pushing the fs/oss movement

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at intevation.de
Sat Jul 28 16:06:39 UTC 2001

On Sat, Jul 28, 2001 at 05:17:30PM +0200, Joerg Schilling wrote:

> Some people from BSD tell you that the GPL does not give you enough
> freedom and may be right.
> Some people from FSF tell you that the BSD licence does not give you
> enough freedom and may be right.
> So why spend time on discussions on the meaning of the word 'free'.
> These discussions will never end while the time spend on the discussions
> could be used better to support the movement.

It is the FSFE's official position,
	that we need to protect the freedom of software. 
	that we need to use the best words to make the ideas known.

It is my personal opinion as a scientist,
	that "Free Software" is the best term available
	that the right terms are important
		(you can win or loose government elections)
		(the words frame what you can think or can think clearly of)

There is evidence to back up that the current GNU/Linux systems would 
have never existed without the long term protection of licenses like
the GNU GPL, the GNU LGPL or others.
(You will be familiar with Linus' statement about putting the kernel
under GNU GPL was central for the success.)
Actually not even the "open source" people deny this.

> A big problem seems to be that many people who now work on fs/oss 
> joined the movement after Linux became public and don't have the
> knowledge on the historic background. People like me who are envolved
> with fs/oss since the early days in the mid 80's know about the
> historic background and thus may have different opinions on certain 
> topics for this reason.

There is nothing wrong with having different opinions.
Still if we want to enlight people about the Free Software movement
we need to tell history from a more objective point of view.

The FSF does not hide that there are other Free Software licenses 
which are actually useful depending on the software to publish.
There will always be a debate on how to protect the freedom of
software in the long term. The GNU GPL is recognised as a major
archievement to further this goal.

It is official position of the FSFE to not hide other Free Software
product like several systems based BSD code.

> An important aspect of fs/oss in the 80s was the freedom to compile it
> on any OS. This freedom has become rare these days because many fs/oss
> developers (who mostly are newbies these days which of course is not
> bad in pronciple) don't have the needed background knowledge.
> They are developing on Linux only, not even kowing enough about the 
> C-standard and the POSIX standard.

I also see this as a problem.

> One of my focus in work is to develop tools that make real portability
> easier to achieve and to educate programmers on how to write highly
> portable programs and how to do this in a systematic, modular and reusable
> way. 

This is a technical goal worth pushing.

> I am still missing help on this important topic from anyone outside 
> BerliOS.

From my point this can have several reasons.
One probably is your focus on more purely technical things.
This is a political decision which actually 
might hinder your technical goals in the end.

> Another aspect of the BerliOS work is educate other people who currently  
> have no relation to fs/oss on how to use fs/oss in their environment. 

This is also very important. It is also part of the FSFE's work.
An important part of the curriculum have to explain
politics, philosphy and terminology around Free Software.

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