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Re: [ox-en] Translation complete: GNU/Linux - Milestone on the Way to the GPL Society

Stefan and others,

On Sunday 12 Dec 2004 20:03, Stefan Merten wrote:
As most Oekonux texts this one also can be commented on as an
OpenTheory project under

I couldn't see where to make general comments on that page, so here are some 
thoughts I had whilst reading it.

1) GNU/Linux has exchange value, and that is significant. You dismiss the fact 
that companies have based profit models on Free Software as being temporary, 
something that will disintegrate when all software is released under the GPL 
(what about other licenses?). Of course for hackers, the exchange value is 
irrelevant - or rather, invisible - to the account of their mode of 
production. They are working outside of the capitalist paradigm, unalienated.

But is it not significant that a product and a mode of production that is 
unalienated, that isn't created fetishistic commodities, can also have an 
exchange value? GNU/Linux is embedded in a capitalist paradigm and is, at the 
same time, challenging it and making it irrelevant. It strikes me that 
because of this, GNU/Linux poses part of an answer to Andre Gorz's challenge 
to find spaces within capitalist society in which life unfolds freely, and 
that can become increasingly broad with time.

2) Why have you not accounted for paid work on GNU/Linux? Many hackers are 
paid full or part time wages for their work on Free Software projects, and 
wouldn't be able to dedicate anywhere near the amount of time that they do 
otherwise. This fact raises two questions: a) are they still unalienated? And 
b) will this cease to be relevant as the proprietary software industry 
withers away, leaving the only gpl society? You also have to account for the 
subtleties of the hackers' positions, including those who would otherwise 
work for free but are able to do more work when paid; those who would do 
exactly the same work anyway but happen to be paid; and those who have no 
committment to Free Software and just happen to be paid for working on Free 

3) Section 3.3 presumes a certain ideological committment on behalf of the 
hackers. In particular, you discount paid work, the desire for market share 
as evidences by dedicated promotional teams in many projects (e.g. KDE, Gnome 
and, and you make an astonishing and vague remark about 
users / consumers that seems to have no evidence. As an idealised explication 
it works, but as an analysis of the mode of production that GNU/Linux 
represents it's wildly inaccurate and simplistic. I think it would be worth 
treating this section more with the latter of the two approaches, conceding 
the differences between the ideal and the reality, opening this area up to 
further research.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the paper. I found it both informative and illuminating, 
and useful for an undergraduate dissertation I am writing on the Hacker Ethic 
and alienation (n.b. in Germany you call what I am writing an undergraduate 

Kind regards,

I'm aware that e-mails to me may be blocked by my host
because they are mistaken as spam. If this happens, 
please e-mail me at: telex4

Organization: projekt

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