Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
GNU is Not Unix

European OSS Advantage? 141

Andrew Crump writes "Here is an interesting article published in Intraware by Thomas Scoville of O'Reilly. Does Europe have an advantage in fostering free software by virtue of its less capital-driven academia, its wariness of Microsoft products, its longer-term philosophies: in general its socialist leanings? There are certainly plenty of examples to cite that point to less US-centric development."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

European OSS Advantage?

Comments Filter:
  • Sweden has a socialist government. France has a socialist government. Germany has a socialist government. Denmark has a socialist government. Finland has a socialist government. The UK has has a socialist government. Probably some other European countries have socialist governments, too, but I can't be bothered to look it up right now. And the socialist group in the European parliament is the largest of the political groups. So I'd say there is quite a bit of socialist leaning in Europe, at least in the part of Europe that is in the EU.
    Though to tell the truth, not all of these socialists are all that socialistic nowadays. So it's not as bad as it might sound to those who are non-socialist in their leanings. But socialism is definitely way more common and accepted in Europe that it is in the US.
  • Whenever I get on my Linux/Free Software soapbox these days, I always point to a new world dynamic... the international user community will provide the pivotal boost to make free software the wave of the future.

    Inertial factors include: population, economics, ubiquity, education, american copyright tyranny....

    Just as VinodV said in the halloween document, the internet is an IQ magnifier, and there is simply more IQ outside the US than inside (by orders of magnitude).

  • more like _whacks_ philosophical :)

    Yeah, the melting pot thing is way cool. And U.S. capitalism takes excellent advantage of it. But I still believe in the possibility of a global humanistic melting pot, both enabled and amplified by the internet and free software. Too bad we all don't speak/read the same language. I wonder if it's possible that english could be agreed upon as a first (or second) language by virtually all of the world's population? I think there are a lot of good reasons for this, and it would make sharing source code a _whole_ lot easier.

  • It's too late, on this side of the Atlantic (the US). Generations of non-socialists have been allowed to define the words "socialism" and "communism"; many my old cold-war era social studies textbooks were written in the J Edgar Hoover "the only good commie is a dead one" era - our school system didn't have enough $ to buy more-recent books (not that those books would have been any better). Most Americans spout off about what socialism and communism are, but they haven't read a word of Marx, Keynes, or Harrington (and probably haven't even heard of the latter two).

    Imagine if we'd have let Ballmer or Berst define what "Free Software" or "Open Source" mean...


  • it wouldn't matter if people could form their own opinions instead of blaming their textbooks...

    Americans can think for themselves when it comes to more primal matters, but when confronted with the semantic nightmare and decades-old FUD surrounding the word "socialism", their eyes glaze over. We're left with a state of affairs in which most people think "socialism" == "communism", and many people think "liberalism" == "socialism". That's not good news for the quality of political discourse; it creates a situation in which even a moderate viewpoint can be demonized or discredited, due to its "association" with "failed" "communism".

    This isn't about one ancient textbook; it's about a damaging repetition of falsehoods, and it doesn't just apply to this one set of circumstances. If "socialism" can become a swear word, so can "Free Software", "RMS", "Linux"... just as American politics has been ruined by draining words and phrases of useful meaning, Free Software can become a complete nonentity by the same process. And it needn't take decades for this to happen.


  • Why is socialist in this context seen as a perjorative? When I talk of socialist, I think of things like taxpayer-funded medicine, social welfare, subsidized schooling, etc.; basically any situation where the government plays a role in allocating resources to individuals, rather than a pure capitalist "trade labor for resources" system. As European tax rates are higher than U.S. rates even with the higher U.S. defense spending, I place Europe further along the individualismsocialism scale than the U.S. It's not meant as a perjorative or a compliment, just a statement.
  • I sometimes wonder about an idea from Larry Nivens known space universe. In the belt, adequate food and shelter were free. Good food and Good quarters had to be paid for. Nobody was homeless or starved, but still there was a motivation to make a living.

    I wouldn't be so quick to call poor people lazy. Ever worked a minimum wage job? It's a lot of work, for a paycheck that will either buy food or pay for rent (but not both). It's easy to say go to school so you can make more money, but after working all day every day and then having to do more work to make ends meet, WHEN is school supposed to happen?

    In other words, we do have a strong inheretance based class system in the US. There are ways to move from one class to another, but simply being intelligent, honest, and hard working isn't allways enough.

  • The articles made a lot of unsubstanciated claims, and idle speculation based on these claims. I see very few facts that point towards the conclusions in the article.

    How many major freeware projects are lead from Europe? Let's see, there are KDE, LaTeX2e (if that is concidered major), and Qt (if that is concidered free). Others?

    The only general trend I can see in Europe is that academia might make more use of freeware than in the US. And I beleive that is mostly due to academia in Europe being (in general) more cash starved than in the US.

