Light

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git vs. hg - offensive

In many discussions on DVCS over the years I have been fair, friendly and technical while receiving vitriol and misinformation and FUD. This strip visualizes the impression which stuck to my mind when talking to casual git-users.

Update: I found a very calm discussion at a place where I did not expect it: reddit. I’m sorry to you, guys. Thank you for proving that a constructive discussion is possible from both sides! I hope that you are not among the ones offended by this strip.

To Hg-users: There are git users who really understand what they are doing and who stick to arguments and friendly competition. This comic arose from the many frustrating experiences with the many other git users. Please don’t let this strip trick you into going down to non-constructive arguments. Let’s stay friendly. I already feel slightly bad about this short move into competition-like visualization for a topic where I much prefer friendly, constructive discussions. But it sucks to see contributors stumble over git, so I think it was time for this.

»I also think that git isn’t the most beginner-friendly program. That’s why I’m using only its elementary features«

git vs. hg - offensive

To put the strip in words, let’s complete the quote:

»I also think that git isn’t the most beginner-friendly program.
That’s why I’m using only its elementary features«
<ArneBab> I hear that from many git-users…
»oh, maybe I should have another look at hg after all«

Why this?

Because there are far too many Git-Users who only dare using the most basic commands which makes git at best useless and at worst harmful.

This is not the fault of the users. It is the fault of the tool.

This strip is horrible!

If you are offended by this strip: You knew the title when you came here, right?

And if you are offended enough, that you want to make your own strip and set things right, go grab the source-file, fire up krita and give me what I deserve! This strip is free.1

Commentary

If you feel that this strip fits Mercurial and Git perfectly, keep in mind, that this is only one aspect of the situation, and that using Git is still much better than being forced to use centralized or proprietary version tracking (and people who survive the initial phase mostly unscarred can actually do the same with Git as they could with Mercurial).


  1. All the graphics in this strip are available under free licenses: creative-commons attribution or GPLv3 or later — you decide which of those you use. If it is cc attribution, call me Arne Babenhauserheide and link to this article. You’ll find all the sources as well as some preliminary works and SVGs in git-vs-hg-offensive.tar_.gz or git-vs-hg-offensive.zip (whichever you prefer)

    cc by GPLv3

Factual Errors in “Git vs Mercurial: Why Git?” from Atlassian

2 years ago, Atlassian developer Charles O’Farrell published the article Git vs. Mercurial: Why Git? in which he “showed the winning side of Git” as he sees it. This article was part of the Dev Tools series at Atlassian and written as a reply to the article Why Mercurial?. It was spiced with so much misinformation that the comments exploded right away. But the article was never corrected. Just now I was referred to the text again, and I decided to do what I should have done 2 years ago: Write an answer which debunks the myths.

Wicked Words! on Patreon

John Wick is entering the patreon arena with the Wicked Words! Magazine: Adventures, GM Advice, Little Games, Stories, The Works!

There’s an update with a Happy ending on 1w6.org/english/wicked-words-patreon!

  Yay!

This is really good news for online publishing, because it shows by example how roleplaying games and shortstories enter a new stage on the web: Fan-Funded periodicals.

Write multiple images on a single page in org-mode.

How to add show multiple images on one page in the latex-export of emacs org-mode. I had this problem. This is my current solution.

Unicode char \u8:χ not set up for use with LaTeX: Solution (made easy with Emacs)

For years I regularly stumbled over LaTeX-Errors in the form of Unicode char \u8:χ not set up for use with LaTeX. I always took the chickens path and replaced the unicode characters with the tex-escapes in the file. That was easy, but it made my files needlessly unreadable. Today I decided to FIX the problem once and for all. And it worked. Easily.

Firstoff: The problem I’m facing is that my keyboard layout makes it effortless for me to input characters like ℂ Σ and χ. But LaTeX cannot cope with them out-of-the-box.

Publish a single file with emacs org-mode

I often write small articles on some experience I make, and since I want to move towards using static pages more often, I tried using emacs org-mode publishing for that. Strangely the simple usecase of publishing a single file seems quite a bit more complex than needed, so I document the steps here.

