Trust the process

Monday, 24 May 2004

I originally posted this as a response to a story on Groklaw.

Hello Pamela,

I’m not sure I understand your hullabaloo about who gets to decide what goes in Linux. RedHat has been putting things in the kernel that Linus hasn’t yet or never did accept, since forever. Others have done similar stuff. There’s a couple patch-sets that are popular (-mm and -ac, to name the biggest ones (I think)). Yet without Linus’ blessings, these efforts have been tremendously popular and they certainly haven’t been detrimental for Linux. Even the dreaded traditional fragmentation disease Unixoid systems are afflicted with is nowhere to be seen.

When I read that you express trust to authors, I can’t help but feel you haven’t understood what free software really means, because that is exactly what free software is not about. Linus himself has said that free software is great because you don’t need to trust any of the participants, so long as you trust the process.

Linus has never been very fervent about defining what Linux should be – just very vocal about some things it shouldn’t be. This course of action has served it perfectly so far. Why would we have to act any differently?

Linux can’t even be any one thing, because it is used by more than one person. Only in the world of proprietary commercial vendors is there an all-encompassing vision for the future of computing. In a liberated world, diversity and adaptation is the most important characteristic of solutions. The strength of free software is that it can do exactly that – that it can be anything and everything to each and every of its users.

Companies will play their cards and users will play theirs; all that matters is that everyone be vigilant about enforcing the freedom of the source. If you don’t like the way CA moves, but some people want what CA have to offer – why should you worry?

Let go of the fears.

Trust the process.