    In Denmark, everybody follows the strongest player. It used to be IBM, we used to be the bluest country in the world. Now it is Microsoft.
  • Exactly... I wish I could have put it as eloquently.
  • by cremat ( 2727 )
    You're mixing apples with oranges. This article is not about politics. First: France's National Front has never gained *considerable* support. It still is a very much minority group in the french political scenario (thank God) Second: (I won't talk about UK's because I don't know much about it) However, Spain... Franco died 1975. In 1982 socialist governement was elected and ran the country for 15 years. In Germany the Social-Democrats were elected and formed an alliance with the Green Party. Anyway, I'm not going to go on because this is not the point. You missed it completely:

    Again, they aren't talking about politics, but attitudes. For instance, would you ever consider having unprofitable railroads routes in your country? Well, if you are European, you ought to know there are many in Europe, and they're kept functioning only because it is a service to the citizens who live on those areas. Most European countries also have free health-services (including semi-free medicine administration), Work Unions are strong and very well-established, and many other social movements even have political representation, such as the Green Party. On the other hand, in the US the unions are so weak it seems they do not exist, I nev er heard of any Green Party (or Greenpeace rallies and mettings?), and there is nothing for free (but Coke refills and OSS) here.

    Again, it is not a question of politics, but attitudes. From my living experience in the US, I can assure you Europe is far ahead in those aspects.

  • Those of you who are from Europe--especially Spain!-- I'd like to hear what you think about all this.

    Ok, I'm from Spain, although I temporarily live in the US, I still go there very often.

    The reason most people use programs for the windows patform is no other than the huge ammount of piracy among computer users. Although things have changed considerably and Linux is becoming more popular, with articles in many magazines and, last year, with the release of the 1st linux magazine in spanish.

    Most people believe software is overpriced (and that *is* true), so they do not buy it, but copy it. Most people feel that if prices went down they would buy the programs. For instance, a company that has been VERY successful with this strategy is Dinamic Multimedia (the makers of PC-Futbol), who sell their games at a low price, so people *do* buy their games.

    In Spain there has been so much demand for CD-R technology that today many people I know have their own CD-R unit. CD-R disks can be bought for about $1.25-$1.50 (just for audio, that is 2-3 times cheaper than chrome-based audio-cassettes!!!)
  • Countries worried about US technical dominance, and that have no real operating system industry to speak of have nothing to lose and everything to gain from OSS.

    Also, anyone who might have a potential run-in with the US government (in theory, that could be anyone) should be leary of accepting closed-source programs from the US, especially after that Iraq-printer trojan thing.

    I expect in the near future the edge belongs to Europe, but beyond that I'd say India and China.

  • I may have fallen for an urban legend, but that doesn't make me stupid or the feat impossible. I know of cases where virii have been implanted in printer BIOS chips.

    Even so, the possibility of trojans (horses, not baloons) being included in commercial software is a real one. Hell, MS Excel contained a whole flight simulator.

  • There was a post here (again) advocating the removal of sengan. It's gone now.

    I don't agree with the sentiment, but is censoring the posts really necessary?

  • Europeans began existing as nations in about 1780, starting with France. Prior to that, it was all Kings, landed nobles, and Popes.

    I agree with your post, I'm just a bit too anal to let the 1000 years bit slide by :)

  • At least in the US, for most people the freedom they think they have is mostly illusion. Marxism can't take from them what they haven't got.

    Marx is very plain about reducing the freedom of the most rich and powerful folks however. The idea being that the common folks will fill the power vacuum in a constructive way.

    I don't think this was ever accomplished in the USSR, but the CCP under Mao made this sort of direct democracy and production work spectacularly in the early stages of the revolution.
    Of course Mao was a bit too picky about the manner in which the peasants filled the upper ranks left by the Nationalists, and we all know what happened after that...

  • Well, Czechoslovakia was more or less occupied. That'd piss anyone off, regardless of whatever nice government the conquering nation may have.

  • Other countries have more subsidies than the US does. I hardly think you can place the blame there.
    I think a better culprit would be the fact that we are so fabulously affluent that no one gives a fuck anymore, and is content to scapegoat government-susidized bastard trash for everything bad that happens.

  • This is the funniest thread I've read in a while.

    I guess if anything can be inferred from this little exchange, it would be that Brits and Americans are pretty damn similar in outlook and temperment.
    I don't know of another culture where people make inbreeding jokes.

  • "Social Anarchism" is oxymoronic, and exists only in the world of KMFDM and British punk.

    Anarchism is completely theoretical anyway, like pi, absolute zero, fifth normal form, and the bug-free service pack.

  • It seems that many laws are pushed to regulate and control everything about software and communication, because it is power. It prevents the people who do the innovating from having any control or rights. If I write a program that takes advantage of crypto for security, I would be entering a nasty and perhaps expensive legal domain. No fun.

    The lobbying groups of big software companies and consultants seem to make existing monopolies much more powerful. Thought laws (Intelectual Property laws) establish and protect monopolies. Ban them and you will once again have high quality and increased production in other areas. I see so much scrap at work because NT burps a lot.
  • A lot of the US growth right now is driven by technology companies, mostly software and services. The growth of the internet may have the most short-term benefit for the USA, but in the long term we will have a harder time competing.

    Everyone (I use this loosely here) in technology in the US makes good money, and it's easy to lose perspective. How many people do you know that make more money than your general doctor, and will this unbalanced payscale really last? Of course not.

    Just like with manufacturing in the US, we will be hit hard once the infrastructure exists. In this case, once enough skilled people exist in a non-USA region where it can support a number of outsourced projects (I'm talking "density" here, like the US Pacific Northwest, New England, and Silicon Valley).

    I've already moved all my savings out of funds that hinge on Microsoft, who are doomed since they cannot sustain their empire without the power of owning the desktop (infrastructure). MS will sell MANY FEWER copies of Office once they lose control of the desktop. Even if Linux takes over and Microsoft is forced to port their applications to Linux, and even if they are reasonably well ported. Microsoft will charge a computer maker more for Windows if they bundle applications that compete with Microsoft products, like Office. When Microsoft looses the desktop, stage 2 of their beating begins.

    You as a computer maker will add less value if you seland put them in software companies that are less "vulnerable" to OSS projects.

    Someday though, programmers will stop putting OTHER people out of work -- and automate their very own job. It's inevitable.

  • I am sipping my tea and waking out of my morning stupor in a place that used to be East Germany. The East Germans built the wall, because technically trained people were leaving the country in droves -- not, primarily, because the government was repressive, but because they could get higher salaries in the west. (Readers Digest and other anticommunists tried to make it sound much worse that it was, but it still was bringing East Germany to it's knees.)

    In Europe, unskilled and semiskilled workers are much more powerful than their counterparts in the US. For instance, in Germany the workweek is enforced by law and you can't do any shopping at all on Sunday or Saturday afternoon. On the other hand, companies and governments don't try hard at all to retain talented people. As a result, they leave, usually to the US.

    Famous examples are Linus Torvalds and Guido van Rossum (although he might have just gotten tired of the rain in the Netherlands...)

    Call it socialism or what you want, the great labor struggles before 1950 ended with labor unions having much greater power on the behalf of lower class workers. Upper classes always take care of themselves, so as usual it's the people in the middle, knowledge workers, who bear the brunt.

  • you get what someone has paid for...
  • in the spirit that it was intended, this posting is funny as hell
  • "The law, in all its equanimity, prohibits the rich as well as the poor from sleeping in public parks and under bridges." Although if you're rich enough, your lawyer can probably get you out.

    If people are going to hold Marxism accountable for the undemocratic aspects of Stalinism and Maoism, I think it only fair to add that this Glorious Jeffersonian Democracy flourished in its first century with the help of a little institution called slavery, under which auspices millions were killed, and millions more lived and died without freedom. And that women were without the basic rights of the constitution until the early part of this century, and that racism thrived in the laws of the land until less than 35 years ago.

    Here's another thing to consider: in each country in which some sort of communism was attempted, there never was a real democratic tradition to begin with, and in many cases the communist regime was the fairest and most humane that those lands had ever known.

    Talk to any Afghani women lately?
  • Yes, I would describe the Czech Republic, East Germany and Poland as exceptions to my claim, especially insofar as they were essentially given satellite governments by the USSR. Also, Russia did enjoy a liberal democracy for a couple years before the October Revolution, but not really enough to create democratic institutions.
  • OK, I don't believe that the above is the case; you can be a determinist or a non-determinist, you can be of any political bent, and neither fact determines the other. (In fact, if you're a determinist and a capitalist, you could say that you had no choice but to be a capitalist, just like we have no choice but to say the things we are saying, but I think that's a ridiculous way of looking at it.)

    To say that determinism removes responsibility is a sophomore-year-of-philosophy take on determinism. Essentially, it is the claim that if a man is about to get hit by a car, it's alright to shoot him. I don't buy that claim.

    Besides, there's an indeterminate determinism, too.
  • Another old trick is waiting until a thread is effectively past human ken before putting your follow up to it.

    I stand by my name calling, as it actually reflects my experience with sophomore-year philosophy majors.

    You accepted my "inferior argument," oddly enough.

    If you want an exhaustive determinism that is reflected in the language about responsibility, then you end up in a position where the discourse about responsibility is one of the determining elements in human action, and that the determined analysis of the course of human events, filtered through human cognition, creates consequences for certain behaviors. The (determined) choice to create a minimal number of negative consequences is, essentially, the democratic instinct.

    I do not believe that human behavior is at the same level of determination as a boulder crashing down a hill, but the activation of a neuron is.

    The "indeterminate determinism" is the fact of the practical impossibility of determining all variables - I'm not talking about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, I'm talking about the fact that determining the total state of the brain (a dynamic system) is comparable to determining the state of the world.

    If you choose to follow up on this conversation, have the courtesy to send an email.
  • The distinction between B and C is Ockham's razor. If there is an element to choice that is outside causality, then it falls upon you to demonstrate existence, as well as its mechanisms for initiating cause without being caused.

    Another demonstration of B would be, of course, the design of an equally-complex model of the brain that demonstrated the same complexity of behaviour - for example, a software simulation. In small scales, these exist, although nowhere near human complexity. Yet.
  • Continuing...

    All you need for a political free choice is 1. lack of extrapersonal constraints, and 2. internal representation of possible options. If I go to a restaurant and can choose between cake or pie for dessert, and I have an internal representation of my options for dessert, and there are no external constraints (including consequentialist) on the choice ("if you choose the pie, we kill you") then my choice is as free as I need it to be. That a 21st century brain scientist could predict my choice means as little as the fact that my mother, who knows my preferences, could probabilistically pick my choice with comparable accuracy.

    While I am defending the right of determinist libertarians to exist with a certain amount of intellectual integrity, I am certainly not one of them, so calling me a liberal or a socialist has no real sting as a personal attack.

    I believe the levels of determinacy are more appropriately the descriptive levels of interaction. We do not explain the contents of a book in terms of the analysis of the physics of ink and the visual perception of it, but on the level of language and things proper to it.

    Also, the claim that indeterminacy means that I can not practically predict the accuracy of a particular brain's behaviour with 100% accuracy is not a trojan horse for free will, any more than the same indeterminacy applied to weather systems is. Since we cannot predict the even more complex behaviour of weather systems with 100% accuracy, should we ascribe free will to them also?
  • Continuing again ...

    Finally, the claim that we do not construct consequences is patently false. Insofar as we enforce a law against bank robbery, by make it significantly and predictably more probable than chance that bank robbery will result in incarceration, we have constructed a consequence for it. Parking tickets are also a construction of a consequence. It is the relative predictability of these consequences - even more predictable than natural phenomena (i.e., swimming in shark infested waters having attack-by-shark as a consequence) that is the basis of their dissuasive force.
  • I don't quote because I'm rather busy. When *I* said analysis, I meant the social analysis of the social bodies constructing predictable consequences.

    I have little difficulty describing these things as coercion, with the caveat that they are external coercions: I can, in fact, do anything I want, if I am willing to accept the consequences (social or natural). The only absolute coercion would be if I were physically manipulated into performing an action - or, perhaps, neurally manipulated.

    However, that would mean that we would have to accept any significantly dissuasive consequence as coercion, as well - for example, if I would have great difficulty finding a new place to live, and my landlord demands that I join his church or face eviction, I would also describe that as coercive, although most libertarians would balk at that description.

    I don't claim that it invalidates free will per se, it does provide a basis for a political discourse on freedom that doesn't rely on free will.
  • Ockham's razor both historically and practically applies to all explanation; William of Ockham was a medieval scholastic who developed the maxim for theological disputes, and was developed within and for metaphysics.

    If you wish to throw out science, however, there's little point in having this discussion. Perhaps God told you want to think? Shall we appeal to authority? If you want to remove empiricism from the methods of determining the nature of human choice, and wish to use only introspection, you are on your own - we wind up in solipsistic claims ("I know, because I can FEEL it.") and my originial suggestion of sophomorism will be well justified. Just what sort of validity test are you looking for?

    What is present to consciousness is the facility of choice, which mechanism I've already described.

    I dispute your description of the straw-man materialist. Any cognitive scientist will balk at thee idea of a proiri claiming that the laws of the universe are comprehensible to the human mind. It's those who believe in a ghost-in-the-machine who would believe that human knowledge is universalizable; since I believe that human sentience is an emergent property that optimizes survival and does a bunch of amusing things additionally.

    In any case, your attempts to move the nature of the debate are noted: originally, I was defending the notion of a determinist libertarianism against the idea that libertarianism relied on a belief in free will (even though, mind you, I'm not a libertarian.) Then you moved to a debate against determinism in general. Then you moved to a discussion on coercion and totalitarianism. Now you want to pit science against religion. Would you care to isolate your claims? Or would that make them too vulnerable?
  • By moving the discussion to this realm - asking me to defend Libertarian theses that I do not hold (that coercion is a priori wrong, for example) - you've essentially ceded to me the ground that such a stance is philosophically defensible. We can have a discourse about coercion and personal rights without appealing to metaphysical free will.

    My own personal view is that insofar as coercion is non-compassionate, it is to be avoided where possible; it's an essentially Buddhist perspective on political right. Compassion is simply a basic component of the human psyche, and cannot be appealed to as a universal moral law. If you are looking for only universal moral law as the basis of moral behavior, then you are hamstringing yourself. Of course, if all you are claiming is that you cannot have a univeral law of right without a universal moral law, then that's nearly tautologically accurate. However, a determinist libertarian can have a rule or theory of right that does not rely on universal moral law, but instead out of a theory of human nature, or even an appeal to common preference.

  • I am going to sum up the determinist libertarian's basis in a few easy sentences, so that you won't again become confused:

    1. The fact of determinism does not justify political coercion.

    2. The fact of determinism does not obviate the faculty of choice: the faculty of choice is the ability to concieve of a multiplicity of options, process those options in cognition, and select an option. That the processes of cognition in evaluation options is internally determined is politically irrelevant.

    3. A libertarian can claim that no political authority is justified in constraining the faculty of choice. A determinist theist - e.g., a Calvinist - might even note that political attempts to constrain choice demonstrate a disrespect for divine Will. A non-theist determinist might say that constraining choice is an offense against human potential, or is uncompassionate, or use both utilitarian and deontological basis for criticising the political constraint on choice.

    Clear enough?
  • You continue to run like butter in heat.

    My theory of choice was a straightforward one from another post: that all that is required for free choice without metaphysical free will is the ability to mentally represent different options as available and then evaluate those options in light of their benefits, risks, etc. The evaluation process itself can be determinist, but there would still be a capacity for choice. If you want to use the word moral agency to describe this process, fine. Moral considerations are part of the evaluative process. In a neural network model, moral nodes may excite or inhibit specific action nodes.