This is my first use of org-publish, so I likely do not use it perfectly. But as it stands, it works. You can find the org-publish version of this article at draketo.de/proj/orgmode-single-file.

How to show the abstract before the table of contents in org-mode

I use Emacs Org-Mode for writing all kinds of articles. The standard format for org-mode is to show the table of contents before all other content, but that requires people to scroll down to see whether the article is interesting for them. Therefore I want the abstract to be shown before the table of contents.

Top 5 systemd troubles - a strategic view for distros

systemd is a new way to start a Linux-system with the expressed goal of rethinking all of init. These are my top 5 gripes with it. (»skip the updates«)

Update (2014-12-11): One more deconstruction of the strategies around systemd: systemd: Assumptions, Bullying, Consent. It shows that the attitude which forms the root of the dangers of systemd is even visible in its very source code.

Update (2014-11-19): The Debian General Resolution resulted in “We do not need a general resolution to decide systemd”. The vote page provides detailed results and statistics. Ian Jackson resigned from the Technical Committee: “And, speaking personally, I am exhausted.”

Update (2014-10-16): There is now a vote on a General Resolution in Debian for preserving the ability to switch init systems. It is linked under “Are there better solutions […]?” on the site Shall we fork Debian™? :^|.

Update (2014-10-07): Lennart hetzt (german) describes the rhetoric tricks used by Lennart Poettering to make people forget that he is a major part of the communication problems we’re facing at times - and to hide valid technical, practical, pragmatical, political und strategical criticism of Systemd.

Update (2014-09-24): boycott systemd calls for action with 12 reasons against systemd: “We do recognize the need for a new init system in the 21st century, but systemd is not it.”

Update (2014-04-03): And now we have Julian Assange warning about NSA control over Debian, Theodore Ts’o, maintainer of ext4, complaining about incomprehensible systemd, and Linus Torvalds (you know him, right?) rant against disrupting behavior from systemd developers, going as far as refusing to merge anything from the developers in question into Linux. Should I say “I said so”? Maybe not. After all, I came pretty late. Others saw this trend 2 years before I even knew about systemd. Can we really assume that there won’t be intentional disruption? Maybe I should look for solutions. It could be a good idea to start having community-paid developers.

Update (2014-02-18): An email to the mailing list of the technical committee of debian summarized the strategic implications of systemd-adoption for Debian and RedHat. It was called conspiracy theory right away, but the gains for RedHat are obvious: RedHat would be dumb not to try this. And only a fool trusts a company. Even the best company has to put money before ethics.

Update (2013-11-20): Further reading shows that people have been giving arguments from my list since 2011, and they got answers in the range of “anything short of systemd is dumb”, “this cannot work” (while OpenRC clearly shows that it works well), requests for implementation details without justification and insults and further insults; but the arguments stayed valid for the last 2 years. That does not look like systemd has a friendly community - or is healthy for distributions adopting it. Also an OpenRC developer wrote the best rebuttal of systemd propaganda I read so far: “Alternativlos”: Systemd propaganda (note, though, that I am biased against systemd due to problems I had in the past with udev kernel-dependencies)

Phoronix conclusions distort their results, shown with the example of GCC vs. LLVM/Clang On AMD's FX-8350 Vishera

Phoronix recently did a benchmark of GCC vs. LLVM on AMD hardware. Sadly their conclusion did not fit the data they showed. Actually it misrepresented the data so strongly, that I decided to speak up here instead of having my comments disappear in their forums. This post was started on 2013-05-14 and got updates when things changed - first for the better, then for the worse.

