FreeRunner delayed a further 6 months?!?!??

Kevin Dean kevin at
Wed Mar 19 03:25:18 CET 2008

On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 8:52 PM, Lally Singh <lally.singh at> wrote:

>  Yup, responding to my own post.  I've got more to say on this.
>  This'll be it for a while, I want to see how this community's going to
>  go without me dragging it kicking & screaming.
>  Growing up in a bunch of open-source projects, a developer has to
>  decide which ones to work with.  You can't work on every open source
>  project you use daily -- there are literally hundreds we touch as we
>  go.  Instead, we pick and choose.  How?  Two criteria:
>  1. The project itself.
>  2. The community.

I caution you in painting pictures of the community or it's members -
we're ALL self-centric and those self-centricities are often as wrong
as they are right.

My criterion to which projects to help have nothing to do with the
community but in many cases the lack of it. My single criterion is how
well the project meets my need. OpenMoko, for instance, didn't have
good documentation when I joined and documentation is something I
think is useful. My motivations to help the project come from purely
selfish motivations - the desire to fill in the gaps that matter to

Perhaps you allude to this, and if so, I agree. If not, then I ask you
to tak a step back and recognize the varied and diverse reasons that
people value Free Software.

>  If the community's really friendly and invites you in, you're more
>  likely to contribute.  If they reply to your inquries with a bunch of
>  RTFM, Write it yourself, or (what the rest really are saying) f*ck
>  off, then you're not going to go near them.

This next statement is going to reflect "poorly" on the Debian
community but I will, at this moment, disclaim my connection with them
so that the "bad" is my burden not theirs...

The first day I installed Debian GNU/Linux I was told "Read the
fucking manual". Back then, they weren't nice enough to abreviate it
for me. :)

You argue that every person treated "rudely" is a potential
contributor lost. Perhaps I'm in the obscure minority but it was that
notion of self-reliance, that "do it yourself or it won't get done
right" mentality that pushed me to contribute. I'm not a programmer in
the sense of any of the project's I've contributed to but I like to
think that I DO contribute to projects by being passionate and being

Every person told RTFM is a person being told to be responsible for
themselves. Where you see it inspiring a developer to avoid I project,
I see it inspiring a hacker to start hacking.

>  The "build it and they will come" mentality *DOES*NOT*WORK*.  I'll
>  remind you it came from a Kevin Costner movie, which really proves my
>  point.  You have to fight for every user.  The nice part is, you only
>  have to be nice and helpful... Things good leaders are anyway.

I don't disagree with you on points here. My only notice here is that
right NOW, OpenMoko is a "typical Free Software project". Fine. cool.
When OpenMoko goes "mass market" it will NOT be a typical project. All
of the axioms we've learned will be wrong at that point will be proven
or disproven but will hold no bearing on what a Free Software project
is. There has not yet been a Free Software project that set out, from
the begining, to bring freedom. Not Apache, not Linux. WHile they MAY
have achieved "critical mass" they didn't set out to be Free... GNU,
which DID set out to be Free, failed by not releasing a complete OS
"in time".

Again, I don't disagree with you here on principal, but I do question
the logic being asserted - OpenMoko is the ONLY platform advocating
use freedom and control so all of the evidence we have on one side or
the other is questionable at best.

>  If I get a few more of these well-poisoning messages I'm out -- my
>  efforts here would be wasted as the community would never go anywhere.

I've always found that my desire to join and contribute to projects
are directly related to how I see that project benefiting me. By my
worldview, if you see OpenMoko as benefiting you, what "the community"
does is irrelevant since YOU are the only one you can directly control
to provide that benefit to you. I see individuals working to meet
their needs, altruism fails dramatically when your goal is to appeal
to the mass market. You introduce several forms of diversity that
begin conflicting. There comes a point in that great slippery slope
when you must choose to do EVERYTHING and upset the "minimalist" or
leave things out and offend the people who want "thing A".

A project founded on freedom and control, that self-same "do it
yourself" mentlality, allows the use to do what matters to them, and
ignore the community. Democracy is a beautiful principal if you can
ignore the fact that the majority is not always right.

>   If people step up and actually try to build a real community, I'm in.
>   I think there are more than a few others who feel the same way.

With all of my criticism, I beleive that community is critical to the
development of ANYTHING, and Free Software projects specifically. I'm
not a coder, but I do beleive I have the capacity to write well and
communicate efficiently. That strength is something that is useful, so
I contribute it. Someone who is artistic can contribute in ways that a
structual, process-driven programmer can't begin to (though there are
some notible exceptions whom I can put name to). To reject these
strenghts is paramount to evolutionary suicide.

Yes to hold OpenMoko Inc. and FIC accountable to the strengths or
shortcomings of the people who choose to be attracted to the project
require a mindnumbing ignorance of reality. OpenMoko (as the project)
appeals to a BUNCH of people in a bunch of ways and no ONE is going to
be the "right" way. Personal responcibility means engaging yourself in
a community that may not be optimal. God forbit the "debian" elitists
who tried Ubuntu refused to help the Windows "lusers" who thought it
looked pretty.

OpenMoko is about freedom - the freedom to contribute how you can or
to not contribute at all. Where we go knowing that is on us.

>  --
>  H. Lally Singh
>  Ph.D. Candidate, Computer Science
>  Virginia Tech

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