Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Column: Cathedrals, Bazaars and Advocates

In “The Cathedral and The Bazaar” Eric S. Raymond tried to convince the world that the open source development model (the bazaar) was better and cheaper than the traditional -closed- model (the cathedral). Of course this it utter nonsense. When I think of a bazaar I remember the soukh of Marrakech or Casablanca. Narrow, dark corridors and small streets filled with dozens of merchants, pulling your sleeves, yelling at you and offering the same merchandise as their fellows.

Now, cathedrals are a different story. Yes, they were erected by exploiting poor farmers, who were squashed by a corrupt political and religious system which did not hesitate to call in the help of the inquisition to silence any sign of protest. But who remembers that when you walk through the front gate. “Wow!” is a most common exclamation. See, the guys from Microsoft understand that.

The almost religiously inspired followers of Linux can be compared to protestants. An old saying states, that when two protestants start to discuss a thing you have a schism. Put two open source developers in the same room and you have a ‘fork’. Protestant churches are dull, functional to the max. Need I continue? To be functional is at the heart of the Unix philosophie. No “wow!” there.

One of the key problems of Linux is the lack of a proper advocate, it has mostly admirers. In his book “Vicars of Christ” the priest Peter de Rosa gives an honest and shocking account of the papacy. But, he states, 2.000 years later the institute still exists. With the cathedrals. Similar accounts were written about the innards of Microsoft by former and current Windows adepts in the last decennium. With all the real and alleged security leaks we might elect Windows XP to be thé most important peer2peer filesharing program. Yet, the “wow! is now” and sales continue.

This is what the Linux world lacks, the willingness to shoot the whole shebang to pieces. To be ruthless in exposing what is wrong, to put the finger on the sore spot and rub salt in the wounds. True, there is criticism but that comes from the outside, from those ‘Windoze’ users. No, Linux needs a true devil’s advocate, an admirer. Someone who doesn’t mind to give the bazaar a thorough cleaning. Someone with the looks, the office and the attractive staff of Al Pacino.

Now let’s see where Jos put my office..

This is the first column written for, a Dutch website for Ubuntu users and friends, run by Jos Herni.

Tags: Linux, Windows, Digiplace


Single Post Navigation

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: