used today in the federal government -- particularly Linux and Sun's own products, Solaris and Java -- McNealy believes many government officials don't understand it, fear it and even oppose it for ideological reasons. McNealy cited an open-source development project that Sun worked on with the US Department of Health and Human Services, during which a federal official said 'that open source was anti-capitalist.' That sentiment, McNealy fears, is not unusual or isolated."
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Sun's McNealy Wants Obama to Push Open Source

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  • Anti-capitalist? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shark4126 ( 1391765 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#27018183)
    Remind me again how much money Firefox nets each year...
  • Re:Oh, terrific (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @06:57PM (#27018235) Journal
    Lord Tebbit once said this to me:

    You can judge a man by his enemies. I'm very proud of all of my enemies, and I wouldn't want to lose a single one.

    Comments like yours remind me of this. To collect detractors like you, he must be doing something right.

  • by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dol d a 2 0 0 0 . c om> on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:30PM (#27018501) Homepage

    One of the key issues here is a huge misunderstanding of why the US clings to capitalism. Regardless of anything else, communism and/or socialism in their many forms are the ideal forms of society. If humans were never selfish and always worked for the betterment of everyone, there would be no need for anything like money, wealth, or capitalism.

    Please tell me; why should people work for the betterment of the whole of human society rather than for themselves? Why should people do things that do not benefit themselves?

    Open Source just happens to be the technological way of working together. :-)

    I would argue against that. At least for my part, when I publish programs that I have written as open source, it is for perfectly selfish reasons.

  • by Chabo ( 880571 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:40PM (#27018595) Homepage Journal

    I would argue against that. At least for my part, when I publish programs that I have written as open source, it is for perfectly selfish reasons.

    Same. When I started FlacSquisher [sourceforge.net] (shameless plug, I know), it was because I wanted a mass-transcoding tool that was aware of what work had already been done. I had installed Rockbox on my Sansa a couple months earlier, and wanted to transcode my FLACs to Oggs easily so I could play them on the Sansa. If I had bought an 80GB player instead of a 2GB player, I would've just used the FLACs, cause I could've fit my entire music collection. Then I never would've written the program. As it was, I only just implemented MP3 tagging a couple weeks ago because I never encoded to MP3, so in my own usage model it just wasn't necessary.

    I suspect that most FOSS projects are the same -- driven by a personal need or desire by the original dev for some functionality not already provided by an existing piece of software, and just coding what they'd want to get out of it.

  • by psnyder ( 1326089 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:47PM (#27018653)

    ideal forms of society

    There would be a need for food, shelter, clothes, and, some may argue, medical care. So we need a source of those 4 things for our whole families.

    We've come such a long way with efficiency recently that many, many people are supported by the few people that farm, build homes, make clothes, and make and administer health care. Everything above that is superfluous and simply adds variety to our lives.

    The other things needed in a society I'd like to live in are a system that protects the personal freedoms of my family and friends, and also protects us from mentally deranged people that would physically harm us. Hence, something akin to police and basic laws.

    Finally, as with the medical care argument, I wouldn't mind some disaster relief from fires, earthquakes, etc.

    It would be nice to see a time when we become so efficient in these things that we'll only need a handful of volunteers (like a volunteer fire department) to run all of these. But that includes volunteers (or robots) to mine materials, repair & build machinery, transport things, make them accessible to everyone, etc. But there needs to be some way to ensure that these systems don't break down or stall due to some volunteer's whim.

    As of right now, we live in a society where every individual can achieve these basic things with relatively little effort. The effort is so minimal that many people spend a lot of time and money (the extra value of their work) on things like TVs, computers, fancy (rather than basic) clothes, exotic foods, jewelry, and other things not necessary to survival. In fact, quite often, half or more of people's paychecks goes to things that are not basic survival, or they buy 'nicer' versions of these needs.

    If you can easily provide those basic things for yourself and your family, you're living the utopian lifestyle now. However, commercials tell us how crappy our lives are, so we think we 'need' what they're selling. It's a bad part of capitalism, but if we simply don't pay attention and realize how much we really have, it's incredible! Almost all of you, looking at this from a computer, live the utopian life today.

  • by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dol d a 2 0 0 0 . c om> on Friday February 27, 2009 @07:54PM (#27018719) Homepage

    Who said it's an either/or?

    To be fair, it is you who introduced the dichotomy; let me quote: "If humans were never selfish and always worked for the betterment of everyone". My problem with that statement is its implication that it is somehow bad when people are being selfish. However, as you yourself write;

    Communal work usually benefits everyone including the person doing the work. The problem is that the benefits are not always obvious or easy to internalize.

    Which is quite correct. However, when that happens, people work on it together because of their own, selfish interesting in getting done whatever it is that needed to get done. They do not do it for the purpose of "the betterment of everyone"; they do it because they, themselves and individually, benefit from it. To go on:

    The most natural form of such a system is a risk/reward system where work is done with the expectation of a possible reward. This is, for better or for worse, capitalism.

    You misunderstand capitalism, it seems. Capitalism is not a "system where work is done with the expectation of a possible reward". It is not a pre-planned system at all, to begin with. It is simply the natural consequence of a society where people are free to trade services with each other for whatever purpose and value they individually get to decide. This is the ideal form of society.

    You claim that communism and/or socialism is the ideal form of society, and I would like to meet that statement somehow, but unfortunately I cannot, because typically when I ask 10 people what communism or socialism is, I get 15 different answers. I can however assert that people should definitely be selfish, because only then can they move forward.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @08:05PM (#27018833) Journal

    The most natural form of such a system is a risk/reward system where work is done with the expectation of a possible reward. This is, for better or for worse, capitalism. While it may be a long way from an ideal solution, it is a solution that works.

    Capitalism doesn't work.

    It briefly flourished in America during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (and was the driving force behind industrialization) because the Federal Government gave corporations all the rope they needed. Then, very publicly, the Government hung the corporations, broke up their monopolies, and regulated the shit out of a formerly free marketplace. Minimum wages, unions, regulations of unions, child labor laws, etc etc etc.

    What exists in the USA is a mixed economy that leans towards Capitalism.
    If you go back a hundred years and explain to 1909 what the future looks like, they'd say we were all socialists.

  • by deanston ( 1252868 ) on Friday February 27, 2009 @09:10PM (#27019311)

    ... or idealists vs. realists... all these simple categories are already out-dated. The old scams are failing us left and right, whether they are from the Left or Right. Nobody has figured out the right FOSS business model yet. We need some fresh ideas or at least the Next Bubble.

    One thing's for sure, when all the cyber attacks are coming from countries shielded behind custom Unix/Linux variants, the Feds will have no choice but to recruit similar skills to protect the government and consumer systems in the West.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 27, 2009 @10:23PM (#27019795)

    "... a federal official said 'that open source was anti-capitalist."

    You should know that a certain vendor is actively, actively pushing this position as we speak. I recently witnessed a high-level official from this not-too-open-source-friendly vendor try to push that perspective in a private meeting with government officials, that they should not use open source because open source will crash our whole economy.

    You and I may call it FUD, but I've seen it in action (made me want to puke) and they call it "lobbying." The media says this vendor is "cozying up to open source"? Yeah, riiiighhhttt.

  • by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @01:00AM (#27020541) Homepage

    If you are running a business in the new Capitalist China [businessweek.com] and you prescribe to the new Greed is Good [amazon.com] mentality you suspect that you can get away with watering down the milk and adding Melamine to make the protein count look good and sell more product at a lower price than competitors. Unfortunately the plan backfires and Sanlu Group [wikipedia.org] is bankrupted by the scandal and the one time entrepreneur Tian Wenhua is sentenced to life imprisonment. The communist government tries to cover up the incident and amazingly points fingers at other countries but in the end it was the capitalist entrepreneurs that chose to taint their product with Melamine, not the communist government.

    Fixed that for you.

  • by tmp31416 ( 1460143 ) on Saturday February 28, 2009 @02:25PM (#27023999)

    Considering how badly Sun is handling OpenOffice & MySQL (and any other FLOSS projects they might be involved with), they should start by trying to *truly* understand what FLOSS is and how be be good citizens of the FLOSS "universe" before they do anything else. I mean, ensuring OO code is purposely obfuscated and almost discouraging external help on the project?

    They make Apple, IBM and even Intel look very good as FLOSS developers/contributors.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky