GNU/Linux and Decentralized development
What is unique about Free Software is not just its Four Freedoms which ‘govern’ it but also its development model - Decentralised development. Not having a central authority to govern the development and the happenings would lead to a weak organization, but on the contrary in the Software paradigm Not-having-a-central-authority have become its strength. When the question is asked, why should there be a central authority? the most reasonable answer can be for-coordination. But when the developers are self-motivated the negation of coordination-gap is automatic.
Let us look at some of the Complaints on lack of central-authority:
- It would be good for there to be some “central” Linux presence on the Web.
This argument must have surely come from looking at the excess of information available on internet for Linux. What we need to do is search for relavant information.
- It would be good for there to be some organization holding the Linux trademark to prevent situations like one that recently occurred where an individual named Della Croce claimed a trademark on the name “Linux”, and began demanding royalties from anyone using the name.
The above case would not stand in the Court of Law. As everything in the space of free software is under free licenses, monopolising it with a copyright, trademark or patent is not legal.
- Many companies want and need some sort of central “Linux Authority.”
This necessity may be seen as there is no big company other than Redhat answering to their needs. Once providing such solutions is restricted to a single company, the job market for this would come down. So, not having company but having many professionals answering the problems would be ideal way and even increase the job market.
- Linux needs some sort of centralized advocacy organization for marketing purposes
Centralising the advocacy of Gnu/Linux would limit its scope of widening its wings. More the number of advocacy organizations emerge, more would be the advocacy that can happen, which also fills the need of marketing.
- Every other major operating system has a central organization
That doesnot mean its right. The lack of central organization has proved to be its strength.
- We need to have a way to encourage financial sponsorship of worthwhile development projects.
This statement limits the worthwhilness of free software projects. Its important to mention that every free software project is a worthwhile project. In the Software paradigm there can be no situation where lack of financial sponsorship becoming the reason for ending the project. For the project to move ahead, what we need is a developer and his computer(tool).
Now let us look at the advantages of the decentralisation:
- Independent organizations can act in their own best interests
So long as these various organizantions remain legally and truly independent, Linux will not run into some problems that have beset IBM and Apple.
- Having independent organizations reduces the incidence of bottlenecks.
Linux developers have nobody stopping them from introducing something new. Nobody is waiting for permission from Linux Torvalds for much of anything. Moreover, Linux developers can and typically do use standardized protocols that allow projects to work independently, which means we’re seldom foced to wait for any particular resource.
- When ownership of Linux is distributed to many people around the world, this discourages attempts to privatize Linux as any one person or organization’s asset.
This statement depicts the strength of the Free software.
Making the above 3 adavantages as pillars of strength, the free software movement is moving ahead with developing the software which humanity needs today.