There's no such thing as free lunch... (yea, I'm pointing at you FOSS)

This is a discussion on There's no such thing as free lunch... (yea, I'm pointing at you FOSS) within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; GAH! I'm so stressed from setting this open source library to work. I'm just this close to banging my head ...

  1. #1
    In the Land of Diddly-Doo g4j31a5's Avatar
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    There's no such thing as free lunch... (yea, I'm pointing at you FOSS)

    GAH! I'm so stressed from setting this open source library to work. I'm just this close to banging my head on the table or punch my own self. There's no such thing as free lunch indeed. Open Source while doesn't cost you any money, it costs you something else, precious time and probably sanity. T_T

    Sorry guys, just letting go some steam here.
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  2. #2
    ... kermit's Avatar
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    It reminds me of something an inoculated Linux hater once said: "Linux is only free if your time is worth nothing." It's true though enough that you get what you pay for. In this case, it looks like vendor support would be nice.

    What is it that you are working on?

  3. #3
    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    You mean more time than it would have taken to write it yourself?
    If you dance barefoot on the broken glass of undefined behaviour, you've got to expect the occasional cut.
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  4. #4
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    Two things:

    1) The word "free" in "Free Open Source Software" does not refer to the monetary cost. It refers to the terms of use (hence, free as in freedom) -- you are free to do (almost) anything you want with it, relative to more traditional and proprietary closed source software, which does not permit such freedoms. One of those freedoms is that you yourself can sell it to others (even if you are not the author, and did not pay anyone for it).

    Point being: There are people you can pay for linux, in which case you would get vendor support.* If not, then that's right: you're on your own. This is an unfortunate coincidence of these two, completely unrelated, meanings for the English word "free" (eg, I think the issue does not exist in romance languages where there are two words, one from the latin root gratis (meaning without cost) and one from the latin root libre (as in liberty, meaning unrestricted)). People who misunderstand this and rush to FOSS purely because they are looking for a "free lunch" are indeed often bound for disappointment. Ie, you are confused and have made a (common) mistake. You still have a choice: Do I want to pay someone who understands it to help me with this? Or do I want to put in my own time trying to figure it out?

    2) This is not a consumerist model, and the "target audience" may or may not be "just anyone". There are no promises of satisfaction or similar claims. That's right: if you don't like it, find a solution that better suits you. IMO it's largely a matter of what you are used to. I have still not compiled a single program on windows because I am procrastinating dealing the the hassles that I will find there, and there is no motive for me to want to. Different strokes...I think it's a terrific philosophy, but it does not surprise me at all that it does not suit the tastes of your average consumer. So it's not for everybody -- IMO it's not even for most people.

    Finally, you didn't name the library. Of course there is bad FOSS software just like there is bad orange juice. If I gave you a glass, this does not necessarily mean that FRUIT is bad.

    * you can then turn around and distribute for free what you paid for, since that is one of the permitted liberties. But obviously, it would be impossible for you to re-sell support you cannot provide.
    Last edited by MK27; 07-02-2010 at 07:33 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
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    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  5. #5
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    I, too, find many open source libraries sorely lacking in features, stability, documentation and of course support.

  6. #6
    {Jaxom,Imriel,Liam}'s Dad Kennedy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba View Post
    I, too, find many open source libraries sorely lacking in features, stability, documentation and of course support.
    As are most M$ programmers. Those of us who have been using Open Source solutions for (pulling a number out of our ears) 16 years, know a bit more how to touch these things and don't have a problem. Most of the time, if you cannot figure out how to configure something you begin to scream "no documentation" were the fact of the matter is that the documentation was right there in front of your face but you didn't read it.

    These guys that make this stuff don't do it ad-hock as this thread seems to lean on. Most of the Open source stuff is far more stable than things that M$ releases.

    My 0.02USD.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kennedy View Post
    As are most M$ programmers. Those of us who have been using Open Source solutions for (pulling a number out of our ears) 16 years, know a bit more how to touch these things and don't have a problem. Most of the time, if you cannot figure out how to configure something you begin to scream "no documentation" were the fact of the matter is that the documentation was right there in front of your face but you didn't read it.

    These guys that make this stuff don't do it ad-hock as this thread seems to lean on. Most of the Open source stuff is far more stable than things that M$ releases.

    My 0.02USD.
    Just more 0.02USD also a lot of the "non-documented" can be found in the "documents" like mailing lists, user forums and so on, where you can get a lot of feedback from other people which IMHO is the main point of "free" and "open" software.

  8. #8
    Registered User C_ntua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK27 View Post
    The word "free" in "Free Open Source Software" does not refer to the monetary cost. It refers to the terms of use (hence, free as in freedom) -- you are free to do (almost) anything you want with it, relative to more traditional and proprietary closed source software, which does not permit such freedoms. One of those freedoms is that you yourself can sell it to others (even if you are not the author, and did not pay anyone for it).

    Point being: There are people you can pay for linux, in which case you would get vendor support.* If not, then that's right: you're on your own. This is an unfortunate coincidence of these two, completely unrelated, meanings for the English word "free" (eg, I think the issue does not exist in romance languages where there are two words, one from the latin root gratis (meaning without cost) and one from the latin root libre (as in liberty, meaning unrestricted))
    Well, I know for sure that in Greek they are differed and I believe you are right about the latin root as well.
    I am not a fan of English, but actually in this case free is implying something more. That can be "free from cost" or "free from restrictions". It could mean free from bugs if you wanted to. You just have to guess the rest. So it is not so much a problem of free as a word, its just a problem of not using a more descriptive word. Something in like "costless" or "restrictionless". Or just "no-cost" or "no-restirctions".
    Personally, before reading your post, I would think that free meant free from cost. Would never have thought that it could mean free from restriction or free to use as you want. That is the first thing that comes in mind when you think about software.

  9. #9
    C++ Witch laserlight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C_ntua
    I am not a fan of English, but actually in this case free is implying something more. That can be "free from cost" or "free from restrictions". It could mean free from bugs if you wanted to. You just have to guess the rest. So it is not so much a problem of free as a word, its just a problem of not using a more descriptive word. Something in like "costless" or "restrictionless". Or just "no-cost" or "no-restirctions".
    I agree, but I also agree when the Free Software Foundation claims that alternatives have potential ambiguity problems as well. For example, "no-restrictions" does not describe the principle of Free Software very well (e.g., the GPL, which is a Free Software license, does impose restrictions), and the fact that it is a negation could be a negative factor. It does not describe Open Source principles either, as the Open Source Definition does not require Open Source licenses to have no restrictions.

    Interestingly, g4j31a5 mentioned "FOSS", "open source" and "free lunch", but not Free Software, except as lumped into the "FOSS" abbreviation. For all the efforts of the Open Source Initiative, it seems that "open source" is now also synonymous with "free, as in beer (given away at zero price)".
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  10. #10
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    "Free" in open source (meaning freedom) is a relative term, if there is one.

    Anyways, not all open source projects are born equal. It seems g4j31a5 may have hit one of the less equal.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    My 0.02USD.
    And that's about what it is worth.

    As are most M$ programmers.
    What happens when we assume? No one mentioned MS at all in this thread. Microsoft is not the only 'closed-source' company out there. To equate closed source solely with Microsoft is assinine. Especially when recently we have seen that the primary company promoting 'Open source' is in fact quite 'Closed source' when the 'Open source' paradigm doesn't fit into their grander schemes. They are no better than MS and they have worse products.

    where you can get a lot of feedback from other people which IMHO is the main point of "free" and "open" software.
    Unfortunately more often than not this 'advice' and feedback is not all that great nor all that accurate.

    Just more 0.02USD also a lot of the "non-documented" can be found in the "documents" like mailing lists
    Haha. Next time I write a library I'll remember to use mailing lists, forums, emails, and all sorts of other items as 'documentation' as opposed to providing a help file and/or doxygen for the entire thing in one place.