Update 3 (the last straw, 2013-11-09): In the recent most blatant attack by Phoronix on copyleft programs - this time openly targeted at GNU - Michael Larabel directly misrepresented a post from Josh Klint to badmouth GDB (Josh confirmed this1). Josh gave a report of his initial experience with GDB in a Kickstarter Update in which he reported some shortcomings he saw in GDB (of which the major gripe is easily resolved with better documentation2) and concluded with “the limitations of GDB are annoying, but I can deal with it. It's very nice to be able to run and debug our editor on Linux”. Michael Larabel only quoted the conclusion up to “annoying” and abused that to support the claim that game developers (in general) call GDB “crap” and for further badmouthing of GDB. With this he provided the straw which I needed to stop reading Phoronix: Michael Larabel is hostile to copyleft and in particular to GNU and he goes as far as rigging test results3 and misrepresenting words of others to further his agenda. I even donated to Phoronix a few times in the past. I guess I won’t do that again, either. I should have learned from the error of the german pirates and should have avoided reading media which is controlled by people who want to destroy what I fight for (sustainable free software).
Update 2 (2013-07-06): But the next went down the drain again… “Of course, LLVM/Clang 3.3 still lacks OpenMP support, so those tests are obviously in favor of GCC.” — I couldn’t find a better way to say that those tests are completely useless while at the same time devaluing OpenMP support as “ignore this result along with all others where GCC wins”…
Update (2013-06-21): The recent report of GCC 4.8 vs. LLVM 3.3 looks much better. Not perfect, but much better.


  1. Josh Klint from Leadwerks confirmed that Phoronix misrepresented his post and wrote a followup-post: » @ArneBab That really wasn't meant to be controversial. I was hoping to provide constructive feedback from the view of an Xcode / VS user.« » Slightly surprised my complaints about GDB are a hot topic. I can make just as many criticisms of other compilers and IDEs.« » The first 24 hours are the best for usability feedback. I figure if they notice a pattern some of those things will be improved.« » GDB Follwup «@Leadwerks, 2:04 AM - 11 Nov 13, 2:10 AM - 11 Nov 13 and @JoshKlint, 2:07 AM - 11 Nov 13, 8:48 PM - 11 Nov 13

  2. The first-impression criticism from Josh Klint was addressed by a Phoronix reader by pointing to the frame command. I do not blame Josh for not knowing all tricks: He wrote a fair account of his initial experience with GDB (and he said later that he wrote the post after less than 24 hours of using GDB, because he considers that the best time to provide feedback) and his experience can serve as constructive criticism to improve tutorials, documentation and the UI of GDB. Sadly his visibility and the possible impact of his work on free software made it possible for Phoronix to abuse a personal report as support for a general badmouthing of the tool. In contrast the full message of Josh Klint ended really positive: Although some annoyances and limitations have been discovered, overall I have found Linux to be a completely viable platform for application development. — Josh Klint, Leadwerks 

  3. I know that rigging of tests is a strong claim. The actions of Michael Larabel deserve being called rigging for three main reasons: (1) Including compile-time data along with runtime performance without clear distinction between both, even though compile-time of the full code is mostly irrelevant when you use a proper build system and compile time and runtime are completely different classes of results, (2) including pointless tests between incomparable setups whose only use is to relativate any weakness of his favorite system and (3) blatantly lying in the summaries (as I show in this article). 

Making websafe colors safe for colorblind people

I just made the colors of my plotting framework safe for colorblind people (thanks to Paul Tol’s notes) and I want to share a very nice result I got: How to make the really websafe colors safe for colorblind people with minimal changes.

mostly websafe and colorblindsafe websafe but NOT colorblind safe

(the colorblind-safe colors are on the left, the original websafe colors on the right)

To do so, I turned to Color Oracle (for simulation of colorblindness directly on my screen) and Emacs rainbow-mode (for seeing the colors while editing the hex-codes - as shown in the screenshots above) and tweaked the color codes bit by bit, until they were distinguishable in the simulation of Deuteranopia, Protanopia and Tritanopia.

Installing Scipy and PyNIO on a Bare Cluster with the Intel Compiler

2 years ago I had the task of running a python-program using scipy on our university cluster, using the Intel Compiler. I needed all those (as well as PyNIO and some other stuff) for running TM5 with the python shell on the HC3 of KIT.

This proved to be quite a bit more challenging than I had expected - but it was very interesting, too (and there I learned the basics of GNU autotools which still help me a lot).

But no one should have to go to the same effort with as little guidance as I had, so I decided to publish the script and the patches I created for installing everything we needed.1

The script worked 2 years ago, so you might have to fix some bits. I won’t promise that this contains everything you need to run the script - or that it won’t be broken when you install it. Actually I won’t promise anything at all, except that if the stuff here had been available 2 years ago, that could have saved me about 2 months of time (each of the patches here required quite some tracking of problems, experimenting and fixing, until it provided basic functionality - but actually I enjoyed doing that - I learned a lot - I just don’t want to be forced to do it again). Still, this stuff contains quite some hacks - even a few ugly ones. But it worked.

Installing GNU Guix 0.6, easily

Org-Source (for editing)

PDF (for printing)

“Got a power-outage while updating? No problem: Everything still works”

GNU Guix is the new functional package manager from the GNU Project which complements the Nix-Store with a nice Guile Scheme based package definition format.

What sold it to me was “Got a power-outage while updating? No problem: Everything still works” from the Guix talk of Ludovico at the GNU Hacker Meeting 2013. My son once found the on-off-button of our power-connector while I was updating my Gentoo box. It took me 3 evenings to get it completely functional again. This would not have happened with Guix.

Update (2014-05-17): Thanks to zerwas from IRC @ freenode for the patch to guix 0.6 and nice cleanup!

Intro

Installation of GNU Guix is straightforward, except if you follow the docs, but it’s not as if we’re not used to that from other GNU utilities, which often terribly short-sell their quality with overly general documentation ☺

So I want to provide a short guide how to setup and run GNU Guix with ease. My system natively runs Gentoo, My system natively runs Gentoo, so some details might vary for you. If you use Gentoo, you can simply copy the commands here into the shell, but better copy them to a text-file first to ensure that I do not try to trick you into doing evil things with the root access you need.

In short: This guide provides the First Contact and Black Triangle for GNU Guix.

Communicating your project: honest marketing for free software projects

Communicating your project is an essential step for getting users. Here I summarize my experience from working on several different projects including KDE (where I learned the basics of PR - yay, sebas!), the Hurd (where I could really make a difference by improving the frontpage and writing the Month of the Hurd), Mercurial (where I practiced the minimally invasive PR) and 1d6 (my own free RPG where I see how much harder it is to do PR, if the project to communicate is your own).

Since voicing the claim that marketing is important often leads to discussions with people who hate marketing of any kind, I added an appendix with an example which illustrates nicely what happens when you don’t do any PR - and what happens if you do PR of the wrong kind.

If you’re pressed for time and want the really short form, just jump to the questionnaire.

Use the source, Luke! — Emacs org-mode beamer export with images in figure

I just needed to tweak my Emacs org-mode to beamer-latex export to embed images into a figure environment (not wrapfigure!). After lots of googling and documentation reading I decided to bite the bullet and just read the source. Which proved to be much easier than I had expected.

This tutorial requires at least org-mode 8.0 (before that you had to use hacks to get figure without a caption). It is only tested for org-mode 8.0.2: The code you see when you read the source might look different in other versions.

default answer to “I want to connect with you on [hip unfree service]”

I just decided to give a default answer when I get some email from people asking me to connect to them on some new unfree service:

Hello [Person],

You asked me to connect with you on some unfree service. If you still want that, just use a status.net-server. Those are federated, so you can use a number of different providers and still be connected to everyone on any other server.

Surprising behaviour of Fortran (90/95)

1 Introduction

I recently started really learning Fortran (as opposed to just dabbling with existing code until it did what I wanted it to).

Here I document the surprises I found along the way.

As reference: I come from Python, C++ and Lisp, and I actually started to like Fortran while learning it. So the horror-stories I heard while studying were mostly proven wrong. I uploaded the complete code as base60-surprises.f90.

timezones of tccon stations

Timezones of most active TCCON stations in UTC+x (without daylight saving time (DST). Because I needed it and could not find a simple list quickly.

anmyondo: +9,
ascension: 0,
bialystok: +1,
bremen: +1,
caltech: -8,
darwin: 9, # Timezones2008 says 9 1/2???

