June 15, 2001

Web review: BadTux not a bad place to pick up the flavor of Free Software

Author: JT Smith

- By Tina Gasperson -

Eric Lee Green has lots of opinions. No one but he knows just how many, but he's seen fit to share many of them at his Web site, Badtux.org. His latest tirade isn't really a tirade at all; it's more like a look at a computer guy's delight: Setting up his new laptop with Linux.The laptop saga helps to prove that Green isn't just a curmudgeon with a grudge against Microsoft. But my favorite essay at Badtux is entitled, "I bought it, it's mine." It's a cutting, logical argument against proprietary software licenses and UCITA, one that stands out in a sea of rants on a topic that is the cornerstone of the Free Software philosophy.

For instance, he describes the problem with paying for software before we even understand the license to which we must agree in order to use it legally:

"Let's talk about contract ('tort') law for a moment. Traditionally, contract law required that there be a 'meeting of the minds', where two people got together and agreed to something. One person could not make an agreement in somebody else's name and have it binding or valid. Thus traditionally, contracts have been required to be signed by representatives of both parties."

He also gives a great argument that copyright law is sufficient to protect Microsoft from what it calls "piracy," and that its attempts at ever more restrictive licensing are simply to suck as much money as possible without allowing people full access to software that they paid for and own.

All the essays about at Badtux are worth noting. They are well-written and put the author's points across convincingly, and entertainingly.

Badtux.org also contains a selection of Green's original music, birthed of musical influences from Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan. There's also a selection of headlines that have sparked more commentary from Green, and a great big all-day-long explorable collection of bookmarks about much more than just Free Software.

Badtux ain't bad. See what you think.

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