    Most of the Open source stuff is far more stable than things that M$ releases.
    Again you have a hang up with MS and you equate everything Open Source as anti-MS and vice versa. I assure you there are thousands of companies that are Closed Source that have nothing to do with MS and their software is quite stable.

    Those of us who have been using Open Source solutions for (pulling a number out of our ears) 16 years, know a bit more how to touch these things and don't have a problem.
    As if I've never used an open source project in my life. Teach me Obi-Wan and I will learn the ways of Open Source from the master.

  12. #12
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    There are good and bad open source software, and there are good and bad closed source software.

    I assure you I've had equally much trouble getting some closed source software to work.

    What's the point of this thread?

    No there's no free lunch. But that's better than paying and not getting lunch.

  13. #13
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyberfish View Post
    What's the point of this thread?

    No there's no free lunch. But that's better than paying and not getting lunch.
    I think the OP was talking about an open source that wasn't working for him. Are you sure that's the point of this thread? Because that's often the type of answer you get on many of these so-called forums and mailing lists some here are trying to advertise as great places to learn about the open source project.

    "What, don't like it? Write your own! [...] Are you so stupid you can't understand a simple library? [...] No, we aren't going to correct this bug that exists for 2 years. Correct it yourself."

    Sorry, but paying for my lunch usually tastes better. You see, accountability still means something to me!
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  14. #14
    Registered User C_ntua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserlight View Post
    I agree, but I also agree when the Free Software Foundation claims that alternatives have potential ambiguity problems as well. For example, "no-restrictions" does not describe the principle of Free Software very well (e.g., the GPL, which is a Free Software license, does impose restrictions), and the fact that it is a negation could be a negative factor. It does not describe Open Source principles either, as the Open Source Definition does not require Open Source licenses to have no restrictions.

    Interestingly, g4j31a5 mentioned "FOSS", "open source" and "free lunch", but not Free Software, except as lumped into the "FOSS" abbreviation. For all the efforts of the Open Source Initiative, it seems that "open source" is now also synonymous with "free, as in beer (given away at zero price)".
    In wikipedia I see "FOSS.. is software that is liberally licensed". How about LLOSS.
    It sounds more familiar than FOSS, the meaning is clear, liberally licenced is easy to say.

    I wouldn't actually blame them for naming it FOSS, but another name would have saved some confusion. And still they would have a point that free licenced might not completely describe the intentions/principles so using something more vague and general, like free, is more appropriate.

    Of course, in any case, free doesn't mean free of time

  15. #15
    In the Land of Diddly-Doo g4j31a5's Avatar
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    Well, I'm doing a project using Simulation Core and Delta 3D. Currently I'm having a "great" time building it and its dependencies. Library is actually pretty solid with all those organizations ar government behind it, but I don't know why I can't seem to make it work. I've done everything from the documentation, checked out the newest in trunk, I've even rebuilt the dependencies, but still can't built it right. I've asked the forum but still got no answer. Maybe it's because I'm using an extra library that they said is still a new feature.

    The bad thing about open source is you have to build it based on its dependencies. If the dependencies are deep enough, you'll probably gonna hit an error here and there. If you want to use a newer version of the dependency, you'll have to work more. A lot more if they decided to refactor the said dependency or even dump one of the dependecy's dependency in favor of a new one. So your productive time will end up being wasted asking in forums / mailing lists to ask how to build the library (and the dependencies).

    I've worked with an open source library once, although the dependency is not deep enough, SDL. I actually pretty satisfied with SDL. And I admit the idea of free software is great, however in reality it is harder to work with.

    I've also had an experience with a commercial engine, Torque. The good thing about commercial library/engine is I can directly use it straight from the box and doesn't have to waste time building all its components. Although its documentation and support is rather poor, but compared to the open source's community based support (and unpredictable behaviour from all those dependencies), I kinda feel that it was better. At least it has got a book that explained all about the engine.

    Just my two cents about open source.
    Last edited by g4j31a5; 07-03-2010 at 05:46 AM.
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