Equal-Area Map Projections with Basemap and matplotlib/pylab

PDF (read as slides)

Org (reproduce)

Plotting global equal area maps with python, matplotlib/pylab and Basemap.

Table of Contents

information-disbalance creates a power-disbalance

→ a comment to You call it privacy invasion, I don't from Flameeyes.

What you state is a strong version of the “I’ve got nothing to hide” argument. If you’re interested in a thorough debunking, there is a very good article in the chronicle about that: Why Privacy Matters even if you have nothing to hide.

Thank you for your Flattr’s! | Danke für eure Flattr! | Dankon por vian Flattrn!

It’s always a great feeling to see a flattr - Thank you for your support!
You can find new free works for you enjoyment on draketo.de (infrequent and bursty) and 1w6.org (currently weekly but mostly in German).

ArneBab on Flattr

Es ist ein tolles Gefühl, geflattrd zu werden - Danke für eure Unterstützung!

Basic usecases for DVCS: Workflow Failures

If you came here searching for a way to set the username in Mercurial: just edit $HOME/.hgrc and add
    [ui]
    username = YOURNAME <EMAIL>
If that file does not exist, simply create it.

Update (2013-04-18): In #mercurial @ irc.freenode.net there were discussions yesterday for improving the help output if you do not have your username setup, yet.

1 Intro

I recently tried contributing to a new project again, and I was quite surprised which hurdles can be in your way, when you did not setup your environment, yet.

So I decided to put together a small test for the basic workflow: Cloning a project, doing and testing a change and pushing it back.

I did that for Git and Mercurial, because both break at different points.

I’ll express the basic usecase in Subversion:

  • svn checkout [project]
  • (hack, test, repeat)
  • (request commit rights)
  • svn commit -m "added X"

You can also replace the request for commit rights with creating a patch and sending it to a mailing list. But let’s take the easiest case of a new contributor who is directly welcomed into the project as trusted committer.

dvcs-basic-svn.png

A slightly more advanced workflow adds testing in a clean tree. In Subversion it looks almost like the simple commit:

dvcs-basic-svn-testing.png

Babcore: Emacs Customizations everyone should have

1 Intro

PDF-version (for printing)

Package (to install)

orgmode-version (for editing)

repository (for forking)

project page (for fun ☺)

Emacs Lisp (to use)

I have been tweaking my emacs configuration for years, now, and I added quite some cruft. But while searching for the right way to work, I also found some gems which I direly miss in pristine emacs.

This file is about those gems.

Babcore is strongly related to Prelude. Actually it is exactly like prelude, just with the stuff I consider essential.

But before we start, there is one crucial piece of advice which everyone who uses Emacs should know:

C-g: abort

Hold control and hit g.

That gets you out of almost any situation. If anything goes wrong, just hit C-g repeatedly till the problem is gone - or you cooled off far enough to realize that a no-op is the best way to react.

To repeat: If anything goes wrong, just hit C-g.

wisp: Whitespace to Lisp: An indentation to parentheses preprocessor to get more readable Lisp

