[[Here's the thing about gifts: the sender chooses them, not...

Here’s the thing about gifts: the sender chooses them, not the recipient. We can have norms around what gifts are appropriate, and agreements to not over-spend, and wishlists, and so on. But I won’t always get the exact gift I want. Sometimes I didn’t even want a gift. Sometimes the gift interprets JNDI strings in my log messages and executes random code from my LDAP server. This is the nature of gifts.

On the other hand, the best gifts are the things I never would have bought for myself, because they seemed too expensive or I didn’t even realize I would like them or they were too much work to obtain, or because someone hand-made them just for me. These feel like luxuries of the sort capitalism cannot produce, because deciding, going out, and buying something for myself isn’t luxury, it’s everyday. It’s lonely. It’s a negotiation. It’s limited by my own lack of creativity.

The best part of free software is it sometimes produces stuff you never would have been willing to pay to develop (Linux), and sometimes at quality levels too high to be rational for the market to provide (sqlite).

The worst part of free software is you get what you get, and the developers don’t have to listen to you. (And as a developer, the gift recipients aren’t always so grateful either.)

Free software is a gift