    There has been much empirical work on the nature of decision making and choice, including priming effects, framing effects, and even lesion studies - Descarte's Error, by Michaal Demassio, is a good lay description of much of the work that has been done. I myself have done research work on such models for (non-moral, quantitative/comparative) mechanisms of decision making, in which we made models of decision-nets, made predictions, and then tested them experimentally.

    You have moved the grounds of debate from the question of the relationship between determinism (which need not be materialist, by the way - I offer the historical example of Calvinism) and libertarianism, to an assault on science and materialism (including a straw-man depiction of a materialist who claims a-priori that the human mind is capable of any act of knowledge, when I don't know anyone who is actually capable of mentally concieving a superstring vibrating in 10 dimensions.)

  • Finally, let me demonstrate how my non-Libertarianism functions in such a way that is irrelevant to determinism questions, and still allows for maneuvering room for a determinst Libertarian.

    My claim is the choice is not maximized by the removal of coercion, but that choice is maximized by actively proliferating a construction of choices, and the political freedom is better described as the construction of an optimal number of choices. This is classic liberal toleration - "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations," if you will. I hold that public institutions such as public education, public transportation, and social safety nets proliferate choice by 1. reducing anxiety about basic needs, thereby advancing everyone up Maslow's heirarchy of needs, 2. reducing pressure to compromise personal liberty in the interests of survival. That the cost-to-choice of forced taxation and redistribution of goods is less than the cost-to-choice of wage slavery, lost educational opportunities, lack of mobility, and need to concern with basic survival.

    Now, a determinist libertarian could authentically take issue with the above claims, on a variety of bases. However, nowhere is my objection to libertarianism predicated on an objection to free will or determinism - the hypothetical libertarian and myself could have a debate about the above claims without resorting either to simple utilitarianism or to abandoning determinism. Resort to utilitarianism would move that libertarian to the pragmatist camp, of course - that given a set of practical social goals, the absence of political coercion would be the optimal way to achieve them. However, the proliferation of choice is not itself a utilitarian value - it may even have negative utility over a span of time, but both I and the libertarian may hold that it is categorically better to maintain a proliferation of choice than, for example, diminish a cholera epidemic or increase consumer spending.
  • The fact that human nature is neutral to the argument is ridiculous -if human beings were tempermentally incapable of moral behaviour, just what significance would moral law have?

    Libertarians can appeal to common preference by claiming that shared values mandate libertarianism and demonstrating it. They do not have to directly claim that freedom is intrinsically a moral right - they can claim that it is an emergent right, that it follows from another value. You are the one trying to limit libertarianism into yet another straw man. All a libertarianism has to claim is that political coercive force is never justified - the nature of justification can differ from one libertarian to another. A rights-based libertarian would claim that the benefits of coercion still do not justify it.
  • http://hegel.cs.man.ac.uk/systems/Maverik/

    Innovative software, under the GPL.
  • Free will vs. determinism arguments are exceedingly tiresome. You are welcome to email me at the above address if you wish to continue it, I don't want to subject the rest of Slashdot to it.

    No, please do continue this discussion. I am finding it exceedingly interesting.

    I'm not that interested in free will vs. deterministic arguments, this hasn't been the focus of this discussion. Instead I've been exposed to the idea that marxism (and hence socialism and communism?) are based on the assumption that we have no free will, while capitalism is based on (or more importantly works because of) the assumption that we do have free will.

    Personally I've found this to be a stunning and valuable revelation. Let the man speak!
  • Capitalism pits us all against each other, dog eat dog, with no safety nets, except of course if you're born rich.
    The best thing and the worst thing about capitalism. I think that the competition is good, but I dislike inheritance. I feel that inheritance encourages generation of wealth by the individual at a cost to society.

    We know communism failed, but please don't equate socialism with communism
    I didn't equate socialism with communism, I pondered whether, they are both derived from marxism and hence are based on the assumption that free will does not exist.

    Socialism seems to be working just fine. Ask anyone in Northern or Western Europe. They love it.
    I was born in a socialist country, it was great... while we could afford it. But the beancounters made us rationalise. State owned enterprises were sold to foreign compaines, education and health care went from being free to user pays overnight, and the unions were disempowered (through the government passing laws to require the negotiation of individual contracts).
    I don't envy socialism, it bankrupted my country. Don't bother to hold it up as some kind of political ideal, to me it symbolises stupidity and gluttony.

    In this country, you're only free if you could afford to be free.
    That's true in any country. Wealth is a prerequisite to freedom. Thus the importance of using the most efficient system or resource allocation possible. (Which I believe to be capitalism)

    Before I got into computers, I had so many problems with cops it was unreal, and it was all for one thing, I lived in working class neighborhoods, therefore, I was a criminal. Now, is that freedom?
    No that's reality.
  • I'd say it differs greatly between European countries. I hazard to guess Swedish cops tend to be more mellow than American or French ones. A friend who studied in Poland said you do not want to mess with Polish cops. Most look like crooks from Tintin albums, big fists, plenty of scars and five-o'clock shadows. He actually managed to get mauled by police dogs on the way home from a late party in Krakow. :-)

    The cops called out to him to stop (in Polish), but he thought they were talking to someone else so he kept walking. They sicked their big German sheperds on him, and he panicked and started running. This was taken as an admition of guilt, so they let the dogs chew on him a while and whacked him a couple of times with their batons while he lay on the ground. He had to spend the night in a drunk cell with plenty of drunks, but when they found out he was a (western) foreigner the captain of the police station was on his knees apologizing, all but asking to lick my friend's shoes clean. He didn't dare sue them since he was going to spend a second semester there. When he came home his mother almost fainted when he showed her the bloodied tatters that used to be his jeans.

    I guess police attitudes in the US differ a lot between, say, Vermont and South Carolina too?

  • by Pac ( 9516 )
    To this day some brazilian universities will only use Russian authors to teach higher math to undergraduates.
  • And what country did Linus Torvalds get his education in?
    And where did he originally start the kernel?
    And why does it look like Americans think God created them to take over the world.

    I offer free EUROPEAN beer (as much as you can drink) to everyone answering these questions correctly and showing up at my house!
  • Yeah, it's really sad. The extent of people's knowledge of history are names of president's and kings and queens.
    Before we had labor unions, kids would be literally worked to death. When the unions initially started, companies hired the Pinkerton detectives to shoot protesters. The United States gov't usually intervened, almost always on the side of big business. But labor unions grew too strong and they eventually won safer working conditions, a living wage, a forty-hour work week, child-labor laws and benefits.
    Personally, I'd like to kick anyone's ass who crosses a picket line because the battle still goes on.
  • Ah, why work when you can deal drugs? well,let me tell you something. many socialist european nations give drugs away, putting the drug dealers out of business and making it so that drug addicts don't have to kill for drugs.
    In true socialism, you have a society based on cooperation. If John down the street gets laid off, he knows he has a safety net so he doesn't need to commit armed robbery to get that loaf of bread for his family. But in this country, people believe if you're poor, you're lazy, you're scum. I came from poverty, amigo. Some of my friends worked much harder than I did and they're in jail. They had good intentions too but poverty broke their spirits. That's hard for a middle-class man like I assume yourself to understand. (My apologies if I'm wrong). I was lucky because I took advantage of a socialist idea we have in this country called student loans. The gov't loans you money for college and when you graduate, you pay it back. Now I'm on my way to being very rich. It's too bad that not all the people I grew up with made it. One of my ex's is now a prostitute. She was a good woman but you'd probably see her as lazy and immoral. Several are in jail. Two are dead.
  • forgot to log in
  • Most European countries (all?) do have socialist economies. This is the reason for the extremely large taxes and government subsidies. I don't know if this definition is changing with many ex-government companies becoming private.

    Don't get the economies confused with the types of government.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
    "We could be happy if the air was as pure as the beer"
  • The chief fault with this interpretation is that it considers government coercion to be the only measure of how caring a population is. While U.S. culture does in fact over-emphasize the pursuit of wealth, it is balanced by a cultural expectation that individuals are to support various charities.

    Rugged Individualism is something of a myth even within the U.S. Without a strong government to help them out, the early settlers learned to help each other -- and found that they preferred to do it themselves.

    Rather than being more caring, socialism (when coerced by the government) is an abdication of one's social responsibilities. From what I've seen discussed here, I have to doubt whether Europe is really more involved in OSS or not. Regardless, an awful lot has been done in the U.S., so there must be something more to this than just capitalism v. socialism.

    Nonetheless, the U.S. has its many faults. But then, so does Europe and everywhere else.


  • As usual, I've seen some pretty poor quality posts around. This one in particular merits attention, for this:

    Other than Mr. Torvalds, where are the Europeans on this list? And he lives in the US now, too.

    Troll. You don't even know what he's doing at Transmeta, so how can you really make presumptions about his motives for moving?

    How about Alan Cox, well known for living in the UK? How about Andrew Tannenbaum, author of that old favourite, Minix? (Denmark, I think)

    And Microsoft wants to milk as much British brainpower as possible by setting up labs within the reach of many Cambridge students... Not to mention the University has refused some MS money on grounds that "[they] do not want to encourage this approach to computing". That's academic independence.

    I can't be bothered to name any more names because individuals without statistics are meaningless. Otherwise you'll be saying "World War II" or "Declaration of Independence" and that really bores me...
  • My country is better than yours. nyah, nyah nya nyaaah nya...
  • > Europe is less under the grip of the Corporate
    > State, yes (and more under the grip of the
    > Police State)

    Having worked in the US and in Western Europe, I don't quite see what you are alluding to. Several people, having witnessed US and european cops in their tasks, told me that US cops tended to be ruder and to resort to force more often.

    My personal feeling is that the US federal state is quite an oppressive bureaucracy. The mere idea of allowing tax agents to build armed operations seems outlandish in Europe.
  • I think that the reason is that US laboratories tend to have huge means. DARPA $500k research contracts for relatively small things seem to be relatively commonplace in the US. In Europe, it seems that governments are more reluctant to dole out money.
  • Russia seems to have been very strong in mathematics and theoretical computer science. Impressive stuff. Of course, nowadays, most good Eastern European researchers are in Europe and the United States...