I love the syntax of Python, but crave the simplicity and power of Lisp.
display "Hello World!"      ↦    (display "Hello World!")
define : hello-world        ↦    (define (hello-world)
  display "Hello World!"    ↦      (display "Hello World!"))
Update (2014-11-19): wisp v0.8.1 released with reader bugfixes. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and Python 3 and bootstrap wisp:
wget https://bitbucket.org/ArneBab/wisp/downloads/wisp-0.8.1.tar.gz;
tar xf wisp-0.8.1.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.1/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w; echo
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
Update (2014-11-06): wisp v0.8.0 released! The new parser now passes the testsuite and wisp files can be executed directly. For more details, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and bootstrap wisp:
wget https://bitbucket.org/ArneBab/wisp/downloads/wisp-0.8.0.tar.gz;
tar xf wisp-0.8.0.tar.gz ; cd wisp-0.8.0/;
./configure; make check;
guile -L . --language=wisp tests/factorial.w;
echo
If it prints 120120 (two times 120, the factorial of 5), your wisp is fully operational.
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax!
On a personal note: It’s mindboggling that I could get this far! This is actually a fully bootstrapped indentation sensitive programming language with all the power of Scheme underneath, and it’s a one-person when-my-wife-and-children-sleep sideproject. The extensibility of Guile is awesome!
Update (2014-10-17): wisp v0.6.6 has a new implementation of the parser which now uses the scheme read function. `wisp-scheme.w` parses directly to a scheme syntax-tree instead of a scheme file to be more suitable to an SRFI. For more details, see the NEWS file. To test it, install Guile 2.0.x and bootstrap wisp:
wget https://bitbucket.org/ArneBab/wisp/downloads/wisp-0.6.6.tar.gz;
tar xf wisp-0.6.6.tar.gz; cd wisp-0.6.6;
./configure; make;
guile -L . --language=wisp
That’s it - have fun with wisp syntax at the REPL!
Caveat: It does not support the ' prefix yet (syntax point 4).
Update (2014-01-04): Resolved the name-clash together with Steve Purcell und Kris Jenkins: the javascript wisp-mode was renamed to wispjs-mode and wisp.el is called wisp-mode 0.1.5 again. It provides syntax highlighting for Emacs and minimal indentation support via tab. You can install it with `M-x package-install wisp-mode`
Update (2014-01-03): wisp-mode.el was renamed to wisp 0.1.4 to avoid a name clash with wisp-mode for the javascript-based wisp.
Update (2013-09-13): Wisp now has a REPL! Thanks go to GNU Guile and especially Mark Weaver, who guided me through the process (along with nalaginrut who answered my first clueless questions…).
To test the REPL, get the current code snapshot, unpack it, run ./bootstrap.sh, start guile with $ guile -L . (requires guile 2.x) and enter ,language wisp.
Example usage:
display "Hello World!\n"
then hit enter thrice.
Voilà, you have wisp at the REPL!
Caveeat: the wisp-parser is still experimental and contains known bugs. Use it for testing, but please do not rely on it for important stuff, yet.
Update (2013-09-10): wisp-guile.w can now parse itself! Bootstrapping: The magical feeling of seeing a language (dialect) grow up to live by itself: python3 wisp.py wisp-guile.w > 1 && guile 1 wisp-guile.w > 2 && guile 2 wisp-guile.w > 3 && diff 2 3. Starting today, wisp is implemented in wisp.
Update (2013-08-08): Wisp 0.3.1 released (Changelog).

Going from a simple Makefile to Autotools

Table of Contents

Links

Intro

I recently started looking into Autotools, to make it easier to run my code on multiple platforms.

Naturally you can use cmake or scons or waf or ninja or tup, all of which are interesting in there own respect. But none of them has seen the amount of testing which went into autotools, and none of them have the amount of tweaks needed to support about every system under the sun. And I recently found pyconfigure which allows using autotools with python and offers detection of library features.

Tail Call Optimization (TCO), dependency, broken debug builds in C and C++ — and gcc 4.8

TCO: Reducing the algorithmic complexity of recursion.
Debug build: Add overhead to a program to trace errors.
Debug without TCO: Obliterate any possibility of fixing recursion bugs.

“Never develop with optimizations which the debug mode of the compiler of the future maintainer of your code does not use.”°

UPDATE: GCC 4.8 gives us -Og -foptimize-sibling-calls which generates nice-backtraces, and I had a few quite embarrassing errors in my C - thanks to AKF for the catch!

1 Intro

Tail Call Optimization (TCO) makes this

def foo(n):
    print(n)
    return foo(n+1)
foo(1)

behave like this

def foo(n):
    print(n)
    return n+1
n = 1 while True: n = foo(n)

Test of the hg evolve extension for easier upstreaming

1 Rationale

PDF-version (for printing)

orgmode-version (for editing)

repository (for forking)

Currently I rework my code extensively before I push it into upstream SVN. Some of that is inconvenient and it would be nicer to have easy to use refactoring tools.

hg evolve might offer that.

