Windowsless in Seattle, part 5

A paella by any other name is rice with things.

A traditional paella channelled by Seattle

That thing you see above is a Paella. It’s got all the traditional ingredients of a paella… not. It’s got some rice, which you would be able to see as soon as you eat the rest of the non-paellaish ingredients above. Mind you, it is not a bad thing. It was tasty and the rice was OK if a bit overcooked. But still it is not a paella.

You find thet not-paella pattern in free software all the time. Stuff released on GitHub without a proper license. Applications released after they have outlived their usefulness or dumped from a diskdrive as a single commit in a repository with no intention of working or them, or accepting pull requests or issues, never ever again.

Grokking free software is a few steps away from putting the source in a repository. Which is good, but not exactly a paella.

That is a fear many people have when they see big companies or institutions toying with free software. They dabble, they talk the talk, they sometimes don’t walk the walk.

I am not going to say Microsoft is walking the whole nine yards. There are some units, like the Azure SDK teams, which have gone as far as they can. Today we had a presentation by the Azure CLI project manager, and it is as authentic a free software project as it can be. They don’t leave stale pull requests, engage the community in issues and other channels, and it is in general a great tool for working with Azure.

And I like of course the Ubuntu and the new OpenSuSE and Fedora subsystems for Windows. They will allow Windows developers to access some linux tools that are not so readily availble in Windows, which is a step towards making free software more a natural part of the Windows ecosystem. Today we had this announcement as a part of a whole lot of other ones, and it was great. For instance, Remix3D is a wonderful tool that allows you to create 3D models and share them. I would be OK with not releasing any source code or an SDK for working with it, it goes with the FLOSS-fluid nature of Microsoft. But it would really have helped the cause of free knowledge if they had made possible to choose a creative commons license for the models, so that they would be available in other media. It is still a preview, but I would like to see that in the future. And come to think of it, an open source tool and format for inte grating it in any product out there, print it in 3D, use it from OpenShot or Pitivi, or, for that matter, anything.

Of course, Microsoft has the right to flow in one direction or another at any given moment. That’s the nature of gender-fluidity. It is also a big company, many units, strategies, interests. But some small steps towards sharing knowledge and software and creating a community are not going to hurt, and might impact positively the software development community.

Same as a well-made, traditional, paella of rice.

Check out parts 1, 2 and 3 and 4 of this series in Medium.