  • Many unemployed people don't have the money to pay for electricity, let alone a computer and an Internet access.
  • It is clear Europe is already well ahead of the United States in Open Source utilization, culture, and awareness.

    Clear??? To whom?? I don't agree with this at all. The amount of software being produced is about right considering the populations of the US and Europe. Maybe it just people from the United States (of which I'm one of) don't hear much about Europe and the rest of the world in the news, since most of the news and television is US-based.

    Microsoft's software is less common in europe due to good ole fashion european nationalism. Similar to the "Buy American" craze here in the US, people are less likely to buy something made in another country (not to mention the extremely high price on MS software).

  • Maybe it's because the cult of wealth is less rampant than in the U.S.

    . . .

    Current trends that put infrastructure-building into the hands of short-term-thinkers are quite frightening to them.

    . . .

    Association of a price with a value is not mandatory here.

    . . .

    Europe's communitarian reflexes may well play as a strength, while U.S. commercial prejudices and predispositions may cause America to take a back-seat . . .

    My favorite irony is the fact that American "rugged individualists" are the most compulsive groupthinkers on earth, while more communitarian societies tend to be a great deal more intellectually pluralistic and open. This (among other, darker desires) drives us to play to the least common denominator in all things. Americans have a weird belief that any motivation other than short term gain is somehow vaguely immoral, or at best disreputable. Well, we've ruined every major industry in the U.S. but one (computers) with that crap; shall we go for a clean sweep? Yay team! Rah rah rah!

    A greater communitarian bent isn't just a good idea now; it always was and it always will be. Most of what the U.S. has gained by its "rugged individualism" was never worth having. Not all, but most. On balance, I'd say we've screwed ourselves. The bottom line is that a culture IS a community, and if people within that culture pretend that it isn't, they're ignoring reality and they're going to break things.

  • Socialism is a style of economics, not a style of government. . .

    There has been a longstanding tradition of the Republican Party in the U.S. trying to paint these with the same brush, as if totalitarianism is somehow the inevitable result of Socialism. By responding to the word 'Socialist' as if it were an insult, you are helping them make their flawed point.

    Uh, yeah, what he said!

    I wuz gonna post something to that effect but I got like totally off the subject.

    By the way, though, the Democrats have often been guilty of the same crap as the Republicans.

  • Hmm, interesting. Many of my European friends say that the cops here are nicer than their European counterparts (especially the Swiss!!).

    Yeah, but then there's the upstate NY state trooper who damn near ripped off my door handle and put me through endless drunk-tests, waving my arms around two feet from traffic when he caught me going maybe 15 mph over the limit . . . And searched my car . . . I was cold sober and very polite (I'm always polite w/ those guys; there's a well-known moving violation called "Failure of the Attitude Test" . . . :)

    ALL cops can be pricks, but we're only pissed off at the ones who've been pricks to us -- which tend to be the ones at home, 'cause they've had more opportunity. Brendan Behan hated Irish cops intensely ("The harp of Ireland will never want for strings as long as there's a gut in a peeler!"), but he thought the cops in Paris were grand guys. He was even easier on ENGLISH cops than on Irish cops.

  • LSD was invented by Hofman, in Switzerland, in the 1940s.
  • Americans seem to have this view, that if a majority of individuals in a society actually consider the welfare of the society in their actions, then those individuals, and therefore the society they comprise, is necessarily SOCIALIST.

    This is simply not so. European nations have existed as entities for over a thousand years. They have developed a consistent CULTURE that is familiar 'first hand' with long term consequences. This is where the 'socialist' interpretation comes from. Europeans KNOW that their actions affect their neighbors - so they are more considerate and respectful of other's rights.

    This is not 'socialism', it is cultural courtesy and social responsibility.

    Americans have only been around as a culture for 200 or so years. They are used to fast, faster, fastest. Hit and run, boom and bust. There's no longevity. This is why there are abborations such as Jack Kevorkian, Insurance fraud, and a 60% divorce rate. Americans, as a culture, do not understand the meaning of COMMITMENT to your FELLOW MAN.

    Americans have only had one major war on their own soil in their entire history, and that one was against themselves. Europeans as a culture, have been through war after war, for centuries. They know that they can depend on each other in times of need.

    And this is how I get to the point of the original article. Europeans are culturally conditioned to work towards a COMMON GOOD with no holds barred - precisely how open source software fits into the equation.

    Americans (present company exempted) try to get ahead at all costs, even by ripping each other off. This is why copyrights are such an issue, this is why people sue each other for 'intellectual property' and other frivalous bs, this is why there is insurance fraud and why generations of people spend their lives on welfare. Microsoft is a red-blooded American company. Linus is a Finn - a European academic. ($$$'s are good bait)
  • Why can't a democracy be totalitarian? Whether it's a politburo or a parliament that takes away your rights, it's still the same effect for the victim.

    The reason that many Americans view European socialist economies in such a negative way is that many Americans feel that a concept called "property rights" exists.

    The high taxation and regulation of a socialist economy conflicts with a sense of property rights. And, since the USA has such a history of strong individuals and personal freedom, handing over many of these rights to the government sounds very uncomfortable.