This test uses the mutable-hg extension in revision c70a1091e0d8 (24 changesets after 2.1.0). It will likely be obsolete, soon, since mutable-hg is currently moved into Mercurial core by Pierre-Yves David, its main developer. I hope it will be useful for you, to assess the future possibilities of Mercurial today. This is not (only) a pun on “obsolete”, the functionality at the core of evolve which allows safe, collaborative history rewriting ☺

The dynamics of free culture and the danger of noncommercial clauses

NC covered works trick people into investing in a dead end

Free licensing lowers the barrier of entry to creating cultural works, which unlocks a dynamic where people can realize their ideas much easier - and where culture can actually live, creating memes, adjusting them to new situations and using new approaches with old topics.

But for that to really take off, people have to be able to make a living from their creations - which build on other works.

Motivation and Reward

Debunking the myth that you can increase the performance of creative workers with carrot and stick.

Update: I sent this text to the gnu maintainers, and after the original article had been offline for several years, they now managed to convince Alfie Kohn to allow them to distribute the article again. So Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator is finally online again! → gnu.org/p/motivation.html
My text might not have been included on the GNU websites, but it fullfilled its purpose - though in a different way than I had expected.

Update: I got the feedback that some messages in this article are still unclear. It should not implicate, that “in order to increase motivation in the free software world people need to be offered a high income and a long term contract”. Paying a good income in a long term contract is a way to avoid the harmful effect payment can have on performance while enabling someone to work full-time on the project. An empirical study found, that the source and intensity of motivation of free software developers does not differ significantly between people who work for hire and people who work without payment, so many companies employing free software developers seem to do it right (or only the companies who do it right can keep their free software programmers).1

A few months ago, the GNU project had to withdraw its article on motivation and monetary reward, because its author did not allow them to spread it anymore. So I recreated its core - with references to solid research.

Executive Summary

For creative tasks, the quality of performance strongly correllates with intrinsic motivation: Being interested in the task itself.

This article will only talk about that.

The main factors which are commonly associated with intrinsic motivation are:

  • Positive verbal feedback which increases intrinsic motivation.
  • Payment independent of performance which actually has no effect.
  • Payment dependent on performance which reduces the motivation on the long term.
  • Negative verbal feedback which directly reduces intrinsic motivation.
  • Threatening someone with punishment which strongly reduces intrinsic motivation.

To make it short: Anything which diverts the focus from the task at hand towards some external matter (either positive or negative) reduces the intrinsic motivation and that in turn reduces work performance.

If you want to help people perform well, make sure that they don’t have to worry about other stuff besides their work and give them positive verbal feedback about the work they do.

Note: In the paper »Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects« from 2005, Karim R. Lakhani and Robert G Wolf showed empirically that the payment people get to work in free software projects has no detrimental effect on their intrinsic motivation. In their sample 40% of the developers were paid for their work on free software projects and their intrinsic motivation was as high as the motivation of unpaid developers.


  1. We find […], that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver. The source and intensity of motivation of free software developers does not differ significantly between people who work for hire and people who work without payment. From Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects by Karim R. Lakhani* and Robert G Wolf** from the * MIT Sloan School of Management | The Boston Consulting Group and ** The Boston Consulting Group. 

Neither Humble nor Indie Bundle

Comment to New Humble Bundle Is Windows Only, DRM Games.

The new Humble Indie Bundle is no longer free, indie, cross-plattform or user-respecting.

How to make companies act ethically

→ comment on Slashdot concerning Unexpected methods to promote freedom?

Was it really Apple who ended DRM? Would they have done so without the protests and evangelizing against DRM? Without protesters in front of Apple Stores? And without the many people telling their friends to just not accept DRM?

That “preaching” created a situation where Apple could reap monetary gain from doing the right thing.

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