    The condescending attitude many socialists take toward such-minded Americans doesn't help the image of socialism, either.

    Now, some Americans may be thinking "Since when do we have property rights? I thought Roosevelt and Johnson got rid of those?" but the 3rd consecutive Republican congress shows there's still hope.
  • The earlier comment stated that the US has only fought one MAJOR war on its own soil. This is true. The American Revolution was a series of skirmishes compared to major European wars. The weak government of the US at the time of the American Revolution prevented the US from fielding a larger army, and logistics of an overseas war kept the British forces small. The War of 1812 was mostly a naval war (excluding, most notably, the burning of Washington and the Battle of New Orleans), again with neither nation fielding large armies, for the same reasons as stated earlier, plus the need on the part of the British to concentrate their resources against Napoleon. The Spanish-American war was not fought in the US, but in Spanish colonies (Cuba and the Philippines). Westward expansion did less to foster cooperation than it did to idealize "rugged individualism", and those still weren't major wars.

    Contrast these with the Napoleanic wars, World War I, and World War II. Look at the death tolls, especially among the civilian population. The US Civil War is in the same league, but nothing else fought on US soil comes close.

    That being said, I'm not convinced that Europe's wars provide any supporting evidence for cooperation.
  • Since when was it "Europeam" OSS vs. "American" OSS? Don't most of these projects tend to cross national borders?
  • Ah, there's always one... Let's attempt to communicate with it...

    Europe not much bad juju. Everyman here try like each other. Thank for good juju
    flametalk. Now watch I make fire from small box. Big magic! Ooooooh Worth much cargo. You give cargo, we make you small box fire magic trade. Give Clinton-man for slave, make chief happy.

  • ... my friends is an attempt at humour. Don't you just pity this guy ?
  • ... of a comment I made to another.

    There always one... Let's attempt to communicate with it...

    Europe not much bad juju. Everyman here try like each other. Thank for good juju flametalk. Now watch I make fire from small box. Big magic! Ooooooh Worth much cargo. You give cargo, we make you small box fire magic trade. Give Clinton-man for slave, make chief happy.
  • I hate to make one of the first postings a bit off topic, but I resent somebody calling Europe "socialist" in its leanings. I mean, that has no reflection in reality, pal.

    As for the open-source argument, Europe does have the edge. US companies are too steeped in the ethic that you get what you pay for.
  • by seizer ( 16950 )
    France's National Front, a right-wing neo-fascist (don't sue me)racist party gained considerable success in the last elections. Germany, socialist? Never. Britain? Tories voted Labour because Tony Blair stole Mrs Thatcher's policies wholesale. Spain? Governed by Franco, fascist dictator for 30 odd years. Italy? Corrupt right-wing governments colluding with the mafia for most of this half-century. Ok, it wasn't meant to be flame bait, and I'm replying with that in mind, but it does seem like you American's have only a scant idea of what goes on "over there". Oh yeah, this is a debate about open source isn't it ;-) /OFFTOPIC

    mail me if ya wanna fight :)
  • Freeware as opposed to buying stuff?
    Sure, I will gladly take free, but I wonder what the attitude signifies; if something is useful, valuable, and powerful, I will pay good money for it. I assume people are like this regardless of background, origin, or nationality. Am I wrong here?

    All the arguments for OSS means you get control over your computer and life. If something is wrong, broken, or missing, you can fix it. There is nothing inherently superior/inferrior about OSS over closed source except for the ability to tinker with it, as it has been proven before that quality, features, and support are not functions of or relating to a closed source commercial model. Heck, OSS doesn't even mean cheap or inexpensive, though it very often has.

    Freeware:is it a movement, a philosophy, or just a term? From the user's standpoint I assume it means paying for nothing. From the programmer's standpoint I assume it means no exhange of cash for goods. The question is where does the feedback occur? Why is there more than one generation of free software if source isn't available and feedback doesn't exist? In OSS the original author could get bored, tired, or die, and the software lives because someone else decides they need some functionality, and contribute, and in the nature of OSS, release said contribution.

    In the commercial side, people get paid for their programs; if said payment offsets costs and efforts, continued energy is put into making the program better and better(hopefully) in exchange for a permanent and future user base willing and necessary to upgrade for new functionality, features, or performance.

    There can even be a mix of the two, as in iD software's DooM and Quake games, with the mixture of commercial product and open tools, mods, hacks, and games, as well as licensed games and such.

    Is Freeware just about accepting low quality for low cost, a function of 'getting what you pay for?', because Free software writers still need to eat and survive, right?

  • As an Irish student in a British University (UMIST), I'd just like to point out that sunsite.* do tend to be big in general . What is nice, though, is that I can get 850 kB/s ftping from sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk to my bedroom... Having sunsites nearby is always nice...
  • Right-wing government in Italy? Well, maybe, but we had state control over health assistance, electric power, phone service, school and university and other main infrastructures. And many of us think we should have going on so (while the "left"-wing government is trying to sell almost everything to commercial company).
    I suppose that the above factors allow to think we are used to a socialist view about things like intellectual proprietry and OSS.
    I don't even want to bother about the mafia thing... Looks like either you watched too many movies or you think Sicily represents the whole italian reality.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde